Seven Wonders of Canada
The Canadian Museum of Civilization is both a visual wonder and a cultural wonder. Visually it stands out from any building in the Ottawa landscape. The unique sinewed design curves along the banks of the Ottawa River. Inside it is home for the multiple peoples and voices that make up Canada’s unique culture. It celebrates and explores people, communities, the lives of children, Aboriginal Canadians and Canadians who came from all over the world to live here. It tells the story of Canada through many lenses: economic, industrial, social, exploration, highlighting hardships as well as successes. At its heart are its research activities and its unparalleled national collections that document Canadian history, anthropology and cultures. Little wonder that the Canadian Museum of Civilization is the most visited cultural venue in the country.
Alec Stockwell (:56)
Neil Roberts (1:21)
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The first time you drive past the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, you risk running a red light. Canada’s national treasure, Metis architect Douglas Cardinal, has created an architectural masterpiece. It sucks your eyes away from the road as it swoops and dives, then soars and dips beside the Ottawa River. Cardinal and associate architect, Michel Languedoc, have pushed building techniques and stone masonry “to the max.”
In this largest museum in Canada, guided tours point you to 5,000 fossils embedded in the limestone walls. The gently curved floor in the Great Hall represents the Pacific Ocean. Totem poles and the mysterious call of the raven draw you into a world of native lore and traditions.
Except for the earth-shattering images on the IMAX screen, this museum doesn't overwhelm with glitzy special effects. Subtle effects do sneak up on you, however. The figure of a Tsimshian Chief welcomes you at the entrance to an archeological dig. A video screen shaped like his face produces an uncanny effect as he speaks. Push a button in the pyramid located in the Children's Museum. A child's figure, reminiscent of Star Wars Princess Leia, magically appears and speaks to the fascinated visitor. Directly across the Ottawa River, the newly renovated Library of Parliament with its Victorian gothic decadence and flying buttresses, shimmers in the sun. This is a spot that imbues the mind with a sense of pride-of-place, history, culture, and architectural genius.
Could there be a more impressive or iconographic image of Canada than the view facing you when you stand in the stone courtyard between the curving arms of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec looking toward Ottawa! The mighty Ottawa River. The steep stone cliffs. The splendor of the Parliament Buildings on the heights above, first nations trade route, fur trade, lumber trade, nationhood, government, politics. So much natural beauty. So much man-made beauty. So much history. So much symbolism. All in one unforgettable view.
Douglas Cardinal's Canadian Museum of Civilization/Musée canadien des civilisations, in Gatineau, Quebec. Because it has an organic feel to it, it looks like it grew out of the ground.
The building is gorgeous both inside and out, the exhibits in the museum are beautifully done, and it tells the story of Canada. Very Canadian, a fabulous place.