Canadian museums are renowned for their historical events, arts, and people influencing their country and culture. And one such reputed museum is the Canadian Museum of History, nestled across the Ottawa River in the Gatineau region.
Approximately 1.3 million visitors come here annually, making it the most visited Canadian national museum. There is no way one can avoid being captivated by the imposing façade of the Canadian Museum of History, as well as the view of the Ottawa River and Parliament Hill that can be seen at every turn as you enter the museum.
Whether you’re planning to visit the museum before or after your visit, a walk in the surrounding park is one of the best ways to experience the site’s beauty.
A museum’s mission is to promote, fund, and promote research on Canadian heritage, as well as promote Canadian history and culture. Douglas Cardinal designed this magnificent building which measures approximately 75,000 square meters (710,000 square feet).
More than three million artifacts and documents are in the museum’s collection, some of which are displayed in the museum’s permanent exhibitions, which are on display throughout the year. Furthermore, the museum hosts and organizes several temporary, traveling, and online exhibits throughout the year, such as the virtual museum of the new France, which is available online.
- Years built – 1983 – 1989
- Architect and Builder: Douglas Cardinal (Architect), Crown Corporation
- Architecture style: Contemporary Indigenous architecture, organic modernism
- Location: 100 Laurier street, Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, Ottawa River.
- Hours: Open 9 am – Close 7 pm (Tuesday to Sunday)
- Website: www.historymuseum.ca
By: Aurusdorus on Pixabay
History – Canadian Museum
This museum is one of Canada’s oldest cultural institutions, founded in 1856 as an exhibition hall of the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), which not only collected minerals, biological specimens, and other objects of human history and moved to Ottawa in 1881. Douglas Cardinal, the architect who designed the museum, describes it as one of three “symbols of nationhood in Canada” that Prime Minister Trudeau sought to establish as part of his legacy:
- The New Institution that enshrines the people’s rights,
- A new National Gallery to house the people’s arts,
- A National Museum to house the people’s culture.
In 1968, they divided the museum into two parts: the Canadian Museum of Nature and the Musée de l’Homme (National Museum of Man). In 1983, a total of 80 architects were selected to compete for the National Museum and the National Gallery, which were to be built simultaneously.
Douglas Cardinal, who was then best known for his design of St Mary Church in Red Deer, Alberta (1969) was selected as the prime architect for the complex in association with Tétreault, Parent Languedoc architects of Montreal. He wanted the Canadian Museum of Civilization to be a ‘people’s space.’ With this dream, within a few months of nearly nonstop efforts, cardinal and his team produced the schematic design. They got approved in 1983 by the Cabinet of Canada.
Due to name conflicts, the Musée de l’Homme became the Canadian Museum of Civilization in 1986. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, James Moore, announced in October 2012 that his ministry would provide funding for restoring Canada Hall and revamping the Canadian Museum of Civilization. In December 2013, it was announced that the museum would now be called the Canadian Museum of History instead of the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
The number of permanent and temporary exhibitions to explore anthropology, ethnology, and history in the museum. They also held a traveling exhibition at the museum from time to time in addition to the permanent exhibits.
Several online exhibitions have been made available from the museum’s website, including the Virtual Museum of the New France, which is easily accessible from the museum’s website.
The permanent exhibitions hall in the museum includes:
- First Peoples Hall,
- Canadian History Hall,
- The Canadian Children’s Museum,
- The Canadian Stamp Collection,
- Grand Hall Exhibition
1. First Peoples Hall
The “First People’s Hall” holds the rich history and major achievements of the First peoples. It was opened in 2003 and occupied a space of approximately 3300 square meters (35,000 square feet) on the ground floor of the building. The exhibition hall has more than 2,000 objects, many of which are displayed.
However, a large part of the gallery area is devoted to changing exhibits, so the show will always reflect contemporary views on traditional cultures and current issues.
While First Peoples Hall is devoted to temporary exhibits, there are some long-term exhibits. They presented a range of topics in the exhibits, such as ancient history, indigenous languages, and the history of Indigenous-European relations. There are several sections to the exhibition, such as:
- Ways of Knowing
- An Ancient Bond with the Land
- The Arrival of Strangers
2. Canadian History Hall
We can find a unique exhibition featuring the diverse experiences and perspectives of real people in the Canadian History Hall, a signature exhibition and one of the largest and most comprehensive exhibitions ever created about Canadian history.
Canadian History Hall is approximately 4,690 square meters (50,500 sq ft), the largest exhibition of Canadian history that includes 1,500 artifacts in 4,000 square meters, covering 15,000 years of history, located on levels 3 and 4 in the museum.
