I have been watching on You Tube the testimony of various people involved in the January 06 attack on the Capitol. This is like a terrible car crash with dead bodies and blood, you are attracted to it and you cannot get away. Absolutely awful and very worrying in the context of what is happening around the world at the moment. As one well known commentator put it the other night, “we cannot allow Russia to win this war, the consequence for the world would be too awful.” I agree with him, Russia wins, we all loose and in a major way, not just militarily but economically and we see it already with inflation, oil prices, etc. Russia will not stop at Ukraine, the long term plan is to reconquer other former satellites of the Soviet Union. China will be embolden to attack Taiwan and make chaos in Asia, it would also be a victory for North Korea. This is not a joke, we are in very deep trouble and then Climate Change and Covid which is endemic now. I remain despite it all an optimist, I truly believe that things will sort themselves out.
Today we travelled 40 minutes out of town to Belle River, its a settlement on the coast where the Belle Rivière as it was known before 1755 was called. A friend of ours has an old farm house, so we visited him and we brought lunch with us. Given the 25 C sunny weather today it was a Summer lunch of cold chicken and Will’s own Cesar salad which is the authentic version. Our friend’s house is full of wonderful books, music and architectural drawings of ancient classical temple in Rome, a very comfortable house. It was nice to get away from the noise of Charlottetown. We are a week away from Summer vacation time and 2 weeks from our National Day, the traffic in the city is getting worse and the number of tourists rises every day, not fun.
So yesterday I came upon this photo of the Centre Block of Parliament in Ottawa. The 3 Parliamentary buildings on the Hill are under renovations until at least 2027 maybe later and the cost is currently around $ 3 billion CDN dollars. Nothing has been done in terms of maintenance since 1917 when the Centre Block was built, the last time I was in the building about 4 years ago before it was closed down, the electrical system was failing and only part of the building had working lights. Both the House of Commons and the Senate have moved out while this massive work is underway. The Senate is across the street in the old railway station which was completely renovated at a cost of $600 million and the House of Commons is in the West block which can be seen in the far left corner of the photo. It too was completely renovated at a cost of $500 million. Democracy is not cheap!
The photo shows a deep trench in front of the Centre Block, the Parliament Hill is solid rock, part of the Canadian Shield, so to achieve this, all the rock had to be blown up and removed. What is going in there? I really do not know, I remember hearing it would be a visitor centre and possibly a television media room for the broadcast of Parliamentary daily debates and other legislative work. Looks impressive, I would say this trench is at least 50 feet deep.
It seems that the Winter Storms in the Atlantic provinces are getting worse each year. This year so far we had 4 storms over 4 weekends. It is the same pattern, a mix of snow and freezing rain and very high winds in the 70 to 80Km range. This past Thursday night we had very high winds around 100Km and then rain, so much so that severe flooding all over the Island was wide spread, roads cut off, etc..
The rain and wind was so fierce that the windows on the West side of the house were leaking and the wind was pounding our 180 year old house. We did not loose electricity, we stayed in obviously. We could not take the dogs out for a walk, they would have flown away. The snow melted quickly and now we have a lot of green everywhere. Funny to see how in two days big snow banks disappeared. The weather also went from -29C to +9C. The next day it was sunny again but cold. The temperature has been fluctuating wildly from one part of the day to the next.
Today is Nora’s Birthday and next week it will be Nicky, both are 13 years old now. Incredible how time flies by so quickly. They are in good health generally and Nora is as feisty and talkative as always. Nicky has cataracts but he is getting eye medication twice a day and is doing well. With COVID we really spent a lot more time with them and developed quite the routine and I often think that they organized the routine for us to follow, one thing is for sure we cannot depart from it, they give us dirty looks. For her birthday Nora and Nicky got prime rib roast beef, just a few pieces, they also got home made liver treats, they enjoyed it all.
It is true that there is inflation all around but what continues to surprise me is the crazy sale and discount in grocery stores, often prices are slashed 50 to 70% for a week on various items. I know that they are still making a profit, so it is telling. There is no shortage, all this talk of shortages in grocery stores was nothing but pure nonsense, a lot of it spread by the Conservative party who truly hate PM Trudeau.
