Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Past And Present Journeys

I am concluding this series today. And a note to those readers in the area- Winterlude gets underway this weekend.

Lieutenant J. Thad Johnson was part of a group of escort pilots who accompanied Charles Lindbergh on a tour of North America in 1927. It ended badly for Johnson, whose Curtiss P-1 Hawk collided with another in the group south of the city; he would die of his injuries. The American pilot received honours from his Canadian hosts in death as dignitaries officially mourned him. The accompanying display case features a photograph of the wreck, a model of his plane, and the strut of the plane itself.

The Second World War saw Ottawa become a place of refuge for the Crown Princess of the Netherlands and her daughters. Princess Juliana stayed here through that period, and one of her daughters, Princess Margriet was born here, with the government of the time passing a law to declare the maternity suite temporarily extra-territorial. A display case features photographs and copies of the birth certificates, in English and in Dutch. It is a connection that has endured, as Margriet has been over to Canada on numerous occasions.

Another visitor- The King himself. A panel and display case feature Elvis Presley's 1957 visit (long before his rhinestone jumpsuit era).

From one King to an actual Queen. 1967 was the centennial year, and Queen Elizabeth II came over for the occasion. She brought along six swans from the royal collection. Their descendents still are here today, swimming the Rideau River in warm weather and spending their time these days in winter quarters.

In 2013, six young people and their guide started walking on snowshoes from a Cree community in northern Quebec to Ottawa, reaching the capital by March. They were the Nishiyuu Walkers, calling for attention to the Idle No More movement, following the traditional routes of various First Nations peoples. Our prime minister at the time went out of his way to avoid them. 

This is a different kind of art. Joan Tenasco is the Anishinibeg artist behind this, an example of birch bark biting. The idea is to fold a thin slice of birchbark and bite it to form patterns and shapes.

2017 was our 150th anniversary, and among the visitors that year were a giant spider and a dragon horse. La Machine was the company behind a grand event of street theatre in the capital, with Kumo the spider facing off against Long-Ma the dragon horse around the landmarks of the city. A nearby video screen was set up with a short video of those few days, so I filmed it, which you can see right here.

And I finish off with this display case of gifts to the city from foreign ambassadors and dignitaries.


  1. Interesting post, lots of intriguing details!

  2. ...what an interesting assortment.

  3. Important people giving gifts is a rather useless thing to do because the people can't keep them and they end up in display cases. I love the gift of swans however.

  4. Only celebrities today .... I love Queen Juliana, she was a nice person, Princess Margriet is not like his mother.

  5. Hello, I was not expecting the see the King Elvis Presley in this post. Neat exhibit. Have a happy day and week ahead.

  6. Interesting exhibition items. Princess Margriet is the most down to earth princess of the four sisters. She married not a prince but just a fellow student and lives a very happy life with her husband and has many grandchildren now. Canada has always had a special place in her heart.

  7. A fascinating post. I'd love to visit your city someday. I'm intrigued to know how the swans that Liz brought over travelled across the Pond. Did they come in a crate, by boat - or were they towed behind?

  8. i enjoy the nesting dolls. Elvis gets around ... way cool. i am one of those people who enjoys his tunes. ( ;
    have a great week.

  9. J Thad Johnson has a very modern-looking haircut that wouldn't look out of place today!

  10. Winterlude should be fun. cold too.

  11. I enjoyed learning about the swans the Queen brought to Canada, and the birch bark bite art. :-)

  12. @Whisk: it'll be fun.

    @Linda: quite true!

    @Tom: very much so.

    @Joan: that's true. I imagine a lot of this ends up at the city archives.

    @Ella: I have seen Princess Margriet once on a visit she made. A very nice lady.

    @Eileen: thank you. Thank you very much.

    @Francisco: thanks!

    @Marianne: and the affection is mutual.

    @Mike: hah!

    @Beth: he really did get around.

    @John: that's true.

    @Anvilcloud: emphasis on cold.

    @DJan: I'll have to photograph the swans in the summer.

  13. A lot of royalty today.
    Have fun at Winterlude!

  14. Fitting to put Elvis with Kings and Queens. Some may disagree but the guy had great influence.

  15. Excellent slice of Ottawa history here and last post William.. The Aborigines did bark paintings I've not heard of bark biting before!

  16. The bark biting art is incredible! I've never heard of it.

  17. I'm so glad Canada could offer a safe haven to the Dutch royal family during the war. As always, I learn something new.

    I realized I must have been following you for about a year, for the first posts I read here were winterlude!

  18. @Jan: it's going to be quite a blast as events go.

    @Red: that he did, especially early in his career.

    @Grace: I had, but it's not a commonly known art.

    @RedPat: she really knows her stuff.

    @Jeanie: there is a great friendship between the two countries, and it rose up out of that war. A positive outcome of the biggest war ever fought on the planet.

    @Cloudia: indeed!

  19. I enjoyed this collection of royalty and how a pilot was also honored, and of course Elvis should be included!

  20. Fascinating ! Interesting and informative post(s), William, thanks !

  21. Interesting displays. I love the display about swans!

  22. Enjoyed reading about all the displays. I like the Nesting Dolls in the last picture. I have a small collection of them.

  23. Fascinating links and connections. How brave those early aviators were:)

  24. Wonderful displays and information. Thank you, William.

  25. This has been a good series.
    Daughter-in-law has a collection of the nesting dolls, similar to what your last photograph shows.

    Enjoy Winterlude - looking forward to seeing your photographs.

    All the best Jan

  26. @Barbara: I enjoyed showing it.

    @Karl: you're welcome.

    @Tamago: as did I.

    @Happyone: my mother had one.

    @Rosie: that's quite true.

    @Bill: you're welcome.

    @Jan: I'm looking forward to Winterlude.

  27. Great post and photos ~ the first navigation planes were difficult and many struggled and even some lost their lives ~ all part of history ~

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  28. Interesting that this exhibit includes Elvis!

  29. Interesting to see Elvis in this exhibit!

  30. What a wide-ranging set of exhibits - my favorite is the Queen and the six swans - I keep trying to imagine how they were transported ...

  31. Yay Elvis! There with royalty. His is the king after all.

  32. @Carol: that is true.

    @Lois: yes, unexpected!

    @Michelle: it was.

    @Angie: I imagine by air cargo, as quickly as possible.

    @Marie: he's revered it seems as one!

  33. Interesting history exhibit. I remember that spider-dragon face off.

  34. I didn't know the royalty of the Netherlands went to Ottawa during WWII. It's interesting that Queen Elizabeth brought swans on her visit and the descendants are still there. Funny to think of swans on the ship during the journey!

    1. Oh, the Dutch royals have a strong connection here. And I imagine the swans were shipped by air.

  35. Elvis is still alive in Our hearts.