After a couple of hours at the Children’s Museum, we decided it was time for some culture. We put Mark in the stroller and headed to the “Special Exhibitions” floor.
The first one was about—I kid you not—snow. Well, more exactly “Snow, a source of passion, creativity and ingenuity” and the way it shaped Canadian’s identity. Leave it to Canada to feature a winter-themed exhibition in the middle of August!
According to the informal survey at the entrance, most people declared that they “love to get out when it snows”. Seriously, people!
The exhibition shows the ways Canadians contend with snow and features winter gear and artifacts, most of them very familiar to us—snow tires, winter coats, boots, etc. It was fun, though.
The second one was called “The Empress of Ireland” and I had no idea what it was about until we stepped into the ship-themed room. “The Empress of Ireland” turned out to be a transatlantic ocean liner bound to a tragic faith: en route from Québec City to Liverpool, the ship collided with the Norwegian coal ship Storstad in the St. Lawrence River, and sank on May 29, 1914. In less than 15 minutes, an estimated 1,032 souls—passengers and crew—perished.
The exhibition takes visitors through an atmosphere of celebration at docks of Québec, the confused encounter in the fog, the fateful collision and the desperate rush to escape the sinking vessel. It’s actually pretty stunning and I couldn’t believe I had never heard about the greatest maritime disaster in the history of Canada.
Apparently, despite the scale of the tragedy, The Empress of Ireland never achieved anything like the Titanic’s fame or enduring fascination because the ship wasn’t as luxurious, and it sank so close to the outbreak of WWI that attention shifted to graver matters.
Did you know about the disaster?
You can see all the Ottawa – Summer pictures on Flickr.