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Light Millennium #15 Issue, May 2005


Images of Ottawa


M. Ali SULUTAS*

This is my life, like most of my country fellows: we miss homeland when we are in Canada, and we miss Canada when we are in Turkiye. I am in Ottawa again early spring of 2005. I knew Canadians had a hard and harsh winter when I enjoyed the balmy weather of southern Turkiye in Mersin. When it was -20 in Ottawa, it was +20 in Mersin.

For some years now, I have been spending the cold months in Turkiye, mainly in Mersin, by the Mediterranean Sea. In Ottawa, in March I desired to go for a "sugar bush" weekend. But it didn't work as I wished. I was dreaming a sleigh ride, eating hot dogs and spicy beans. I missed observing how the sap comes out of the maple trees into wooden/tin buckets or containers. I used to enjoy shoveling the boiling/bubbling raw syrup and then pouring the ready-to-leak maple syrup onto the fresh snow or pancake to get a taste of it.

 

Production methods have changed little since those early days; it still takes 40 gallons of sap to end up with a gallon of syrup. But unlike earlier collecting methods, producers nowadays use tubing systems that run from one tree to the next, which deliver the raw liquid from each tree to a central location where the boiling takes place.

That reminds me of my childhood, out in the country, when we used to enjoy the early autumn activities of syrup making from grape juice. Well, water is under the bridge.

There are other activities to view, share, participate and enjoy. That's exactly what I did. I took my nephew's two sons of 4.5 and 2.5 years of age, with their mother, my niece-in-law to the Museum of Technology and Space. The kids loved and played with everything there till the closing hour...

I decided to spend two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening for health activities for a month. In gym, stretching, body mobility and aerobic flexibility exercises prepared me for core stability, bars and weight lifting, muscle building activities. Use of life fitness products, gadgets and apparatus helped me for the back, abdominal, shoulder, chest, leg, arm, wrist, hip extension. Pedaling on wheels and walking on the belt was the end of such exercise.

Then came swimming in the pool at 80 some degrees F, clear water at a length of 2-3 hundred meters at a time. Later I was ready for soaking myself into the bubbling and tumbling water in the whirlpool for 10 minutes at about 100 degrees F temperature. Sometimes, I checked the sauna as well, if it was hot enough at around 90-100 degrees F.

Our mission should be raising healthy kids, forming dependable families and building strong communities.

Speaking of communities, the Turkish community in Ottawa has expended from about 35 families in 1970 to about 355 families in 2005. Their participation in the community and cultural activities also increased considerably. One of the major activities they are involved in is the "Canadian Tulip Festival" taking place in Ottawa in the month of May. This annual event is a celebration of peace and friendship. It is worth to mention that tulips were first cultivated by the Turks in Anatolia. The exotic flower bulbs traveled to Holland and then were sent to Canada as gift in appreciation of Canada's help to the Royal family of Holland during the Second World War.

This year millions of tulips will accompany the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the Gift of Tulips to Canada. Also in celebration of the city of Ottawa's 150th anniversary, the Festival is creating the Ottawa 150 Tulip Art Festival.

 

I spent a day at the National Art Gallery in the new building situated on the north side of the Major's Hill, overlooking the Ottawa River. After admiring contemporary arts, I visited Inuit (Eskimo) arts exhibition, mainly sculptures of "ItuKiagatta!" This is a Labrador Inuit expression meaning "How it amazes us!" Seeing some of the names of the artists as Ali, family names as Narlik, Aynalik were a pleasant surprise for me as Turkish.

It was lunch time. North-west corner of the large Gallery was the eating and drinking locations. I ordered doner and beer. A sunny and rather warm weather allowed me to enjoy sitting on the outdoor patio. Facing west, overlooking the Parliament Hill and Buildings, the Ottawa River, and the Gatineau Hills far back north was a nice set up.

I gained enough energy to carry on see other parts of the world of art. Worth to visit was the exhibition of the fabulous "The Sixties in Canada". Revisited the many and vibrant forms of artistic expression of the decade of "isms": Neo-Dada, Pop Art, Realism, Minimalism, Conceptual/Kinetic Art, unforgettable "REASON over PASSION" quilted wall hanging, photo-based works, large format paintings, experimental films.

