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Cartier Square Drill Hall – Ottawa
While in our nation’s capitol of Ottawa a few weekends ago we visited Centennial Park to take in some of the annual Winterlude festivities.
This outdoor winter festival features live entertainment, family activities such as skating on the Rideau Canal, lots of food stands, and an impressive ice sculpture competition that attracts competitors from all around the world.
This year’s theme is of course Canada’s 150th birthday.
I have plans to show some of those amazing sculptures in an upcoming post, but today for Thursday Doors I thought I’d show you a simple place we discovered right across the road from there, the Drill Hall at Cartier Square.
What it lacks in the way of sexy doors, it more than makes up for in historical significance.
Since its construction in 1879, this building which looks out onto the heart of downtown and the Parliament Buildings has been an Ottawa landmark.
The history around the need for drill halls like this dates back to the years just prior to and just after Canadian Confederation in 1867.
By this time the British had largely given up on maintaining a military presence here and with the constant murmurings from the south of “manifest destiny” and an eventual American takeover of the continent, Canada saw a need to establish a more formal and structured military to replace the loosely aligned volunteer civilian militias spread out across the country.
With a formal military taking shape, places were needed to train them and this two story brick building measuring 230 feet (70 meters) long, with twin 140 foot towers, was one of the first.
In fact it is the only remaining completely intact example in the country of a military training facility built immediately after confederation, when the need to establish a military infrastructure and assert the role of our then fledgling federal government were considered urgent priorities.
It’s amazing to consider that if the U.S. Civil War had ended a few years earlier, or had not occurred at all, then perhaps instead of speaking English and French, today everyone in Canada would be speaking American 😀
But with the Americans still healing and rebuilding from their civil war, Canada had time to establish its own nationwide military infrastructure, and the idea of American manifest destiny was put to rest once and for all.
Today the Drill Hall is still in use and is home to two reserve infantry regiments: the Governor General’s Foot Guards and the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa.
The Governor General’s Foot Guard has a ceremonial side to it, as they are the ones who supply the young reservists who each summer enact the “Changing of the Guard” ceremony conducted daily at 10:00 am on Parliament Hill, a short 10 minute march from there.
Yes, these are the guys in the scarlet uniforms and bearskin hats similar to the ones you’ll see outside of Buckingham Palace in London, the only difference being that our guys are allowed to smile for the tourists 🙂
My favorite architectural feature of the Drill Hall is this beautiful stained glass window of the GGFG’s coat of arms.
As always I thank you for looking 🙂
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