Saturday, 5 October 2013

A Happier Note - Culture Days in Ottawa

If you were in Ottawa in 1969 you may recognize this. It's not often we get to see it. Happily, last weekend, Culture Days were celebrated in many cities and towns across Canada. As part of Ottawa's celebration, the National Arts Centre was home to several events.

That lovely collection of colours is a section of the curtain in the NAC's main venue, Southam Hall. I remember seeing it when the Arts Centre opened in 1969 but have rarely seen it since. They simply don't use it much. Most of the time it hangs unseen, way up high above the stage.

For a half hour last Sunday it was lowered and members of the public were invited to see it. Then it disappeared again, so that people could participate in a variety of activities, one being backstage tours. 

It was fun to stand on that stage and see Southam Hall from the other side.

We enjoyed speaking to a carpenter in the props area and viewed some of the dressing rooms, which are pretty ordinary.

Besides the tours there were also free concerts.
These brass players from the NAC orchestra put on a fun show.

Coincidentally, there was another unique event  last Sunday afternoon that was not connected to Culture Days. Heritage Ottawa is an organization that offers guided walks through various Ottawa neighbourhoods. Last Sunday's was downtown, at a couple of parks that we'd never been to. Do you recognize this one?

Give up? Those three photos were taken on the roof of the Rideau Centre! The guided walk was on the rooftop gardens of the Rideau Centre and the National Arts Centre. I certainly did not know that there are three hundred trees growing on top of the shopping centre along with two kilometeres of walking paths. So much for thinking that green roofs are a relatively new idea! (The Rideau Centre opened in 1983.)

From the vantage point of the Rideau Centre garden, tour leader David Jeans pointed out various heriatge buildings. 

The best known of those were the Chateau Laurier and the former train station, now known as the government conference centre.

We then crossed over the Canal 

and onto the gardens of the NAC. While these are not nearly as large as those on top of the Rideau Centre, it was still great to realize that they are there and open for the public to enjoy. 

David Jeans pointed out that the NAC rooftop affords wonderful vantage points for viewing the Canada Day fireworks so we'll try to remember that next July. We finished our afternoon feeling pretty darn lucky to be living here.

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