Saturday, May 22, 2010

Museum of Nature reopens after three years of renovations

The Centretown News reports that the Museum of Nature is reopening this spring in the Victoria Memorial Museum building after three years of renovations. According to the report, it will reopen as two museums--the Museum of Man and the Museum of Natural Sciences.

"Gone are the days of the monumental exhibits that last for fifty years and look like it, [Mr. Bill Baldwin, assistant director of the museum] states emphatically."

Okay, that article is from 1972. (Click on it to view it in full size) There are a few obvious errors (it housed Parliament for a lot longer than one month), but there are nevertheless a few nuggets, like the Baldwin quote.

Regrettably, I didn't start taking photos of the museum renovations until April 2008, when they installed the columns for the lantern, and I didn't try to get access to the inside during construction. But here are a hanful of my photos from the renovations.

This shot from Metcalfe and Catherine shows the South side of the museum last June, when the Beaver Barracks building (site at left) was still in the early stages of construction:

This photo from last March shows the lantern more or less installed, with the leaded glass window still inside.

The original 1916 tower, which had been removed in 1919 becuase it was sinking in the leda clay, had an archway here. When the tower was removed, they had to fill in the archway with a window to protect it from the elements. With the current renovations and a new glass tower added, the windows can be removed and the archway restored to its original function.

Earlier this week, some finishing touches were added to the front entrance.

There is a parade today (should be on now) as part of the weekend celebration events.

Admission is free today as part of the reopening ceremonies, but that will mean it will be very busy so you should wait for another day. (Just kidding, I just want some space for when I visit today!)

The Ottawa Citizen has a lot of photos, articles, and historical views of the Museum of Nature on its special section at

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tommy & Lefebvre Reconstruction: Part 9

This is the last major post in the series on T&L's rise from the ashes. There are a few finishing touches to be done on the building, and I'll probably post a few photos once that's done.

In the previous post, the walls went up and a plastic bubble enshrouded the building while the brickwork was installed, as seen below in early February 2010:

In mid-February, the McLeod side was revealed. Double-tall black bricks surrounded the two ground-level display windows, and red brick covered the rest of the building. The corner remained unfinished.

One night in early March, the interior was lit, making it possible to see inside to the showroom, also unfinished.

The same night, you could see the progress on the front corner section.

A few days later, the plastic enclosure was removed from the Bank Street side, which has five display windows, plus office windows above. Already they're framing up behind the display, which unfortunately means that there won't be any natural light shining into the showroom.

Round the back of the building, two ladders lead to the top of the building. These have since been replaced with permanent emergency ladders. At the corner of the building is the rear public entrance, and at the right of the photo is the loading entrance. Some site services are located next to an emergency exit.

In early April, we can see the building flush up against the former wall of the old T&L building. Some flashing was added to connect the two. The grey band at the middle of the front of the building is steel I-beam sticking out at a shallow angle, flush with the building here, but sticking out as it gets to the corner of Bank and McLeod. There is also a recessed emergency exit, which as we saw in the previous post, has a reinforced ceiling leading to it.

In early April, the corner was more defined, with sliding doors installed at ground level and a decorative curved window frame above. The divider between the two display windows on McLeod was also more finished. At the roofline, one piece of metal cornice was installed near the corner, with the rest of the roofline awaiting more.

Above the front doors, the gap beneath the windows provided space for the door's electronics. This would later be covered up with more aluminum covering.

And the rest of the window display space was finishing construction.

In mid-April, new signs appeared in the black-brick sections next to the display windows. A sheathing was also installed on the first-storey cornice. It has factory-installed wrap covering it during installation to protect its surface treatment.

A week later, the sheathing installation was complete, at least at this end. The red-and-white Tommy & Lefebvre signs light up at night. We can also see two of the cross-members forming an "X" in the windows, which we saw during the earlier stages of construction.

The decorative band comes away from the wall as it approaches the corner, and is like a box around the support frame. It stops at the corner because a large grille--still being built at the time the store opened--will later be installed over the corner section.

It may or may not be related to this construction, or possibly the two large condo buildings going up across the way, but three penthouse units at the condo next door at 400 McLeod are for sale. There were also other real estate signs on other properties on McLeod.

This shot is from mid-April, at night. The "Open Winter 2009-10" sign was covered over with "Open April 2010", and the deadline was fast approaching.

But at noon on Wednesday, April 28, the new T&L store officially opened to the public. Let's take a look inside!

As you walk in, you immediately notice the vast two-storey showroom. There are many spacious displays of bike helmets, tennis rackets, and many other things. On the side wall is a projector showing live TV.

At the back is the stairway to access the offices, and also a mezzanine display level. Large posters wrap around the corner wall. The top of the stairs gives a good view of the ground floor showroom.

Obviously, the majority of the construction is complete. All that's left is to install the grille over the corner of the building, and the sign over top of it. Here's how it should look.

