Statues and Sculptures Walk, Ottawa

Statues and Sculptures Walk (Self Guided), Ottawa

As a cultural city, Ottawa abounds in monuments and statues of various sorts. In fact, there are so many of them that the locals, accustomed to their presence, jokingly claim they hardly notice them at all. Still, these artistic creations serve as visual storytellers, sharing tales of courage, peacekeeping, and commemoration.

The Maman Statue, a prominent sculpture located outside the National Gallery of Canada, is a colossal bronze spider. Created by renowned artist Louise Bourgeois, it symbolizes the intricate and often complex nature of human relationships, both maternal and otherwise. Its imposing presence evokes intrigue and contemplation.

Nearby, you can encounter the Three Watchmen, a striking trio of bronze statues standing guard outside the National Gallery of Canada. These Indigenous figures, created by artist Noel Lloyd Pinay, serve as keepers of ancestral knowledge and cultural heritage, reminding us of the Indigenous peoples' enduring connection to the land.

Moving towards the heart of the city, the Peacekeeping Monument stands as a tribute to Canada's commitment to global peacekeeping efforts. Its depiction of a peacekeeper, cast in bronze, reflects Canada's dedication to conflict resolution and humanitarian missions around the world.

On a lighter note, the Dancing Bear Sculpture in Confederation Park captures the spirit of whimsy and playfulness. This charming bronze bear, frozen mid-dance, invites visitors to celebrate the joy of life and the importance of leisure.

The Valiants Memorial, located near Parliament Hill, pays homage to Canada's military heroes. This collection of statues immortalizes key figures from Canadian military history, underscoring the nation's dedication to defending freedom and justice.

Perhaps the most solemn and revered of Ottawa's monuments is the National War Memorial, an iconic cenotaph situated in Confederation Square. It stands as a somber tribute to the Canadian soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the service of their country during various conflicts.

Lastly, the War of 1812 Monument, near Parliament Hill, commemorates a pivotal moment in Canadian history. This striking artwork features bronze figures and evocative symbols, representing the struggles and triumphs of that era.

As the city's guest, you may certainly want to embark on a hunt for the soul of Ottawa and explore its diverse collection of statues and sculptures. As you do so, take a moment to reflect on the stories they tell and the values they represent. These artistic expressions will deepen your understanding of Canada's eventful past and help you connect with the colorful present of the country's capital.
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Statues and Sculptures Walk Map

Guide Name: Statues and Sculptures Walk
Guide Location: Canada » Ottawa (See other walking tours in Ottawa)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles
Author: helenp
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • The Maman Statue
  • The Three Watchmen
  • Peacekeeping Monument
  • Dancing Bear Sculpture
  • Valiants Memorial
  • National War Memorial
  • War of 1812 Monument
The Maman Statue

1) The Maman Statue

Maman is an impressive sculpture created by Louise Bourgeois, a renowned artist. Made from bronze, stainless steel, and marble, the artwork represents a spider and is considered one of the largest sculptures in the world. Its towering size measures over 30 feet in height and more than 33 feet in width. The sculpture features a sac containing 32 marble eggs, while its abdomen and thorax are crafted from ribbed bronze.

The title, "Maman," is derived from the familiar French word for "Mother" and shares similarities with the English word "Mummy." Louise Bourgeois created this sculpture in 1999 as part of The Unilever Series (2000), her inaugural commission for the Turbine Hall at London's Tate Modern. The original piece was made of steel, and subsequently, six additional castings were produced in bronze. Bourgeois selected the Modern Art Foundry for the casting process due to its reputation and expertise.

The sculpture of Maman builds upon Bourgeois' longstanding fascination with arachnids, which she first explored in a small ink and charcoal drawing in 1947. This theme continued with her 1996 sculpture titled "Spider." Through the artwork, Bourgeois incorporates metaphors of spinning, weaving, nurturing, and protection, symbolizing the strength of her mother. Josephine, Bourgeois' mother, was a skilled tapestry repairer in her father's textile restoration workshop in Paris. When Bourgeois was twenty-one years old, her mother passed away from an unknown illness.
The Three Watchmen

2) The Three Watchmen

The Three Watchmen is a 16 foot tall bronze sculpture that is located at the intersection of Murray Street, Saint Patrick Street and Mackenzie Avenue. The sculpture, which is one of the many public art installations in the Byward Market neighborhood, is located near the National Gallery of Canada.

The Haida are indigenous to Canada who are notably from the Haida Gwaii off the coast of British Columbia. Haida artist and hereditary Chief of the Staast'as Eagle Clan, James Hart, designed the sculpture in 2003. It was cast in bronze in 2010 and placed in its home that overlooks the National Gallery, the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica and a number of government buildings.

The sculpture is an example of the artwork of the Haida who use totems to protect their homes. It is meant to represent figures that watch for physical and spiritual threats. Any visitor walking through the area can stop to admire the Three Watchmen. Though it is poised at a busy intersection, there is a walking path that allows visitors to get a much closer view.
Peacekeeping Monument

3) Peacekeeping Monument

The Peacekeeping Monument in Ottawa is a significant structure that pays tribute to Canada's contributions to international peacekeeping efforts and honors both past and present soldiers who have been involved in these missions, whether living or deceased.

