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Day 11 - Canadian War Museum

  • Monday, July 16 2012 @ 03:28 MDT
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Cross Canada Adventures Day 11 began with my awesome bike ride which I've discussed in another blog post. Although we were heading to Montreal that day, we planned to spend some time touring Ottawa as the trip to Montreal was not that long. This touring cost us the chance to get some lovely Schwartz's but since we'd done that on another vacation, it seemed like a stop that we could miss.

Kriszta led us to a little neighbourhood pub called Broadway's for breakfast. It was fantastic, they had the best b-fast potatoes that I've ever had! My eggs were perfectly poached and the boys loved their chocolate chip pancakes. If you live in the area, you might want to give it a go sometime.

At the Canadian War Museum (http://www.warmuseum.ca/home), we were pleasantly treated to free admittance because of Jason's Veteran Card. It's a beautiful building and I would very much like to return and spend about a day there. It struck me as a very fitting and respectful memorial to those who have served. Some of the artefacts were incredible. There was a chunk of the White House from when it was burned in the War of 1812, a roof tile from Hiroshima (one of the few things left after the bomb went off) and many others that I will discuss in more detail with photos. The big exhibit at the moment was about the War of 1812. It focused on the perspective of four different groups: the Indigenous People; the British; the Canadians and the Americans. It's certainly not one of my favourite conflicts of study but I did enjoy the impressive amount of things that are still around 200 years later. They had a room for kids to dress up in and one of the museum people explaining the various weapons. Simon's a bit young for such things but we did get him VERY briefly dressed as a Red Coat.

William Barker was an ace from the First World War who is Canada's most decorated member of the military... ever. Sadly, after the war he had difficulty adjusting to civilian life. Eventually, he was killed in a flying accident, still a relatively young, but broken man. If you read history long enough, you start to see patterns of PTSD in many veterans of many conflicts but it is still a taboo subject even in today's military and often swept under the rug. Some of the most tragic cases came from “peacekeeping” in Bosnia. The following picture is the fuselage of William Barker's plane a Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe (http://www.aviation.technomuses.ca/collections/artifacts/aircraft/Sopwith7F1Snipe/). Imagine dog fighting in it.

While our troops have been in Afghanistan, there has been a heightened national awareness of our military. Evil Scientist has noticed a steady rising of the attendance during November 11th Ceremonies and every time a soldier has been killed in action, it has been front page news. I decided to put tis next picture after the shot of Barker's plane because it, like the fuselage of the plane, is an actual piece of equipment that was in the heat of the operating theatre (http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/afghanistan/afghanistane.shtml).

Passchendale was a miserable and disgusting quagmire of mud, blood and waste. It made the fighting even more difficult than the usual assortment of horrors that the First World War dished out. Often, when a man was injured, he died, not because of his injuries but because he drowned in the mud. This photo is from a mock-up of the conditions at Passchendale and I'm told by Aunty Kriszta that Simon rushed over and tried to help this poor chap.

Leading Auntie Kriz all over the museum.

Okay, calm the fuck down. I know that it's one of Hitler's staff cars and that he was a very bad man, but this thing is amazing as far as cars go. It's not the car's fault that it was owned by Hitler, don't blame the car. The notes on the car give the impression that this was Hitler's one and only car but it was no doubt part of a fleet. Not only would each city he frequented had one of these, there likely would have been a group of two or three to carry Hitler's entourage. Sort of in the same way that Stephen Harper has a motorcade in Calgary and every other city he's in.

While I'm on the subject, permit me to rant a bit. The museum write-up included the word “evil”. The common practice of calling Hitler evil has to stop. Calling him evil is way too complimentary, as though he had some sort of magical powers. He was a deranged psychopath drunk on power; a very persuasive one and that's the scary part. He was able to harness the hate and ugliness of one nation and we should never forget that he was just a man. “Evil” is a supernatural trait, the real problem is that humanity, as a general rule, can be incredibly inhumane.

I see my kid has the same love of the Cold War that his father does.

It's the bane of my existence.

I remember sitting in a desk like this when I was in elementary school. I though that putting a monitor in one for a museum display was brilliant. It was showing one of the “Duck and Cover” videos of the 1950s. My dad grew up in Red Deer and because CFB Penhold was just down the road, when he was in school, they would have very realistic bomb drills. The air raid sirens would go off and a Squadron of Harvards would fly in and buzz the school.

Kriszta (many years younger than my dad) recalled that because she went to school on a base, she also had “duck and cover” drills but when she went to school in a regular school, the first time an alarm went off she went under her desk and none of the other kids did!

It was interesting how many memories were tapped into because of that one old desk.

Who wouldn't want a creepy Trudeau teddy bear!

From the Eaton's in Toronto. Memorial tablets of employees. I rarely see my surname on plaques such as these... at least out west.


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