Saturday, August 8, 2009

New Blog

The new blog seems to be working out better now that I have changed to a different style. It isn't as pretty as the black style, but it is a lot easier to read and I am having an easier time editing it.

Thanks for your comments. Please keep them coming.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blog change

I am experimenting with a change to my blog. I have moved the Ottawa posts to wordpress and am going to work on the format and functionality. Please visit and let me know what you think. (Both good and bad feedback is appreciated)

La Maison du Velo - Gift for Cycling Potato

The direction sign is ambiguous so I hope you have success studying your route book. lol

Voyageurs Pathway to Lac Leamy

The Voyageurs Pathway is a beautiful and very well traveled route that winds its way along the Gatineau side of the Ottawa River. The path is paved and is very busy throughout the day. You can find some amazing views of the Capital, such as this photo of the Parliament buildings. The night views must be spectacular - definitely on my list of things to see.

Parts of the route were scenic, as can be seen in this photo of the boardwalk that comprises one section of the trail. Other parts are not pretty and wind their way through scrub grass fields bordered by ugly buildings.

I followed the path from the center of town out to Lac Leamy. The Lac Leamy park ends at a sad little beach on a tiny lake. Its only redeeming feature is a convenience stand that sells ice cream and other treats. Oh, it also boasts some beach volleyball courts. Lac Leamy is not worth the trip unless you have already visisted ALL the other sites in the National Capital Region.

A River of Many Stories

The Ottawa River has a long history and there are many story boards in Gatineau that recount its history. As you can see from the photo, the river has a much different use today.

I will transpose two out of the many stories that are located along the Voyageur Pathway in Gatineau.

Loggers and Drivers
The Ottawa Valley has known many heroes and legendary figures who have helped to characterize and define Canadian culture and identity.

At the height of the Canadian logging industry, the Ottawa river and its tributaries became prime locations for loggers and log drivers. Among these men several stand out.

Joseph Montferrand (1802 - 1864) known in English folklore as "Big Joe Mufferaw". A physically huge and imposing man, Joe Montferrand amazed his fellow loggers and was a prominent figure in the logging camps of the Ottawa Valley. His great strength, ingenuity and courage made him an exceptional logger and log driver. He was also daring enough to drive the famous log rafts over the turbulent waters of the Ottawa River and its tributaries.

Coureurs de Bois
For centuries the Ottawa River was used as an access route for the voyageurs and explorers en route to the mythical west.

In the 17th century some of the boldest Europeans discovered new places and encountered the aboriginal peoples who lived there.

Etienne Brule
Born in France in the late 16th century, Etienne Brule was the original coureur de bois. He arrived in Canada with Samuel de Champlain, who sent him into Huronia to establish contacts with the Aboriginal peoples. The Ottawa River became his primary route. Brule successfully accomplished his mission; he made friends with the huron, learning their language and adopting their way of life.

People - Join the Crowd

Montreal artist Louis Archambault created PEOPLE, a grouping of abstract figures, for the Canadian pavilion at Expo 67. Archambault designed the sculpture on a scale that invites visitors to move among the characters and interact with each one. All of the figures share a simple, elongated appearance, but are distinct in their light hearted combination of human, bird, flower and animal imagery.

Location: Voyageur Pathway, Gatineau

Malak Karsh Dedication

This flower bed was planted in recognition of Malak Karsh 1915 - 2001. The artistic promotion of Canada by this photographer of international renown will be his enduring legacy.

Dedicated Nov 1, 2001
Location: Voyageur Pathway, Gatineau


Commentary Phyllis Kurtz Fine Ontario 1978

This dynamic sculpture, over 4 metres (14 feet) tall is made of a self-weathering, rust-limiting, alloy steel. About this work the artist said, "I am fascinated with the boundless energy of light and the infinite range of shadow"

This sculpture was donated by the artist's husband after her death in 1979.
Location: Voyageur Pathway, Gatineau

The Ottawa Carbide Mill

The ruins of the Ottawa Carbide Mill are just a lonely echo of the 19th century when Victoria Island was bustling with industry. The mill is also a monument to the brilliance of a Canadian inventor, Thomas "Carbide" Willson.

In a short lifetime, Willson registered over 60 patents for inventions ranging from arc lights to a revolutionary fertilizer - superphosphate.

In 1892 he discovered how to make acetylene gas from merging of calcium carbide and water. He also found that acetylene, when mixed with oxygen, could power torches strong enough to cut through steel and illuminate buoys that were visible for miles at sea.


Details unknown. Location Wellington St.

12 Points

12 Points in a Classical Balance
Chung Hung - 1982
The artist created this sculpture from Western red cedar and described it as a "sine curve" - a line whose end joins the beginning to form a loop.

Location: below the Garden of the Provinces and Territories

Garden of the Provinces and Territories

These are two water features that reside in the Garden of the Provinces and Territories. Beautiful places to sit for a while.