On a Saturday afternoon stroll up to the Parliament Hill with a friend and his young daughter, we were greeted by a huge crowd of protesters of "same sex marriage". They were asking for help defeat the Liberal's agenda to change marriage!

We dropped by an outdoor café at the Byward Market. I ordered hot chocolate.

A cup of coffee was only 10 cents in 1970. What happened in 35 years that the cost of the same quantity and quality coffee price jumped up 20 steps high? I am happy that I am not an addict of coffee or tea. A study showed that Canadians drink 15 billion cups of coffee per year, spending CA$600 million at home and another CA$12.2 billion at coffee shops.

In visiting, after so many years, the Canadian Museum of Nature, the most striking statue of a monster and her baby, and the amazing story behind them were my center of interest. Did you ever make a mistake, only to have things turn out really well, maybe even better than you had planned? That's what happened to Canadian researchers when they opened a plaster field jacket only to discover they had found a new dinosaur, previously unknown to science!

First collected in the Alberta badlands in 1958, the fossil of this dinosaur was not studied till '97, officially named a new species in 2001: Chasmosaurus irvinensis. It had a single horn on its snout; a beak similar to the parrot's, and a wide shield on top of its head. It was a plant-eater and lived in western Canada some 75 million years ago...

I also learned that new evidence shows a 7-million-year-old skull, dubbed "Tuomai", tooth and jaw unearthed in Chad is the earliest member of the human family, scientists said recently.

A lady on a wheelchair was waiting on the bus stop. The bus driver drove closer the curb, stopped and pushed a button. A metal platform moved out of the front door step. The lady got on the bus with the assistance of the driver. The passengers sitting on the front side seats vacated the area. The driver pulled the three-seat bench up and made the space available for the disabled. She positioned herself and buckled up for safety.

Legendary runner Terry Fox was honored with a memorial and a new $1 coin with his image to mark the 25th anniversary of his famous "Marathon of Hope". He raised $24 million and more for cancer research. He lost a leg to cancer when he was a teenager, launched his cross-Canada marathon from East Coast 25 years ago. He never made it. After 143 days and 5,376 kilometers the cancer had spread to his lungs and forced him to quit near Thunder Bay, Ontario, on Sept. 1, 1980. He died less than a year later at age 22.

Canada is in fact one of the best multicultural countries that I know. This aspect brings the opportunity to experience different cultural events and authentic foods from around the world: Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, Middle Eastern, Turkish, Italian, French and so forth.

One Sunday evening I was out to eat some Mexican food. I ordered first a bowl of soup which is called "sopa" in Spanish. On the other hand, "sopa" means "stick" in Turkish. The sopa was called "gazpacho" and served cold. It is made out of fine chopped vegetables in tomato juice topped with avocado slices. But first came for appetite some tortilla chips and slightly spicy salsa made out of chopped green pepper, celery, carrot etc. My main dish was "enchiladas", two rolled corn tortillas stuffed with meat of chicken and the other beef served with rice and salad.

While mingling with the food, I was lucky to view the Masters Golf Tournament televised at that time. With lots of sunshine, warmer weather was ideal for watching the game. In the playoff, Tiger Woods and Chris Dimorco were confronting like Visigoths and Romans. One ball of Chris landed in the snow pile.

"What happened next, though, stunned the watching galleries before triggering an eruption of loud applause, hollering and hooting. Tiger conjured up a miracle birdie, holing out from 40 yards off the green with a delicate chip that fed back 25 feet down the slope." The ball appeared to hover tantalizingly hesitating over the edge of the hole before, a second or so later, it dropped into the cup."

It was a good and entertaining show for me, as for everyone, I think. At the end, the 29-year-old Tiger won the Masters of his pro golf career. He took home, along with US$1.26 million, his fourth green jacket that was put on him by his father. Tiger was "for second behind Jack Nicklaus's six."

