Friday, July 12, 2019

In The War Museum

My first stop on Canada Day was the Canadian War Museum, which examines Canadian military history at home and around the world through time. The institution moved into the present building in the Lebreton Flats area west of the downtown core back in 2005. The building has the look of a bunker or a bomber plane, entirely fitting given its subject matter. The large spike at the right is Regeneration Hall, one of two focal points for the museum design. It is directed to give a view of Parliament Hill from the upper landing inside.

I took the pathway up to the rooftop first. Paths up here evoke the feeling of trenches, and the roof is covered with plants. Regeneration Hall can be seen at the far end here, pointing towards the spires of Parliament Hill. Poppies are in bloom at the moment.

Nearby gives a good view of the Ottawa River.

I went inside. Displays inside the entrance hall tend to change, and at present, the displays are about D-Day and the Normandy campaign.

The Memorial Chamber is the other of the two focal points inside the museum, and it is off the entrance hall. The architect deliberately designed the building so that on November 11th, at 11 in the morning, the sun will shine through an overhead window and illuminate this tombstone, which is the only artifact in this room. This is the original tombstone of the Unknown Soldier, whose remains now reside at the War Memorial. At the Canadian military cemetery at Vimy Ridge in France, a replacement stone was placed to explain where the original tombstone has gone to. 

I went through the permanent galleries, as well as a temporary exhibit that I'll start showing you tomorrow. I decided to leave a photographic tour of the museum permanent galleries until Remembrance Day, but that I'd photograph the odd thing here and there. This poem is on a wall in the Second World War section. John Magee wrote the poem High Flight while serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force and sent it to his parents. He was an Anglo-American who had spent most of his youth abroad, volunteering to serve with the RCAF in 1940 and dying in a flight accident the following year, days after the United States entered the war.

Elsewhere in the Second World War section, a doorway leads out onto a balcony where one gets a view into Lebreton Gallery. This space is filled with military vehicles and equipment from multiple nations.

After finishing with the permanent galleries, I came to the corridor that leads to Regeneration Hall and the Lebreton Gallery. This corridor often features a rotating series of pictures or art, and this one was a surprise- portrait art by President George W. Bush. I knew he had taken up art after his presidency, and the panel explains that an instructor suggested he paint people he knew, but whom others did not. There were a good number of paintings of servicemen and women in this set, both officers and enlisted, who he had met through sporting events for wounded veterans. Bush uses oil on canvas as his artistic method, and portrays people in this collection from each military branch. Some are retired, others remain active in service.

I decided to photograph some. At top are Master Sergeant Scott Neil, Captain Byron Vincent, and Sergeant First Class Thomas William Costello. At bottom are Staff Sergeant James M. Stanek Jr., Chief Warrant Officer Three James Williamson, and Sergeant Michael Joseph Leonard Politowicz.

The portrait at left features two army veterans- note the prosthetics in both paintings, while the portrait at right also features an army vet. The first is Staff Sergeant Robert Dove and Sergeant First Class John Faulkenberry. The second is Sergeant Saul Martinez.

Down in Regeneration Hall, these striking plaster casts are found. The work of Walter Allward, these are the original half scale sculptures he would transfer onto the Vimy Memorial in France, where Canadian soldiers fought and died during the First World War. The museum has the collection of casts, and I find them haunting. Tomorrow I turn my attention to the temporary exhibit presently underway here at the Museum. 


  1. Nice artwork! The poppies are pretty.

  2. The architecture sure is perfect for the content and the idea of the planted roof is fitting, too.
    That architect did another good job honouring the soldier.
    I like the art, too, it´s a kind of medicine, right...

  3. The building puts me in mind of an old tank or armoured car left rusting away on a former battlefield. Pity that mankind can not park the need for warfare and just walk away.

  4. I didn't know that President George W. Bush can paint so beautifully ...

    This year will be 75th anniversary of van de Battle of Arnhem ...
    The commemoration will bee take place around September 17, the day that the fighting of the Battle of Arnhem erupted in 1944. ... Also many Canadians have been killed in this operation. It is an important role that Canadian troops played during the second Battle of Arnhem in April 1945.
    I will write in September about this event ...

  5. It is our duty to respect and remember war veterans.

  6. Lovely blue sky and flowers in the field. Nice display of war tanks.

  7. The museum is built on a beautiful site.

  8. first, art and war don't seem to go together!

  9. Very impressive, I would love to see this,

  10. very cool. can you believe it is Friday? awesome. have a great one!! ( ;

  11. What a great walk through the venue. Photo #2 looks like a Wyeth painting.


  12. Another enjoyable trip through an interesting venue. Thank you. :-)

  13. @Linda: that they are.

    @Iris: it was a surprise to see his art.

    @John: it is entirely appropriate for its subject.

    @Ella: he learned the process quite well, I think.

    @Italiafinlandia: that is true.

    @Francisco: thank you.

    @Nancy: thank you!

    @Jan: that it is.

    @Tom: and yet they do.

    @Laurie: you'd enjoy it.

    @Beth: thank you.

    @Janis: it does!

    @Lea: it was.

    @DJan: you're welcome.

  14. The plaster casts are wonderful! I love the view out over the plants on the roof!

  15. "Haunting" is a good word to describe those casts.

  16. I love that such thought went into the Memorial Chamber.

  17. I love that they also have painting and sculptures there.

  18. Great photos ~ Now if we could have a 'Peace' museum ~ eh?

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

  19. Really cool about the design for the sunlight on Nov 11th. It must attract a crowd for that.

  20. That second photo looks like it could have inspired Andrew Wyeth.
    See this link.

  21. The thought put into the museum touches the heart.

  22. Complete information, context, Completely Canadian 🇨🇦♥️

  23. @RedPat: so do I.

    @Sharon: definitely.

    @Marie: I do too.

    @Jeanie: me too.

    @Marleen: I agree.

    @Carol: if only.

    @Jenn: I know people do attend the service here.

    @Pat: you're not the only person to say so!

    @Maywyn: it does, yes.

    @Cloudia: thanks!

  24. It seems many U.S. Presidents' best work occurs after they leave office.

  25. I always like to see poppies in bloom.
    The museum looks interesting, thanks for all the photographs.

    All the best Jan

  26. I agree, the poppies are beautiful. An impressive museum.

  27. A museum that should be visited, not doubt.

  28. Interesting museum.
    Have a nice weekend

  29. I like the rotating displays. They have so many pieces they don't have room to display.

    Your fireworks are amazing! You do so well.