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We visited Parliament Hill yesterday morning and after walking down the Famous Sparks Street Mall in Downtown Ottawa we arrived at the National War Memorial at the corner of Elgin and Wellington Streets.
I hadn’t been in Ottawa’s centre for quite a few years and was surprised by how vibrant and exciting it has become. Everything is within a few blocks; the Parliament Buildings, the National War Memorial, the National Arts Centre, The National Conference Centre, The Historic 5-Star Chateau Laurier Hotel, the Rideau Canal, The Ottawa Congress Centre, world famous Sussex Drive, the American Embassy, the Byward Market and some “world class” shopping featuring amazing boutiques and shops, unique restaurants and pubs, the Roman Catholic Notre Dame Basilica and finally the National Gallery of Canada. The bonus is that it’s all within a radius of a 20 minute walk…Magnificent!
The National War Memorial was the feature of our walk today though and it was a pleasant surprise. Innumerable changes have been made to the area surrounding the Memorial. The monument has been completely refurbished and it looks amazing! Also added, were a gallery of statues and sculptures of famous Canadians from the past.
Some of those historical figures are: General, Sir Arthur Currie who was the Commanding General of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces which fought in Europe during World War 1; Joseph Brant, Chief of the Tiyendinaga Mohawks who fought with the British Forces during the War of 1812 against the United States of America; General, Sir Issac Brock, Commander of British Forces during the War of 1812; The Conte de Frontenac, the most famous of New France’s Governors who defend ‘Canada’ against an English attack in 1690 and Laura Secord, a heroine of the War of 1812.
The National War Memorial was built after the First World War to commemorate those who lost their lives in “the war to end all wars”. It was constructed between December 1937 and October 1938 when it was unveiled by King George VI on the occasion of his visit to Ottawa and the Dominion in 1939.
Some 23 statues make up the main section of the Memorial representing 23 service men from all branch of the then armed forces of Canada. Work on the Statues in fact started in 1926 and this work was finally completed just before the actual unveiling.
In 2000 the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added to the memorial. This is where the National Remembrance Day Ceremonies take place at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month each year remembering those who sacrificed their lives to ensure our freedoms in all the wars Canadians were involved in.
The Governor General’s Footguards now mount a ceremonial guard at the Memorial during the summer months of the year.