Monday, 8 September 2014

Weekend Pleasures

A beautiful weekend it has been. Friday night we had a violent thunderstorm again with high winds and many trees felled, strangely enough the very old and very large tree, it is at least 90 meters high, at the front of our building on Cartier Street which is full of holes where the squirrels have established homes, stands impervious. I always expect it to come crashing down one fine day and given the size of it, I do not want to be around to see it.

Our summer balcony on the Rideau Canal were we have our meals.

So I walked to Lansdowne Park named after Lord Lansdowne who was Governor General of Canada at the time. I wanted to see this great piece of land return to its park like state. It was originally some 120 years ago well outside the City of Ottawa, a racetrack for thoroughbred horses and a great park for agricultural fairs held every year. Major cities in Canada had them, to help farmers with new implements and show off the best in animal husbandry and farm produce, this included a big flower show. Toronto had the Canadian National Exhibition and Ottawa had the Central Canadian Exhibition. In the last 50 years Landsdowne had become a tawdry place where a carny show was held, the main buildings had become ruined shells even the football stadium was in a ruinous state, no one cared it was mediocre and every year it was a grotesque show to all that a National Capital should not be. A few years ago the City Council finally closed the park down cancelling the Ex which was no longer attracting anyone. It promoted the revival of the whole area, which was now well in the centre of he City a terrible eyesore on the Rideau Canal. This new redevelopment was not achieved without major opposition by the navel gazing gang in the Glebe, privileged upper middle class entitled yuppies who opposed the re-development for the simple reason that it might bring people from other parts of the city to their neighbourhood. The judicial wrangling was carried out to extraordinary length, at one point the media and the police were called out to protect bird nests and squirrels. Committees set up to adopt a squirrel and the CBC even had a campaign on it. For anyone who lives in Ottawa it is well known that squirrels are so numerous that they are a pest we tolerate.

After a multi-year fight the re-development went ahead and the final result is pretty impressive. A new stadium for the new football team called the Red Black, the old Horticultural building has been moved on rails from one end of the park to the other and completely renovated, it is built in the Prairie style school of architecture. A new apple orchard has been planted, there is a new underground garage, the Aberdeen Pavilion known as the Cow Palace has been restored to its former glory, to think that 25 years ago when the current Mayor Jim Watson was just a young councillor, he spear headed the fight to avoid its demolition, good thing he did. Where use to be the old asphalt parking lot is now an immense field of green the size of the one on Parliament Hill, hundreds of trees planted everywhere. There is a large play structure for kids, an artificial skating ring and a new Water Park Sculpture which will be ready in the fall.
It is truly beautiful, it is a real urban park, there are also new shops and 2 condo towers facing Bank street.
New Lansdowne Park 

 The green which use to be a massive parking lot

Modern light sculpture still under construction with the new Stadium behind it

Renovated and re-positioned Horticultural building at Lansdowne Park

The partial view of the apple orchard with the Aberdeen Pavilion in the background, the Farmer's market will be permanently relocated inside the Pavilion in a few weeks.

We also did a bit of cooking this weekend with squash, peaches and tomatoes, apparently Dr. Spo tells me that tomatoes do not grow in Arizona where he lives, poor things, living under the dictatorship of the Tea Party and bourgeois reactionaries. We went to Brewer Park which is located on the Rideau River next to Carleton University Campus, a very nice area of the city that I do not know well. There are lots of nice neighbourhoods in Ottawa, quiet and leafy and this is one of them.

 What would a Farmer's Market be without the bake goods including doughnuts freshly made
I thought of Dr. Spo who is a famous doughnut connaisseur from AZ. That picture is for him.

The Farmer's Martket at Brewer Park is moving, it was only temporarily at this location while the whole of Landsdowne Park was being re-built and re-made into a green area.  In the coming weeks the Farmer's Market will return to Lansdowne Park and will be housed in the Aberdeen Pavilion, a giant place and much more convenient since it will be protected from the elements.

Will's creation an Ontario Peach Schnitz pie 

Some of the variety of tomatoes we bought at Brewer Park to be used in various recipes in the next few days, I think we have about 8 lbs or 4 Kilo in total. 

Aubergines and Patty Pan Squash which will be used in recipes also in the coming days.

A whole pot of fresh garlic about 2 lbs or 1 Kilo of it in total, very fragrant 

Will's famous roasted tomatoes a recipe by Marcella Hazan, wonderful with any meal.

 portion of BC Red Snapper and Rosemary accompanied by Yellow Spaghetti Squash dressed with tomatoes, parsley, Basil, yellow pepper and walnuts

More tomatoes for the spicy tomato soup

Dinner of Shrimp Tempura with roasted tomatoes

We also attended the last lecture of the Gustave Doré Exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada. The lecturer was Dr. Eric M. Zafran the Curator of the Susan Morse Hilles European Art collection at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford Connecticut,  a well known authority on art from Doré to Calder. His lecture was on Doré and the Bible, the artist Gustave Doré illustrated the stories of the Bible and it became a worldwide best-seller in the 19th century. The Bible Society of New York has a large library with many wonderful examples of those bibles which were translated in many languages.
The lecture was as well attended as my own Mercredis Culturels program at the NGC.

I also purchased a few other books on Doré and his illustrations, I also got a book of posters of the First World War 1914-1918, entitled the Art of selling War and a book of Charles Perrault (1628-1703) with comments and notes on his fairy tales with illustrations by Doré. The NGC shop also has a wonderful collection of calendars for 2015 and thinking of how Van Gogh was influenced by Japanese wood block paintings got a calendar on that topic.

War is heck, Prosit!


  1. That's an amazing redevelopment! I remember walking past Lansdowne Park many years ago when I lived in Ottawa and it was pretty sad.

  2. Oh what lovely looking foodstuffs! I so like 'proper' entrees and vegetables. And I would kill for homegrown proper toms.
    Doughnuts are off the menu until next August. they are a seasonal item after all.

    1. I did not know you only ate doughnuts in June for the Feast of San Giuseppe like the Italians.

    2. doughnuts are once a year in August, for the feast of St. Timothy like the Canadians.

  3. Wow. So much and all so fascinating. Your photos are beautiful. Can't wait to see what that modern light sculpture looks like when completed.

    1. I will have to go and take pictures of this new art installation in the Fall. Apparently it will reproduce the effect of a moving picture in light.