Miss Mabel’s journey begins with her husband seeing her off to a short bus ride. I even slept a bit, which Simone says is uncontrollable. In fact, we surmised that the driver has a secret machine that makes the passengers sleep so they won’t cause trouble. Parlia-ment is about here. You can see the Rideau canal and river.
Look out the window, what do I see? Cows hangin' out under spreading trees. Zoom! They're gone behind the sign White letters pointing to the long white line (Bruce Cockburn song, written between Ottawa and Montreal)
Bytown was a lumber town with nothing more to recommend it except it was halfway between Upper and Lower Canada. Queen Victoria chose it as our capital, and it was renamed Ottawa. As you can see, it was ONE HORSE TOWN. No paved roads, no plumbing; violence between the rival Irish and French workers; and Classic Canadian weather - the first upper crust London politicians and civil servants detested it.
A few Famous Types who lived in Ottawa at some point.
Of course, my most important person landmark was Brucie. Many of his songs were conceived in and around Ottawa. “Wondering Where the Lions Are” was written during the Cold War, after a conversation with his Ottawa defence civil servant cousin, who was freaked out by China. Sun's up ... looks okay. The world survives into another day...
Bus let me off at the University - At the Rideau Centre I caught a bus to Rideau Hall.
There were a lot of Weirdos and Old Ladies from the Islands at my bus stop. On the way, my little poli sci self photographed Foreign Affairs. Keep in mind that my whole trip the weather was between 30-40 degrees with humidity.
I had a short walk from the bus, and realized I was passing 24 Sussex, the PM’s rez.
I couldn’t see much through the trees. This is how it looks from the cliff side.
Home to the Queen’s Rep in Canada. Once an important position, now just... pretty silly... Here are the Generic Tourists Taking Pics of Guards, like in London. And those damned hats! Rideau Hall
I liked her, til she went and spent all my money in Finland. Now she and her hubby just seem elitist to me.
I was originally headed elsewhere, to see an open air play, but the RH grounds were so beautiful I had to take my time. I discovered that they have regular tree planting ceremonies, so there are plaqued and dated trees everywhere. It was wonderful! Such interesting little moments in time, especially for poli sci girl. I tried to read them ALL.
This guy favoured Hutus over Tutsis, and when his plane was shot down, it triggered the Rwandan genocide. But that was 10 years after this plaque! Below is Lech Walesa. One feels that the tree’s state should match its owners soul, but alas I do not think this is so. Nature - so arbitrary. Look at Lech’s little tree!
o Keep an eye peeled for the nasty sprinklers I had to run from!
Queen E had trees from her princesshood onward. This one’s from 2002. * But Bertie has really worked on his since 1939!
o Terry Fox fountain, put up by a GG and the CFL.
Yoda visits his pals Adie and Johnnie in their swank digs. 2 chicks were staring at this guard, right in his face. He suddenly took a snapping march forward (before proceeding on his routine tour) and scared the shit out of them. They SCREAMED.
Robert Mugabe’s tree. Oh ease!! As I write this his economy is on the verge of crashing. Maybe his tree symbolizes him growing fat on his people, while Walesa’s is spiritually lean and humble...
I wish I was named Field Marshall Kahn. That’s a great name.
o I was in despair all summer, at having lost all my poli sci knowledge, because I couldn’t remember the former King of Jordan’s name for a crossword. I almost wept when I saw it here. Hussein!
The only Israeli I spotted - and my 2 lunch companions.
We end with a UN Sec Gen, which I think appropirate. It was, after all, the idea of our own Lester B. Pearson to start the UN Peacekeeping forces, which ended the Suez Crisis. Boutros was the SG when Rwanda happened, so I fear his reputation is not spotless. But to be fair, the SG can’t control what the UN Sec Council does...
I walked back to the city centre, determined to keep up my old London walking routine. But 39 C, and not a single cloud in the sky, is different than a breezy 23. I enjoyed my walk, but had to use my umbrella. By the time I reached the National Gallery air conditioning seemed like the greatest invention since Powerpoint!
o On the way I stopped at Canada and the World - some lame pavillion that seems like a leftover from Expo 86 - complete with Cdn music blaring over the loudspeaker outside. (They played Alanis, Anne M, and Brucie.) But this monument to aid workers is nice.
Rideau Falls, where the river meets... the river.
These banners were very pretty - but in the end, it just looks like one lond hot road doesn’t it? This is the Quebec banner.
