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.