Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Tricks, Treats, And Ghostly Guests

Happy Hallowe'en! I have some material appropriate for the occasion today.

This particular house in the Glebe was well decorated when I passed by one day earlier in the month.

This was along a path in Gloucester.

These jack o'lanterns were outside a house in Centretown.

I came across this witch in a jewel shop window at Sparks Street.

Up the street, the Haunted Walk operates out of quarters near Elgin Street. Two signs stand outside, one more whimsical. The company offers walking tours of various places with a history of hauntings. I meant to go on a tour this year in the run up to Hallowe'en, but with MosaiCanada and the fall colours, I pretty much ran myself out of time.

The Chateau Laurier is close by, within site of the Haunted Walk's offices, diagonally across the War Memorial grounds, and a tour might make note of its spooky history. I captured it around sundown one day earlier this month. The figures you can see in silhouette in the foreground are the collective monument of military history called The Valiants.

A couple of days later I captured it at night. It's an appropriate subject for today, as the hotel has its own ghost stories.

The lounge just off the main entrance looks dramatic at night. Several portraits by Yousuf Karsh, who had his photography studio at the Chateau during the second half of his career, adorn the walls. The hotel has quite a history in its century plus of existence; the great and the good have stayed in the hotel, which first opened in June 1912. Along with its established history comes the supernatural: whistling by an unseen presence in stairwells, furniture moving in the night, and unexplained noises.

Doors have been known to open by an unseen force. A guest once fled her room because objects were moving about by themselves. People have mentioned the feeling of being watched by some unseen presence. Some guests have reported the sight of a little ghostly girl. Others have reported a spectral man in dated formal attire.

That might well be the man who commissioned the building of the hotel, haunting his crowning achievement. Charles Melville Hays was the president of the Grand Trunk Railway, and had the Chateau built along with the new main train station downtown (today the government Conference Centre across the street). His portrait hangs in the corridors within the Chateau.

In 1912, Hays and his family went to Europe to secure investments and to purchase furniture for the dining room at the Chateau, due to open in late April that year. The family booked passage to return home with their purchases in time for the opening. That passage was aboard Titanic. Hays reportedly made a prophetic remark about the competition of steamlines for passengers, saying, "the time will come soon when this trend will be checked by some appalling disaster." He, his son-in-law, and his personal secretary were among the dead in the disaster, and Hays would end up buried at Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal.

The opening of the hotel was delayed into June out of respect for the dead. It has been said that Hays still haunts his final project in life, having had not lived to see its opening. He's deemed generally a friendly spirit, glimpsed on occasion, still tied to a place that meant a great deal to him in the last months of his life, a life cut too short in the cold Atlantic one night in April 1912.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Walkabout In The Woods

The Mackenzie King Estate was another stop I made during my visit to the Gatineau Hills. The shuttle service stopped in the parking lot on my way up to my first destination, and when I came back, I thought I'd go to the estate through another route. The Waterfall Trail leads to the estate via a couple of routes, and I took one of them that wound up leading me to the drive into the estate. Another route emerges onto the estate around the ruins. I headed off from the parking lot along this trail in the woods.

The waterfall would have been on the other route. I've only been on this trail once before, and the previous time was on the other path. I imagine the waterfall might well be close to dry this time of year, but I crossed what looked suspiciously like it might be the route of a stream coming downhill here. There was a bit of water to be seen, but not as much as you might see in the spring.

I carried on along the path. Seeing the Gatineau Hills this time of year reminds me of Malak Karsh. The Karsh family immigrated out of Armenia one by one into Canada in the first part of the 20th century. Two of them became renowned photographers in Ottawa. Yousuf Karsh was the portrait photographer whose work over the years made him arguably the preeminent photographer of his speciality of the century. His brother Malak, who followed him to Canada in 1937, chose nature and the landscape for his subject and spent decades photographing them and publishing coffee table books with his work. It was a decision largely based on his first visit to the Hills, brought here by his brother on a fall day not unlike this one. In a 1997 interview he recalled, "When I saw the beautiful autumn colours, I said, 'this is what I am going to be. I am going to be a photographer.' If Canada is all as beautiful as the Gatineaus, I am going to travel all over Canada." Today he is buried in the Gatineau Hills, at the cemetery in Wakefield.

The path emerged on the roadway leading to the estate. From here I followed it.

And here we have the main entrance for the parking lot- the way in is at the right, while the way out comes from the left. I'll be back here on November 3rd to continue this autumn series from Gatineau Park.

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Shores Of Pink Lake

Today I have more views from Pink Lake in Gatineau Park during my walkabout. With the fall colours, there were a good number of people on the trail, both taking advantage of the NCC shuttles and those driving their own cars.

I came across this little rascal on the trail. He or she was kind enough to oblige me in taking some shots.

This turned out to be my final shot of the trip, as the camera battery reserve went into shut down. I turned and headed back for where I had come, pleased by how many shots I'd managed to take during the day. Tomorrow I'll have more from the Gatineau Hills; I'm adding in this link about meromictic lakes, which includes a list of them around the world.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Lake Of Colours

My fall colours continue today, but from the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, up in Gatineau Park, where I last ventured in May when Tom and his wife were visiting. Fall Rhapsody is the name of a program that has been going on for some years. The National Capital Commission administers this federal park, which occupies much of the Gatineau Hills north and northwest of the city of Gatineau, part of the Les Collines-des-l'Outaouais municipality. The NCC, a federal agency, has worked with the city of Gatineau's transit system to give free shuttle buses out of both Ottawa and Gatineau into Gatineau Park on the weekends from the end of September into the first three weekends of October. The service is well used, allowing you to step on and step off at several locations. I went up two weeks ago today. I'll be showing you for the next three days, and then picking up in November, my stops in reverse of where I went that day. My last stop of the trip will occupy the first two posts, and it is Pink Lake. 

Pink Lake is nestled in among the hills, and is a special place. Named for the Pink family who settled here in the 1830s, it looks blue this time of year, but takes on a green look in summer, a result of algae in the lake. There is a lookout along the parkway, where I was standing, with a wooden structure making up a second level. A hiking trail goes around the lake, accessible from here and a main parking lot a short distance away. Research on the lake has shown it to be a rarity- water below 13 metres contains no oxygen. It is called a meromictic lake- simply put, the waters don't mix that well as most lakes. Few lakes in the world are like this. Plaques set up around the lookout explain more.

At this point in the day my camera batteries were running low, seriously needing a charge. I had photographed a lot at other spots, so I decided I'd go down along the trail for at least a stretch to see how much more I could photograph.

The way along the trail requires staircases in some places. Here's a look up and down from the lookout spot.

The trail brings you down closer to the lake shore, which is particularly beautiful in fall. I have more from here tomorrow.