Positioned at a central location near the National Gallery of Canada, the American Embassy, and Major's Hill Park, this monument was constructed in 1992. The artwork was a collaborative effort of artist Jack Harman creating the three soldiers and architects Richard and Gregory Henriquez designing the site and monument structures. The landscape architect responsible for the surrounding environment was Cornelia Oberlander.

Named "Reconciliation," the sculpture portrays three peacekeeping soldiers—two men and a woman—standing on two stone ridges that traverse the wreckage of war and converge at a high point. This symbolizes the resolution and harmony that peacekeeping endeavors bring about. The base of the monument features a quote from Lester Pearson in 1956, which expresses the need for action to not only end conflicts but also to establish lasting peace. The quote is presented in both English and French translation.
Dancing Bear Sculpture

4) Dancing Bear Sculpture

Tucked away and partially concealed, Jeanne d'Arc Court in the ByWard Market offers a peaceful urban retreat, perfect for capturing memorable photographs of Ottawa. This hidden gem transforms into a vibrant oasis during the spring, summer, and fall, adorned with lush greenery and blooming flowers.

Beyond its picturesque setting, locals hold a deep affection for the courtyard, primarily due to the presence of the Dancing Bear sculpture at its center. This adorable bronze portrayal of a polar bear, resembling a cartoon character, was installed in 1999. The sculpture was crafted by Pauta Saila, an Inuit artist from Nunavut. Saila, who grew up on Baffin Island and had firsthand experience with bears, sought to capture their essence through his art. Notably, this sculpture marks the first public artwork by a Nunavut-based artist exhibited in the capital.

Saila began carving in the 1950s to supplement his income as a hunter. His sculptures, typically made of soapstone, are large-scale and feature simplified depictions of Arctic wildlife. Among his renowned creations are the powerful and somewhat abstract dancing bears. Saila himself insisted that the bears were not dancing but merely playing, much like when he observed them on the ice fields during his hunting expeditions.

A plaque on the wall of the condominium adjacent to the Paper Papier store reveals that the statue was donated by the family of Charles Jennings, a pioneer in Canadian broadcasting, and his wife Elizabeth.
Valiants Memorial

5) Valiants Memorial

Situated in the heart of Ottawa's downtown area, the Valiants Memorial stands as an assemblage of nine busts and five statues, portraying significant figures who have played pivotal roles in major conflicts throughout Canada's history. One notable feature of the memorial is a bronze wall inscription that bears the timeless words, "No day will ever erase you from the memory of time," taken from the renowned epic poem The Aeneid, written by Virgil.

This monument serves as a tribute to the brave individuals who have selflessly served our country during times of war, acknowledging their profound contributions to the development of our nation. Each of the 14 men and women depicted in the memorial was chosen for their extraordinary heroism and representation of critical moments in Canada's military past.

The Valiants Memorial was collaboratively designed by Marlene Hilton Moore and John McEwen in 2006. It occupies a significant location near the Sappers Staircase, an underpass located on the northeastern corner of Confederation Square, close to the National War Memorial.
National War Memorial

6) National War Memorial

The National War Memorial in Ottawa stands tall as a granite memorial arch adorned with bronze sculptures. Initially dedicated by King George VI in 1939, its purpose was to honor the Canadians who lost their lives in the First World War. However, over time, it came to represent all those who have perished in past and future conflicts. In 2000, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added to the front of the memorial, serving as a symbol of the sacrifices made by Canadians who have died or may still die in service to their country.

The National War Memorial holds a significant place in Confederation Square, the focal point of Canada's capital city. Situated between various important structures and attractions, it is bordered by Parliament Hill to the northwest, the Rideau Canal to the northeast, and the National Arts Centre to the east. Numerous buildings can be found west of the square, including the Bell Block, the Central Chambers building, the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council, and the Scottish Ontario Chambers building.

Whenever a member of the monarchy or the Royal Family visits Ottawa, regardless of the date, they participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the monument. Foreign dignitaries visiting the city also sometimes pay their respects by laying wreaths at the memorial. Notable figures who have done so in the past include US President John F. Kennedy in 1961, Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and French President François Hollande in 2014.
War of 1812 Monument

7) War of 1812 Monument

The War of 1812 Monument, also known as The Triumph Through Diversity Monument, is a memorial made of bronze and stone located at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. It honors the participants from the Canadian side of the War of 1812, represented by seven figures. These include a First Nations fighter, a Métis militiaman, a Royal Newfoundland Regiment infantryman, a Canadian Voltigeurs soldier being attended to by a female figure, a Royal Navy marine, and a farmer. Positioned across from the National War Memorial, one of the figures on the monument points towards it.

In addition to the figures, the monument features a maple tree that was planted using soil collected from ten Canadian battlefield sites. During its dedication, the tree was watered with water sourced from six significant oceans and lakes associated with the War of 1812. The tree symbolizes the growth of the Canadian nation as a result of the collective efforts to defend Canada during the war.

Designed by sculptor Adrienne Alison, the monument was officially unveiled on November 6, 2014, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Malcolm's Mills, the final battle of the War of 1812 fought in Canada.

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