I hope you enjoyed this series. Make sure to check out the others by clicking on the Tours label. With it out of the way, I hope to get back to regular blogging very soon.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tommy & Lefebvre Reconstruction: Part 8

This is the eighth, and nearly last, post in the series on T&L reconstruction. In the previous post, I covered the construction of the building's skeleton.

In this post, we'll be looking at the filling in of the walls and ceilings.

In mid-December, the snow started falling, so the roof installation and wall framing were timely.

A week later, the metal roof was finished and they had started to install the fibreglass wallboard, which comes in yellow packaging.

A few days later, this machine was pumping tar up to the roof for the finishing weather sealant. Much of the walls are still open, so we can see right into and through the building.

The artistic bike racks along Bank Street were wrapped in packing material to protect them during the ongoing construction. Behind, the windows along Bank Street have been installed.

On this shot from Christmas Eve, the fibreglass sheathing was formed around the front entrance at the corner, and the "Open Winter 09-10" sign was attached to it.

Meanwhile, scaffolding was beginning to go up around the building for the installation of the second-floor walls. The framing for the McLeod side windows was progressing since the photo above. In the background is the sales centre for the Central Phase II condos.

Around the back side of the building, a blue treatment was applied to the fibreglass sheathing, then some insulation on top of that. The scaffolding is being wrapped in plastic for weather protection.

The rear parking lot is normally full of construction workers' vehicles, but they're away on holidays today.

By mid-January, most of the blue banners advertising the reopening of Bank Street had started to fall down, as with this one bearing the words "Better than ever!" The plastic wrap on the T&L building had extended to the second floor, and some wooden makeshift doors had been installed at the corner.

A pallette of bricks was nearly empty and poking out from the foot of the tarp. Notice the double-high black bricks. Some large propane canisters were helping to provide heat to the bubble.

More bricks and propane tanks were on hand in the overflow parking lot across McLeod from T&L.

The two-storey scaffolding got to the corner of the building by the end of January 2010, and the plastic wrap was enshrouding the Bank Street side as well, including most of a recently-planted tree. A second set of modu-loc fencing created a protective sidewalk space for pedestrians.

In the next post, the bricks go on and the shroud comes off for the big reveal.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Springtime is busy for the CCCA

The CCCA Heritage Event in April was very successful, and is only the start of a full season of activities the Centretown Citizens Community Association has planned for the Spring.

1. Safety - A Community forum on SCAN

Date: Thursday, May 13, 2010
Time: 7:30-9:00 pm (doors open at 7pm)
Location: Dominion-Chalmers United Church, O'Connor and Cooper
The CCCA does not have a position for or against the Ontario SCAN legislation proposed by Ottawa-Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi. Because it's such a controversial issue, the CCCA's Safety Committee is hosting a forum on SCAN where expert panellists both for and against SCAN will speak about and answer questions about the legislation, and hopefully clarify any misconceptions about it. The forum will be hosted by CTV News at Six's Graham Richardson.

2. May 2010 CCCA Board meeting presentations

Date: Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Ottawa City Hall, Honeywell Room
CCCA Board meetings are open to the public and to CCCA members. This month we have three big presentations:

  • 2010 Ottawa Mayoral Candidate Jim Watson will be speaking to the association and will take questions from CCCA members

  • Light Rail Ottawa Project presentation from the City of Ottawa's Rail Implementation Office (presentation plus Q&A period)

  • Segregated Bike Lane Pilot Study presentation from Colin Simpson of the City of Ottawa's Transportation department
Colin gave the Bike Lane presentation to the Dalhousie Community Association last night where many concerns were raised and some questions answered. This presentation is the one that was scheduled for the March 2010 CCCA meeting but cancelled at the last minute.

3. Yuk Yuk's CCCA fundraiser

Date: Thursday, May 20, 2010
Time: Doors open 7:30pm, Show starts 8:30pm
Location: Yuk Yuk's Downtown Ottawa, 292 Elgin Street (between MacLaren and Gilmour)
As with last year's successful event, the CCCA is once again partnering with Yuk Yuk's comedy club for a fundraiser on Thursday, May 20th. Tickets can be purchased from CCCA Board members (including me), and half the $14 ticket price will go to the CCCA. The ticket price also includes a free CCCA membership if you are eligible ($5 value).

This is an important fundraiser because it allows the CCCA to carry on tcohe many other activities held throughout the year.

