26.10.2010 - 26.10.2010 17 °C
Day 41 Tuesday 26 October – Day at the Museum
The day is overcast and there's some fog about but there is little to no wind and the forecast temperature is for about 14 to 17. After breakfast we head off to the city, the arrangement is for David to drop us off and then return to pick us up again at 3 pm. That wonderful man will drive a total of 4 hours in traffic so that we can have 4 hours in the museum.
We visited the Canadian Museum of Civilisation, a museum like no other that we've seen anywhere. It is located on the banks of the river across from the Parliament. The structure from the outside is interesting but what is inside was far beyond our expectation.
We started with level 3 – a journey across Canada from East to West. The exhibit starts with the visitation by the Vikings, the early settlements and their struggles to turn salt marshes into farming lands. The important Cod fisheries and early Whaling are all presented in life-sized settings with detailed descriptions and artefacts of the period displayed. One of the things that was most unusual was that very little was hidden behind glass an absolute bonus for taking pictures,
Through to the fur trade and a recreated New French square complete with Inn, Boot-maker and a Hospital. All displayed and constructed in great detail. The growth of the timber industry and through the British Military presence to the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway and its impact on the development Westward. From the station a boxcar leads to the grain elevator of the prairies and an exquisite Orthodox Church that is still used on occasions.
The advent of the Unions and a re-created Chinese Laundry leads onto a small school-house of the era and the discovery of oil in Alberta about 1920. The exhibit takes on an almost modern air as we arrive in an airport departure lounge depicting the uniforms and aircraft of Canada Pacific Air “Gateway to the Orient”. We exit through the Wildcat Cafe which provides a glimpse of life in the harsh Northern Regions even today.
We'd spent an hour and could have spent a full day, there were no straight lines and lots of nooks and crannies to look at and into. The 'feel' of the floor changed with the era including uneven cobbles through to rough timber and carpet. Totally awesome experience.
Level 4 paid homage to the prominent men and women of Canada through its history. We walked quite quickly through this floor as the names and faces were not known to us. A break for lunch in the excellent Cafeteria and a quick stroll outside to take in some of the views.
Level 1 has an impressive hall that stretches from end to end and is four stories high. It houses the artefacts of the 'First Nations' and has a large number of totem poles displayed there. We spent some time exploring the four different houses, each representative of the different regions of the Pacific Coast peoples. Fifteen minutes in each was not enough time to read all the inscriptions or listen to the narratives or watch the Audio/Visuals in the little theaters.
We then meandered through the First Peoples Hall containing both original and recreated clothing, shelter, tools and hunting implements all set against beautiful backgrounds. Again there were detailed descriptions and explanations. By this time we had become quite adapt at focusing on the English text, it was on the right, French on the left. Reluctantly we couldn't stop to examine all the exhibits in detail.
On to Level 2 – the entry level – for the Canada Post exhibit, every stamp ever issued is displayed in a dimmed room and they provide magnifying glasses to examine them in detail. Yes, the lights come on so that you can see them. Post boxes from the past, activities associated with stamp collecting (I forget the word) and activities for kids.
That brought us into the Children’s Museum – kids could spend a week here, we could have spent hours but didn't have the time. One section was a scaled down theatre complete with ticket office, stage and dressing rooms behind the stage. Dress-up costumes are provided and the wardrobe mistress was a delight to talk to.
We had well and truly filled the four hours and there were many parts we had not visited but our chariot was due and we followed yet another route back to Manotick. In part we followed the Ottawa River along a broad divided parkway. David expressed his concern that it may be destroyed by a plan to use it as a light rail corridor.
Back at base we relax for a while and then join a neighbour for 5ish, a drink, a chat and some savoury nibbles at about 5 pm, very civilised and most enjoyable. Back for peanuts and drinks while Linda finishes the diner preparations. By about 8:30 we are well and truly ready for bed.
More activities planned for Wednesday.