Canadian Museum of History, Ottawa

Thursday evenings, 5-8pm, is “go to a museum in Ottawa for free” time. That is not enough time to cover more than one, perhaps two, without rushing, and I took a leisurely stroll round the Canadian Museum of History, specifically the history of Canada section, and then headed to Cine+ to see Trolley, a love letter to the streetcar.

View over the Rideau River
View over the Rideau River.

The history of Canada took me around two hours. It is separated into three: early history, colonial and then modern. It is an easy read, though I occasionally got lost following the thread, with both French and English sometimes seeming scattered around the boards at random, with the sequence mysterious. It doesn’t go deep into First Nation history, nor the controversy therein, but nor does it ignore it. Overall, though, the impression is of a country that is fairly relaxed with its history.

View of Parliament, behind the National Museum
View of Parliament, behind the National Museum.
Ancient Inuit artefact (reproduction)
No euphemism here. Yes, they are sharing an intimate moment.

There are some digital interactive displays, like the one above – click (in the museum) on different parts of the image for information. Some of those displays didn’t seem to be working.

Canada's proud war history
Canada’s proud war history.

Once again, visiting a Commonwealth country and seeing its proud history, and the loss involved, shows how daft it is for Britain to claim it ever “stood alone” in WW2.

Terry Fox, diagnosed with cancer, who ran across Canada
Terry Fox, diagnosed with cancer, who ran across Canada.

As a runner, I was drawn to the story of Terry Fox, who was enduring cancer when he set off to run across Canada. He made it much of the way before the disease prevented him going further, and achieved his goal of raising $1 CAD for every person in the country (around 24 million at the time).

Pow wow costume
Pow wow costume. A pow wow is a ceremonial celebration of cultural pride.

I loved the colours on this costume. That’s all I can tell you about it. Do you see that large sign at the top of the post, saying Ottawa? From behind it, obviously, reads AWATTO, which has a certain smack to it. At least I understood it. Last Sunday, watching Toronto’s American Football team, the Argonauts, it took me three go-rounds before I understood why people were running round the pitch, flying flags to spell “SOGRA”.

Shot from film called Trolley
Shot from film called Trolley.

I loved the film, Trolley. Partly that was because I had run in the morning, walked around plenty of Ottawa and this gave me the chance to sit down. It is a love letter to the trolley bus/streetcar/light rail, with a warning about the dangers of the combustion engine towards the end. Toronto, unlike other cities round the world, never got rid of its streetcars, and there are great shots of the ‘red rockets’ heading round the city. The film ends with ‘light rail’ use growing, and some great shots of life in various cities (only North American or French, probably to save the cost of heading everywhere) with those street cars rolling by in the background.

Police escort for ?
Police escort for ?

Leaving the museum, I was paused in the act of crossing a street by a police escort whizzing through, stopping traffic ahead of a convoy. I like to think that as a result, I have been this ~~ close to President Trudeau, an actually intelligent head of state, but it could just as easily have been a prisoner transfer (insert obvious joke about your own country’s government here).

Ottawa; relaxed, a little rough round the edges, with great museums and some lovely parks to the North. Also: at the end of October 2018, cold.

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