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Top Ten Photos - Ottawa, Canada

Ottawa was one of many stops that we made on our tour of the Ontario and Québec Provinces of Canada with Sinfonia Uk Collective and award winning jazz pianist David Braid in 2015. It was a very swift stop, just one night, which included rehearsal time and an evening concert at St Brigid's Centre for the Arts. We arrived late afternoon the day before the concert and had a few hours to explore. We were lucky enough to be staying in the very plush Westin Hotel which was on the doorstep of all of Ottawa's must see sights.

Ottawa is the capital city of Canada, known as the technological and political centre of Canada. It is also known to be the most educated city in Canada, with several post-secondary, research and cultural institutions. As a visitor to the city, the most impressive area of the city is Parliament Hill, a throwback to British politics architecturally.

Here are my top ten photos of Ottawa.

1) Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada

Parliament Hill's gothic revival suite of buildings is home to the parliament of Canada and is a major tourist attraction in Ottawa, attracting over 3 million visitors a year. The centre piece of the building was originally the Victoria Tower, which burnt down in 1916. Standing in its place today is the Peace Tower which was completed in 1927. The building shown in this photograph is the Centre Block, which contains the Senate and Commons Chamber. Parliament Hill has been undergoing a $1 billion restoration project since 2002 which is not expected to be completed until 2020. As a result, much of the buildings were surrounded by scaffolding and covered. This was one of the few areas that was not under restoration.

2) The Fairmont Cheateau Laurier Hotel

The Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel, Ottawa, Canada

With its prime location and beautiful interiors, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel is one of the most sought after accommodations in the capital city of Ottawa. The building itself sits opposite Parliament Hill and over looks the Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal. The hotel's French Gothic Chateau-esque style was deliberate to compliment the gothic style of the parliament buildings and was declared a national historic site in 1980. The hotel opened in 1912, commissioned by Grand Trunk Railway president, Charles Melville Hays and was built at the same time as Ottawa's downtown Union Station, which is now the Government Conference Centre across the road. The interior of the hotel is extremely decadent, decorated with hardwood and lavish gold.

A little trivia for you, Hays was on his way back to Ottawa for the grand opening of the hotel, but died aboard RMS Titanic when it sank in April 1912.

3) The Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, constructed in 1832 to protect the city in case of war with the United States. The waterway connects the city of Ottawa on the Ottawa River, with Kingston Ontario on Lake Ontario, measuring at 202 km in length. Today the canal is mainly used for pleasure boating and the locks are usable between May and October each year. The Rideau Canal is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America. In the winter, as the water freezes over, the section of the canal that passes through Ottawa becomes the world's largest ice skating rink! The rink's length is 7.8km and runs from the Hartwell locks at Carleton University to the locks pictured here, between Parliament Hill and the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel.

4) The East Block of Parliament Hill from the Rideau Canal

The East Block of Parliament Hill from the Rideau Canal

Pictured here is the Rideau Canal on the left, passing through to the Ottawa River, and the East Block of Parliament Hill on the left. The building contains offices for parliamentarians and pre-confederation spaces. The building is asymmetrical and is built in the Victorian High Gothic Style.

5) Ottawa's Angels - Faith, Hope and Charity

Ottawa's Angels, Faith, Hope and Charity

If there was one thing that I noticed about Ottawa in my short time there, it was the overwhelming presence of angels! Perhaps this is normal in most cities and I just only really noticed it in Ottawa, but they seem to be everywhere. Although I do not know the reason behind the high number of angels in the capital, I can only imagine that they have been placed there to watch over the city.

These particular angels are Faith, Hope and Charity, a public art installation meant to watch over the theatre and arts district of Ottawa. The angels were created years ago by artist Erin Robertson and were placed at the entrance to the William Mall. They have since been moved to the Colonel By/Rideau Underpass to visually enhance and animate the area. They are actually quite peaceful and calming considering their location at one of the city's most busy junctions. Faith is represented by flight, Charity with her hands extended and Hope carries a baby.

6) The Lone Timpani, Chamberfest 2015

The Lone Timpani, Chamberfest, Ottawa

Don't worry, it is not really a rogue drum! One of the downsides for a percussionist on tour is the constant need to move gear. While we would all pitch in as much as possible (the number of instruments, stands and covers our percussionist Polly had to move was insane!), it was almost always left to Polly to move things as she knew what she needed and where it was to be put. I am not sure where our Polly was at this particular moment, but for some reason the timpani had to be left behind. Of course, my camera and I were keeping a watchful eye over the drum incase it decided to roll away!

7) Warming up the Fiddle, Chamberfest, Ottawa

Warming up the Fiddle, Chamberfest, Ottawa

Next week I will be writing an article called 'The Truth About Being on Tour' which may give some of my readers an insight into another way of travelling. One thing I can share with you now is that being on tour often involves an awful lot of waiting around. Most of the time this is minimised as much as possible, but stages have to be set (sometimes built even), gear such as percussion, stands, chairs and other equipment has to be moved and set up, sound levels have to be set, acoustics checked, recording equipment set up, pianos tuned... various things need to be done depending on the type of performance, meaning that us musicians (when we're not roped into helping) have an awful lot of time to 'hang around'.

Another thing I can share is that we are all quite precious about our instruments, our muscles and our playing. For most of us there is an optimum amount of playing time in a day. For me, 6 hours is usually my maximum before my brain and my body gives in. There is also an optimum amount of time it takes your muscles and your fingers or chops to warm up for each person. My colleague here, Steven Wilkie is particularly conscientious and uses any waiting around time to warm up before a rehearsal and a concert by playing several 4 octave scales in octaves and chromatics... this is exactly what he is doing in this photograph!

8) Reflections of Parliament

Reflections of Parliament, Ottawa, Canada

My last three photographs in this series are based around the Parliament buildings yet again. This particular photograph shows the East Block reflected in the modern corporate buildings on the other side of the road. I like this photo as it shows one of my favourite things, a mix of the old with the new, working harmoniously as one!

9) The Sun Sets Over Parliament

The Sun Sets Over Parliament

The East Block of Parliament Hill once again, this time with a sunset backdrop. What you can't see from this photo is that just to the right, the rest of the building is covered and being restored. The green of the roof is actually copper and the building is in the process of being cleaned. Just to the right where the restoration scaffolding is, the roof is a bright red and orange colour which gleams. One day, the whole roof will be restored to its original state.

10) Darkness Falls in Ottawa

Darkness Falls in Ottawa

One last photography of Parliament Hill. The Big Ben like structure of Peace Tower stands tall above the Hill. A beautiful silhouette of Canadian politics against a beautiful red and blue sky, marking the end of yet another beautiful day in Canada.

Why not check out our other 'Top Ten Photos'?

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