As Canada’s Capital, Ottawa is home to many objects and artifacts that come from across the country; from the maritime provinces to the Canadian Rockies. In many ways, Ottawa is where all points of Canada meet. So if you’re a Canadian and you’re looking for a connection to your home province in Ottawa, chances are that you’ll find it. And particularly, if you’re from British Columbia, you’re in luck!
British Columbia is the fifth province to be featured in a series of articles that are highlighting different aspects of Canada’s provinces. From its warm, sunshine coast to its rugged mountains and abundant Canadian wildlife, discover how to find pieces of British Columbia in Canada’s Capital.
Canadian Museum of History:
Just across the Ottawa River, you’ll find the Canadian Museum of History; and the Grand Hall – one of its most impressive assets – is related to British Columbia. According to the museum, this hall, which is home to the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles, presents the history, cultures and beliefs of the First Peoples of Canada’s Pacific Coast. Here, you’ll find six iconic Native houses that are connected by a Pacific Coast shoreline, a boardwalk and magnificent totem poles. In this permanent installation, the Coast Salish First Nation, the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation, the Kwakwaka’wakw village and the Nuxalk village are represented.
Also in the Grand Hall, you can take in the original plaster for Spirit of Haida Gwaii, a sculpture by Haida artist Bill Reid and Raven Bringing Light to the World, a gold-on-bronze sculpture by Robert Davidson. Both Haida artists are from British Columbia.
Canadian Museum of Nature:
- Water Gallery: The museum’s Water Gallery features the amazing diversity found in Canada’s three oceans as well as its many fresh water rivers and lakes. Don’t miss the Pacific Waters Tank, which features live fish, stars, urchins, anemones, sea cucumbers as well as clams and mussels. According to the museum, these live specimens were collected by licensed divers off the coast of British Columbia!
- Earth Gallery: Here, you’ll find a jade frog, which is one of the 100 gems in the museum’s extensive collection. According to the museum, jade or ‘nephrite’ is a variety of the mineral actinolite. Due to its interlocking crystals, it has a toughness that makes it an ideal material for carving. The museum says that though jade is usually associated with the Chinese, Native Peoples along the northwest coast of North America also have a long tradition of using jade to make tools.
- Mammal Gallery: Here, you’ll find a museum classic; a 50-year-old diorama of a mother cougar relaxing with her two cubs. According to the museum, this is a scene that is rarely observed in nature. The diorama is based on a scene captured by diorama artist Clarence Tillenius at Little Qualicum Falls on Vancouver Island, B.C. The diorama was unveiled in 1966.
If you have time, opt to visit Parliament Hill and take a guided tour of Centre Block, which is home to the iconic Peace Tower. On the guided tour, you’ll learn about how every province is represented in Parliament, including British Columbia. There are some lovely stone carvings and interesting facts to discover! Free, public guided tours are available daily, but these are subject to parliamentary activity.
Just outside of Centre Block, near Wellington Street, you’ll find Ottawa’s famous Centennial Flame. This bubbling fountain with its ever-burning fire commemorates Canada’s hundredth anniversary as a Confederation. On it, most of Canada’s provinces are represented, including Manitoba. Missing from the Flame is Nunavut, as it only joined Canada on April 1, 1999. This monument is also an iconic location to take a photo.
These are only some of the many treasures that can be found in Canada’s Capital. There are many more things to see and do, as well as more museums to discover such as the National Gallery of Canada, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canadian War Museum and the Canada Science and Technology Museum (which will reopen in mid-November 2017). Did you know that the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum has honey from every province in Canada?
There will also be more artifacts and new exhibits to discover as Ottawa gears up to celebrate Canada’s big 150th anniversary in 2017! If there’s anywhere you’ll want to be in Canada in 2017, it’s Ottawa – specially on July 1. For more information on what’s going on now and on plans being made for Canada’s big birthday, browse Ottawa Tourism’s 2017 website section.