Canadian Museum of History: Soaring totem poles, a freedom fighter’s jacket & Canada’s most artful building
THE FIRST MARVELLOUS thing I saw upon entering the Canadian Museum of History was a huge totem pole from the west coast of Canada. Carved with fantastic birds and animals, I imagined walking through the gigantic raven’s beak that was once used as a door. According to Native spirituality, entering a building through the mouth of a raven allowed one to take on the power of the mighty bird.
While no longer used this way, the totem pole sits majestically in the Great Hall and towers over the busy museum, a “portal to transformation.” Across from it are floor-to-ceiling windows that showcase the nation’s stately Parliament Buildings across the river and the effect is stunning — possibly the most “Canadian” view you will ever see.
A museum design inspired by the geography of Canada
The most striking aspects of the Canadian Museum of History are its position and design. Designed by Métis-Blackfoot architect Douglas Cardinal in 1989, the unique architecture highlights Canada’s geological past with curved shapes alluding to retreating glaciers.
The Canadian Museum of History is one of most dramatic buildings in Canada. The cream-coloured limestone on the river-facing side mirrors Parliament Hill and the plateau on which some of Canada’s most regal buildings sit, including the Canadian Parliament Buildings, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel and the National Gallery of Canada. The Museum completes the classic Ottawa view, with the wild Ottawa River and Quebec’s shoreline in the background. This is Canada’s most powerful real estate.
This sweeping vista alone is worth the price of admission, and will immerse you in the Canadian experience — fittingly, just a short trip from the heart of Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. A small city set on a picturesque location where the Ottawa River meets the Rideau Canal, Ottawa is home to many fine buildings, parks, art works, vistas and landscapes. But the Canadian Museum of History is one of the most special places you can visit in this city of sites and attractions. And to be here during the Canadian Tulip Festival in May adds a splash of colour and a dash of history. (Read about the historical legacy the Tulip Festival honours here.)
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.