Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Paths Of History

My second of two museum visits on Canada Day was in Gatineau at the Canadian Museum of History, formerly the Museum of Civilization. This is the only one of the national museums in the National Capital Region to be on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, lying on the shore across from Parliament Hill. The current building was designed by the Canadian First Nations architect Douglas Cardinal, and this is an unusual approach for me, from the west, as I was coming from the Portage Bridge area.

I headed for the main entrance to the exhibition wing, here on the right, while the curatorial wing is in the background. The curves are a signature style for Cardinal.

I've seen this before on Canada Day. A canoe has been fitted over with drumskin, and people were playing. It was a sound that carried a long way off.

This view looks towards the street, closed off that day. Normally outside activities including a concert stage are held down along the shore, but the high waters of the spring required the concert stage to be set up out on the street instead this year.

This view between the two wings looks across the river towards Parliament Hill. A fountain and water feature spills down terraces towards the bottom.

Here we have a view across from the top of the stairs, with the landmarks of the Ottawa shore on display.

Inside, I passed among the temporary exhibits. The big current one on Neanderthals had a big line, so I decided to leave that for another day. Photographing this was appropriate. This is the first Canadian maple leaf flag to be flown over Parliament Hill after the flag was redesigned, with the inauguration ceremony held on February 15th, 1965. It is part of the museum's collection, and displayed in this corridor.

There were however two other temporary exhibits that I stopped in to have a look at. The first looked at Jewish immigration into Canada, and included Hebrew texts.

The second concerned itself with archaeology in Quebec, and among the items examined was the story of the Empress Of Ireland, a passenger liner that collided with a Norwegian freighter in the St. Lawrence River in 1914, sinking inside fourteen minutes, killing over a thousand of the 1477 passengers on board- in proportion of dead to survivors, a bigger disaster than Titanic. A porthole was among the artifacts in the exhibit.


  1. The cracked porthole gave me shivers ...graphic . I have some tiny idea of what it would feel like to be in a shipwreck (very tiny, but I have been in a disabled boat in rough water and know the feeling of that at least)

  2. Oh, I do like those curves. Impressive size of the flag, too.
    Oh, my. 14 minutes. So many people...

  3. O edifício e a sua envolvência é espectacular, aproveito para desejar uma boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

  4. It is a beautiful museum from the outside and interesting items inside.

  5. ...Ottawa has an endless supply of interesting things to enjoy!

  6. A few years ago we had an Italian student living with us for three weeks and we took her to Ottawa. This was her favourite museum,

  7. Very beautiful building, in very interesting museum!

  8. My Grandmother sailed from Liverpool to Canada in the late 1940s on an Empress ship called The Empress of Scotland. She went to stay for a few months with her daughter, my aunt, who was living in Canada at the time.

  9. Ottawa looks wide and big, from your photos.

  10. @Sallie: the Empress was a hell of a disaster.

    @Iris: regardless of safety standards, it wasn't enough time to get people off.

    @Francisco: thank you.

    @Marianne: that it is.

    @Tom: that is true!

    @David: if I had to pick a favourite museum here, it's this one.

    @Beth: thanks!

    @Ella: it is.

    @Rosemary: it doesn't surprise me that there would be other Empresses.

    @Italiafinlandia: geographically speaking Ottawa is a very large city. It's a bit less so for Gatineau, but that's also the result of an amalgamation.

  11. I never heard of the Empress of Ireland sinking, but everyone has heard of the Titanic. What a tragedy.

  12. Beautiful building, and the fountain flow is as well.

  13. How beautiful the museum, the surroundings, the water! Loved the skyline also. I have friends visiting Ottawa and hope they've seen all these as well.

  14. Great title for today's post. Pick a topic and follow what happened.

  15. What a great idea for a drum out of a canoe.

  16. I'm always so impressed by the architecture of the museums in your city.

  17. @DJan: both were. And the Lusitania, of course, not that long afterwards.

    @Maywyn: I've always liked that fountain.

    @Barbara: it is a grand setting.

    @Red: it felt appropriate.

    @Marie: it was, yes.

    @Sharon: I like it too.

  18. It's in a beautiful setting. I would be very interested in the Quebec archaeology one and will look forward to more on this one!

  19. Love the fountain :-) Such a beautiful day and the exhibits look interesting!

  20. A beautiful building and a pretty fountain.

  21. I really hope to see that building one day!

  22. That cracked porthole is a powerful image.

  23. @Jeanie: it's a grand museum.

    @Tamago: I enjoy it each time I visit.

    @Bill: I agree!

    @RedPat: you should.

    @Michelle: definitely.

  24. The architecture of the building is stunning. Softly moving.

  25. This was the first time I had heard about the Empress of Ireland mishap and so that lead me to read more online. Thanks for inc increasing my knowledge base, William. Also, Grenville thanks you for the birthday wishes yesterday.

  26. I like the idea of the canoe fitted over with a drumskin …
    You photographed this on a beautiful looking day.

    All the best Jan

  27. I've never heard of Empress of Ireland.
    I enlarged the photo to read. Unknown and sad story.