Monday, 21 May 2012

Not in Salzburg? Non mon cher.

Salzburg, Austria

We are in Ottawa this long Weekend and not in Salzburg, Austria as per our yearly tradition. Not to forget that for the last 4 years in May, we would take the train from Rome to Salzburg for the Whitsun  Music Festival or in German, Pfingst Fest Spiele. How I miss Salzburg and all the charms of this wonderful Season. This year was dedicated to Cleopatra with a presentation of classical music and opera on this theme followed on the 27 May after the presentation of Julio Cesare of a dinner with delicacies of the time of the Queen of the Senses, Cleopatra. You can see the website at
Now is the time to book for next year's festival, if you want to go.

This weekend in the Canadian calendar marks the Official opening of Cottage and Bar-B-Q Season. It is also the end of the University year for many graduation season.

On Friday night we went to hear Angela Hewitt's piano concert at Christ Church Cathedral, see my previous post on this wonderful concert.

On Saturday night we went to a Dinner Murder Mystery event at the Wakefield Theatre in the New Community Centre on Valley Drive in Wakefield. This was great fun with 3 murders during dinner, I was able to figure out who it was, no doubt years of playing the board game Clue came in handy. The actors were all amateurs but very believable in their roles, Kerstin Petersson as the famous Berlin artist of the 1920's Weimar Republic era, Helga Von Hackenschplatt, who could have been a Marlena Deitrich. Andrew Rooney as Detective Blake Field, a male Ms Marple, Scott Hébert-Daly as Allen Burns InnKeeper extraordinaire and seedy Club owner. Mara McCallum as Patty Laverne-Maxine the wanna be singer with no real talent, like Kim Kardashian and her mother Shirley played by Gwen Shea who reminded me of every Jewish mother as in the Barbara Streisand mode. The Producer was our friend Brenda Rooney who did a very good job. Since this was a dinner murder mystery our Head Waiter at the Tik Tak Club was Eric Hébert-Daly who has much sex-appeal. There was also in this murder mystery a Boris, Jeffrey Ferguson and a Natasha, Jill Rick who reminded me so much of Rocky the Squirrel and Bullwinckle the moose. A wonderful evening all around.
Wakefield Community Centre
The Gatineau river at Wakefield

Sunday we had lunch with friends who bought a house in the Hintonburg neighbourhood a few years ago and transformed a very plain and ugly backyard into the most beautiful and peaceful garden I have seen in a long time, including a working waterfall made with selected granite stones. Our lunch or Brunch was at Canvas on Holland ave. I have already reviewed this restaurant and again I was disappointed with the food and the menu. It was not a Brunch menu it was nothing more than breakfast and it was expensive for no reasons.

Today we took a boat ride on the 180 year old Rideau Canal (1832) from Parliament Hill to Dow's Lake. It was fun, the canal is beautiful as it crosses the city through park land and various historic sites. Starting point is just below the Sapper's Bridge and Chateau Laurier Hotel (1912). We pass by the old Union Train Station (1910), the National Arts Centre (1967), the National Defence Headquarters, the University of Ottawa Campus (1848) then on to the Rideau Aquatic Club (1902), it is now the site of the Ritz Café, the beautiful Aberdeen Pavilion (1868) were the telephone was first presented publicly in 1877.
Ottawa new Convention Centre

The Sapper's Bridge by the Chateau Laurier Hotel
New Social Science Faculty building at the University of Ottawa campus.

Along the way we learned that 4000 men had worked at digging the canal and that approximately 1000 had died from  malaria because of the numerous bogs, snake and fly infested swamps near today's Lansdowne Park and Dow's Lake, they also had to blast away the rocky terrain using black gun powder, a very dangerous enterprise prior to the invention of dynamite. Only 19 Km of the canal 202 km in total needed to be dug out  on a varying depth of 2 to 6 meters, the rest is a connections through 49 locks of natural waterways, the deepest part is in big Rideau lake at 118 meters. Many poor labourers, Irish, Scots and French Canadians on an average salary of 17 cents a day toiled at this great military project. The total cost at time of completion was 889,000 British Pounds Sterling. It caused a scandal and Colonel John By had to return to London to answer questions from a Parliamentary committee. It convinced Britain that Canada was far too expensive a colony and just a few years later, the Brits told us to manage our own affairs (1867), they could not be bothered.

We could have sailed on to Kingston but that would have taken us 3 days. The entire length of the canal is 202 Km, very scenic and quite pleasant for any one who has sailed its lenght. Difficult to imagine today that back in 1826 it was hostile dark forests and dangerous wilderness.

Pretoria street Bridge

So tonight we will have fireworks for Queen Victoria for her 193rd Birthday, one of the last place on Earth where it is still celebrated.

A young Queen Victoria, a very German princess.

The Prince Archbishop's Castle, Salzburg, Austria



  1. I can't tell you how beautiful I think Ottawa is..and the kindness of it's people knows no bounds.