On January 2nd I described a tour of various locations and monuments within the National Capital Region that are of particular significance or reference to the First Nations. Since then I have learnt of a few others, including one that eluded me on the first tour – the bronze sculpture of an Anishinabe Scout. Here is the route I followed to visit these additional locations.
First stop, 299 Montreal Road where stands the recently completed Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, designed by architect Douglas Cardinal who also designed the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau.
Second stop is the sculpture of the Anishinabe Scout at the northern tip of Majors Hill Park, tucked behind the small heritage stone building. The first image also shows the statue of Champlain in the distance up on Nepean Point. The sculpture was originally installed at the base of the plinth upon which Champlain stands but was relocated to its present site in 1996 at the request of Ovide Mercredi, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. UPDATE: December 2018 – Just discovered a very good mini-doc on the history of this sculpture.
My final stop was along the Ottawa River Pathway, just east of Island Park Drive where this recently installed circular arrangement of stones is located. It is titled the Kitchissippi Medecine Wheel and is the work a fellow named Tim. UPDATE – Summer 2015: The installation is no longer there, but it’s still a great spot to visit, overlooking the Ottawa River.
This description of the piece is mounted to a wooden post just to the right of the wheel.
David Jackson is an amazing multi-faceted local musician and one of the founding members of the Northern Sound Electrical System, ‘an open member project whose purpose is to explore the fringes of drone, electronics, noise and sound through guitars, software, percussion, field recordings, and whatever else anyone wants to bring to the show.’ David posted a great recording of one of their performances at Le Temporaire in Gatineau earlier this year. I had the urge to explore the pathway along the Ruisseau-de-la-brasserie located close to Le Temporaire, while listening to the recorded session, so as the sun came up I set my iPhone SoundCloud app to David C Jackson, North Sound Electrical System Live at Le Temporaire, and headed off. It was incredible. UPDATE Summer 2018: It is now illegal to wear headphones while biking in Québec.
Here’s the route, and some photos taken along the way.
The path dips under a number of major bridges with lots of commuter traffic, the sounds of which lend themselves well to the recording.
The path splits just beyond Autoroute de la Gatineau. Left continues along the Ruisseau de la Brasserie Pathway towards Leamy Lake, but it’s worth continuing along the right hand path for a bit, at least as far as the bridges that connect the two autoroutes. Here’s some of what what you’ll see.
There are two great interpretive exhibits on the shores of Leamy Lake that delve into the history of the area. Conflict of interest warning – Carla designed them.
If the breeze is up you can feel the coolness of the melting ice off the lake, as was the case at this spot along the shore.
As part of North Korea’s escalating rhetoric and bellicose threats to nuke their southern brethren and the U.S., they have set up missile launchers along their east coast. Most pundits believe they are mostly for show. Whether or not the missiles are capable of lift off, their display has certainly captured the world’s attention. Japan has responded by setting up an anti-missile system of their own. All these shows of force had me pondering the many depictions of long barrelled artillery on display throughout our region, so I came up with the following ‘Cannons in the Capital’ bike tour.
By peering through the angled glass wall just off Booth street into the Canadian War Museum you get a good view of this large collection of tanks and armoury.
This tank sits just to the north outside the museum, seemingly waiting for an indoor parking spot to open up amongst its peers.
Booth Street Bridge over to Gatineau is under construction, but you can safely make your way across the river by biking down Victoria Island and up over the Portage Bridge.
These two tanks, parked on display outside the Salaberry Armoury at the corner of Boulevard Alexandre-Taché and Boulevard St Joseph, are dedicated to the resident Régiment de Hull.
‘The Journey of the Nishiyuu‘, meaning ‘The Journey of the People’ in Cree, inspired me to head up the 105 alongside the Gatineau River to meet them on their way to Chelsea from Wakefield on the second to last day of their incredible trek to Parliament Hill. Here are the first members of the group I met who had walked all the way from Whapmagoostui on James Bay.
This bike ride is one I would normally not have attempted until the snow had melted but, inspired by the effort and dedication of these youth, I made it on my hefty winter bike, no problem. Here’s how.
I encountered the walkers along Chemin de la Rivière as they completed a very long climb up from the rivers edge. The confidence in their stride was amazing. Here are a few more shots.
By the time our paths met their pacing had been stretched out as they were well into their day’s journey, so the above images don’t do justice to the number of youth participating in the trek.
They stopped for a well deserved lunch break where the 105 and Chemin de la Rivière meet.
The biking conditions up the 105 are mixed. There are generous shoulders to ride along as far as the Larimac golf course, just watch out for sand left over from the winter.
North beyond the Larimac golf course conditions remain the same as described in this post.
The Nishiyuu will be treated to some great views such as this over the Gatineau River on their way to Ottawa.
