Monday, 16 March 2015

A relatively gentle reminder

We tried to get out to Gatineau last week, before the Ontario public school system's March Break kicked in. Unfortunately, the Resident Fan Boy had slipped younger daughter's bus pass into the wrong pocket in her parka, so it wasn't discovered until the optimal departure time had passed.

We did make it today. When we arrived at the museum (formerly the Museum of Civilization, now, in a governmental fit of political correctness, relabelled the Museum of History which, elder daughter insists hotly, is a tautology), there was a long, looping line-up for tickets, and I was reminded forcefully why I avoid museums during official March Break. The place was brimming with large herds of Japanese students following a banner, and families, mostly with very young children.

Oh, it wasn't bad. We got to the ticket counter in about ten minutes, and weren't challenged about younger daughter's school status this time, although I'd been careful to bring documentation.

After an early lunch in the relatively recent, rather swish bistro, we lined up for fifteen minutes to await the IMAX film with mildly cranky kids munching on take-away food. This ensured that we were close enough to front of the line to snag my favourite perch above the projector, where we sat for another twenty minutes watching the late arrivals try to avoid sitting in the bottom rows by stumbling over those who were already seated.

What followed was a rather delightful film about the Galapagos Islands which couldn't even be spoiled by the kid kicking the back of my seat, nor the little girl (another late arrival) who chatted at her mum during most of the movie. I learned all sorts of things about the Galapagos, the unique species, how they arrived on the islands and evolved, how the islands themselves are constantly changing, bubbling up through volcanoes, greening, then eroding back into the ocean.

One of the neatest discoveries is the dandelion tree, which has evolved from the dandelions sprung from spores that blew across that corner of the Pacific Ocean millions of years ago. Those are the trees in the photo above; they remind me a bit of the Truffula trees in Dr Seuss's fable The Lorax.

Afterwards we took a second stab at an exhibition about the sinking of the Empress of Ireland (the centenary was last year), which the Resident Fan Boy, younger daughter and I had to rush through last autumn because we hadn't allowed enough time. This exhibit was also good enough to not be spoiled by more than one ankle-biter who would grab both receivers of an audio display, press the French version to one ear, the English to the other, then invariably drop one receiver with a smack and a crash while trying to hang both up at once.  Or the mothers almost tripping me with their strollers because they were distracted by their phone conversations as they passed scenes of death and devastation.

But, as March Break museum visits go, it was a pleasant day. All the same, I was aware I'd had a relatively gentle reminder to not press my luck, and plan a visit on a quieter day.

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