After the Rain: An Early Evening Stroll through Major’s Hill Park, Ottawa
Here are some more photos I took after the mini-monsoon we had last Wednesday night in Ottawa. As I mentioned in my last post, I got completely soaked while riding my bike downtown to my photography class that night. I was lucky the air remained warm and the sun only slowly sinking below the horizon as our class was given a 2-hour street photography assignment to complete for that evening’s class.
The picture below shows a group of planters located at the entrance to the park accessed from MacKenzie Avenue, which I crossed after climbing the stone steps from Sussex Drive. In my last post, I had remarked upon some similarities I had noted between Ottawa’s Lowertown neighborhood in the Byward Market and Paris, France. Major’s Hill Park likewise provided a few reminders of my trip to France last fall.
The setting sun casts long shadows through the tree canopy onto a brightly lit stone drinking water fountain just inside the park.
Fittingly, a decorative rail line draws the eye to the luxurious, French-inspired Fairmont Château Laurier, seen in the background. This premier Ottawa hotel conveniently situated next to Parliament Hill was constructed by Charles Melville Hays of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and opened on June 1, 1912, less than two months after his tragic death aboard the ill-fated Titanic. The style, grandeur, and scale of this hotel would not be out of keeping – except by architectural era – among the lavish French castles I visited while in France, in particular the fairy tale Château de Chenonceaux in the Loire Valley.
I was struck by how much the scene below suddenly transported me back to my first full day in Paris. After checking out a bustling Parisian street market in the 7th arrondissement, I remember walking for some time in the direction of the Eiffel Tower until I came upon the Champs-de-Mars. The sun-drenched wide open green space of Major’s Hill Park with dense, leafy trees on the periphery giving way to the National Gallery of Canada‘s glass-paned Great Hall* in the distance was the kind of dramatic framing that I experienced as I gazed upon the Eiffel Tower from the long, carefully manicured grounds of the Champs-de-Mars. In Paris, however, the lawn was not so deserted of people as it is here in Ottawa. (*Note: The Great Hall is currently shrouded in scaffolding as its glass pyramid-like structure undergoes some needed maintenance work.) On Canada Day, you can expect to see Major’s Hill Park teeming with people late into the night since the park serves as a prime location for hosting festivities and for viewing the evening’s fireworks display.
Yet another Paris reminiscence… While exploring the City of Light one afternoon, I wandered into the Jardin du Luxembourg, and came upon a similar scene where a lone man in business attire sat quietly, slightly hunched over on a park bench, as if to take refuge from the heat of the day under the shade of a great leafy tree. By comparison, in the scene below in Major’s Hill Park, the man – perhaps a public servant – seated on the park bench appeared to be completely unaware of time, leisurely absorbing the last rays of sunshine – or mentally reviewing the work day that was – before retiring to a nearby pub or an upscale condo in the Byward Market.
This tree-lined, winding section of the park adjacent the Rideau Canal and Ottawa River with its benches and traditional lamp posts was a déja-vu for me as I recalled how hurriedly I had walked along along the Seine one late afternoon, rushing to catch a ride on a departing bâteau-mouche to tour Paris from the water before the light faded to night…