As for the situation in Ottawa today, well the occupation is over, the trucks are gone, many left on their own but the police made sure to get all their details, name, licence and insurance. They are free to leave but prosecution will follow at some time. Some where towed away. I watch live on CBC and CTV the coverage of the police action to clear the streets, the Media had unfettered access, many journalists commented on that fact, they could go where ever they wanted, film and record. The police presence was massive, including a detachment from the Sureté du Québec in their green riot uniform with steel helmets. Others came from all regions of Ontario and the RCMP also had a big tactical presence. The police were very polite, you heard them ask people to leave and move out, it was a little unreal but it was all very professional. Contrary to what FOX News, Reuters and the New York Times were reporting no one was injured or killed, no guns. The police did not use their guns or shoot at people, the New York Times had to retract that story. The cavalry unit separated the crowd to allow the police to form an inside line, one woman fell but was not injured otherwise. The protesters had lots of diesel and gas jerry cans, some had propane canisters and threw them at the police, they also threw firecrackers which could easily have ignited the fuel. The police responded with pepper spray and smoke bombs.
There is a hard core or protesters, some want to die for the cause and they are delusional. Some parents with small children and one lady with a small baby charged at the police line on Sussex Drive. That was unbelievable that anyone would do that to a child. The police managed to bypass her quickly without injuring anyone. The leaders have been arrested or fled, news tonight is that they are on their way to Quebec City, am not sure that this is a true story. During the police action, protesters, some of them in the USA flooded the 911 line of the Ottawa police with obscene messages. Some one called a bomb threat at two major hospitals in the hope of disrupting the police action. The media followed all this and reported as being malicious action on the part of protesters.
Tonight, Saturday, the streets of Ottawa are deserted, Parliament is still sitting until midnight to finish the debate on the motion of the Emergencies Act. The vote in the House could be Monday and probably in the Senate the next day. The Conservative Party with interim leader Candice Bergen are doing all they can to vote down the E.A. but it looks like the motion will pass with the help of the NDP for reasons not clear to me, possibly because their leader Jagmeet Singh is of Punjabi origin and saw the hatred and racism of the protesters. Many people living in Ottawa from residents to business owners said out loud that they were very afraid of the protesters. Harassment on the street and acts of vandalism against ordinary people and property is one hallmark. We had during the day, Friday 3 Conservative members of Parliament come out from the West Block to cheer the protesters and tell them to keep fighting to get rid of the Government. One Conservative Senator Michael MacDonald from Cape Breton berated on the street the Citizens of Ottawa and the Government, cheering the protesters as good people.
I don’t think this is the end of these protests, the extreme right, the white supremacists are spear heading a movement similar to the Trump Nation in the USA. However despite the lies and their rhetoric and their appeal to the Armed Forces and the Police to come and join them, they are very unlikely to prevail. Some protesters like Dwayne Lich the husband of top organizer Amanda Lich, quoted the First Amendment of the US Constitution in Court during a bail hearing. The Judge asked him what he was talking about, reminding him that we are in Canada and have very different Laws and Constitution. Dwayne was taken aback and then asked the Judge if the Government of Canada was legitimate, the Judge and the Crown prosecutors were in disbelief. Some protesters asked the police to read them their Miranda Rights, there is no such thing in Canadian Law. Truly sad to see so much confusion from people who watch too much Fox News. Dwayne Lich is from Saskatchewan and Amanda from Medicine Hat, Alberta. Both had jobs in the oil patch in Alberta.
Majority of Canadians are disgusted with what they saw in Ottawa and the 3 week occupation of the Capital. The people of the downtown core are proceeding with their Lawsuit against the organizers of the protest, money donated has been frozen in accounts. But what is also apparent now, some so called influencers on YouTube are very well financed. One guy who does videos of Downtown Ottawa got a donation of $40,000 last night (Saturday) from one donor and thank him publicly on his site.
This is what happens when you have a population who does not pay attention, watches to much foreign television and is illiterate in Civics. I feel anxious for the future, something has to give.
In the last three weeks I have been dismayed by the rabid anti-Trudeau reporting from many media outlet like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fox News, The Economist, The Guardian UK, Sky News, Hindustani Times India, etc.. It is very disturbing to see the headlines, Trudeau flees the country, Trudeau has lost control, Trudeau is a dictator, Trudeau is a blackface artists, No one supports Trudeau.
I am like many people cannot understand how American and British news outlets can give such a distorted view of what is going on in Canada at the moment. Canada is the #1 trading partner of the USA and ally. It only shows that American Media has a very uninformed view of Canada. FOX News sent a special team to Ottawa.
