This past Friday, my alarm clock went off at the ungodly hour of 6 AM. Normally, if I’m awake before the sun is, I immediately fill with rage, attempt to break the thing that woke me up, and then go back to sleep with a vengeance.
This particular morning, however, I powered through the rage and stumbled out of bed because it was FIELD TRIP FRIDAY, and we were going to OTTAWA! The past week in class we had been learning all about libraries and archives, and what better way to finish the week then by checking out the Preservation Centre in Gatineau and the Library Archives Canada building in Ottawa?
Our first stop was a tour of the Preservation Centre, the name of which is misleadingly dull. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t a building that looked like this on the outside…
…and had a fourth floor that looked like it had been designed by someone who clearly had a thing for Prairie architecture and colourful K’Nex construction toys. The top floor is deliberately set up as a “village” dedicated to preserving the documentary heritage of Canada, which makes for a surprisingly fun and inspiring environment. There were so many gadgets and bubble-like rooms–there was even a movie theatre. Unfortunately I don’t have any decent photos to share here, because by the time I thought about taking some, our tour of the fourth floor had finished and I nearly got locked inside trying to get my stupid phone camera to focus on a yellow silo thing. Fortunately, however, you can learn more about the Preservation Centre by clicking here, including how to book a tour for yourself and your friends. CUZ YOU KNOW YOU WANNA.
After that tour, we had the opportunity to see some of the texts that are kept in the Preservation Centre, particularly the journals of Catherine Parr Traill, and various documents belonging to P.K. Page and Carol Shields. Very much an English nerd-gasm moment. It’s weird to think that someday in the future, when I make it big as something or other and become a millionaire (or billionaire, I’m not picky), my future documents could be kept in similar brown cardboard boxes. Like the post-it note on my desk right now, which has my “To Do” list for tomorrow on it, visible under the splattered bits of spaghetti sauce–that could be relevant to understanding Future Famous Sarah! RIGHT? Right.
Our next and final stop on our field trip was the Library Archives building in downtown Ottawa. While the Preservation Centre was slightly–dare I say it–kooky, LAC was everything you’d expect from a fancy government building, demanding respect and reverence from the moment you walk inside. One of my colleagues described the style perfectly as “Roman Egyptian,” what with all the marble, the pillars, the sexy muses etched onto glass partitions, not to mention all the gold plating. It’s nice to know that anything you could EVER want to know about Canadian history can be accessed from inside this building… except for factual information underlying perhaps one of the more amusing events of the day:
Whilst I was trying to make sense of the Jackson Pollack portraits housed within the Preservation Centre’s Art Vault, my Roman Egyptian colleague grabbed my arm, pointed at a portrait that had been separated for some reason from the others, and whispered, “Doesn’t that look like Mike?” For those of you not in the Public Texts program (and for those you considering it–WHY ARE YOU STILL CONSIDERING APPLY RIGHT NOW BY THE BEARD OF ZEUS), Dr. Michael Epp is one of our program’s main “big cheese” faculty members (…I don’t know how else to describe it). Our theory portion of the program was bravely helmed by this man, and so to see what I choose to believe is his great-great-great grandfather on a canvas was probably a bit too thrilling for me. I have included below a comparison of the two:
Now, seeing as I have no idea who I’m actually comparing my respected professor to, I’m going to go ahead and assume he’s not the Canadian grandfather of Stalin. I’m a fan of selective realities, and in this particular one, I’ve just compared Mike Epp to Wolverine’s biological father. I MEAN LOOK AT THE SIDEBURNS. Plus any true X-Men fan knows Wolverine is Canadian, but you may not know that he occasionally liked to wear an onion in his belt. Because it was the fashion at the time. Duh.