Canadian War Museum Canadian War Museum

Beyond History: 8 Fascinating Features of the Canadian War Museum

Canada hosts a Canadian War Museum in the city of Ottawa, Ontario. As the name suggests, this Canadian War Museum is a national museum showcasing Canada’s rich military history.

In addition to serving as a place of remembrance for the country’s rich military history, this national museum also plays a role of an educational facility. This museum is regarded as one of the most respected institutions for studying and understanding armed conflicts.

Museums are a great place to peek into the past; they serve as proof of the written words in history books. They are a great place for all history enthusiasts to relive or spend some time in the past with all those historical records and artifacts.

Different parts of history intrigue different kinds of people. For example, some people are more interested in the cultural history of a place or particular time, and some are interested in the history of architecture. Hence, would find symbolic architecture much more interesting than other aspects of the past.

Therefore, for people interested in the military history aspects of history and who would love to educate themselves about how wars functioned in the past, their strategies, their uniforms, and a lot more, the Canadian war museum is exactly the place they should visit.

It is one of the military museums around the world and is also a great tourist attraction. People worldwide make a point to visit military history museums with family and friends.

You will dive into Canada’s rich military history through artwork, stories, photos, and interactive presentations. Apart from this, the museum is also famous for its symbolic architecture. Canadian military history awaits you.

Canadian War Museum Virtual Tour

1. History of Canadian War Museum

The Canadian War Museum dates back to the year 1880, and back then, it consisted only of militia artifacts. Despite being established in 1880, the museum disappeared for 46 years, from 1896 to 1942.

The National Archives left the 1904 building in 1967, and the military museum eventually moved in. It was the first national history museum in the nation and a federal institution, but it received the least attention.

It frequently suffered from unimpressive space, a small workforce, and little funding because Canada prided itself on being the opposite of a warring society. Despite this, in the opening years of the twenty-first century, a spectacular new Canadian War Museum facility was constructed in the nation’s capital, Ottawa.

The internal conflicts and divides that Canada’s wars highlighted were eradicated by the government that propagated an official version of nationalism. The effort was a success, and not just with Canadians.

The concept of a Canadian War Museum stunned one visitor from California who happened to be a museum scholar. The planners of the Canadian War Museum went on to craft an interpretive scenario emphasizing the military history of Canada to be a national symbol. They considered war and conflict to be essential parts that eventually shaped Canada and Canadians.

2. Location

The Canadian War Museum is situated at 1 Vimy Place, on LeBreton Flats, west of Parliament Hill, at the intersection of the Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway and Booth street.

It is conveniently located in downtown Ottawa and offers on-site parking. The Canadian War Museum is also reachable by foot, bicycle, public transportation, Aqua-Taxi (summer), or automobile.

Canadian War Museum in Ottawa
Via Jeff Whyte/Shutterstock

3. Collection

The Canadian War Museum is lauded for its fine collection of the finest military history collectibles worldwide. Things that add up to this fine collection include the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, which has 14,000 pieces of art and rare vehicles, uniforms, artillery, and medals for people to awe. The history is also represented through their collection of photographs, interactive presentations, and personal stories, to name some.

More than 3 million artifacts, sound, and visual recordings, artworks, and specimens are housed in this Canadian museum. The Military history research center has the George Metcalf archival collection and the Hartland Molson library. These primary and secondary collections of extensive research material hold onto rich Canadian military history.

3.1. Exhibitions

The Canadian War Museum, as we have already established, is a place that functions as both a memory palace and a place of education. As a result, a tour of many of its permanent exhibitions fulfills this purpose by giving a vivid glance into Canadian military history.

The permanent exhibitions include Canadian experience galleries, the Memorial Hall, the Regeneration Hall, and the Royal Canadian Legion Hall of Honor. You shall know this when you visit the Canadian War Museum.

4. Architecture

Top 5 Architectural Features // Morse Code

Moriyama & Teshima Architects and Griffiths Rankin Cook Architects created the new Canadian War Museum building. The building of the Canadian War Museum is a blend of complicated sloped and angular planes. The walls consist of eight different angles that emerge sharply.

Before the Canadian Museum of History Corporation underwent a name change in 1990, it was earlier known as the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. The construction of a new structure at LeBreton Flats was the outcome of plans to expand the museum in the middle of the 1990s.

The walls have been deliberately kept austere without distractions as they intended to encourage the thoughts and memories of the visitors by creating a full wartime experience. The structure tries to tell stories to the people on a visit.

The architecture of this Canadian museum, one of the military museums of the world, is also said to have some hidden messages. It is said that the small windows in the front of the war museum tend to spell “Lest we forget” in morse code! Whether it is true or just a tactic to attract more people to visit this builders project, it is fascinating.

4.1. Space

The Canadian War Museum has a memorial hall, a theatre for reflection, enhanced research and library facilities, classrooms to visit the past, and outdoor event spaces.  

