Monday, January 28, 2019

Faces Of The Past

Traveling in the Ottawa area doesn't really mean you're a visitor. From time immemorial First Nations people such as the Anishinaabe have called this area home and have traveled wide and far along the rivers before Contact. This birchbark canoe, done in the traditional style, was done by students in a 12 week workshop back in 2008.

Close by were these moccasins and birchbark basket.

The French explorer Samuel de Champlain first came up the Ottawa River in 1613. His journey is part of this exhibit.

A replica sextant similar to one he would have used is featured here, with a beaver pelt and carved sled and beaver.

Laura Billings was an American immigrant who came to Merrickville, in the Ottawa area, in 1805 and went to work as a teacher. A few years later she married a farmer, Braddish Billings, becoming matriarch to a family whose name is still in the community- the Billings Estate is part of her legacy. I really should get down there sometime this spring or summer.

Some of her writings were included.

Colonel By was working on the Rideau Canal when in 1827 he got a distinguished visitor, Captain John Franklin, coming back from Arctic expeditions. Nearly two decades later, Franklin would command another expedition in search of the Northwest Passage consisting of the Erebus and the Terror, an expedition that would end in death for all. I was reading Michael Palin's Erebus at the time I visited the exhibit, and remembered the exhibit we had here on the tragedy at the Museum of History. The two ships have been found in Arctic waters, reviving interest in the Franklin Expedition.

A display case nearby features items like journals, a sextant replica, and a section of a handbarrow used in the construction of the Canal.

A man who traveled far and wide across the Ottawa Valley later in the 19th century was featured. Joseph Montferrand was the legendary lumberjack whose exploits became larger than life. This display case includes a payroll sheet, an ax, and an illustration of Montferrand's fight with Irishmen on one of the bridges crossing the Ottawa River. It was said that he'd single-handedly fought 150 of them. Where's the truth and where's the conjecture, that might be the question. The accompanying panel includes a photograph of a painting that shows Montferrand later in life.

The Dawson City Nuggets came to Ottawa in 1905 to challenge the Ottawa Silver Seven for the Stanley Cup, traveling a far way from the Yukon and taking 23 days to get here. I have more from this exhibit tomorrow.


  1.'s good to put a face on history. Wonderful artifacts.

  2. I love to see exhibitions like this, particularly when they relate to the local area.

  3. Interesting exhibits to help us learn more about their way of life.

  4. une très belle exposition, la vie devait être difficile à cette époque

  5. Wonderful article, very nice artifacts ...
    I wish you a nice week ahead!

  6. Always interesting to read about the history of our cities.

  7. You have an encyclopedic knowledge of the local area and its history.

  8. Hello, love this exhibit and learning the history of this area. Have a happy day and a great new week ahead!

  9. I love exhibits like this, and were I there in person, I'd stand at each one and read all the descriptions. Thanks for the thumbnail versions! This would be such a good education for tourists like me.

  10. When I see things like this I like to imagine what it would be like to have lived in that world.

  11. From ordinary people to the famous, we have all kinds of stories.

  12. @Tom: I agree.

    @John: so do I.

    @Nancy: quite true.

    @Joan: I thought so.

    @Francisco: thank you.

    @Bergson: thanks!

    @Jan: I agree.

    @Ella: thank you.

    @Sami: it is, yes.

    @Anvilcloud: possibly!

    @Eileen: I enjoyed it.

    @Barbara: you're welcome.

    @Sharon: me too.

    @Red: true!

    @Marie: it is.

  13. I always enjoy visitor centers like this one ... such a painless (and even enjoyable) way to learn history. Very well done obviously .... I’m in awe of Mrs Billings and women like her ...imagine back then making that trip alone and starting a new life ...

  14. Fascinating, how brave those early pioneers and explorers were:)

  15. There is a lot of history there!

  16. Wow ~ love the First Nation creations and wonderful history you provide too!

    Happy Monday,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  17. Nice exhibit and lots of information to learn about the history.

  18. Great exhibit. What a beautiful canoe.

  19. Those early explorers were made of pretty strong stuff. I just recently read the story of Shakleton and the Endurance in Antarctica. I'm not sure most people today could handle the privation.

  20. @Sallie: I really have to get to the Billings Estate sometime.

    @Lady Fi: it is!

    @Rosie: quite true.

    @RedPat: there is.

    @Janey: that's true.

    @Cloudia: indeed.

    @Carol: thank you.

    @Bill: I thought so!

    @Whisk: it fits!

    @Happyone: definitely!

    @Jan: a lot indeed.

    @Kay: Shackleton's voyages are referenced in Palin's book, though with the note that it was decades later.

  21. So very interesting! I love that canoe especially. :-)

  22. That's exciting, having kids make the canoe. And I appreciate the history you share here!

  23. Look like an ol' cuss even in his dotage. :-)

  24. @DJan: I do as well.

    @Catalyst: I thought so!

    @Jeanie: it's a good learning experience.

    @Revrunner: he must have been.

    @Klara: definitely!