Ottawa, Spirit of Place: An Aerial Panorama by John Robert McQuarrieOttawa, Spirit of Place: An Aerial Panorama by John Robert McQuarrie

Ottawa, Spirit of Place: An Aerial Panorama

byJohn Robert McQuarrie

Paperback | July 1, 2018

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Very few of us can remember a time before there were airplanes. And no one holding this book was around for the invention of the camera. But our community has been here for over 200 years—if we take the beginning of Wrights town by that tiny settlement’s visionary founder Philemon Wright as our starting point. So, for those early years, aerial photography of our tiny corner of the planet was impossible. But this didn’t stop those first settlers from looking up and imagining what the birds soaring over the future capital could see. And a few of them were so intrigued they let their imagination flow through pen and brush to paper, and it is through their eyes that we will begin our magic carpet ride from the mid-19th century through the 21st

     Places you know and are familiar with, roadways you have traveled, sidewalks, parks and pathways you have strolled, waterways you have paddled, buildings you have visited, maybe even the one you live, work, shop, worship or study in – locales you are familiar with from your ‘ground’s-eye-view’. Now see them in an entirely new way through the bird’s eye views hidden between the covers of the book you hold in your hands.

     The camera came along by the middle of the 19th century – preceding the airplane – so our first elevated, photographic views of the emerging capital will be from a perch atop the old Victoria Tower on the original Parliament building, beginning before Confederation.

    Following the Silver Dart, the Wright Brothers and the Great War, the newly minted (1924) Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) began aerial photography of Canada in earnest, and our first truly aerial photographic views date from the late 1920’s.

    The gifts these early aerial artists left us provide a fascinating flight through time. So please fasten your seat belts and enjoy the aerial adventure!

    John McQuarrie is an Ottawa-based author and photographer whose major clients have included Coors, Marlboro, McDonnell-Douglas and Lockheed.  But his real passion is producing coffee table books.     His earlier works focused on the Canadian Air Force from the Second World War to the Gulf War and the Canadian Armed Forces in their ...
Title:Ottawa, Spirit of Place: An Aerial PanoramaFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:160 pages, 8.5 × 11.25 × 0.4 inShipping dimensions:8.5 × 11.25 × 0.4 inPublished:July 1, 2018Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1894673859

ISBN - 13:9781894673853


From the Author

Foreword An elevated vision, a limitless horizon                                                                 By Randy Boswell                             I’ve always been fascinated by the “bird’s-eye view” of Canada’s future capital, created in 1859, that sprang from the imaginations (and evident ground-proofing) of English-born architects Thomas Stent and Augustus Laver. As vintage images of the city go, this depiction of early Ottawa and neighbouring Hull — today’s Ottawa-Gatineau, population 1.3 million-plus — is the best visual baseline for any illustrated history of the national capital. Key characteristics of the fledgling city were skillfully captured by the artists: the centrality of the Ottawa River, the significance of the Chaudière Falls, the area’s rich natural endowments, the majesty of the shoreline bluffs, the connectedness of the twin settlements, the industriousness of the citizenry, the seemingly limitless horizon.    Romanticized? Of course. Blind to the area’s Indigenous history? Sadly, yes. This was, first and foremost, a branding exercise — a marketing poster — meant to shore up support for Queen Victoria’s recent and highly controversial decision to make muddy old Bytown the new capital of provincial Canada. But the Stent and Laver sketch, better than any other image from its time, offers vital orientation to anyone interested in the Euro-Canadian settling of what became the National Capital Region, as well as its 19th- and 20th-century transformation into the world-class metropolis we’re privileged to inhabit in the 21st.    Aerial perspectives allow us to momentarily escape the imperfections, complications and ordinariness of ground-level existence. They offer pleasing patterns, a sense of order and scope, the giddiness of a hot-air balloon ride. We shouldn’t surrender ourselves wholly to sublime delusions, but neither should we forget the awe-inspiring, ancient landscape that underlies contemporary Ottawa and its iconic tourist sites, impressive architecture, bustling retail districts, vital arteries — liquid and asphalt alike — and quiet, leafy residential neighbourhoods.    John McQuarrie, aerial photographer par excellence, has captured all of that, and much more. He is modern Ottawa’s heir to the bird’s-eye tradition established by Stent and Laver more than 150 years ago, well before cameras took to the skies. And fittingly, the picture-story McQuarrie tells about Canada’s capital begins with a nod to their sky-high sketch of Ottawa-Hull (see page 6), a tribute to the visionary architects who also left their designs of the East and West Block buildings of Parliament Hill as enduring gifts to the nation.     McQuarrie has created his own impressive legacy: a series of lavishly illustrated volumes showcasing Ottawa and other major Canadian urban centres, each one brimming with superbly composed aerial photographs that offer mesmerizing views of their subject cities. This book, his latest contribution to a genre that he has pioneered and perfected, supplies a wealth of detail-rich and frequently breathtaking images of present-day Ottawa-Gatineau — as well as a time-machine trip to the city’s storied past. McQuarrie’s then-and-now portrayal of the capital’s evolution from gritty industrial hub to manicured metropole is a testament to the achievements of generations of city planners and the citizens who consented — albeit not always unanimously — to an elevation of tone and urban vision more befitting of the political centre of a G7 nation. Even so, the city’s rugged landscape, unruly shoreline and vestigial wildness can still be glimpsed in these sweeping panoramas. The natural underpinnings and cultural overlay of the city combine to create the “Spirit of Place” that McQuarrie has made it his mission to capture in so many parts of Canada; he’s certainly done it again in this thoughtful, admiring album of Ottawa from the air. McQuarrie’s stunning aerial shots are augmented by well-chosen archival images, along with his own written observations and the insights of other local scribes about the scenes unfolding below. But the pictures are the stars of this show. It’s easy to spend hours hovering, hawk-like, from dizzying heights above Parliament Hill, Rideau Falls or a suburban expanse, peering down on office towers and shopping malls, parks and homes, streams and fields, streets, maple groves and national landmarks — familiar sights now seen from a lofty, exotic, picturesque point of view. McQuarrie’s work retains something of the dreaminess captured long ago by Ottawa’s earliest aerial artists, but his photographic precision — the sharply rendered documentary detail — only deepens the sense of grandeur. As you soar high above a postcard capital, may you enjoy your flight through time and space.                                                            Carleton University professor Randy Boswell is a veteran journalist with a passion for writing about Canadian history and geography, particularly with respe