To set the record straight, here are some facts; Canada has one of the highest rate of vaccination in the World 90%. So far 50% of Canadians have 3 doses of vaccines.
The economy in general in Canada is doing very well and we have shortages of workers in many fields. Yes there is inflation but only 3 sectors fuel inflation, housing, gas, food prices due to disruption of supply chains. If you are not buying a house or if you do not drive your car, then only food prices affect you. So in general Statistic Canada who is responsible to calculate national inflation says it is 2.5% the other rate of 5% is only if you apply it to specific sector.
Freedoms, this protest is about freedom apparently, Canadians are among the most free people in the world, the reason why this occupation of your National Capital for the last 3 weeks is allowed to go on is because we are free people. If Canada is a communist state or Trudeau a dictator, this protest would never happen.
We have freedom of expression, but we do not have the freedom to impose our views on others nor of occupying streets and neighbourhoods or terrorizing its residents. People in Ottawa are tired and fed up with this occupation and the idling trucks and diesel fumes which have given downtown Ottawa a air pollution level comparable to Mexico City at the moment. Residents of Ottawa complain of constant headaches and the noise of the truck sirens non stop. Kids wonder if it safe to go to school with these bums roaming the city streets. People have been assaulted for wearing a mask, homeless people beaten, the soup kitchen were I volunteered and serves hundreds of meal daily was attacked by protesters and food stolen. So much for Freedom, in this case I spell it Free Dumb.
We are told that this is about freedom to chose to get a vaccine for truckers or not. Fact 90% of truckers in Canada are vaccinated. You cannot enter the USA without a vaccine certificate. Many of the people protesting are NOT truckers, it is a rag tag group of Christian evangelists, extreme right, white supremacists, who reject any government and who came specifically to Ottawa with the declared intention of overthrowing the freely elected government of Canada and abolishing Parliament.
The truck protest at our borders in one case, the Windsor Detroit Ambassador bridge cost over $1 billion in lost trade with the USA and shut down car manufacturing plants on both side of the border. No one has the freedom to impact other citizens in their job, welfare or economic security.
This protest was never about public health, but a much more nefarious agenda aimed at anyone or any ideas the protesters do not like. It also did not help to have 16 US Republican Senators, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Elon Musk, attack Canada and our Prime Minister and to show open support to these grifters.
Today this poll amongst many other polls (see below) published show that the Prime Minister and the Government have the support of a majority of Canadians. PM Trudeau can continue governing because despite it all, he still enjoys the confidence of the House of Commons and no other party wants to trigger an election now. Finally the protest by those awful people took place because the police did not act and miscalculated the danger or the intentions of the truckers. In Canada the Prime Minister nor the Provincial Premiers can tell the police what to do or how to act. The powers are completely separated. The Emergencies Act of 1988 will now give the Police some extraordinary powers for 30 days, Banks will freeze assets of criminals who help this protest and stop money going to them. Important to note that both the Parliament and the Senate must approve the implementation of this Emergency Act, again the Prime Minister cannot do it alone. Some protesters brought young children to the protest sites, The Children’s Aide Society is there to take care of the kids in case their parents go to jail. It is also important to note that parents at these protests have used their young children to form a chain to stop any police action. The Humane society will look after their dogs and cats if anyone is arrested.
NEW: Maru Public Opinion poll: 66% support Trudeau invoking Emergencies Act 82% say 3-week Ottawa protest gone on too long 67% say clear them out 71% say Canada’s handling of it an international embarrassment 54% blame politicians 56% say Provincial premiers caved by lifting restrictions, example Ontario Doug Ford, Alberta Jason Kenney, Manitoba Scott Moe.
Today Thursday the leadership of this occupation in Ottawa have fled the City apparently for New Brunswick to set up another protest, Pat King and Tamara Lich are probably going to be arrested. She indicated as much in a teary farewell message to the poor suckers left in Ottawa now estimated to be around 250. The people of Ottawa living in the area being occupied are suing for $308 million the truck protest organizers. They also organized this past weekend their own counter protest about 1000 people showed up and manage to detain several trucks and occupants and only allowed them to leave once they took down their offensive banners and gave up any fuel jerry cans they were transporting. This was a wake up call for protesters, people do not love them.
Pat King, vagrant, no fixed address. Claims to support the Army and Trump.
