The first day of each month happens to be a theme day for those of us who are members of City Daily Photo, and for the first of November, that theme is Friend. Take a look at how others are handling this theme here.
My primary take on the theme is taken from history, but at the suggestion of one of my readers, I thought I would start with this topiary that I recently featured, and am reusing one of the shots for today. MosaiCanada was a two year event held here, at Jacques Cartier Park on the Gatineau side of the Ottawa River. It featured a series of topiary sculptures on a big scale. I spent a good part of October on a series with my visit, which you can start looking at right here if you'd like. One of the final topiaries was a fitting one for this theme. Hachiko The Loyal Dog is based on the true story of a Tokyo professor and his dog, who accompanied him to the train station each day when the professor would go off to work, and would wait there each day for his return. This continued for years after the professor had suddenly died. Today a statue of the dog is at that station.
My main take on this theme highlights the friendship of two of our founding Fathers of Confederation: our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald and the most eloquent speaker and writer in Parliament, Thomas D'Arcy McGee. They were among the politicians who worked together in the 1860s to forge the country that would become Canada, and theirs was a friendship that was very much a brotherhood. Both men were drinkers; in his book Blood And Daring, which tells the story of Canada during the American Civil War, John Boyko recounts an incident that speaks to the camaraderie of the two. One morning after a long night drinking, McGee was found sleeping it off under an editor's desk at the Ottawa Citizen. Macdonald admonished him by saying, "look here, McGee, this cabinet can't afford two drunkards, and I'm not quitting."
The Bytown Museum, a local history museum nestled by the Ottawa Locks of the Rideau Canal, has a section that examines the McGee assassination. McGee was shot in the back of the head coming home to his boarding house from a session in the House of Commons one night in April 1868, and a Fenian sympathist was tried, convicted, and hung for it. Macdonald took the murder of his friend hard. I took these shots in August, on Colonel By Day. A portrait of McGee himself hangs here among the displays.
This bust is by Marshall Wood, done in 1874 in marble. It depicts Lady Agnes Macdonald, the wife of Sir John. The quote on the wall indicates her shock at the assassination, as well as the closeness she would have felt where her husband's friend was concerned.
A display case features various items related to the assassination- the original plaque that hung at the site of the crime, a book by McGee, funeral souvenirs, and something a bit odd- a casting of McGee's hand, done after his death. Death masks were common at the time in Victorian culture, but given the damage sustained in the shooting, it was not possible in this case. His hand was a suitable alternative, particularly given his eloquence as a writer.
One day in October, I went up to Parliament Hill. Statues of both Macdonald and McGee are among the set of monuments up there around the buildings. Macdonald's statue stands to the east side of Centre Block, with an allegorical figure at the base.
I finish with this photo of McGee's statue on the Hill, from a post earlier in the year, taken in the winter. When I took the above shots around Macdonald's statue, I came around to this area on the north side of Centre Block, hoping to get another shot or two of McGee from this spot. The work going on here at the Hill prevented that- this particular spot is presently just beyond public access. While one can go along the fenceline behind the statue, one can't get in front of it. So this wintery shot of the great man will do quite nicely. It is an appropriate spot for his monument- his statue stands facing the Library of Parliament, a fitting location for such a gifted writer and speaker.