Yuk Yuk's has renovated their frontage on Elgin street since last year:

4. Minto Park Sale - CCCA BBQ and plant sale
Date: Saturday, June 12, 2010
Time: Sale is from 8am to 2pm, BBQ is from 11-1
Location: Minto Park, Elgin-Gilmour-Cartier-Lewis
The annual Minto Park Sale, organized by Somerset Ward Councillor Diane Holmes, originated as a way for those without front yards to have a yard sale. It has since grown, and anyone can rent a table for $10. The funds raised go to a good cause (last year it was the Cambridge Street Elementary School's Kindergarten Play Structure Fund). To book a table, send an e-mail to

Last year, for the first time, the CCCA held a Barbecue fundraiser during the Minto Park Sale, and raised funds for the CCCA and the Cambridge Elementary's play structure fund. The CCCA's Trees and Greenspace Committee uses the Minto Park Sale as a venue to have its annual plant sale, where the sales of the donated plants help to fund the Committee's activities to green Centretown:

We welcome you to come out to the Barbecue, to donate plants for the plant sale, or to volunteer to help out with either event.

You can also just come out to the Minto Park Sale and pick up some of the great deals. Last year Elgin Street Video sold many of its de-commissioned DVDs, and I got one of Jim Furminger's wonderful prints of an Elgin Street scene:

5. Bronson avenue consultation

Date: Ongoing
As mentioned in the April 2010 CCCA report in the Centretown Buzz newspaper, things aren't looking too well for the reconstruction project of Bronson Avenue, which is due for reconstruction soon to replace the century-old water systems underground.

I'm the CCCA's representative on the Public Advisory Committee (PAC), and the drawings shown by the consultants at the first PAC meeting reflected only the street's use as a roadway, and they did not consider many other statuses, including the fact that Bronson is a scenic gateway, that much of it is zoned Traditional Mainstreet, that there are recommendations in the Somerset Heights Transportation and Parking Study, the Escarpment Area District Plan, the Chinatown Gateway Arch, and others. They actually want to widen Bronson, which will only mean cars travelling faster (though not necessarily getting anywhere more quickly when traffic signals are factored in), and less space for pedestrians and residents.

I welcome your feedback on Bronson Avenue reconstruction, and what you, as a Centretown resident, want to see on Bronson. If you have specific feedback as to problem points on Bronson (e.g. places where it's hard to cross or dangerous locations), that's also useful feedback that I can bring to the PAC.

You can leave your feedback in a comment below, or you can send me an e-mail at

Note: I am the Corporate Secretary of the Centretown Citizens Community Association.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Iran embassy entrance

The entrance of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, at 245 Metcalfe at MacLaren, is not exactly the most welcoming entrance in downtown Ottawa. I think it's the spiny fence and the bars on the windows that does it.

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

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tommy & Lefebvre Reconstruction: Part 7

In the previous post of the series on T&L demolition and reconstruction, I covered the construction of the foundation and basement level, and left off when the ground floor was a shiny white concrete slab.

Between then, in mid-November 2009, and nine days later, the skeleton of the entire building went up.

Starting at the back, near the parking lot, is the access to the basement, the walls for which we saw poured in the previous post.

Moving up along McLeod (seen here looking from Bank), we can see different lengths of metal laid out for the filling out of the skeleton. The boulevard between the building and sidewalk along McLeod was left unfinished by the Bank Street workers until the T&L construction got further along.

The trusses that form the floor of the second level go around the perimeter of the building, leaving a two-storey showroom floor in the middle of the building. A big change from the confined space of the old store, which was spread across three connected buildings.

At the corner is a wedge-shaped piece that is cantilevered away from the building and curved on the outside. This will form the distinctive entrance.

The border of the wall up against the neighbouring building, which contains the Vietnamese Kitchen restaurant on the ground floor, is still unfinished. In the foreground is one of Bank Street's decorative bike racks.

Inside the building is a stairway leading to the mezzanine/office level. A worker in the foreground attaches a red safety flag to a wire that is difficult to see. In the back, workers assemble the cinder-block rear section of the building.

Back a few days later, still in late November, there was some welding going on. Note the alignment of the truses on the roof level, reflecting Bank Street's skew from the rest of the street grid. That was evident during the demolition of the main building of the Metropolitan Bible Church, in photos I haven't yet gotten around to posting.

Still just a few days after the previous photo of this end of the building, a wall is being built bordering the Vietnamese Kitchen building, and the bike racks have been covered up for protection. Note the heavy-duty ladder-like structure on the ceiling of the first floor, next to the nearest post. That's reinforcement for the building's rear exit, which you can tell by the step in the foundation.

In early December 2009, the second storey floor was finished. If you zoom in, you can see the rendering of how it is supposed to look when completed. The design was updated since the early rendering posted in part 5.

And here's a shot looking down the McLeod street side, with the 400 McLeod condos in the background.

In the month since the first photo was taken in this post, a lot of work was done, yet the details are hard to see at first glance. The Xes at the far ends of each wall have been filled in, there's some scaffolding going up on the left, but not much else.

I'll try to get the next post up in two days, but I've got a lot of meetings this week, so it might be a bit longer than that. In the meantime, check out the archives, including the other Tours and multi-post series (click "older posts" at the bottom to view more).