Tamara Lich, little is known about her. She claims to be 47 yrs old, has been involved in various extreme causes. A big Trump supporter. A point to remember the protester and their leadership are completely delusional. Along the border with the USA the other blockades have been dismantled, powerful weapons and ammunition has been recovered by the RCMP and several people are now facing charges of weapons possession and attempted murder against the police.
We are in day 5 of the occupy Ottawa by so called truck drivers, some facts are coming out now, the demonstration which started last Friday at its height had about 8,000 people participating on Parliament Hill, fairly low number if compared to a Canada Day celebration which run around 100,000 + person.
The number of trucks the police estimate that it was around 2000 trucks. Not the ten of thousands bandied about by protesters. The shadow organization raised about $10 million dollars, now the police has revealed that most of the money is coming from the USA, from American activists who support Trump and right wing activists. This is a very troubling thing, one of the main demand of the organizer is the overthrow of the Canadian Government, the abolition of Parliament and installing a dictatorship. The hatred of Donald Trump for Canada and his minions is well known, he has demonstrated this many times during his presidency. The siege in Ottawa continues but the Chief of Police is now considering bringing in the army to clear the streets. I say, It’s about time!
Many news organizations like SKY News Australia, WION India, The Washington Post, The London Times, Post Media in Canada, The National Post, The Sun, have taken a very strong anti-Trudeau stand. Many reported that Trudeau had fled the Capital as the protesters had arrived. This was #FAKE NEWS, Parliament reopened after the Holiday Season on Monday as scheduled, the Prime Minister was present and continues to govern.
What has happened today Wednesday is the ouster of the Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole after only 23 months at the helm, a majority of Members of his Caucus 73 voted to boot him out while 45 wanted him to stay. This is ironic, O’Toole had openly supported the trucker protest and his party for the last 7 years had an open campaign of hate against PM Trudeau. It all backfired on them. No having any plans on Climate change, constantly being negative about every topic, blaming Trudeau for just about everything under the sun, attacking his family and his elderly mother Margaret. Being in favour of assault weapons for all like we see in the USA, against Abortion rights, against LGBTQ rights, supporting conversion therapy and all manner of extreme right wing causes and finally is constant flip-flop on policy positions and out the door he goes. The CPC is a divided party, the 73 members who voted against O’Toole are the right wing similar to the Trump fringe in the USA. The party will have its 4th party leadership contest and its 6th leader in 7 year. It may very well split up and we shall see a return to the old Conservative party and the other wing will be the Reformers from Western Canada.
This photo courtesy of the CBC shows 3 ladies who live on Cooper street in Ottawa, in our old neighbourhood stopping a truck from travelling down their street. Good for them! We need to stop this madness.
This weekend a major storm is coming, snow, sleet, freezing rain and winds in the 100Km per hour. Oh Joy! I have my storm chips and we will stay home. This is the third storm in 3 weeks, I hate that mix of snow and freezing rain with high winds. This means the sea bridge will be closed and food trucks will not be able to cross from the mainland, some shortages will follow in grocery stores. However there is no shortages whatsoever in what we can buy despite reports of shortages, I have not seen any, unless you mean that not being able to buy my favourite brand of potato chips is a horror.
In Ottawa the self-styled Freedom Convoy, described by the Media as a group of Grifters has arrived from across Canada, lots of crazies in that group. It all started in Vancouver and these transport trucks made a caravan heading for Ottawa. The Prime Minister has denounced them as a fringe element. Their demand, lifting of the Vaccination Mandate so they can criss-cross the USA/Canada border without any vaccination. They only forget to mention that the Biden Administration imposed such a mandate on Canadian truckers coming to the USA some time ago. We in Canada have the same policy for US truckers. The Trucking association has denounced this protest group saying that they hurt the industry. In Canada 90% of truckers are vaccinated, this group is a right wing nutjob who watch FOX News and the Reuben Report, listen to Theo Fleury former hockey player and support Trump, despite being Canadians. They also want to kill the Prime Minister who they describe as a Tyrant and a Communist, topple the government and install a government of truckers and others malcontents, they are white supremacists, anti-immigration, anti-LGBTQ, anti-women, photos show also some flying the Confederate Flag, what does that have to do with Canada? Most are very naive and misinformed living on a diet of conspiracy stories on the margins of society. They oppose the vaccine because again conspiracy stories ever more ludicrous and delusional. A pole taken today shows that 98.7% of those protesters are in Ottawa because they hate the Prime Minister and the famous vaccine mandate is lost in the mist.