Canada's child ambassador for UNICEF 8-year-old tsunami envoy returned home. Toronto's Bilaal Rajan raised $50,000 for tsunami relief in south Asia. "I think there should be equality and fairness in the world" was one of Bilaal's remarks...

It appears the relief was short-lived. Conditions in most camps turned out to be barely livable at best or squalid at worst. Harsh summer months have begun, but for thousands of tsunami survivors there is no sign of the homes promised...

I paid a visit to His Excellency, Turkish Ambassador Mr. Aydemir Erman in his office. I was fortunate to have such an encouraging meeting with him for 45 minutes. We touched on so many issues that are crucial for the well being of the Turkish community and humanity. I found the Ambassador so energetic, productive and stimulating. His appreciation of the arts and culture encouraged me to propose him to sponsor a picture and a photography exhibition in Ottawa of Turkish artists.

With the Ambassador, we briefly discussed two of the Embassy's major activities. In collaboration with the Canadian Institute for Mediterranean Studies, a lecture on "The Hittites and the Sea Peoples" is conducted in Ottawa in April and is presented by Dr. Tim Harrison of the University of Toronto.

The Hittites appeared in Anatolia by 1700 B.C. as Bogazkoy the capital of the Kingdom. The Phrygian invasion destroyed the Empire. Migratory groups of the Sea Peoples moving along the south coast of Anatolia caused great havoc and upheaval. Through the ages, the Middle East and Anatolia became the center of battlefields between east and west.

According to the Britannica, Anatolia may be defined in geographic terms as the area bounded to the north by the Black Sea, to the east and south by the southeastern Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, and to the west by the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Marmara. Culturally, the area also includes the islands of eastern Aegean Sea.

 

On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign of 25 April 1915, the Embassy of the Republic of Turkiye, the Australian High Commission, and the New Zealand High Commission jointly arranged for the screening of the documentary film "Epic of Gallipoli" in Ottawa at the National Library. This documentary on the fascinating story of Australia and New Zealand Army Core (ANZAC) and Turks was directed by a young Turkish producer Kursat Kizbaz. Thanks to the organizers that the director appeared during the show for short remarks, answering questions and signing the CDs of the film.

More than 300 seated, so many standing audience mainly Canadians, Turks, Australians, New Zealanders refreshed their knowledge of the fact or newly had an opinion of the War.

Ambassador Erman summarized the War and said, "Soldiers suffered from both sides, they heard each other, exchanged tobaccos and chocolates." New Zealand High Commissioner Mr. Graham Kelly declared, "Australia and New Zealand were new nations then. It was a massive defeat for us." Deputy High Commissioner of Australia, Mr. Tony Huber, lastly said, "Mustafa Kemal remembered no difference between Jony and Mehmet. Turkey and the memories of the War are gaining an increased popularity among the young people in Australia."

The narration by Rutkay Aziz, Zekai Muftuoglu, Yildiz Kenter, Ziya Kurkut, Mazlum Kiper, and music by Tuluyhan Ugurlu. The shots were pretty well taken and expertly matched with the historical black and white scenes. (Just a short note: This film of Gallipoli by Kursat Kizbaz should not be mixed up with the new controversial movie of Gallipoli produced by Tolga Ornek.)

The film was reflecting what happened during the fire exchanges. In short, most of the aspects of the sad confrontation were brought up. After the show, at the cocktail reception, the red wine was provided by the Australian High Commission, the white by the New Zealand High Commission, and together with the soft drinks, food and baklava were courtesy of the Turkish Embassy.

As I managed to have a word from Kursat for a short meeting, the following morning I woke him up at his hotel room. Although our original intention was for only 10 minutes togetherness, I ended up with having the pleasure of being his tour guide (!) for a couple of hours, before his departure for the other engagements.

One of my early questions was if the movie was presented in New York City. Upon his "Yes!" answer, my next questions were if he was introduced to the group of Light Millennium and if he met with Ms. Bircan Unver. With a comfort, his responses to these questions were also positive. I think he felt that the ice between us melted away. With this ease, we decided to walk together uptown to see around and window-shopping.

