Postcard art installations aside, the real noise in Ottawa during the 150th Anniversary of Confederation came from the CAF Snowbirds doing flyovers of Parliament and city centre in their Canadair CT-114 Tutors. While the other CAF equipment on display in the afternoon made but a single pass, the Snowbirds kept going round and round and round and round… No dramatic fireballs were observed. Business as usual for the aerobatists.
The US Embassy wasn’t quite as dynamic as the planes overhead but it made up for it with staleness sublimely befitting the greatest Soviet Power extant. Hurr.
In less depressing architecture(!), I finally made it across the Alexander Bridge to Gatineau QC and Douglas Cardinal’s aforementioned
Museum of Man Canadian Museum of Civilization Canadian Museum of History i Building Where People Go To Learn Official Truths Mkay. And the sun finally shone!1
As striking as Cardinal’s masterpiece was, as Pierre Bonnard once said, “The best things in museums are the windows.” But is this true here ? Do these asymmetrical, snaking, and sloping curtain walls best their treasures within ?
It doesn’t help the chances of the Official Truth Exhibits that the facades are triple-glazed(!!!!). In case you didn’t know or care about such trivial architectural details, three-decade-old triple-glazed IGUs are the equivalent of not just finding hen’s teeth, but golden hen’s teeth – like finding a CSIRAC still in working order and in use. That the IGUs themselves haven’t obviously failed from thirty Canadian summers of sealant expansion and thirty Canadian winters of sealant contraction, in a schweaty high-humidity environment like Ottawa’s, is some kind of minor miracle. Or a testament to the monumental budgetii for the project and Cardinal’s fierce defense of every single goddam detail of this meticulously crafted building. It’s so exceedingly rare to find a late 20th century building that isn’t a Miesian cube where every fucking line goes where it should, where every material intersection matches perfectly, where there are no incongruous details for even the most attentive observer to malign.
The durability of both materials and design attested to the relative significance of Canada’s resource wealth at the time of construction, its then-near-possibility of pretenses to sovereignty, and the power invested in its Prime Minister above and beyond the globalist conpherence charade his son is presently mired in. Too young to remember those good ol’ days ? Tough beans kiddo. At least there are a few relics left scattered about to help you relive the better days of your “nation.” In fact, for late-20th century items, there are few better than this.
Gazing beyond, Parliament Hill peeks suggestively through the gap between the two CMH buildings. Come hither! Umm, no thanks ? You couldn’t pay me enough to enter public politics. But I appreciate the sentiment.
Not quite a cat of any description but as purrtty all the same was this custom coach built by Rothschild et filsiii in France. Originally commissioned by Louis Adolphe de Louvencourt, the four-horse carriage featured adaptive braking, a picnic box containing fine china and silverware, metal iceboxes, and an additional elevated seating platform for preferred viewing lines at race events. Today, you can still outfit various “British” vehicles from Range Rover, Bentley, and Rolls Royceiv with picnic kits and coolers, but as far as I’m aware none offer rooftop seating for the simple reason that there’s no longer even the conception that an organised event would permit a private motor vehicle anywhere near the gallery. Omigerd think of the liability you guise. Less liabilous but at least as bilious is Alex Janvier’s ceiling mural at the western end of the complex, completed in 1993.
Perhaps as permanent (though this remains to be seen) was this replica mini-church in the new Canadian History Hall, which opened to the public July 1st of this year. It’s a replica of one that my Gido probably attended in Smoky Lake AB when he was a boy.
Pretty basic inside too, but what else was there but the cold, solitary wilderness for the 170`000 Ukranians who arrived in Canada between 1891 and 1914 ? Not much.v
So Bonnard was right, the museum wins again. So too does this bumblebee just out front. Industrious little feller, isn’t he! So much so that he declined to comment when asked for his thoughts on the future of Canada as a “nation,” saying only that he was bizzy.
And now for a few final oddly-sized iPhone snaps from the trip! First up, more winning from Uber, whose surge pricing on Canada Day that was effective rather than “fair.” (This was normally a $13 fare.)vi
Alexander Shelley’s suave brilliance won too.vii He was crisp beyond compare and it’s little wonder that he finds himself at the top of his profession.
Lastly, we see that technology kept the family connected all the while. Phew! Though whether the screens and cameras caused the tongues to protrude ablabially or were an effect of them is unknown to this author. Neither of us were able to diagnose the other for tongue cancer, however, but I’m understandably suspicious of my blond friend’s abilities at this time.
Merci et bienvenue!
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- I shit thee not that the name of this Museum has changed three times in as many decades. Because discrimination. Because what the fuck else is the people’s revolution ??! [↩]
- As Trudeau Senior’s behest, the CMH construction budget swelled to $340mn in 1980’s Canabucks by the time the final stone was laid, or something like $11bn in today’s mini-bucks at a very conservative 10% per annum inflation estimate. [↩]
- Rothschild wines are still available today even though their coaches aren’t. Their true successors are similarly unknown. [↩]
- “British” because RR is owned by Indians and the other two by various tribes of Huns. [↩]
- The decor in the aforementioned Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica Double Whammy is considerably swishier.
- Though it has to be said that the cars used by Uber drivers in Ottawa were pretty lackluster, but so too was the car culture in general there. A tuner-y S2k or FRS here and there was about the only break from the weaselcratic lamestream. [↩]
- Not “wonton” you Franco-Chinoise word-playing bastards! [↩]