Currently Ottawa with the Pandemic is pretty quiet, no one works downtown in Federal Government Buildings, public servants work from home, Parliament buildings which is their destination, is closed for 10 years for a major renovation, and Parliament itself will only return to work next week but mostly by ZOOM. The Prime Minister is not in town but in the region at another official residence, neither is most politicians. Police have closed the gates around Parliament, they have a heavy presence, reinforced by the RCMP and the Parliament Security Police. Also at the moment and for the next few days the weather is in the -31 C. so freezing cold with high winds. Parliament’s Sargent at Arms who is responsible for the protection of Members of Parliament and Senators told them that their private homes in Ottawa might be targeted by Protesters. Some protesters were calling for a January 6 style event, the police has been very firm that no such thing will be tolerated and not to try. As long as it remains peaceful and no one is hurt all will be well. The police so far is in contact with the 8 organizing truck groups but they have not been able to reach the 3 main extremist leaders who are promising trouble. However the police know who they are and are looking for them. On Saturday morning about 80 trucks lined Wellington Street in front of Parliament a far cry from the tens of thousands promised by the protesters.
Some Media outlets in the USA affiliated to FOX and other right wing media spoke of 50,000 trucks some said 1 million people were coming to Ottawa. Others mentioned that the truck convoy was so large it was probably the largest in the world, really? One reporter pointed out that given that the Capital Ottawa has a limited number of hotel rooms, if a million person show up, that would mean 125 persons per hotel room. We shall see what Saturday brings, like most people in Canada, I am very tired after 25 months of this bunch of idiot anti-vaxers. The Prime Minister in this situation has nothing to loose, he has the majority of Canadian supporting his vaccination mandate policy. The Opposition Conservative and their Leader Erin O’Toole is weak and he is trying to curry favour with this group and has met with them in a photo-op. While other members of his own party are plotting against his leadership, presenting themselves more to the right than he is and also offering smiles and coffee to these Covidiots. The mandate and lockdown the truckers protest against is a Provincial/Municipal Matter it really has nothing to do with the Government of Canada. But amid the confusion forgetting that we do not live in the USA and we are not a republic and our system of government is vastly different from our neighbour to the south, this poor souls seem to think they are heroes of democracy they are trying to overthrow.
We had such a demonstration 2 years ago about Alberta and the Oil Industry, when the price of oil was very low and jobs were lost in the Western oil patch due to low demand. The number of protesters who came to Ottawa to denounce the tyrant Trudeau and the Federal Government was not large and the whole thing fizzled like a wet petard. This may very well be the same thing.
Strange how no one mentions responsibility to society and public health, it’s always about Me,Me,Me. Someone should tell the truckers, hey honey it’s not about you!
Rideau Hall is the Official Residence of the Governor General Of Canada. This residence was built in 1838 by Thomas MacKay a businessman on 80 acres of land near the Rideau river and waterfall and facing the Ottawa river. It is a neighbourhood of Official residences for ambassadors of various countries, the Prime Minister Residence is across the street, though for the last 5 years it has been unoccupied pending a final decision on its demolition or renovation. Rideau Hall today is much larger than the original building, many expansions over the years since 1867 have been made, every Governor General has lived at Rideau Hall. The house has 175 rooms in total, with many used for official functions. It also has beautiful green houses providing flowers year round for the house.
When a new Cabinet is sworn in or when the Prime Minister shuffles his ministers, they all come to Rideau Hall to be sworn in by the Governor General. This happened this week, Prime Minister Trudeau and the ministers of his Cabinet were sworn in by Governor General Mary May Simon in the Ballroom.
The painting behind the group attracted my eye, usually the painting over the decades has changed depending on who is Governor General. The current painting is by Canadian painter Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923-2002) he was the most important signatory to the Refus Global Manifesto (1947). He participated in various artistic movement like les Automatistes, Lyrical abstraction and Tachisme. His paintings are amongst the most sought after in Canada and are found either in private collections or great museum around the World.
This is the largest painting ever produced by Jean Paul Riopelle. It was commissioned by the Government of Canada and inaugurated in February 1964 at the Toronto Pearson International Airport. In 1989, it was presented as a gift to France on the occasion of the bicentenary of the French Revolution and was on display at Paris’s Opéra Bastille.
