Thursday, January 17, 2013

3D Thursday: St. Paul Church (Aylmer, QC)

St. Paul's church in Aylmer is obviously not in Centretown, but it's in the Ottawa area and its ruins will be demolished today. It was consumed by fire after it was struck by arsonist on the evening of June 11, 2009, and has been in ruin ever since. Click on this 3D photo to see it full screen for better effect:

A number of people posted videos of the fire to YouTube, including this shocking one of the high wooden steeple falling into a plume of fire.

A colleague of mine who lives within sight of the church sent me photos the following day, including this one:

When I was in the area a couple of months later, in August 2009, I snapped this photo, which shows signs of some tidying up of the stone walls:

St. Paul's church was a focal point of the town of Aylmer, which was home to many of my ancestors, for example: my grandmother was born in and grew up in a house practically across the street from the church, and her father was Mayor of Aylmer for a few years in the first half of the 20th century (as was his brother-in-law). Both married their respective spouses at St. Paul's.

Recent articles in the Ottawa Citizen and CBC summarize the bureaucratic gridlock that led to the decision to demolish the remains. That conclusion was partly due to the church not being insured sufficiently to allow a full reconstruction, partly due to the local governments' unwillingness to preserve the heritage, and largely due to lawyers' overabundance of caution.

In anticipation of the imminent demolition, I went by for the last time this past Christmas Day to take some 3D photos for posterity.

At least in Centretown, when the Somerset House partially collapsed, we held on to what is left until it can be restored. By contrast, once you tear the buliding down, it's gone forever. Then it, and the history it represents, is easily forgotten.

Which do you remember better: Ottawa's former City Hall at Elgin and Queen, or Lisgar Collegiate Institute?

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images]

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Vertical mess, Preston and Albert

There's something about massive amounts of utility wires on a streetpost that compels me to photograph them, so indulge me for a moment on this one. Backed by a clear blue sky, the wires, while numerous, are clean and tidy, and clearly was installed relatively recently (as was the still-green wooden pole they're suspended on).

Three corners of the foreground are occupied by an OC Transpo bus flag for the #16, a Preston street name sign, and a Little Italy-style pedestrian lantern. These provide a sense of place to the photo, identifying the corner as that of Preston and Albert. The fourth quadrant is filled in by a street light and a traffic control signal post, providing some balance. Lastly, the green of the leaves on the right provide some reassurance that this isn't some desolate concrete jungle but a place where a long presence has allowed the trees to grow high.

That photo was taken back in October when a group of DCA members went on a walkabout with City traffic engineers as part of Public Advisory Committee (PAC) discussions on pedestrian safety for the redesign of Albert Street (to be implemented only after LRT is complete in 2108). From the same set is this shot of the group itself.

Since I'm already being a bit poetic on the photo descriptions today, I'm including this next one for a reason, too. The literal description is that the group is standing on the south sidewalk of Albert Street at the pathway connecting to Walnut Court, about a block west of the photo above, taken on the same PAC walkabout.

The curiosity here is more of a tongue-in-cheek metaphor. Note that everyone in the group is circled around Eric Darwin, the voluminous blogger behind the popular blog, West Side Action. Eric is facing the City engineers, and the community members are standing behind him (and I'm in the middle of the road behind a camera—which could also be interpreted metaphorically a few ways, ha!). This arrangement is almost like a literal illustration of how the community consultation process often seems to pass, as described by Eric himself via David Reevely's blog. Of course Eric isn't the centre of discussions at all PAC meetings, but being retired, he has a lot of time to come up with ideas and share them, and if by sheer volume there are enough good ones that people often listen.

[Tune in on Wednesdays at noon for a new pedestrian-themed blog post. View the Pedestrians label for previous Peds on Weds posts]

Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday of the new year

It's Monday. The holidays are over, the city rediscovers its regular routine, and Ottawa's winter continues to hit us with its full arsenal. I find that the cold and dark of autumn wears away at me until the snow falls, when the thrill of biking in the snow keeps my spirits up until the holiday season. In January, after the holidays, the fun of the snow wears away, and I find don't start to cheer up until the canal opens, giving me a reason to enjoy winter again. (Someone from a rainier part of the country once observed that Ottawans tend to get cranky if we go more than three days without sunshine)

But as miserable as this time of year can be for me, at least I can take refuge in the office. The garbage collector operating this truck had a breakdown along Gladstone in last week's snowy weather and needed to get towed. Then, presumably, he had to get another truck and continue fishing out people's trash bins from the snowbanks. In the dark.

I feel sorry for the guy; I think we've all had one of those days where one thing goes wrong after another. Hopefully your Monday is going well by comparison!

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Peds on Weds: Survivors of Metcalfe

Metcalfe Street has always been tree-lined, but it feels more constrained after they built apartment buildings right up to the back of the sidewalk like here at MacLaren:

The trees lean into the streets because they couldn't grow into the building, and they were chopped off at the power lines. Meanwhile, trucks have gotten bigger and chip away at the tree bark. It's a wonder that the trees survive.

[Tune in on Wednesdays at noon for a new pedestrian-themed blog post. View the Pedestrians label for previous Peds on Weds posts]
[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]