Three galleries are included in this exhibition, and the long curved walkway that divides the three galleries is also used as the entrance to these three galleries. On the entrance walkway, they decorate the bridge with 101 silhouettes representing Canadian history, symbols, activities, and landmarks.
The galleries of the Canadian History Hall are organized around a hub designed to mimic the Chaudiere Falls and reflect the institution’s name.
Throughout the galleries and exhibits, the aim is to present multimedia presentations and artifacts that illustrate each era’s events and “turning points” through multimedia presentations and the media of each era. In the exhibition, there’s a total of three galleries, namely:
- Early Canada: Early period of 1763,
- Colonial Canada: 1763 to 1914,
- Modern Canada: 1914 to the Present Day
3. Canadian Children’s Museum
The Canadian Children’s Museum has been the most popular of all exhibits at the Canadian Museum of History of Canada since its opening in 1989.
With over 15,000 artifacts and accessories like art, clothing, games, photography, toys, and a cosmopolitan village, the museum is one of Canada’s most historical and valuable.
- It stays closed on Mondays.
- Tuesday to Sunday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Adult (18 to 64 years old) – $21
- Senior (65 and up) – $19
- Student (13 to 17 years old) – $16
- Child (2 to 12 years old) – $14
- Infant (Under two years old) – FREE
- Family (Maximum of 2 adults) – $53
4. Canadian Stamp Collection
It features the world’s largest collection of 3,000 stamps worldwide. This signature exhibition at the Museum is a unique, one-of-a-kind collection of all the postage stamps ever issued in Canada (including pre-Confederation stamps issued by British North America at the time).
Throughout the exhibition, they displayed all the stamps with artifacts representing either the object that inspired the stamp’s creation or was used in the process of creating the stamp.
Canada Post offers a permanent exhibit that presents the permanent stamp collection of the band at the Museum of Canadian History as part of its partnership with the organization. They also update the live collection every year.
5. Grand Hall Exhibition
The Grand Hall (with a marvel view of Parliament Hill) offers an opportunity to encounter the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles. At the same time, the First Peoples Hall provides an opportunity to learn about the traditions and achievements of Canada’s indigenous nations.
The exhibitions were developed as a collaboration between the museum’s curators and Indigenous culture specialists in the 1980s. On the other side of the boardwalk and facades, there are:
- First people of the northwest coast – present a culture deeply rooted in history and continues to thrive and evolve. The museum’s pre-eminent collection of historical and contemporary artifacts is presented in a newly designed exhibition organized by themes.
- Time Immemorial – Tsimshian Prehistory – presents archaeological excavations conducted in the prince Rupert area of British Columbia between 1966 and 1978. This exhibition showcases the way of life of the Tsimshian nation in prehistoric times, as well as the role of an archaeologist in revealing their past.
Over three million objects are included in the Canadian Museum of History collection, including artifacts, documents, works of art, specimens, and other evidence of historical value.
The collection occupies approximately 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) of shelf space. There are 218,000 artifacts online that the museum has digitized. The names of some of the collections are below:
- Indigenous collections – the largest collection of indigenous history in Canada, established by the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC). Other parts have grown the cause of government officials and missionaries outside Ottawa.
- World’s largest indoor collection of Totem poles.
- Windfields Farm Collection (this collection includes everything from photographs, and trophies, to documents.)
- World’s largest collection of flags.
- Records of the CNA, the Nursing Sisters Association of Canada, and the Helen Mussallem Collection.
- Morning Star – Gambeh Then’ by Alex Janvier, painted in 1993 at the central white circle. Janvier completed this painting with his son Dean in less than three months. Expresses the hope that we can achieve mutual respect and illustrates the history of the land.
- Contempra Phone – The first telephone to be designed and manufactured in Canada.
- Cough syrup from the 1918 pandemic.
- Plaster of Bill Reid’s Spirit of Haida Gwai.
- Sculptures The Queen’s Beasts.
- Royal gown of Elizabeth II.
- The world’s oldest ice hockey stick is also an artifact used in National Hockey League.
Underground Parking is open Monday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., at the regular rates.
- Rate: $2.75 per half hour
- Daily maximum rate: $13
- Prices can change depending on special events and festivals
- Read more on the website.
- Washroom inside the museum
- Nursing station
No matter what your interest is, whether it’s searching for information about the origins of the First Peoples of this country, the history of Canada throughout the ages, or even the art of collecting stamps, there is sure to be an exhibit at the Canadian Museum of History that appeals to you.
Once you’re inside, your visit has no time limit, so you can stay as long as you like. You will certainly leave the facility with a head full of discoveries, satisfied curiosity, and awe in your eyes. Also, don’t forget to check out the museum’s virtual tour on YouTube.
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