Well I had a quick appointment this morning with my dentist over some pain I had been having for about 10 days and it would not go away. It turned out to be my very back upper molar, way back there, a tricky part it is so far back. But it had to be fixed and he identified the problem in no time at all and went to work, one hour later it is fixed. If for some reason tomorrow there is pain or his intervention today did not solve the problem, then he will remove it. But he believes the molar can be saved, so there we go. I am to call him in the morning with a progress report. I simply notch this up to having to suffer to be beautiful for my public, a regular Diana, candle in the wind kind of thing.
Today Canada has a new Governor General and Commander of the Armed Forces, etc, etc, etc. Mary Mae Simon is the 30th Governor General of Canada and represent the Queen of Canada.Amongst her many duties, she ensures that we always have a functioning government, signs all Laws into force once passed by Parliament, she advises and warns the Prime Minister on any course of action. She also represents Canada at all State Functions, receives Ambassadors, performs many other diplomatic functions like State Dinners and other State functions as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, etc.
It is very irritating to hear our idiot and lazy press go over the same nonsense over and over again. They are so incompetent at the CBC and Radio-Canada that they could not even tell you who was present in the Senate Chamber. It took them no less than 2 hours to identify her husband, the guy next to her. Come on folks why are we paying you 6 figure salaries for this type of garbage on TV.
The Senate is currently sitting in the Old Train Station in Ottawa across from Parliament and the Chateau Laurier Hotel. The Parliament buildings are being completely renovated until 2030 so the old train station which looks like a Roman Temple inside and out, think roman bath house was refurbished for hundreds of millions of dollars, no expense where spared.
The Installation ceremony takes place after the Queen designates a candidate on the advice of the Prime Minister. This was done 3 weeks ago and all the Letter Patents were issued by the Privy Council and the Queen bestowed several honours of Mary Simon including her own Coat of Arms designed by the Royal Herald. They also met formally through zoom.
Because Mary Simon is the first Inuk to serve in this function, She speaks Inuktituk, part of the ceremony was in Inuktituk. She was greeted at the door by drummers of the Algonquin nation, Ottawa is located in their territory. Then a Inuk drummer escorted her into the Chamber. It is important to note that as Mary Simon did in her speech, her people the Inuk who were known formerly as Montagnais, a name given to them by the French, live in the far North of Quebec and the people of the South are the other native nations living thousands of kilometre where all Canadians live. Its a North South thing, the Inuk culture and that of the other indigenous groups is vastly different and they don’t really get along given the difference in food, culture, language, beliefs, legends and myths and traditions. Then you also have the Inuit (eskimo)who are another group living in the Canadian Polar Circle.
Mrs Commanda who is Algonquin, and the Chief of Native groups in the South welcomed Mary Simon on Algonquin territory. Mary Simon thanked her acknowledging that her people the Inuk and the people of the South can work together. Commanda would not use that expression, for her it’s Native people and the non-native people (white). Language matters in defining perspective.
I am pretty sure that Mrs Simon will meet with criticism from the indigenous First Nations (people of the South) who view her with suspicion. The Natives in Canada are not united and there is much conflict amongst them, diverging agendas.
So once installed there was a 21 gun salute and the Flag of the Governor General was raised on the Peace Tower of Parliament replacing the Canadian Flag. The same is done at Westminster when the Queen goes to Parliament, her Personal Standard replaces the Union Jack.
Other differences today, only the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was present instead of the full 9 Judges, there was no Chief of the Defence Staff, the position is vacant currently. Only some Senators and a handful of Members of Parliament. Her sons and step child and the rest of her family were present. All this of course is due to Covid 19, sanitary precautions are still being enforced.
was born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik (Quebec). She is the 30th Governor General of Canada. She lives in Ottawa at Rideau Hall, the Official Residence of the G.G.
Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, An Offering to Pan (detail), c.1645–60. Photo: NGC
This painting I have seen countless times at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa on the second floor in the baroque room. It’s a very big painting and a fascinating one. The title of my post is about change, but what it refers to is the change that occurs in a painting over the years as paint ages and nature takes its toll. Like people paintings do age and decay with time and they need restoration and cleaning.
I presented this painting to school groups who come to the National gallery in Ottawa. Children and adults are fascinated by the subject and all the items shown. Doing interpretative work on paintings is to me always interesting, this is something I love doing.
This painting has changed, the colours are much darker with age. The darkening has changed the view we have of the painting.
Here is what Stephen Gritt, Director, Conservation & Technical Research, at the National Gallery of Canada has to say about it.