But unless they deviat from the 105 they will also encounter views like this coming into Gatineau. Carla calls this scenario The Battle of the Pylons, pylons being the type of tall stand-alone signs popular with car dealerships and gas stations.
Safe journey Nishiyuu walkers, and see you in Ottawa.
When I lived in Montreal I would occasionally walk through Notre-Dame-Des-Neiges Cemetery to get over the mountain. At one point they were blasting close to the older plots. Many of the majestic tombstones were supported with various lengths of lumber and wire, and wrapped in translucent plastic for protection. The light from the setting sun glowed through the plastic, creating a hazy silhouette around the stone monuments. I was struck by how the temporary protective materials seemed to suggest the rich fleetingness of human life, adding to the tombstone’s raison d’être. I wound up adapting the effect for the graveyard scene in a production of Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind.
Now what has all that got to do with biking in Ottawa/Outaouais? Well, ever since then I’ve been fascinated by the juxtaposition of temporary protective cladding around structures as they are being renovated, and right now there are a few extensive renovations happening in town, so I headed off to check them out. Here’s how.
As I write, Chief Theresa Spence of Attiwapiskat is in her 23rd day of her hunger strike on Victoria Island halfway across the Ottawa River. The following press release re-iterating her cause was sent out on New Years Eve.
The entire National Capital Region is of significance to the First Nations as they were its occupants and guardians for thousands of years before Champlain visited in 1615. On Monday I toured a few sites and locations with specific reference to the First Nations. Here’s how.
First stop was the Odawa Friendship Centreon Stirling AvenueUPDATE – The Odawa Friendship Centre has moved to 250 City Centre Ave, The Centre’s mission is ‘To enhance the quality of life for Aboriginal people in the Capital region. To maintain a tradition of community, an ethic of self-help and development as well as to provide traditional teachings from our elders.’.
Around the side and back of the centre are the following murals.
Next stop, Victoria Island, or Asinabka. In the Algonquin language the word “Asinabka” means “place of glare rock”. It is considered a sacred site, where for thousands of years ceremonies and offerings have been made. Lots more on Asinabka here.
The cedar fence was constructed to house a summer interpretive program called Aboriginal Experiences. The tee-pee is where Chief Theresa Spence is holding her fast.
A bit further down river sits The Canadian Museum of Civilization, designed by architect Douglas Cardinal who is of Metis and Blackfoot heritage. His First Nations background is said to have greatly influenced his indigenous style of architecture, as described in this CBC radio interview.
Back over on the Ottawa side, behind the National Gallery, atop Nepean Point stands this statue of Champlain looking out over the Ottawa River. There used to be a bronze sculpture of a kneeling Anishinabe scout at the base of the plinth on which Champlain stands, but it was removed in 1996 at the request of Ovide Mercredi, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. I did not know that the sculpture of the scout had been relocated to Majors Hill Park a short distance away.
Near the National Cenotaph is the Valiants Memorial made up of a number of sculptures of key figures from the military history of the country, including that of Thayendanegea or Joseph Brant, a Mohawk who supported the British during the American Revolution. He relocated to the area near the present day City of Brantford in southern Ontario after the revolution.
I then rode up behind Parliament Hill to photo the Ottawa River, the highway used by First Nations for millennia before more modern forms of transport took over, first by rail, and now by road and air. There is Victoria Island in the middle, with the Supreme Court on the cliff to the left.
My final stop was in Confederation Park where stands this monument ‘To Aboriginal War Veterans in Canada and to Those That Have Fallen’.
The true heroes on birth days are mothers, a status all the more enhanced when the magical moment occurs in less than ideal conditions, like in a manger surrounded by livestock. So in recognition of this I toured a few depictions of Mother Mary throughout the city. Here’s the route I followed, purple line going one way, blue line coming back.
First stop was just inside the gates of St Vincent Hospital overlooking Lebretton Flats towards the Gatineau Hills. That’s where this statue of Mary stands in a small grotto.
in my last post I lamented not being able to cross over the pretty white bridge leading to New Edinburgh. I took a closer look at the map and discovered there was another way to gain access by following a path off Sussex Drive as shown on the above map. The plaque mounted on one of the steel supports tells us it’s the Minto Bridge, installed in 1900.
I was also able to ride along the well travelled and packed down Rideau River Trail as far as Beechwood Avenue. A little bumpy but well worth it.
The second depiction of Mary on our tour is this statue at the end of Avenue des Pères Blancs. The Pères Blancs is a Catholic Society of Missionairies of Africa whose scholasticate occupied the site of Parc Richelieu. They were expropriated by the city of Vanier when the province ordered the city to acquire more park land. This statue of the Virgin Mary left by the missionaries greets visitors as they enter the park.