Tag Archives: Canada

The Diefenbunker

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

As you can see, this post is not going to be as pretty as its preceding fellows, though it ought to be interesting to anyone who is curious about or remembers the Cold War. This post also suffers from the dreaded Jubilare-has-yet-to-learn-how-to-use-her-camera-indoors disorder. Apologies.

Personally, I do remember the tail-end of the Cold War, or at least the impact it had on the culture into which I was born. Nuclear warfare was the most present threat to humanity, as far as my developing mind was concerned.

Behold, the Diefenbunker, Nicknamed by combining the name of the Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker (under whose watch it was built, I assume) and the word “bunker” indicating its purpose as a refuge in case of nuclear war.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

This… is the tunnel that leads from the little building above ground down into the belly of the beast, so to speak. I have a mild phobia of corrugated metal (yes, I am aware how weird and stupid that is) so it took some self control for me to walk through this thing. It was also very cold. Luckily, I like cold.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

We have some spy-fail going on here, apparently. What we need are ninjas. Ninjas know how to keep their HQ under wraps.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Toys! Or at least, I thought they were toys as a child. I wonder how much our society has lost in forgetting (as most of us probably have) how to use these tools.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

The vault. This place was impressive and oppressive all at once (and freezing cold). The door looked like something from a heist-film, and the narrow space surrounding this room made me wonder what kinds of security measures they had in place. Water? Gas? I don’t know, and I am not sure I want to.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012
This one’s for you, Dad!

There was a lot of radio equipment, typewriters, old computers (from early desktop varieties to the kinds that take up whole rooms), teletype machines and many other fascinating gadgets. I particularly liked this setup and the Morse Code keys that were also in the room.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Take a long look at this picture and tell me what is amiss.

As one might expect from a Cold War museum, there was some disturbing stuff in this place. This pantry/morgue was one sober reminder of the very real threat of nuclear war, and war in general.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

And here is the commissary in all of its period splendor! This, too, brings back childhood memories.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

And in case you aren’t feeling peckish, there is a motivational sign! Apologies for the blur.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

And what Cold War museum would be complete without entertainment? I think I can safely say that these games were collected and are displayed as examples from the culture, not as games that would be provided for the inhabitants of the bunker. That would have been cruel.

And that is it for my trip! Well, my friend and I did have a rough time on the way back. Due to storms we missed our connecting flight and literally spent the night in an airport being hounded from place to place by various staff-people. If I can help it, I will never fly into or out of LaGuardia airport in New York again. They were horrible to us! Rude, mean and… well, two people were nice to us, God bless them. Both were janitors.

I am generally thankful for the people who keep our public places clean. I am especially grateful to these two for taking pity on a pair of exhausted and harried strangers.

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Ottawa

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

This is my catch-all post for the rest of our time in Ottawa. I will jump around quite a bit.

And no, Germany hasn’t annexed Canada. Our trip happened to coincide with a visit from Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The above horses and Shelob’s fascinatingly deformed little sister below are outside of the National Gallery of Canada.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

My friend and I pre-ordered tickets to view the Vincent van Gogh exhibit there, which was beautiful. The paintings were mostly landscapes and nature-studies, and as usual I had to clasp my fingers behind my back.  Vincent’s painting style makes me want to touch it the surface, but I also don’t want to get arrested, so…

There are, naturally, no pictures of the inside of the museum. We also saw a contemporary Inuit art exhibit including a beautifully hand-carved set of antlers.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

We visited the R.C.M.P. musical ride center, and got to see some of the horses! This is probably more exciting for me than for you.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

I apologize for the wretched quality of the following pictures. As I have said before, I need to figure out my camera’s settings. All of my training was with film cameras. Digital cameras intimidate me.

