Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Visit to the War Museum

We are still on vacation from our kid duties, but the rainy weather has hindered our gadding-about-ed-ness. So, a last minute decision took us into Ottawa to do something indoor-ish — to visit the war museum.

It opened in its present form a few years ago, but it wasn't until now that we made the time and effort to visit.

The first hall commemorated the War of 1812. This is a special display because it is the bi-centenary. Please forgive the low and bad light in all of these photos.

Ready to enter the War of 1812

What I realized in a nutshell is that three of the four sides in the war could legitimately claim at least a partial victory: the Americans, the British and the Canadians. The fourth, the Native Peoples, were the big losers.

The Americans won in the sense that they were able to re-assert their independence from England. The British won because they were able to maintain their colony while still being able to concentrate on their more important dispute with France. The Canadians won because they were able repel all American attempts at invasion. The Americans had thought to increase their territory and fully expected Canadians to embrace them, but that did not happen.

The Native Peoples under the leadership of Tecumseh threw their lot in with the more amenable British, but at the end of the conflict the Americans kept their nation intact and were ready to expand westward with little regard for the welfare of the Aboriginals.

Sue, being the kindhearted person that she is, decided to come to the assistance of this
poor soldier, who has been on duty for 200 years,
by helping him hold his rifle.
Somehow we got turned around and headed into the post WWII display next. Canada has essentially been a peacekeeping nation, and our first endeavour (I think) was in Cyprus. Sue sat at this model of a Cypriot cafe and was able to listen to actual recorded messages of soldiers calling home.

Mockup of Cypriot cafe

Next and still working backwards through time, we visited the WWII display.

This is Der Fuher's limo with a huge mural of Nazi soldiers in the background at one of his rallies. This gave me the shudders to think how one lunatic was able to exert his influence and power over a whole nation.
I was amazed at the size of this torpedo from a German U-Boat. These U-Bootes penetrated quite a way into the St Lawrence River. You can perhaps tell from the map at the back right.

There was a section of the conflict in Italy, which I found quite poignant because Sue's dad was a soldier in that theatre. He was a tank driver. Here Sue poses by a tank of that vintage.

Her Dad drove a tank, perhaps similar to this one. Maybe even this one for all we know.
Rationing of food was a wartime reality as shown by the notice in this grocery store.

I was able to recognize some of the canned goods from my boyhood days.
Well, I didn't seem to take any WWI pictures, but I do remember one poignant story. A group of injured soldiers were being driven to the treatment centre, and this one young lad had them sing a rousing rendition of It's a Long Way to Tipperary to keep their spirits up. By morning he was dead. So sad. It tears me up even now.

On our way out, we passed a mural in honour of the women and children who were left behind during and even after the war. I thought it fitting to have a modern woman pose with these stalwart persons.


And that was one day of our little summer vacation. We have so much for which to be thankful, but it saddens me to think of what our forebears had to endure.


Mary Gilmour said...

My Father-in-law was in Italy, and my father in a corvette in the N Atlantic. I love these displays and hope they make some impression on younglings for whom this is such ancient history.
the last righteous war?
Love the picture of Cuppa with the women photo.
I think I was most impressed by the chapel where the sun comes in at 11:ll on November 11th to hit the memorial. Stark, like a machine gun emplacement. The place is great architecture, in my view.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

One thing good that came out of the War of 1812 was the Rush-Bagot Treaty that demilitarized the Great Lakes. This was the beginning of our long mutual demilitarized border. This has been breached somewhat (in my opinion) as a result of 9/11 under pressure from the Americans, they now have some lightly armed vessels on the lakes.
Canada agreed by claiming they were for policing and not military purposes. Since the US always refers to war of drugs and war on terrorist, Canada is kidding itself.

There is to be a naval program in Chicago with US and Canada naval vessels as a tribute to the war of 1812. This is the first time since 1999 that war ships have been in the Great Lakes. I think Canadians should protest their presence. Our mutual demilitarized border is slowly being militarized.

Donna said...

I would love to see it!
I can Not believe you Canadians didn't go for a little American Expansion! Think of all the perks you could have had...Hahaaaa
Ok, Ok, I'll leave quietly!

Lorna said...

I wish we'd seen you over there. We were probably sitting on the patio at some point while you were there.

That museum always leaves me solemn. And you know how hard that is.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Seeing museums such as this one does give way to reflection and sadness as well for the sacrifices so many made for the freedoms of others.

Diana said...

It may sadden you AC but your photos were excellent. Cuppa made a great subject!! She looks so pretty!
Love Di ♥

Mara said...

We were neutral during WWI and overrun during WWII. I know my paternal grandfather was allowed to stay home (he was a farmer and farm equals food). I have still to find out what my maternal grandfather did: not even his children know. We hope he was in the resistance. He did survive though and my mother was born four years later.

RV Vagabonds said...

History books are well and good but there's nothing like spending a few hours in a museum to totally immerse yourself in local history. Thanks for sharing.

Ginnie said...

A stroll back into the past is always a bit sad I think. The picture of Hitler's limo and the Nazi troops was chilling.

Shammickite said...

I think it's good that this museum is preserving what we know of the history of Canadians at war.... but do you think that young people who have lived their lives in peacetime, really understand how awful war is? I was born after WW2.... never knew the destruction and the fear, but I do remember seeing bomb sites and broken buildings, and hearing the tales told by my mother and father.

Hilary said...

Your photos are very well done, AC. It's been a long time since I've been to Ottawa but I know I'd like to stop at the war museum on my next visit.. whenever that may be. We have a very interesting history. Thanks for showing part of it here.

Ruth said...

I have a list of things to see in Ottawa and this is near the top, especially after seeing these pictures. Hope to get there in October.