4.2. Symbolism

The Canadian War Museum is full of symbolism and is even sustainable. It is designed in a way that speaks about the theme of regeneration manifested throughout the building as it appears immersed by the surrounding landscape of the Ottawa river.

The museum’s green roof aims to remind people of nature’s ability to recover from the devastation inflicted by wars and human conflicts on human and animal life.

Landscapes that have been destroyed by humankind have an amazing capacity to survive. Nature not only endures but also regenerates and crosses itself, which has been carefully engraved in the Canadian War Museum’s structure.

It is dedicated to nature’s ability to regenerate as a symbol that humans also have the strength to recover from the most devasting life experiences and make a better future.

4.3. Sustainable Building

The construction of the Canadian War Museum was made with a lot of sense and thinking, and the materials used in it served the purpose. This museum has a sustainable structure.

The materials used in its constructions were recycled as much as possible, such as copper from the roof of the Library of Parliament. It also includes one of North America’s largest environmentally friendly landscaped roofs, measuring 179,757 square feet.

These green roof elements add insulation, cutting down on energy loss, and the plants also help to cool and purify the air above the building. Classic! A 300-millimetre mix of soil and a retention board with a capacity of 720,000 litres of stormwater count for a self-sustaining, low-maintenance ecosystem.

5. Memorial Hall

If These Walls Could Talk | Memorial Hall

The Memorial Hall is located in the museum lobby, a place of remembrance and sombre reflection. A grid pattern is etched inside the Memorial Hall’s polished concrete walls that imitate the headstones used by the Canadian soldiers in the First World War.

Skylight extends from the building’s roof and shines on the display. On the other hand, Memorial Hall’s south side has a water feature with a glass enclosure. The hall’s design was made so that the visitors get a feeling of weightlessness.

A single artifact is present within the walls of the hall of this war museum, which is an original headstone of a soldier who was eventually reburied in the “Canadian tomb of the unknown soldier.”

Here is a fascinating point regarding the architecture of this hall that is bound to wow the visitors. So the only window present in this hall of the Canadian War Museum has been designed such that the rays of the Sun pass through it and directly illuminate the headstone once a year!

And the date fixed for this to happen has been fixed at 11th November at 11 am precisely, as this date has great historical importance. The armistice that ended the First World War was implemented on this day.

6. Friends and the Canadian War Museum

Friends (not your favorite American sitcom) is an organization that works in collaboration with the Canadian War Museum and aims that people, especially Canadians, never forget their history and be proud of their country and its sacrifices. The Canadian War Museum director general fully supports the Friends organization.

Friends help the Canadian War Museum by raising funds, recruiting, and providing volunteers. It also helps promote the Canadian War Museum through its cross-Canada contacts, memberships, and several programs, projects, and events.

Friend’s members firmly believe that everyone in Canada should be aware of past sacrifices and the essential part that all Canadians, be it military, business, or individuals, played in securing the freedom and peace we enjoy today.

Friends offer all Canadians, including active-duty and retired military personnel, their family members, and recent immigrants, the chance to create a community within the neighborhood that supports a priceless national treasure through its services, “the Canadian War Museum.”

Canadian War Museum
Via Adwo/Shutterstock

7. Online Presence

Moving ahead with time, the Canadian War Museum understands the importance of having an online presence. You can look up their official website and presence on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Their Facebook page is quite detailed and informative. It does not exactly serve the purpose of education completely but is a virtual tour for the people. It keeps updating its various artworks and photographs with the stories behind them.

So if you are a museum enthusiast and want to keep such stuff in your knowledge, following their social media pages is a very option.

8. Canadian War Museum Today

This war museum opened in 2005, and since its opening, it has hosted about 500,000 visits yearly. The museum’s programs and exhibits are designed to give people a real-time experience of the war and what it feels like.

The experience galleries hosted by the war museum tend to present Canadian military history from its earliest raw phase to the present, along with Canada’s tradition of honoring and remembrance.

Every gallery and hallway of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa offers insight into the periods ranging from pre-combat to the cold war and the battles that shaped Canada, Canadians, and the world.

This national museum in Ontario is not just a place to spend a day reminiscing. But instead, through raising money and recruiting volunteers, the Canadian War Museum hopes to educate current and future generations about Canada’s military history and help them develop an interest in this crucial aspect of their country.

Its appearance marks a shift in government philosophy toward the idea that Canadians’ wartime sacrifices are crucial to the country’s history and should not be forgotten. What we have today, we owe to all those brave hearts who stepped into the battlefields.

The Canadian War Museum continues to enlighten Canadians and others about Canada’s military history in various valuable and meaningful ways.

Last Updated on by ayeshayusuf


  • Bhumikavr

    Bhumika is an author in our team, she has a great zeal in learning new things. Articles like 'What's new' 'Entertainment' and other exciting food and exploring places in Canada are well written by her.

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