Their special exhibit was on Renaissance painters. A little of Leonardo and Mikeyangelo, but also those who were influenced by them. And I can tell you, there is nothing a Renaissance painter likes more than (a) a nekkid guy, and (b) baby Jesus hanging with Baby J Baptist. I couldn’t find an example online of the best ones, but they were freaky - JB is always represented as some kind of rock star, entertaining a very amused and chunky JC. Enjoyable, but in the end I still prefer... I liked seeing the Andrea del Sarto stuff, since Browning wrote a great dramatic monologue about him. I saw The Sacrific of Isaac, which was stunning. “ But do not let us quarrel any more, No, my Lucrezia; bear with me for once: Sit down and all shall happen as you wish. You turn your face, but does it bring your heart? “
wacky modern art Ron Mueck Untitled (Head of a Baby) 2003
This was one of my faves - different alarm bells, brushed by randomly rotating brushes, at intervals. You can read about it and hear the bells at this site: http://www.cheapmeat.net/12MotorBells.html 12 Motor Bells , audio , contemporary art , installation , Ken Gregory , Kitty Scott An outhouse. This is the kind of modern art that people love to hate! I saw some of the Canadian art too, like this famous portrait of the death of Wolfe.
NAPACHIE POOTOOGOOK I LOVED this exhibit of Inuit drawings. Unfortunately I didn’t have much time cause I was meeting Simone. If it comes to Montreal, I would go again - with fresh feet and time on my hands. “ Late in her life and motivated in part by her failing health, Napachie decided to tell the stories of her life and times: her local history, her personal experience and the stories of other people and events - both true and legendary.” Some of the stories are hilarious, or crazy, or sad. This is a shaman who gets annoyed every time he’s cut up, cause he hates the smell of blood. I’ve always liked Emily Carr too - it was nice seeing some of her things.
William Kurelek This is a series of paintings of Ukrainian pioneers. They were huge and wonderful.
I saw the above one at the Tate Modern in London. To the right is the Ottawa one. So cool! - At this point Simone came to meet me, and we were off! “ In 1994 Bourgeois made the first of a series of gigantic spiders in bronze and steel, which culminated in the "Spider Cell" of 1997. The spider is a metaphor for Bourgeois' protective mother. "My best friend was my mother, and she was... (as) clever, patient, and neat as a spider; she could also defend herself." In the "Spider Cell" Bourgeois transformed the spider from a two-dimensional image into a three-dimensional place one enters physically. “
My map is buried somewhere, and I’m too lazy to photograph it. Anyway, we set out in the AM, and somehow got to Parliament. Afterwards we went to lunch Somewhere (I think we were around the Byward Market), then went to her place of work to get movie passes, then went to Must Love Dogs (ahhh air conditioning!) then went to supper at a Mexican place, in the rain, then crossed the bridge to the Mus of Civilization, then went home. We were out for about 12 hours. It was 39 degrees that day too. No clouds. When someone else walks me around, I don’t know where I’ve been afterward, except in terms of Places. So I can’t map this out.
The Cats of Parliament Hill. Years ago some woman started taking in stray cats on the Hill - now it’s an old man who’s taken over (and later we’ll see the younger man who helps him.) He gets no money from Parliament, but people can leave donations. It was so hot that the cats were all missing, except this one. (Simone says on less touristy days you see them lazing around outside the enclosure.) Simone and I could understand this Hiding behaviour - we hid a lot too. This was not the weather for brown bagging a lunch (not that S. would anyway) - we NEEDED the air conditioning and cold drinks that restaurants (and 1 movie theatre) could give us. The food was incidental.
o The Peace Tower - it’s gargoylicious! Looking at the views while awaiting our tours.
o Mounties are funner than those guys in bear hats - they’re allowed to smile! They always draw a big crowd, even if they’re Dolly Doright, not Dudley.
o Our first tour was of the East Bloc, where Parliament used to be held, and Sir John A and the Gov G had their offices. Now it’s for senators (like those guys need offices.) We had a guy in wheelchair in our group, and an assistant (Kevin) took him around to the non-touristy entrance. Then we went through a sleepy security outfit, like at the airport.
o The tour guide did her schtick, but when it was time to go upstairs, Kevin had disappeared! You can call this: Simone et Yoda, en Attendant le Kevin. (We saw the wheelchair guy again on our Centre Block tour, and on another day at the Museum of Civ. I said out loud “Hey it’s the guys from our tour!” by way of friendly greeting.)
o The Gov G’s office - at the time Lord Dufferin. He was pro Confederation.
o The PM’s office. You can see the pull bell which was his “intercom.” Sir John A’s wife came in to tell us some history things. I found her a bit boring to be honest. Before I came I was reading Sandra Gwyn’s A Private Capital - a really fun description of this time in Ottawa.
The Council Chamber - which was Cabinet. The tour guide said there wasn’t enough room at the table for all the ministers, so one would have to sit at this desk in the corner. But Gwyn says that’s the clerk’s desk.
o Apparently the crown molding tells you how important the person is. Looks like the Cabinet wins.
o “ In 1927, five remarkable Alberta women contested, in the Supreme Court of Canada, the interpretation of the word "persons." That time, they did not succeed. But two years later, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of Great Britain, which was still the highest Court of Appeal for Canada, declared that the word "persons" included men and women.” * Back outside is my favourite set of statues, because it really brings the moment to life. Ya! I’m a person! And the kiddies love to play on it.