Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembrance Day Ottawa - 2013

Just a few pictures to show some of my overseas friends how we do things here.

The was just after 10 looking into the down town core. On a better day, you can see the Peace tower on the parliament buildings just up and left of where the bus is. There was a cold wet snow falling.

War Museum
The War Museum. An imposing bunker like building. More of this later.

Not all business were closed - like this hipster juice bar.

But some get the idea. Incidentally this is a German deli.

Looking up Elgin Street toward the cenotaph. Usually packed with cars, you can see the crowd gathering before the service.

But first a side trip. This is Cartier Square Drill Hall, home to my old regiment the Governor General's Foot Guards and the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa.

The Cut Knife Hill memorial. William Osgoode and John Rogers of the regiment were casualties. Actually a defeat for government forces, the battle is commemorated every year by the sergeant's mess. This memorial has gradually been pushed further out of the public eye as political fashions change.

The South African War memorial. Now in roughly the position the Cut knife Hill one once was, it too is being pushed out of view as Canada forgets its Imperial past.

A relatively recent addition, commemorating animals in war. 

A close up of a rather fine first aid dog.

Next up the First Nations memorial.

Built by public subscription, it honours veterans of all First Nations peoples. First Nations men were specifically exempt from any sort of military service but many volunteered  anyway. Some for three square meals a day, others for a bit of land of their own and others simply to get the right to vote.

For my UK friends, if you are lost or in trouble in Ottawa this is the place to go - The British High Commission. 

In the crowd.  The site slopes up gently towards the cenotaph, making a good view tough to find.  But the view is not what it is about.

Screens are placed around the venue (just to the right of the purple hood).

Actually after the service proper during which the camera was quite rightly put away. With all the speeches done and all the dignitaries departed, the crowd moves toward the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Old connections not quite forgotten.

The press before the tomb. In typical Canadian fashion the crowd circulated through with much polite language and no official queue needed.

At the foot of the cenotaph. 

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Placing poppies on the Tomb is a relatively recent occurrence. A spontaneous demonstration of remembrance,  it lacks some of the hypocrisy found in parts of the official activities. This is early on, the tomb will be covered by the end of the day.

The crowd around the tomb after I left.

The Canadian Parliament Buildings - Centre Block. A bit like Westminster but smaller and colder.

The War Museum coming the other way - from the east.  November 11 is one of the few free days. Veterans and serving members are brought in for special programming. Many school groups take advantage of the opportunity.

Inside the Memorial Hall. Tucked away to one side of the museum entrance, it contains the headstone of an unknown soldier from the Great War. At 11 am on November 11, light from a window shines directly on the headstone.

Diorama work:

First Nations intertribal conflict

Plains of Abraham - Quebec even smaller than a certain bear's 6mm

The Great War,

Full sized depiction of a WWI battle field.

One of the artists models for the Vimy Memorial. The gallery is slightly off level and a subtle haunting sound track gives it a surreal mood.

One of our underappreciated treasures - a Bieber minisub retrieved from the Netherlands after the war. 

M29 Weasel - a product of British eccentricity and Canadian - American cooperation. Note the 79th Armoured insignia.

Canadian madness - the Land Mattress. The rockets didn't always leave the rails before detonating.

War Winners - T-34-85 and Sherman Firefly. A Panther cowers in the background.

Something for the detail obsessed - a Sherman power train teaching model with its underthings on display.

More US-Canada cooperation. A reconstruction of a Six-Ton tank. Based on the FT-17, The US sold several of them to Canada at the beginning of the Second World War as scrap metal. That they were completely refurbished and in good running condition was not mentioned on the bill of sale. They were used to train Canada's infant armoured forces.

Tucked away in the dark in the exit corridor from the vehicle gallery are some very fine and very large canvasses. Above is William Nicholson's Canadian Headquarters Staff

This one I do not immediately have a name for.  Both were well over 8 feet in length and height.

From a later war and in a more down home style:

Leaving the War Museum the provincial flags were still at half mast:

Like so many maple leaves......

We will never forget the fallen.


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