When the light is right, Lowertown edition

Good light makes everything look better. Warm sun makes everyone feel better.

Lowertown is an interesting neighborhood. The oldest part of Ottawa, it was settled in 1826 as a worksite for the Rideau Canal.

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Lowertown is bounded roughly by Rideau Street to the south, Sussex Drive and Ottawa River to the north, the Rideau Canal to the west, and the Rideau River to the east. It includes the commercial Byward Market area in the south-western part, and is predominantly residential in the north and east.

Along Sussex Drive, forming the periphery of Lowertown, you will find all sorts of institutions: embassies, government departments, the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, the National Gallery of Canada. The side-streets to the east and south of Sussex form the heart of the old residential neighbourhood. It’s dotted with modest homes, many of which date back well over 100 years. Some are prettier than others, some have aged better than others, some are more well maintained than others. And some were replaced with homes that don’t necessarily reflect the character of the neighbourhood all that well.

Read more about the history of Lowertown at the Lowertown Community Association.

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All images shot with the Fujifilm X100F and processed with a little Capture One Pro pixie dust.

Photo Essay #10: Tulip season in Ottawa

Every May, no matter how long, short, cold or mild the preceding winter was, the tulips come out. Sometimes a week early, sometimes a week late, but they always come out.

The city of Ottawa is host to the annual Canadian Tulip Festival (starting today!) which is now in its 65th year. Over 1,000,000 bulbs are planted for the tulip festival, spread amongst several locales around the city, such as Major’s Hill Park and Commissioner’s Park (which is host to over 250,000 tulips on its own).

The tulip festival is the offshoot of a long-standing and very special relationship between Holland and Canada:

In 1945, the Dutch royal family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in gratitude for Canadians having sheltered Princess Juliana and her daughters for the preceding three years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, in the Second World War.

The most noteworthy event during their time in Canada was the birth in 1943 of Princess Margriet to Princess Juliana at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. The maternity ward was declared to be officially a temporary part of Dutch territory and the Canadian Parliament voted to change governorship to be Dutch territory for one day and changed the flag over the Parliament building to the Dutch flag for that day, so that Princess Margriet would be born in Dutch territory and would inherit only her Dutch citizenship from her mother. In 1946, Juliana sent another 20,500 bulbs requesting that a display be created for the hospital, and promised to send 10,000 more bulbs each year.

In the years following Queen Juliana’s original donation, Ottawa became famous for its tulips and in 1953 the Ottawa Board of Trade and photographer Malak Karsh organized the first “Canadian Tulip Festival”. Queen Juliana returned to celebrate the festival in 1967, and Princess Margriet returned in 2002 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the festival.

Source: Wikipedia

Here are some tulips from Major’s Hill Park. As you can see, they’re almost open… and there are plenty more waiting to bloom.

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Photo Essay #8: Signs of spring

Every year in Ottawa, it’s more or less the same thing: somewhere around mid-March, winter starts petering out, and gasps its dying breath somewhere by the beginning of April.

In April, the snow melts away, the grass starts turning green, and we all anxiously await warm days (anything over 10°C counts) where we can go outside without anything heavier than a windbreaker.

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But for whatever reason, the trees seem to take their sweet time to wake up. Until they do, we’re in a sort of strange nether-world of green grass and bleak, gray trees with no life.

It’s not until the last week of April or the first weeks of May that the buds start appearing. When they do, they sure go fast.

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This is what the maple tree in my backyard have been up to this past week.

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Soon enough, these buds will turn into full-blown maple leaves and we’ll get some colour and shade again.

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Ahhh, springtime!

This past Saturday was an absolutely stunning spring’s day; beautiful blue skies, a warm(-ish) breeze, trees starting to bud and people coming out of hibernation.

My wife and I decided to take a break from family Easter festivities and go for a little walk in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, on of the original suburbs on the extreme western tip of Montréal Island. Our stroll took us through the campus of John Abbott College and main street that cuts through the old village.

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Almost a country clubAlmost a country club

Almost a country club

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Very soon, this will be one hell of a shade treeVery soon, this will be one hell of a shade tree

Very soon, this will be one hell of a shade tree

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Let the weeping begin

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The willowsThe willows

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This is promising

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When you just have to get that shot

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His & hers

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The Toys of Summer