Anyway, this is the hostel where we stayed in Ottawa. It is an old jail. We took a tour to learn about the jail’s history. It is home to the last functioning (though long-since disused) gallows in Canada. The cells, in their original state are just long and wide enough for someone to stand or lay down. The conditions must have been horrible, and the experience for me was both sobering and fascinating.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

We were in “cell 5” on the 2nd from the ground floor. Walls between the two neighboring cells have been mostly removed, so we were in three-times the space of the original prisoners.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

And we go from jails to cats. I told you I would jump around. So, there is a cat sanctuary beside Parliament. I have no idea why. The kitty below was very friendly. The kitty above didn’t think much of us, though. We do tend to look suspicious and we had no tuna.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

And finally, the below picture represents a tradition my friend had from her previous sojourns into Canada. She counts her trips to Tim Hortons. I must say that I like this chain. Their coffee is reasonably priced and better tasting than Starbucks, they have decent tea (Starbucks, your tea is HORRIBLE, just fyi) and fantastic donuts. On the whole, it is probably better for me if we don’t get a Tim Hortons in my home town. I already have to resist the Donut Den.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

One more post and I will be finished inflicting my travels on you.


Ottawa around Parliament

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Round two of my pictures from Canada posts! This is going to focus on Ottawa, in the area around Parliament. Other sights of Ottawa will appear in the next post.

My first impression of Canada’s capitol city is that it is very beautiful. It has an open feel to it which I like.  I was constantly distracted by interesting architecture, only some of which I am able to share here.

The above photograph is my best shot of the locks of the Rideau Canal, next to the Bytown Museum. None of my pictures of that old building pleased me, therefore I give you a link to their website. I enjoyed the museum, but the best part was the interaction between my party and a staff member taking surveys.  I won’t bore you with the story (it was funnier in person) but my friend and I met up with an Australian couple we know (and later with another friend from the U.K. who lives in Canada), which caused some surprise and confusion throughout the rest of our trip.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012
I took this one for you, Mom. Be amused!

As one might expect, there are some royals around Parliament. Here is Queen Victoria in the most ornate statue arrangement I saw. There is a lion and a lady with garlands at her feet.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012
And this one’s for you too, Mom! ;)

The current monarch, Elizabeth II, has a more subtle (and awesome) representation. Does Queen E. II ride? I am fairly ignorant of the doings of current royalty.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

There are many statues of Canadian leaders as well. Here, we have Thomas D’Arcy McGee, one of the Fathers of Canadian Confederation, and a victim of assassination.  Gulls do not care about such things.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

The young lady below, however, is on the case. She is primly trying to inform McGee that he has something on his head.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Sadly, I have no idea what this delightfully round building behind Parliament (and facing McGee) is, but I love the colorful stonework, and am a sucker for anything that smacks of Gothic Architecture.  Pardon me while I drool over the arched windows and small flying buttresses.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Being Canada, there were members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police around, though few in formal attire. I felt a little bad for these gentlemen, as they were constantly stopped by tourists asking to have a picture taken with them. …and yes, I was one of those people. I am duly ashamed.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Parliament! The sky makes a gorgeous background, no? Again, Gothic arches and decorative stonework (though no flying buttresses).

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

I honestly did not notice the street performer until after I took this shot, but what a perfect touch! Luck of the camera, I guess. I was trying to capture the metalwork on the roof of this bit of the Parliament buildings. It is light and lacy, a strange contrast to the heavy stone structures.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

And here is a poor shot of a gorgeous door. I need to sit down with my camera’s manual and figure out the settings. I know I am not using it to its full potential.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Now I will delve into the stonework on the Parliament buildings. Here, over the main entrance, we have the national animal of Canada, the beaver. Below him, on the posts of the door, are the lion and the unicorn. If it hadn’t been for another carving I will show, this would have been my favorite.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

This guy speaks for himself.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Almost every niche and nook had some interesting carvings. Being the plant-lover that I am, I was thrilled by the variety of flora depicted.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Weird, but great.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

And this. This is the piece that transfixed me! I literally obsessed about getting the perfect shot of it. Just ask my bemused friend. This snail, so beautifully textured, was near the main entrance. I am so glad my friend was with me, because she allowed me to drop briefly out of the line for our tour in order to take this picture. Thank you, my friend, for putting up with me!

