Exploring Gatineau’s MosaïCanada 150 – and more

Jul 13th, 2017 | By | Category: Adventure, Featured, Travel

By Katharine Fletcher

Imagine a serene sculpture of Mother Earth, complete with outstretched hands, where a deer grazes, a waterfall pours into a pond, and a bald eagle perches. With downcast, perhaps reverential eyes, the horticultural statue, where flowers and plants describe her hair, skin and features, emanates grace and peace.

Mother Earth is possibly the most stunning creation at MosaïCanada 150, where 40 sculptural installations grace Jacques Cartier Park. Each three-dimensional work is made from welded steel forming the base, and then pouches were attached to metal grids welded to the structure. After earth was inserted into the pockets, plants were plunged into the soil. When they grew, the sculptures sprung to life.

Think of a horse and the underlying sculptural support which gives the animal its form. Then think of the plants selected to convey the musculature, coat, mane and tail. After watching these horses being welded in Montreal this past winter, it was amazing to go to Laval’s greenhouses where workers were punching seedlings of grass and other plants to give form and life to the sculptures.

Then, in early July, we visited MosaïCanada in Gatineau and voilà! There were the horses, now galloping through the park, with manes and tails of flowing grasses blowing in the summer breezes.

It is easy to get around at Jacques Cartier Park to take in the entire show, which celebrates 150 years of Canadian history, values, culture and art. A pathway leads visitors more than a kilometre through mildly undulating terrain, so it’s easy to stroll, look, and linger. Give yourself 1.5-2 hours, particularly if you are taking photos: there’s lots to see and many angles to appreciate.

Five different sections are featured. First, the Train Station welcomes us, where a replica of the first train to cross Canada is interpreted. Then we symbolically progress through the four other sections: The Series of the Century, Joseph Montferrand, Glenn Gould, and Mother Earth.

Everywhere, gigantic sculptures rise from the Park’s lawns. Whether it’s the immense statue of Anne of Green Gables, a Mountie astride a horse, an Inukshuk, a First Nations family in a canoe, or a herd of bison grazing, the horticultural sculptures are astonishing –  and astonishingly beautiful.

Because this growing exhibition of statues covered in flowers and grasses is free, there’s no reason not to go before the closing date of Oct. 15, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Other Gatineau Ideas

After emerging from MosaïCanada, look for the statue of Hockey player Maurice Richard at the park entrance. Now look down at the sidewalk, and you’ll discover a red line leading west along rue Laurier demarking the brand-new, 3 km Gatineau Culture Trail. It leads you to little plazas with fountains where perhaps you will hear a busker playing music, and to bistros where you can sample fine local fare (try Soif Wine Bar, Cellier St. Jacques, The Rustiek, or Les Vilains Garçons).

Our group explored the trail and ended up at the Brewery Creek Interpretation Centre at Les Brasseurs de Temps. This micro brewery serves cooling ales on a hot summer day. We completed our tour by taking a canoe trip exploring Brewery Creek: what a great way to learn about the history of this little creek, where Philemon Wright, the founder of Hull, established a brewery –  which gave the watercourse its name.

You know, if you have not explored Gatineau, make it a destination this summer. And why not take a bus: STO (Gatineau equivalent of OC Transpo) is offering free shuttle buses until Oct. 15, so you can see Vieux Hull from the bus. Where to catch them? Check the STO website (sto.ca).

Useful websites:

• Tourisme Outaouais: tourismeoutaouais.com/en

• MosaïCanada: mosaicanada.com

Katharine Fletcher is a freelance writer, author and visual artist. Visit her at katharinefletcher.com and facebook.com/KatharineFletcherArtist/

Leave a Comment