Four days in Ottawa last week – which I almost backed out of for fear I’d be bored – wasn’t enough as I ran out of days before I ran out of things to do.
Toronto Mayor Miller recently asked: who would want to live in Ottawa? Well, I wouldn’t mind. Perhaps it takes a Torontonian to appreciate public waterfront that hasn’t been zoned residential, stunning new cultural buildings, uncrowded recreational trails with straightaways you can really get up some speed on, grand public spaces, good shopping, clean pavements and even cleaner air.
It’s a very walkable (and bikeable) city and it was a pleasure to stroll from one museum to the next. Moshe Safdie’s landmark National Gallery of Canada now has one of Louise Bourgeois’s giant spider sculptures in its plaza.
I caught the pop-scary Camouflage: from battlefield to catwalk show (direct from London) at the five-year-old Canadian War Museum, Raymond Moriyama’s sombre stunner.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization is a must-experience in Ottawa. Pictures really can’t do this building–by Canadian Native (of Metis and Blackfoot heritage) architect Douglas Cardinal–justice. From outside it appears part of the riverbank landscape, carved by wind and glaciers. Inside it is massive, soaring, and holds beautiful artifacts from Canada’s 20,000 years of human habitation. Seeing the giant, weathered Haida totem poles in person was a revelation.