Exploring eastern Ottawa

Bizarre statue

Yesterday, I went for a lengthy wander in the parts of Ottawa east of the Canal. That is where you can find the Saudi Embassy, the house of the British High Commissioner, and the main DFAIT building. It was only yesterday that I fully realized what that building resembles: a certain evil red robot of web comic fame. The similarity is especially evident when you look at the DFAIT building from a vantage point quite far to the west, such as the bridge I cross to work each day.

While reading The Economist on the grass across from that building, I saw a convoy of five black SUVs with hidden lights whizz by, along with four police cruisers. Given my location, it may have been the Prime Minister heading home. If so, I wonder when the whole motorcade song and dance began.

I also happened across quite an unusual building. Located on a little island, it looks very much like some of the architecture in Aeon Flux. Apparently, it was originally intended to be a new city hall for Ottawa, but it was decided after construction that it is too far from the centre of town. As such, it is now mostly empty, aside from some supplementary DFAIT offices. I think they should give it to Environment Canada. In the middle of the complex is a large, square, shallow pool. In the middle of that is a polar bear, awkwardly perched on a white pyramid. The bear is looking across at some kind of evil overseer, who is standing inside the bottom half of a rocket ship. Clearly, this piece of art demonstrates that the building was meant for us.

The area also includes a number of other large and seemingly abandoned government facilities. It suggests that not all of Ottawa is an efficiently clicking bureaucratic machine, and makes you wonder a bit about why they are planning to build yet more structures deeper in Gatineau.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

5 thoughts on “Exploring eastern Ottawa”

  1. I too was curious about the mystery of 111 Sussex, yet it actually was Ottawa’s City Hall from 1958 to 2000. There was a large scale renovation which quadrupled its size starting in 1988 which was undertaken before City Hall was moved to its original location.
    I’m with you on moving Environment Canada there, it’s a neat and certainly distinctive building. Though I suspect DFAIT enjoys its proximity to Fort Pearson.

  2. Scott,

    I wonder what proportion of the building DFAIT is using. We could certainly benefit from closer integration with them. Despite how virtually all of our long-term planning has international implications, I have yet to interact with anyone who works there.

  3. Pingback: Climate change art

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