When William Hogarth published his book The Analysis of Beauty in 1753, he touched upon a subject that could potentially strike fear into the heart of any art lover. “When colours change at all, it must be somewhat in the manner following, for as they are made some of metal, some of stone, and others of more perishable materials, time cannot operate on them otherwise than as daily experience we find it doth, which is, that one changes darker, another lighter, one quite to a different colour, whilst another, as ultramarine, will keep its natural brightness,” he stated. “Therefore how is it possible that such different materials, ever variously changing … should naturally coincide with the artist’s intention.” The English painter was stating, in effect, that art objects – here specifically paintings – begin changing right from day one, so what we ultimately see is not the work the artist originally intended.
These changes in a work may occur on their own, within the object’s raw materials – for example, drying oil in oil paints darkening over time. There are also changes that can be engendered by “misuse” of these materials, typically called “inherent vice”, for example when the use of too much oil produces even greater darkening. Although this term is usually thought to apply to works of art that may be experimental in nature and made in the last 50 years, artists have always pushed the limits of their craft and knowingly used materials that were going to change. One could argue that we have centuries of inherent vice with which to contend.
Typically the artworks we see today have changed in a way that stems from the interaction of these various phenomena and the environments in which they have been kept. What often has a more profound effect on the nature and appearance of these works is the way conservator-restorers have treated them, and what they may have done to correct or simply hide any changes. Today, one of the roles a conservator-restorer should play is to look at the forensics of the situation, while trying to unravel the causes and effects of the changes over time. If the conservator-restorer is able to achieve this, thoughtful treatment can mediate these effects and enable a presentation of the work that has it talking in something like its own voice once more.
Painted in the mid-17th century by the painter Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, An Offering to Pan illustrates examples of such compound effects. The painting depicts an altar-like structure, heaped with offerings and trophies to a damaged sculpture of the ancient god Pan, shown in his characteristic form as half-man, half-goat. Pan was an embodiment of wild and eruptive nature, as well as fertility. His followers were mainly people in remote and rural areas, and in this portrayal one sees hunters, shepherds and herdsmen making offerings, in the hope that he will assist them.
Unlike depictions of the Classical world by Castiglione’s contemporaries, the eclectic and exotic nature of the clothing and objects is designed to invoke Pan’s non-Olympian strangeness, and potentially his origins in the East. Castiglione is attempting to bring that world to life by making it vibrant and exotic, full of unusual beauty, which allows him to show off his ability to represent the sumptuous and glittering bounty. Castiglione was also an excellent painter of animals, and the spaniel is simply one of the best depictions of a dog in the Gallery’s collection.
The upper part of the canvas shows some of the changes that have occurred over the years. In addition to the top section of the sky looking uneven and blotchy due to cleaning damage and discoloured old restoration, a horizontal line has become very prominent. It is a seam where two sections of fabric were originally stitched together to make the large canvas, and the seam has been pushed forward by past structural treatment of the painting.
The mottled cloud-forms should actually read as a more even, luminous pale blue, set against and contrasted with the gold colour. The blue pigment used here is called “smalt”, which typically decolourizes and ultimately is more susceptible to damage during cleaning operations. In this particular instance, the combination of the colour change in smalt, an increased visual effect of the dark red-brown underlayer and the significant cleaning damage twists the painting away from Castiglione’s originally realized intention.
On the left, the same effects can be seen in the darker clouds. The black lines rising up above the ducks are actually the artist’s initial drawing in paint, which has been revealed by the changes, and it appears that Castiglione originally intended to include a tree. On the right, the foliage of the trees has also changed over time. Green tints were typically based on copper, which causes the oil medium to turn brown. Pan was associated with springtime, and this change potentially takes the viewer to a different season. Overall, the effects of restoration processes and the basic aging of the materials will have caused the painting to be generally darker, and to have lost force in the mid-tones, creating an effect of heightened tonal contrast.
So what does all this mean? How does one interpret and understand works that are far from their intentional state? Much of Castiglione’s fine-tuning in finalizing this painting has simply disappeared, although some sections have survived relatively unscathed. As Hogarth noted, the blue ultramarine, used here in the mountains and drapery, has proved resilient, and now consequently stands out as strident.
This should give us pause for thought, but it should not be critically unnerving. With the right kind of information, one can meet the work halfway and, in turn, achieve something more meaningful. Helping us do this is one of the key roles of Museums, and has been since their inception. With enough information we can retrieve more of the work’s nature and its original grandeur and, in turn, engage with it and appreciate it in a more meaningful way.
