Friday, August 28, 2015

Canadian Museum of History -- Gatineau, QC

We dropped Ashley off at Upper Canada Village for a week of living like an 1860s girl, just like we did over the past two summers. This time, though, we added a twist -- we drove north-ish to Ottawa to see the capital of Canada.

Until the moment I booked a room in a B&B on that morning, I truly did not think this was going to happen. The B&B was charming. It was perfectly situated next to the two things we planned to do in Ottawa -- go to the Canadian Museum of History and ride the bike trails <-- a link I wish we had downloaded before leaving New Jersey.

I asked the owner of the B&B how to get to the Canadian Museum of History, she said walk down the street. Could it really be that easy? She took us out front and pointed to a giant dome two blocks away. Yup, it could be that easy.

We walked to the Canadian Museum of History to see the IMAX showing of Cirque du Soleil's Journey of Man. For whatever reason I was under the impression it was going to be about the history of Cirque du Soleil. No, it was by Cirque du Soleil. Instead it was about a boy growing up, then returning to his youthful imagination. We saw it in English, but would have been able to follow the plot in French. At least we enjoyed it.

The challenge came after the movie. Gatineau, like Trenton, rolls up its sidewalks after the workers go home. The only place we found for dinner in the immediate area was a Thai restaurant. Fortunately we both like Thai food (well, Don does now, it took a few attempts to find something on a Thai menu that did not involve curry). Unfortunately for me, I underestimated just how spicy dinner would be. I must have bitten in to a jalapeno pepper just as I was finishing dinner. The waitress had to keep refilling my water glass as smoke felt like it was coming out of my ears!
From dinner we crossed the bridge over into Ottawa. 

After biking for several hours in Gatineau and Ottawa we ended our visit by touring the museum. The museum has some permanent exhibits, such as one on the 1867 Rebellion and Confederation. Thought this was timely since Ashley was living the life of an 1866 girl at Upper Canada Village. Again, another possible entry in the series "Who Wore it Better?" 

This is the part of the trip where we learned something about Canadian history. Unlike the American Revolution, the Canadians met civilly with Great Britain before coming to the conclusion they would become their own country on July 1, 1867. Hardly any bloodshed. Of course, it took until the 1980s before they were fully independent. There were two basic things happening at this time: 1) the US was wrapping up the Civil War and was seen as the strongest army in the world, some thought they had their eyes set on Canada next. And 2) Canada was becoming too expensive for Great Britain to support, they definitely could not support them in a war against the United States. 
Much of the museum focused on First Nation history. We've been to other museums that have explained this time in history, including Site Traditionnel Huron, so we did not give it our full attention. I did like the part of the exhibit talking about their lives today, including the first person to make a professional hockey team. That sounded so Canadian to me.

There were also some temporary exhibits, such as this one about Terry Fox -- a 19-year old who lost his leg to bone cancer and decided to fight back by running across Canada in 1980 wearing a prosthetic leg. I'd heard the name, and as a runner I was curious to see how he did this. I followed his journey throughout the exhibit, and even saw a video clip of him running. I was nearly in tears as he neared the end of his excursion and his life. Surely, there must be more as a healthy person I can do with my life?

The children's museum looked like someplace we would have spent hours had we been with Ashley, and had Ashley been a bit younger. Walking through it as a childless adult, I felt a bit creepy. I think my inner child really wanted to be released.

On the way out of town we stopped at the Farmteam Cookhouse for dinner. The building, and it's name, caught our attention on the way into Ottawa. I have no idea what they are trying to say in this sign (and yes, it is in English), but I can say we enjoyed our dinner. I had a delicious salmon. Don had a beer in a jug, plus a nice dinner (I don't remember what he ate).

The decor was masculine, but still felt homey. It made us wish for a similar type of place closer to home.

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