Sacred Silence

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The silence in this memorial hall is full of unspoken things… expressions of love, fear, hope, sorrow, pride, courage and freedom. The energies of an overwhelming gratitude; for sacrifices and for peace. It’s a sacred space designed for reflection.

The silence here is heavy, loud even; you can feel all of this swirling in the air around you like it is alive. It touched me, first on the outside as it prickled across my skin and then deep inside me. This room is so perfectly simple yet it is one of the most powerful spaces I have ever spent time in. It conveys everything that you expect it too and then so much more that I can’t do it justice with mere words. It is something that needs to be experienced. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Ottawa - the Canadian War Museum is amazing but you don’t need to pay for the museum to visit the Memorial Hall, it’s free to the public any time the building is open. For me it is the necessary compliment to a trip to visit the Unkown Soldier himself.

This room has a reflecting pool on one side of it beside a simple bench where you can sit and experience the silence. There is a single window, uniquey positioned so that on November 11th, at 11:00am (the precise moment the WWI ended in 1918), the sun shines through the window, a beam of light iluminating the grave marker of the Unknown Soldier

Here is a video I took of the room while I was there.

The Inner Ottawa

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I caught this reflection while I was having breakfast in a cafe on Sparks Street Mall right before the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Parliament Hill. The reflection is amazing.

All Locked Up

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Another night shot, this one of the Locks that go from the Rideau Canal (which is under the bridge I am standing on) to the Ottawa River. The Locks fascinate me - they are all still operated by hand. I sat and watched them move four boats down through the Locks one day. It is a relatively slow yet steady process. I imagine it might take a boat owner more than an hour and a half to get down the Locks here to the river. If I ever live in Ottawa I have decided we would need to have a boat.

Spanning the Rideau Canal

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The Queensway Bridge over Rideau Canal seen at night

The Rideau Canal is the oldest continuously operated canal in North America and the locks still work today much as they did in 1832 (operated by hand) when the canal was constructed as a precaution in case of war with the United States (would have been used to resupply trrops at the front line). It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Rideau Canal Waterway is 202 kms long (about 19km of that is man made).

The Rideau Canal is one of the features I adore about Ottawa. When I think of potentially living in Ottawa I think about how fun it would be to skate to work every day along the Rideau Canal. I’ve only ever seen it in early or late summer but I assume it is as beautiful in every season as when I have seen it. 

Arachnophobia!

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I’ve long had a strange reaction to spiders - they both creep me out and fascinate me (yes I wll submit myself to my fears for morbid curiousity). When I first saw a picture of Maman I knew I had to go see it. Of course at the time I think it was in Paris (or London) so that makes it a tiny bit more likely I have that “must see” feeling about something. I was THRILLED when I saw that there was now one at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. So pleased indeed that I visited it on more than one occasion and I waited paitently until all the tourists were out of the shot so I could get this picture. You can read more about Maman HERE.

House of Glass

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The “Water Court” in the National Gallery of Canada contains a square, glass-bottomed pool of water (see from below). This court yard also as a gallery but it is more like an outdoor plaza where one can pause to reflect or rest. Ingeniously, the pool also serves as a watery skylight for the lobby below.

According to Yousuf Karsh, the new National Gallery is a “celebration of light.” Karsh says the single best feature of the new building is the play of light - something that the archeitect Safdie worked very hard to achieve in his amazing design (instead of the traditional gallery without windows he created a building built out of windows, creatively diffusing light through out the gallery so as not to affect the installations there.

I'm a Book Worm!

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Legend has it I was reading well before Kindergarten began… and when I was in Kindergarten the teacher put me through Grade 1 and then I did Grade 2 the next year. I don’t think I was neccessarily smarter than other kids (I think all kids can learn to read early if you teach them) but the basis for this I believe lies in my love of books.

From an early age I discovered worlds of knowledge with the covers of my books. I couldn’t stop reading. I read everything. I was even over joyed to get a bible for Christmas when I was 7 years old. In addition to enjoying what was inside a book, I loved the book itself. I love the way books look on my shelf and I love the way they feel in my hands. I love sitting in a coffee shop in a comfy chair reading the morning away or sitting in the sunshine on the grass. And even if it takes me forever to get to them I always have a stack of books beside my bed waiting to be read.

One day I’d love to have a room dedicated just to books. A library with a couple of big comfy reading chairs, some soft lighting and a small table for some hot beverage. Until then I will continue to admire libraries as I find them. This picture is of one of my favourites - the Parliament Library on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. It’s amazing - with over 600,000 items - it’s a beautiful room.

The Hill

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Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE legislative buildings and the Canadian federal legislative building - Parliament Hill (or “the Hill”) is hardly an exception. Actually, I would say they are my favourite; no trip to Ottawa would be complete without a visit to the Hill. The “Centre Block” (seen in this picture) contains the Senate and the House of Commons and is fronted by the Peace Tower with the Library of Parliament at the building’s rear. There are also two other buildings (East and West Blocks) a large green space where you can find the Eternal Flame and if you walk around the grounds to the south you will find a colony of stray cats.

As the Sun Sets

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Looking from the top of the Locks by the Chateau over the Ottawa River and towards Quebec. This was my last evening in Ottawa, I was walking back to the hotel to meet Duncan after I’d spent the day touring around the sites.

Ready for the Fall?

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When I came across this single leaf laying on the pathway on Parliament Hill in Ottawa I was struck by a certain panic - I’m not ready yet for the Fall to arrive. I am just beginning to really enjoy summer and while I know that it is almost over (according to the calendar) we should have another month (at least) of good weather before the leaves all start to turn. I do enjoy fall, especially for taking pictures. But I’ve had an opportunity to spend the last month with my kids in the sunshine and I am just not ready to give that up yet.

I guess - as always - we need to make the best with the time we are given.