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

I took few good pictures inside. Again, I need to figure out the settings on my camera. I cut off the bottom of this picture because there are people in it. I like to avoid posting pictures of random strangers without their permission. This will give you an idea, though, of the beautiful architecture inside. There is also much stained glass.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Halberd window. Need I say more?

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Last and smallest but not least to me. Some stonecrop amid the stones. I took this at the tail end of the changing of the guard ceremony. It takes a ridiculously long time and a lot of formalities to change the guard before the Canadian Parliament; too long to hold my deficient attention, I fear. The tartans were great, though.


Niagara Falls

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Meet the cutest bit of graffiti I have ever seen and enjoy the first of what promises to be four posts on my Canada trip. I am sorry for the delay, but I had to sort through all of my pictures.

So, the story is that my friend, who has been to Canada before but never to Ottawa, wanted to make a trip this summer, and she invited me along. Her plan was to fly to Niagara on the U.S. side, take a taxi over the border, spend the day in Niagara Falls and take a train the next day to Ottawa.

Our taxi-driver was Kurdish, and when he learned that we came from Nashville, which has a large Kurdish community, he really opened up and we had a good long conversation with him. The border-crossing was much easier (and in consequence much less hilarious) than my last crossing into Canada.

We were dropped off near our hostel where we were greeted, interestingly enough, by a young and very friendly Irishman. The hostel was the most friendly of any I have encountered. The whole staff felt like a family, and were beyond helpful. Once, they even offered to share some chicken wings with me.

The area around our hostel was pretty run-down. I took many pictures of abandoned-looking buildings. There is something beautiful, as well as sad, in urban decay. Below is my favorite shot, with crumbling bricks like moth-holes in a tapestry, and wires like cobwebs.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Despite the ravages of economic stress, beauty of past prosperity endures.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

And as I said above, the people at the hostel could not have been nicer to us. The friendly Irishman, in answer to our question about good lunching, pointed us to a Caribbean restaurant around the corner.  In my opinion, this Caribbean meal, suggested by an Irishman in Canada, was the best food we had on the whole trip. Behold!

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

After lunch, we walked to the falls. As we moved towards the center of tourism, of course, the apparent prosperity of the place increased. We passed many nice-looking bed-and-breakfasts, but I wouldn’t have traded our hostel for them. We also passed a bridge that caught my eye. Oh how I love perspective!

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Niagara Falls, which I had never seen before, are magnificent and beautiful. For those that don’t know, there are two falls, one on the U.S. side and one on the Canadian side. The U.S. side, pictured below, is smaller and lower, but also more natural in appearance. Of the two, it is my favorite.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

That is not to say that I do not also love the Canadian side. It is overwhelmingly powerful and beautiful in its own right. The two following pictures are of it.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

The stormy sky was a great gift for my camera. The rain was overkill, though, as we were wet enough from the “Maid of the Mist,” a short boat ride near the falls. We also walked behind the Canadian falls in tunnels, which allowed us to see them from a different angle.

Sadly, Niagara is also a huge tourist-trap. It reminds me more than a little of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge (don’t get me started unless you want a loooong rant). Look below to see what I mean.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

And no, that chap in the foreground isn’t an escaping ghost (though that would be fantastic!). I merely like to avoid posting pictures of random strangers without their permission.

Despite some frustrations with a bus-system in transition (the day after we left it was set to change) we had a good time. Being me, I grieve for the existence of a tourist trap next to such natural beauty, but tourist-trap culture is at least interesting to me. If you ever travel to this place, I suggest staying at this hostel. I did not take any pictures while on the train to Ottawa, but it was a pleasant trip. Next post will be set in Ottawa itself.


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