Friday, March 31, 2023

A Visit To The National Holocaust Monument

 The National Holocaust Monument lies across the street from the Canadian Firefighters Memorial, dedicated in memory of the victims of the darkest chapter of the Second World War. Over the course of the winter, access is only possible from the west side. This view, from the east, includes the Canadian War Museum in the background.

I headed towards the west entrance. The monument is a collaboration- Daniel Libeskind designed the architecture with its harsh angles, entirely appropriate to the subject. Claude Cormier handled the landscaping architecture. Historian Doris Bergen, Gail Lord, and Dov Goldstein consulted. And photographer Edward Burtynsky contributed photographs etched onto the walls.

Inside, we see two of Burtynsky's works. He photographed places connected to the Holocaust as they appear in the current day. At left is Hiding Place, Warsaw Jewish Cemetery, Poland, depicting a trench beneath tombstones which became a hiding place during raids. At right is Prayer Room, Theresienstadt, Czech Republic.

A look west.

Here we have Track 17, Berlin, Germany, a place that was the starting point for many trains taking Jewish prisoners and others to the killing sites.

Abandoned Railbed, Treblinka, Poland shows how quickly nature reclaims. It was along this rail spur that nearly a million people were taken to the death camp.

A look east here. The staircase to the overlook is closed off for the winter.

Fence, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland is appropriately stark.

Late in the war, aware that they were running out of time to hide their crimes, the Nazis took prisoners out and forced them on what was effectively a death march away from those areas where they were losing ground. Site Of Death March, Near Mauthausen, Austria depicts a place as it looks today. In April 1945, 20 000 Jewish prisoners were marched along this road. Anyone who couldn't keep up were shot and left in the ditches.

A series of panels across from it tells the story of the Holocaust.

My last shot features where I came in, with the west entrance and the War Museum beyond.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

The Memorial To Fallen Firefighters

 The Canadian Firefighters Memorial is a monument located at Lebreton Flats, west of the downtown core, near the War Museum. It is meant as a national memorial (the city has an Ottawa memorial for firefighters at City Hall), and it is home to a national service of remembrance each September. It consists of a large firefighter statue and pole on one side of the property, and a wall of names on the other. Landscaping around the grounds is deliberate- with trees that turn red in the fall, and are often the first to grow back after a fire.

The firefighters prayer is engraved here.

The names are organized by province and territory, from west to east, each separated from each other by enough space to differentiate. Whether they have died directly in the line of duty or of diseases related to the job, their names are here. Each year, more names are added.

The view here includes the headquarters of Library and Archives Canada off in the distance, and just a glimpse of one of the towers on Parliament Hill.

I have attended some of the services of remembrance here, as some of you may remember. It was here that I first met the blogger known as Furry Gnome- his son William Hilts was a water bomber pilot who died in the line of duty fighting a forest fire several years ago. He was based out of BC at the time, and his name is seen here at lower left.

The statue, a large one, is informally known as the Big Guy.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Monuments In Confederation Park

 Confederation Park is a short walk away from Parliament Hill, occupying a block of land. Several military monuments are to be found here, along with this totem pole, seen on a cold clear day after the beginning of spring. The National Arts Centre looms in the background.

This fountain is one of the monuments, cordoned off over the winter. It's dedicated to Lieutenant Colonel John By, the British military engineer who oversaw the building of the Rideau Canal and who has been deemed the founder of Ottawa. 

A short walk away, this plaque is mounted to a slab of rock, honouring Canadian airmen of the Second World War who lost their lives in operations over Poland.

The oldest and the newest monuments of the park are together.

This cenotaph honours local soldiers who served and died in the South African War.

The Animals In War Memorial is dedicated to animals that have served in war, with plaques alongside a life sized statue of a military service dog. Less easily seen are tracks in the pavement- horseshoes and dog prints.

I wasn't able to take a picture, but there was a passerby with a German shepherd who took a photograph of his dog standing face to face with this fellow.

The last of the monuments in the park is the biggest. This is the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument. Designed by indigenous artist Lloyd Pinay, it pays tribute to all indigenous veterans of the country. On the granite block are four warriors back to back, four animals around them- the bear, the wolf, the elk, and the bison- and an eagle at the top. I find that the monument is best photographed in morning.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The War Art Of An Impressionist

As noted yesterday, Alfred Munnings would be part of the exhibition of Canadian war art following the First World War. This photograph below shows the exhibit in Toronto, showing some of the art, including a dramatic canvas that is part of the Museum's collection, but rarely shown. It's called The Flag, by Byam Shaw, and depicts the grief of those who are left to mourn the dead of war. I've featured it before- check out the museum link for another look.

Aside from painting, Munnings would sketch a lot- items that would later end up transferred onto the canvas. These two are examples: Portrait Of Canadian Officer, Lt. Maclachlan La Bergement and Canadian Officer.

A wider view of the exhibit.

We come towards the end, dominated by a large unfinished canvas, Watering Horses Near Domart.

A quote by Munnings acknowledges the importance of the war in what he did for the rest of his life.

Two portraits hang to the right of the big canvas, depicting two men and their horses. Brigade-Major Geoffrey Brooke, DSO is at top, while at bottom is Le Comte d'Etchegoyen, depicting a French interpreter and officer seconded to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade.

Here we see the large canvas itself. It is clear that it's not finished, but much of the work is there.

Munnings, it seems, enjoyed his time with Canadian soldiers, with his quote on this panel speaking to that.

Two last paintings to end this series. At top is Captain Prince Antoine of Orleans and Braganza, depicting a deposed member of the French royal family, who served with the British and the Canadians. At bottom is an unfinished painting, A Canadian Trooper And His Horse.