A few years ago I was a volunteer guide at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Marc Mayer was the Director of the NGC and he was a great fellow as a director and very personable. He has an interesting background in Art, as a curator and art lover. Here is a short presentation on the 5 Fallacies about Art which is helpful to those who wish to appreciate art in its various forms. I find this presentation to be enlightening. These are some points I try to impart to visitors who come to the Gallery and who may not know how or have preconceived notions about art. Mayer debunks it all for us.
Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI had four children. They could not have been born at a more problematic time for the French royal family.
Marie-Thérèse Charlotte, known as Madame Royale was the only child, named after her grand-mother Empress Marie-Therese of Austria to survive the French revolution and reach adulthood. Eleven years old when the revolution erupted, in 1789, she was particularly close to her father the King.
Louis-Joseph, the first born son of the royal couple was spared the pains of revolution. He died of tuberculosis, at age seven, on the 4th of June, 1789. By all accounts a sweet child, the prince’s death added immeasurable grief to the lives of his parents the month before the revolution began.
After the death of his older brother, Louis-Charles, born in 1785 and sometimes referred to as Louis XVII, became dauphin. Subjected to the most cruel treatment by revolutionaries, the young prince was ten years old at his death in 1795.
Sophie-Beatrix was the family’s youngest child. Born in July of 1786, she died the following year – age eleven months – also of tuberculosis.
Because of the scandal of l’affaire du Collier, the ministers of the King ordered Vigée-Lebrun to do this propaganda painting, a tableau about family devotion and parental love. Though the Queen was cleared of any responsibility in the affair of the diamond necklace, the vicious press and a largely ignorant public hounded Marie-Antoinette. We know now that King Louis XVI brother, Prince Louis Stanislas Xavier, Comte de Provence was also plotting against his brother, he was encouraging rumours and did little to help his unfortunate relatives. He was able to leave France with a false British Passport for a 23 year long exile around Europe, living on the charity of various Sovereigns. Returning to France in 1814 to become Louis XVIII.
This family portrait was painted at Versailles in what is today the Salon de la Paix at the end of the Galerie des Glaces, it was then a private salon used by the Queen. If you look closely at the painting you glimpse at the Gallerie des Glaces in the left corner. See picture below as it is today.
Le Salon de la Paix, the Queen is seated to the right of the door, she is surrounded by her children. Her eldest son is pointing to the empty crib of his sister Sophie-Beatrix who died a few months before this painting was done. He is already sick with tuberculosis and will be dead in just a few months after this painting is completed. Truly a painting of tragedy. The cabinet in the background to the left of the tableau represents a strong box keeping locked up the jewels of the Queen. This is a reference to the alleged extravagance of the Queen. Marie-Antoinette herself only wears a pair of pearl hearings. This piece of furniture is almost in shadow and tucked away, not very important to the tableau, another message in this composition.
The composition of this painting also refers to a famous story in Greek antiquity of another mother and her children, who is asked what is most precious to her. Despite being wealthy, she presents her children as a reply, this is my wealth. This is the obvious symbolism of this painting. There is no doubt that the Queen was devoted to her children this was her wealth and this message had an impact on the French public at large. However by the time this painting was shown, it was too late. In 1793 at the 2 day trial of the Queen, she did not stand accuse or charge with any crime, the tribunal was divided on what to do. The revolutionaries were well aware that it would be difficult to pass a death sentence on Marie-Antoinette 37 yrs old. So without proof it was decided that she was guilty of treason, a farce by any judicial standard.
She was a mother and the public was against executing the mother with small children. On the day of her execution as she was brought to her public execution the streets were very silent and the mood of the crowd was sullen. The troops on hand were nervous and feared violence against the tribunal and the revolutionary government.
1787, Château de Versailles, la Reine Marie-Antoinette et ses enfants.
By Court painter to the Queen of France, Louise-Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun
Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (also known as Madame LeBrun) was the most-famous female painter of the 18th century. So impressed was Marie Antoinette with Vigée Le Brun’s work that she had the artist create more than thirty portraits of the Queen and her family. This large painting, remained at the Palace of Versailles after the fall of the Monarchy and only left the Palace 4 years ago for the first time ever to travel to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa for a retrospective exhibit of Lebrun’s paintings.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown