Ottawa: C’était fantastique!

Ottawa 2012 Canada Day and sites 302

Spent 8 days in our nation’s capital last week on pure va-ca-tion.  7 awesome venues/tours/shows in 8 days, including a Canada Day that totally blew my hair back! 

Hit up Canadian War Museum, Canadian Museum of Civilization, tour of Parliament + Peace Tower, Royal Canadian Mint, National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Museum of Nature, and a great light show by Mosaika, projected on Parliament (above).

Staying right down in the Byward Market provided lots of good eats and wildlife, and illustrated what a very pedestrian/bicycle/arts-friendly city Bytown is.  This worked out perfectly because I just wanted to eat/drink/laugh/walk/ride/learn/shoot for a rest.

An unreasonable number of pics follow.


Good eats at: The Grand, The Aulde Dubliner & Pour House, Social, Mamma Grazzi’s, BeaverTails, Yesterday’s, and Moulin de Provence.


The market is home to all sorts of…


interesting characters.


And local berries.


Significant homeless contingent reminiscent of San Fran.  Only got a little dicey when I went east on Rideau to get some groceries.  The Market and west is balanced by tourists, locals, and students.  Seeing an increasing amount of panhandling in uptown Waterloo, too.  Tough problems.








Love this work by Hamilton-based artist Sara Caracristi as seen in the window of a gallery on Sussex.


CRA works out of a castle, it appears.


Love the Canada flags.  Everywhere.


Bridge over canal.


M. Laurier by the east block.


Shot dozens of the Peace Tower…


and associated stuff (like the ceiling underneath the tower)…


and the crest on the front door…


Je suis Canadien!


Setting up for Canada Day.


Sparks Street pedestrian mall.







Danger Fish.


Depth of field challenge.





Chateau Laurier.


Rideau east.  Great sign.


Trucking back from Metro to the hotel with my milk and cereal, I caught this bride at the corner and as I one-handed the camera she looked right at me.  I felt so happy for her.

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This behemoth was circling Parliament and dropping skydivers for practice jumps.

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Canada Day!  This is early.  Streets closed.  Crowds building.  Hey!  We’re tilting.  More people on the left, please.

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The Prime Minister, just past the yellow police vest.  More interesting was this kid, one of the few not craning to see the VIP’s.

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DJ!  Our very own, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, just to the left of the lamppost.

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Wicked flyover on Wellington St.

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Then, it was really crowded.  Shoulder to shoulder.  Awesomely peaceful and polite Canadians.

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and another flyover!

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This is pretty much how the whole day looked after that, wrapping up with really amazing fireworks over the river.  Enjoyed those from Major’s Hill (sans camera, too tired).

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After the city recovered from Canada Day, it was time for a tour of Parliament.  This shot from the figure at the base of the Sir John A. MacDonald sculpture.

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House of Commons.  The green echoes representation of the common people who would gather to talk on the lawn.

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The Senate.  Red like royalty.  Quick discussion of senate reform ensued.

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Awesome tour guide Isabelle was a terrific mix of info and humour.

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Post Canada Day clean up as seen from the Tower.

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Memorial Chamber at the base of the tower.  Waited while the constable readied to perform the daily 11am solemn ceremony of turning the page in the books listing those that have given their lives serving Canada.  Respect.

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Security was super-tight, but friendly on the hill.  If you go, go early in the morning to get register for your timeslot at the east end of centre block.

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Restoration on the west block. And many other places.  This climate is cruel to stonework.


Gatineau, Quebec!  Across the river at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, looking back at Ottawa.  I spent hours in the Canada Hall exhibit, which was totally immersive.  This museum is really pro: great concepts, layouts, and execution.  Highly recommended.  So engrossed in the history that I took (almost) no shots indoors.



Canada Post has an exhibit, part of which displays hundreds of Canadian stamps dating back to 1851.  So cool.  Needed more light for proper photos.  Ah well.


I remember this one.




The next day it was over to the Canadian Museum of Nature.  This whale mounted in the “Queen’s Lantern” entryway feature of the building was terrific.  Like a giant aquarium.  Beautiful building and let me say the exhibits are totally top notch.  Super organized, pro execution, interactive, everything works, super clean.  Great understanding of how to structure information in an engaging and accessible way.  Bravo!


I spent at least an hour on the birds alone.


Minerals and gems exhibit was my fave.  Sorry, Toronto’s ROM, these guys have you beat.  Lower ambient light, better display cases, and better specimens make this a don’t-miss tour.


Heads up!


Have you ever discovered a space so compelling that you can’t stop shooting it?


This has happened to me on some urban explorations in large factories and also the Tate Modern in London.  Gigantic enclosed spaces hypnotize me a bit.


Vic the Dinosaur retweeted me.


Last whale, I swear.  Museum staff, please do me a favour: shoot some long exposure night shots of this whale while painting it with spot lights from outside the glass.  Thanks!


Next tour was the Mint  In Ottawa they mint all the special collector and investor coins.  The common coins are cranked out at their facility in Winnipeg.


They are super super tight with security at the mint.  The only thing you can take a picture of is…


this gigantic 28lbs gold bar that is chained to its table and comes with its own armed (but friendly) guard.  You can touch it, you can lift it, you can photograph it.  But nothing else in the mint.  Great tour.  I had lots of questions and our tour guide Natalie had lots of great answers.  High five!


The National Gallery was a whirlwind of 4 hours.  No pics allowed in there, but…


out front…


it’s fair game.  Hit the Van Gogh exhibit which was really well put together.  Side galleries illustrated possible influences on Van Gogh’s work and included photography from the mid-1800’s and Asian woodcut prints.  I saw part of The Clock exhibit, did the contemporary galleries, hit the Arnaud Maggs exhibit (more photography!), and walked the photo/print gallery until I could walk no more.  Soooo wish I could shoot in that space.


Uhhhh, sir?

Great trip.  On my leisurely 5-hour drive back to Waterloo, I pondered what positive points from Ottawa could be translated and injected here in our community.  Still thinkin’ about that.

Happy making,

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3 Responses to Ottawa: C’était fantastique!

  1. Von says:

    DW! You brought the capital to life in these pics- totally enjoyed the experience! I lived in Byward once, during a long-ago co-op term, and could see the National Art Gallery from my front door. You brought it all back! I used to visit Ottawa once/twice a year, and it’s been too long now, you’ve made me homesick for it. Thank-you!

  2. Sandrock says:

    Simply stunning!

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