Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Memories of The Capital

Generic Picture of Ottawa!

Well, Inty, last week ole' JJ was in O-town for a few days.  Yup, the old stomping grounds.  Lived there for just short of six years.  To paraphrase Neil Young: "A significant number of my changes were there." (Get it? You get it.)

My first 10k, 1/2 marathon, marathon, triathlon.  Met some absolutely incredible people.  Friends for life! Yes! Oui! Oui! Oui!  But the biggest thing (Obviously!) - both of my sons were born in Ottawa. G-man was five when we left, E-man, two.

Everytime I go back now, there's always moments of nostalgia.  Just too many firsts not to.  First steps, first words, first laughs, first skinned knees.  Etcetera!

One day in particular I keep thinking about.  No, not the time I was out boozing with my friend Ryan, where he took off his shirt while on the dance floor in some bar in the Byward Market and because I was drunk and thought it was funny (and probably if I looked close enough at the why there may have been some smallness there that I was jealous that he had the kind of body that he could do that, so lets not look any closer! Ugh!)  I took his shirt and threw it as far as I could and somebody caught it and this instant bucket line formed in front of my eyes except that instead of a bucket it was Ryan's tshirt and in about 5 seconds he had his tshirt back.  Man, I am still amazed by that. Toss! Pass pass pass pass pass, "here you go"...  But no, that's not what I think about!  What I think about is the spring of 2005.  March, I think.  Gabriel was a year and two months old. Ish.  At the stage where he could walk but was still shaky.  Here's a pic from around that time!

Still not totally steady on my feet, dad!

With the snow and ice on the ground, there was no place outside for Gabe to try out his new walking skills!  Especially in all the layers you have to put a one year old in! You know!? Michelin kid!

On this day, the sun was shining.  And warm.  But the ground was still covered in snow and ice.  So maybe still not time for Gabe to go for a stroll outside, but I can still take him for a walk in his stroller.  Give Momma a chance to nap!  Let's go!

Our apartment at the time was relatively close to Sussex Drive.  So we walked down there.  Where better on a spring day!  The canal! and the Ottawa River!  The Parliament Buildings!  Chateau Laurier! Ottawa might not be the most exciting city.  But man that part of it is so pretty.  Except for the paper mill on the Quebec side beside the Musuem of Civilization.  They got to get rid of that.  Eyyyyyeeeeessssore!  Ok, and the US Embassy.  The embassy itself, is maybe kind of cool (it's a submarine!) , but the oppressive security surrounding it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. 

And one other building.  This one:

Yes! The National Gallery! Except that the spider wasn't there yet!  Built in 1988, with a glass facade and a glass tower intended to mirror the Library of Parliament which sits opposite the Gallery across the Canal.  Is it pretty? I'm no Architect.  It could be the Nickelback of buildings, for all I know.  But to this layman, it seems pretty darn nice.  
The first time I was there? When I interviewed at the Department of Finance.  My friend Tim had made his case to me regarding the painting "Voice of Fire", by this dude, Barnett Newman.  Tim's view was that he figured it was a good piece of art and that the controversy surrounding the $1.8 million the Gallery spent on a painting of three vertical lines was unwarranted.  To which I eruditely responded "Voice of what?  By who? Controversy?"
Turns out, Tim wasn't fibbing!  It's true.  The Gov bought it in 1988. Paid lots!  People objected! Well, now it was kinda on my mind.  So when my interview with Finance ended and I still had 2 hours to get to the airport, what did I do?  To the Gallery!

Up O'Connor to Wellington! Down Wellington to Sussex!  Go go go!  Get there!  Man, I just rocked through that place searching and searching.  The sound of my dress shoes echoing around the cavernous white-wallled rooms.  Time ticking down... then turn a corner...Behold!

That dude's not me!  He's just for scale!

I dunno.  I kinda liked it.  But of course I am not an artist either so it may be the Nickelback of paintings (poor Nickelback...so butt of jokes..if only they had tons of dough to salve their wounds...).

Admired it for a minute, then time to go fly back to Winnipeg, a more learned man.

But anyhoo, that was 2002 and I am talking about 2005!

The Gabe and I roll up to Sussex Drive.  The glass facade reflecting the spring sun had melted the snow on the pavement beside the Gallery.  Outside walking...possible...? Yes!  Oh my goodness, Gabe, go to it!

Well, let me tell you, that boy teetered and tottered and laughed around that courtyard all morning.  And in that warm sunlight, and that beautiful laughter, beneath the hill where the bronze Champlain endlessly looked to his astrolabe, I swear I felt like no matter what, everything was going to turn out ok.  Whatever that meant.  But it was there.  Just a perfect moment. 



  1. Ottawa was a beautiful and special tIme. Both our beautiful children were born there.