Another very long day, at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. For some reason I seem to remember parts of this place, even though I know for a fact I’ve never been here. Maybe there’s just parts of it that remind me of other museums, like the Royal BC Museum.

I started off in the Grand Hall, devoted almost entirely to west coast First Nations.

This space is immense – it has to be to contain several full-size totem poles and replica longhouses. The facing wall of glass makes it seem even larger, and lets in a tremendous amount of light, even on a rainy overcast day like today.

The building is crammed with exhibits, but I’ll try to pick out a few favourite items. In the First Peoples section, I found this interesting sculpture by Jamasie Pitseolak:

Anyone my age remembers those ads for the Unitarian Service Committee, including their address (okay, say it with me: 56 Sparks Street, Ottawa). I found a tribute to its spokesperson, Lotta Hitschmanova. From the exhibit, I learned her actual last name was Hitschmann, but she altered it in order to distance herself from her German heritage.

All the exhibits aside, there were three things I was really pleased with. One, the IMAX film Rocky Mountain Express, which has some spectacular cinematography. For a taste, here’s the trailer:

Second, the Zen Garden outside the Museum’s main entrance:

Third, the Cafe de Musee, the Museum’s restaurant. For some reason, I and one other party of three were the only ones in the place. It turned out to be fine dining for lunch! First, a mushroom soup that was actually a puree, wonderfully rich without being heavy. The main course, a first for me, was quail in a raisin-cranberry sauce:

That was followed by a concoction the chef had come up with herself – won tons filled with cheesecake, rolled in sugar and cinnamon, with a raspberry compote:

Very fine, very French, and a nice preview of dining experiences to come, hopefully, in Montreal and Quebec City.

Speaking of French, the closer I get to la belle province, I’m noticing the more prominent its language is becoming. For instance, because the Museum is actually in Quebec (Hull to be precise), all the signage is bilingual, but with French first. Took my eyes a while to get used to finding the English section sometimes. Seems obvious, but for someone who’s lived most of his life in a French-second world, it takes a bit of getting used to.

The Museum was open until 8 tonight, and for some reason I couldn’t find a bus that took me back over to Ottawa at that hour, so I walked back over the Alexandra Bridge, stopping at one point to get a night-time shot of the Parliament Buildings:

Tomorrow is the last full day in Ottawa, and it’ll be spent at the National Gallery. Like the AGO, it’s a “no picture” place, so I’m not sure what I’ll be able to capture, or even if I’ll bring the bigger camera – maybe I’ll just do it all with the iPhone!

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