Garden of the Provinces and Territories

Each province has a plaque commemorating the provincial flower in the Garden of the Provinces and Territories. The garden has some lovely spots to sit and contemplate. There are also lovely flower gardens, and two stunning water features. This place is a must see, if you have time when you are visiting Ottawa.

I hope that the Albertans take note that their flower is the "Prickly Rose" and not the "Wild Rose". Perhaps new vehicle license plates are in order.......

Location: in front of St Peter's Lutheran Church at 400 Sparks St.

Library and Archives Canada

"of all national assets, archives are the most precious: they are the gift of one generation to another and the extent of our care of them marks the extent of our civilization"
The Canadian Archives and its Activities
Arthur G. Doughty

This statue of Arthur George Doughty, 1904-1935, Dominion Archivist is located behind the Library and Archives Canada Building at 395 Wellington St.

Supreme Court of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada is located on Confederation Blvd (aka Wellington St)
The institution was created in 1875 by an Act of Parliament and is Canada's highest court. It is the final general court of appeal, the last judicial resort for all litigants, whether individuals or governments. It hears appeals from courts of appeal of the provinces and territories, as well as from the Federal Court of Appeal. In addition, the court is required to give its opinion on any question referred to it by the Governor in Council.

The building is 1930's art deco style which drew on ancient forms of Greek and Roman architecture, but simplified them.

This statue of Louis St. Laurant is situated on the lawn in front of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Guards Company of Sharp-Shooters

Erected by the Citizens of Ottawa to the memory of Wm. B. Osgoode and John Rogers, of the Guards Company of Sharp-Shooters who fell in action at Cutknife Hill on the Second of May 1885.

Location: Armory - QE Drive

Monday, August 3, 2009

I will read the plaque so you don't have to

Spelled Pronunciation [plak]
1. a thin, flat plate or tablet of metal, porcelain, etc., intended for ornament, as on a wall, or set in a piece of furniture.
2. an inscribed commemorative tablet, usually of metal placed on a building, monument, or the like.

When a visitor comes to Ottawa they are likely to have limited time and will want to see the major attractions: Parliament, the Canal, the Babe (Balcony type, of course). Since there are other little tidbits that are interesting, but not necessarily interesting enough to visit, I will make some short blog posts about them for your reading pleasure.

This LONG series of posts was generated by a very interesting bike ride that I did today along Sussex drive and the Rockcliffe Parkway in Ottawa. I enjoyed the scenery immensely and stopped at some of the cool sights that I encountered.

The commentary that accompanies each post was taken from the material provided at the site, along with my own observations. Since this tour is meant to represent the human interaction with the city (ie: me biking around and sharing with you), no effort has been made to fact check or compare the information at each site with any info available on the internet or in libraries. You may judge for yourself whether the commentary is accurate or not.

In fact, I am prone to mistakes and will admit them right now. Last week I told CP that the Prime Minister's residence was ranch style. I discovered today that I was looking at the wrong house and apparently he lives in a huge mansion.

If you would like a close up view of any of these photos, click ONCE on the picture and it will magically grow to fill your screen. To return to the main blog page just click once on the back arrow in your browser.

I did not attempt to write these posts in a style that generates much discussion. Please don't let that stop you, however. If you would like to share info that amplifies or illuminates the blog posts, please write as long a commentary as you like. In fact - post many commentaries. Also, if you know of a site that I should visit, please drop me a line and I'll add it to the itinerary of a future trip. Thanks.

National Research Council of Canada

This building is located at 100 Sussex Dr and despite the construction blocking the front entrance, I was interested enough to stop and investigate. The exhibit outside the building was informative. It stated that the National Research Council of Canada was founded in 1916 as an advisor to government. Since then the NRC has generated an impressive record of scientific and industrial support. The NRC has spawned numerous laboratories and service points,locally and nationally - including Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd and the Canadian Space Agency.

The Sussex Dr. laboratory (shown in the photo) was named the "Temple of Science" when it opened in 1932. The neo-classical design is a tribute to the 18th century, when the foundations of modern science were laid.

Among many achievements, the NRC's engagement in these scientific areas interested me the most:

* National Building Code of Canada, National Energy Code, National Fire Code, National Plumbing Code & National Farm Building Code. -> These codes ensure the safety and integrity of Canada's Built Environment.

* Canola - 1950's crop researchers and scientists worked to reduce Canada's reliance on wheat. They transformed rapeseed (non-edible) into an edible oil called Canola (Canadian oil low acid)

* Olympic Gold - NRC scientists fine tune athletic gear and performance. NRC wind tunnels have been used to assess the aerodynamics of sports equipment - such as cycles, sleds, helmets & suits - and the positioning of athlete's shoulders and legs.

