Ottawa, Ontario Sunday Sept. 14, 2014
The poor weather forecaster. Never praised, always criticized. Today was supposed to become mainly sunny and warmer starting at 10 A.M. Did not happen until 3 pm. A five hour difference is a big deal when you are trying to figure out your plans for the day.
Sunday is a day to take life a little easier so we were not out touring until after 10 AM. The Canada Museum of History is a large complex across the Ottawa River in Gatineau Quebec but it turns out over one half of what we viewed from the outside was administrative offices. Then the Hall of Canada was closed for renovations; a new hall will not open until 2017. Despite that, we spent three hours touring various exhibits.
Our original thoughts were to walk over and back and then drive to Gatineau Park. We chose to drive to the museum. Given that today was colder than Saturday, we were pleased with our choice. The museum is directly across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill; a sunny day would have made for dramatic photos.
The Empress of Ireland was the first exhibit we visited. Due to the influence of Hollywood, most of us are familiar with the 1912 sinking of the Titanic and its loss of 1512 lives. Lesser known is the Empress of Ireland sinking. The Empress was a ship of the Canadian Pacific Railway sailing between Quebec and Liverpool England. On May 29, 1914, she collided with a Norwegian coal carrying ship, the Storstad and sank in 15 minutes while still in the St. Lawrence Seaway. 1012 people died in this tragedy.
The display covered the details of the sinking, stories of survivors and victims, and artifacts from the wreckage. The ship still lies on the bottom of the river. Similar to the Titanic, first,second and third class ticket holders had much different experiences on board. The sinking was big news around the world; the emergence of World War I which started just mere weeks later pushed it into the background.
The second exhibit highlighted snow. What might seem like a simple concept gets detailed treatment. As the literature states, snow is such a major factor in the lives of all Canadians that it impacts on culture, art, clothing, recreation, employment, etc.
The museum has closed its entire third floor to create a massive history of Canada exhibit which will not open for another three years. Instead we visited the large First Peoples display on the first floor. This was one of the most comprehensive displays I have encountered of this topic during our Canadian journeys. But, I will admit, I do not find it interesting enough to spend much time here. I have heard the creation stories many times. The loss of lands is not dissimilar to that of Native Americans. I have seen the crafts previously. I will forget details here as I have of other locations. Maybe our journeys are becoming too similar.
We traveled to Gatineau Park, an area combining park features and wilderness lands across the river in Gatineau, Quebec. Gatineau Park is a odd creation, sort of a national park but under separate control of a local government commission. It is large with the southern half being the more park-like portion. Today we only drove through parts of it, stopping at a few overlooks. Hopefully tomorrow’s weather will allow us to hike before we head to Quebec.
Ed and Chris 9/14 8:30 pm