Tuesday, 31 January 2012

View from the Western Cabin

On Sunday I returned to Western along the Ridge Road and did this sketch while having a snack.   This is the view from one of the window tables from high up on the Eardley Escarpment  out over the Ottawa Valley.  The river is very wide here, but hard to point out as it is frozen over and covered in snow.  I  was happily drawing this while listening to a pack of serious skiiers discuss the  Canadian Ski Martahon - these guys were training with full packs as they are in the 'Couiers de Bois'  Gold class which in addition to skiing the full 160 km. sleep outside overnight during the 2 day event. Luckily they didn't embarrass me my asking about my route that day.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Western Cabin

Yesterday I climbed up McCloskey Road from Meach Lake up the escarpment, prosaically renamed by the NCC as Trail # 2.  Now the only vestiges of the McCloskey farm is a bit of a clearing and a foundation, with the forest reclaiming the thin soil.  I can only imagine their farming experience to have been like the trail - short and tough. Next time I'll stick to the Ridge Road route.

 The reward for all that herringboning uphill was the view over the Ottawa valley from the Western cabin.  I tipped the waiter and got a window table.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Skating on the Canal

The last few winters haven't been as long as they used to be, but no one is describing Ottawa's winter as warm yet.
About half of the 8 km. length of the canal skateway is open. As it worked out
I skated it three times yesterday.  In the morning for fun, in the afternoon for world wide sketchcrawl 34 and then last night to accompany my son home from downtown.  I must say by then my new skates were chaffing a bit.

I didn't have any companions for the sketchcrawl, except for the 4000 or so people out enjoying the ice.  Its always a fun experience  with all the colourfulclothing, variety of skates and complete range of ages.  I did a sketch of Patterson Creek last summer and realized how unique it must seem in winter to my viewers from warmer countries.  The little building has washrooms and a place to change into your skates.  We just leave our shoes under the benches and I have never heard of anyone losing them.  Access to the actual canal is under the little arched bridge where you have the choice to skate north all the way downtown, or south to Dow's Lake. There are several other change huts along the canal, but many people just use benches out on the open ice, or sit on the snow like the guy in the upper sketch.  

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Goulbourn Museum

I'm starting a project for the Goulborn Museum, which is a small independent entity located in the west end of Ottawa. I am looking at the physical infrastructure, the site in particular, working for Lord Cultural Resources who will be putting together a 10 year plan.

In the museum world, people talk about the 'stories', and there are many to be told around the settlement of this area.  We were really impressed with the professional displays and curatorial rigour at this little museum and see lots of potential for expanding the stories and outreach into the local community.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Healy Cabin

This cabin is named after the farmers who built it 100 years ago.  Hard to imagine it as a farm today as the forest has reclaimed whatever they worked so very hard to clear.

This cabin has the largest windows of any of the warm-up shelters in Gatineau Park which must have caused some angst with the heritage types at the Commission, but makes for a great destination as you can watch the birds at the feeder and other skiers approach.

Herridge Cabin

This is another warn up cabin in Gatineau Park.  It is constructed of hand-squared logs with dovetailed corners and second floor beams mortised through the walls.  It was -17 C yesterday which gives me only a few minutes before my hand seizes up from the cold so I blocked this out in pencil and finished it inside the cabin.  It's a 5 km ski in to this cabin with moderate hills so its another good nighttime destination.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Of Course Ships Have Spirits

This is another one of my favourite pieces in the City of Ottawa's art collection.  It's a playful work which I often pass by when I'm at City Hall attending to less than playful matters.

It was made by Alex Wyse in 1984 and is called "Of Course Ships Have Spirits".  It stands at eye level and is about 1.2 m long.  There are snippets of text on the rainbow at the centre of the ship "Sailboat sail avoid that gale" on the front and "And so many were to find their graves" on the backside.

Seagulls populate the sides complete with cartoon-like speech bubbles capturing their conversations.... " "I enjoy a somewhat independent lifestyle", "Gosh I saw a good documentary on flight", "Oh you caught that too", "The forecast is for a trough of low pressure", "I don't trust the radio".

Now you know what all the noise is about when you hear a flock of gulls.

Grand Entrance

This is an elegant home in the Glebe neighbourhood of Ottawa that has a strong prairie style architectural influence.  The facade is asymmetrical and the windows relate to the internal layout.   Each corner of the porch roof gutter is drained by bronze fish gargoyles - of course in this weather the fish grow icicle beards.

The front door and foyer are all I drew as it is too cold to expose my hand for more than 10 or 15 minutes and I find it too cramped to draw from my car.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Used Skates - Free to a Good Home

I bought these skates when I was student in Toronto many winters past. Somewhere along the line my feet grew and they hurt, but I never got around to replacing them.

Low and behold, there were new skates under the Christmas tree this year.  I skated on the Rideau Canal at least three times a week last winter - this year will be even better.  They were flooding the ice this morning, it shouldn't be long now.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Years Eve at Keogan's

Our New Year's eve tradition is to ski into one of the cabins in Gatineau Park  and have a light dinner with friends.   Our children are now too cool to accompany us, but we manage to have fun without them.

Last night we were off the grid, just like settlers...well, except for the wine, cheese fondue, fresh veggiess and dip, pineapple, mango and clementines and chocolate fondue.  Luckily the ski out is mostly downhill.