Ottawa River Pathway

The Ottawa River Pathway is a 31 km bike path that follows the Ottawa River along Rockcliffe Pkwy. The path includes paved portions that lead to the Aviation Parkway as well as optional portions that are hardpack and are located just a few feet from the river. There are a lot of people enjoying the path, fishermen, walkers, dog owners, children owners (I mean parents) and of course cyclists. The river is used by a large variety of watercraft and there are actually quite a few boat ramps along the way. The start of the pathway is a cute little ornamental monument. It includes the remnants of train tracks, planted with bricks and grasses which are placed in such a way as to lead the viewer's eye towards a Charlie Brown tree. Quite lopsided, but cute none-the-less. The far end of the path lands you in a subdivision - Orleans to be exact.

The route goes through Greenbelt land and I stopped by some of the plaques to take down this information...

National Capital Greenbelt. 20,000 hectare bank of farms, forests, wetlands, research establishments and open spaces. It is managed by the National Capital Commission (NCC). Around 5,000 hectares is farmland - preserved as a reminder of our farming heritage and dependence on agriculture.

These lands are leased to some 60 farmers who produce a wide variety of agricultural products - including strawberries, raspberries, pumpkins, apples, melons, beans, cucumbers, peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes and dairy products. Some are sold at the farm directly to the public. The most common crops you are likely to see along the Greenbelt Pathway are corn, soybeans and cereals; these "cash crops" are harvested for both on-farm and commercial uses.

Corn and soybeans are the most common crops grown in the Greenbelt. Because corn is a "heavy feeder", absorbing a lot of nutrients from the soil, it is usually rotated on a yearly basis with soybeans to reduce disease problems; improve the health of the soil and provide better yields. Soybeans help add nitrogen to the soil.

Rideau Hall

Rideau Hall is the official residence of the Governor General of Canada. It is open to the public and offers guided tours daily from 1 - 4 pm in the summer. There is also an hourly changing of the guard ceremony that includes a piper and guards in ceremonial red uniforms. The grounds of the hall are beautiful and serene. They are laid out in a classical style and have nice features such as rose gardens, walking paths and a stunning water feature. Certain Canadian symbols are scattered about including a totem pole and an inukshuk. The grounds are also planted with many maple trees, most of which bear a small plaque at their base. For example, a moderate sized (and young) tree bears the plaque "Sugar Maple. Acer Saccharum. Planted by Nelson Mandela, President of the Republic of South Africa, 1998". An older tree next to the first one bears this plaque "Sugar Maple. Acer Saccharum. Planted by International Year of the Child. 1979"

Thomas McKay 1792-1855

Mr. McKay had a long and interesting life. He leaves Rideau Hall for the people of Canada, as well as many distinguished acts. You can read it all here on the plaque.


Monument to Canadian Aid Workers.
This monument honours Canadians' commitment to international development and humanitarian assistance and pays tribute to all Canadians' who gave their lives in pursuit of these values. The creation of the monument was inspired by Tim Stone and Nancy Malloy, two Canadian aid workers who were killed in 1996 while working abroad.

Located in Major's Hill Park, Sussex Dr.

Iznik Tiles

The style of tile shown here dates back to the 16th century, and originates in the town of Iznik, a centre for ceramics in Turkey. Tiles such as these traditionally adorned Turkish architecture, and are representative of the cultural and artistic treasures of the Ottoman Empire. Tulips originated in Turkey, and were a common theme in Turkish art.
These tiles are a gift to the National Capital Commission, to the Tulip Capital of Canada and to all Canadians from the Iznik Foundation and the Turkish Embassy. Dedicated on May 8, 2002
Located on Sussex Dr, in Major's Hill Park.


A Nos Glorieux Morts
In glorious memory of the officers and men of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery who gave their lives in the service of Canada.

The photo shows the monument and a 25 Pr C MK II located in Major's Hill Park on Sussex Dr.


Canadian Volunteers of the International Brigades, Spain, 1936 - 1939. 1546 Canadians served in the MacKenzie Papineau Battalion to "defend democracy against the rise of fascism in the 1930's." Many later went on to fight in World War II.

You can go proudly. You are history. You are legend. You are the heroic example of democracy's solidarity and universality. We shall not forget you. And, when the olive tree of peace puts forth its leaves again, come back! ... All of you will find the love and gratitude of the whole Spanish people who now and in the future will cry out with all their hearts, 'Long live the heroes of the International Brigades.'

Dolores Ibarruri, "La Pasionaria"

This monument is located in Major's Hill Park on Sussex Dr.

Ottawa Memorial

"Ottawa Memorial 1939 - 1945 In honoured memory of the men and women of the air forces of the British Commonwealth and Empire who gave their lives in Canada in the United States of America and in neighbouring lands and seas and who have no known grave."

Located in Major's Hill Park on Sussex Drive

111 Sussex Dr Sculpture

This is one of two sculptures located outside the building at 111 Sussex Dr. I don't know who created the art but would like to share it with you.

111 Sussex Drive

This building is located at 111 Sussex Dr.

The architecture makes use of elementary shapes such as pyramids and cubes. I loved it and am going to post a couple of pics.

The additional photo is of a children's play area located outside the building. I liked the humanity of the play area in the context of a building designed to be observed from a distance.