"This is the City Hall, nearby your hotel. After the amalgamation, the Greater city of Ottawa consisted of 22 municipalities, like Mersin. The population of Ottawa is about 500,000, like Mersin. That is the Ottawa Public Library with its 33 branches in the city, unlike Mersin, where, except the very small Culture Ministry Library, there is none. Libraries provide members and visitors, among other services, use of computers in numbers for word processing and/or internet access. To my astonishment, even bikes are allowed to bring into the library, all the way up to the upper levels as well."

Kizbaz was fascinated by what I said so far. "This is National Arts Centre which is North America's most diversified bilingual (English and French) performing arts complex presents live theatre, opera, dance and music. To our left is the Sparks Street Mall for pedestrians only. This is the War Monument of the First and Second World Wars, and the Korean War. Over there with the Clock Tower are the Parliament Buildings housing the Senate, the House of Commons, the Library, the Hall of Honor and the impressive Peace Tower and Memorial Chamber. It is considered one of the most beautiful government centers in the world."

Kursat was admiring all he saw and heard. While crossing an unnoticeable bridge,

I pulled him to the right to show him an empty canal. He was not interested to see such a bare and dirty canal. When I told him that this was a historical 202-kilometer waterway built in late 1820s and early 30s, used during the American Civil War, connecting Rideau River to Ottawa River by seven locks at this end and by 2-3 locks at the Hartwell Locks (Hogs Back) some eight kilometers away, allowing small boats to sail, he was thrilled.

But that was not all there was. "This Rideau Canal is used for outdoor skating during winter. The water gets frozen and it is maintained by the City for recreational or competitive skatings. This world's longest (7 km) skating rink is the location for famous Winterlude Festivities, during first two weeks of February."

He couldn't believe what I said, and bombarded me with questions. I carried on: "This building next to the Canal was the Railway Station which is now used as Conference Center connected by an underground passage to the Chateau Laurie Hotel across the street. The Trans-Canada-Railway built in the past and the Trans-Canada-Highway completed in 1962, contributed to the unification of the land East to West."

We passed by the Rideau Shopping Centre and came to an old district called Byward Market. The bright and warm weather allowed us to walk and talk leisurely. "Since 1840s, farmers have set up market stalls from which they sell local produce, flowers, and maple syrup. Outdoor/indoor restaurants, gourmet and coffee shops, artisan boutiques and galleries add to the Market's lively character."

That was the time that I could spare for our young film producer Kursat Kizbaz. He and I both had our previous engagements. I shook hands to say good bye of the famous director of the coming years. He was a student at the University of Istanbul at 23 when he shot "The Epic of Gallipoli". In fact his first documentary film was 'Mevlana." His second film Galipolli is to be shown in 40 countries. He has projects for the future.

The name of Gallipoli reminds us the city of Gallipolis in southern Ohio, the third oldest European settlement, founded in 1790. The name means "city of the Gauls." During the American civil war its strategic location resulted in economic prosperity. Troops were channeled through the city, and traffic on the Ohio River increased.

Going back to our main subject of Gallipoli, have a look or give an ear to what happened 90 years ago: The first of the European neutrals to join the fray was the Ottoman Empire. A secret German-Ottoman treaty was signed on August 2, 1914. The Ottoman fleet bombarded Odessa and the Crimean ports in October and sank two Russian ships. This was the beginning of the end of the large and strong Ottoman Empire...

Since Russia was effectively isolated from its Western allies, the Ottomans also declared a holy war, inciting Muslims to rise up against British and Russian rule in India, Persia and Asia. Turkish forces deployed along the coasts of the Dardanelles and on the Caucasus frontier with Russia. When Russia requested a Western assault on Turkish forces to relieve the pressure in the Caucasus, War Secretary Lord Kitchener and First Lord of the admiralty Winston Churchill promoted an attack on the Dardanelles.

By capturing Istanbul, the British could link up Russians and knock Turks out of the war. The British War Council created an amphibious force of British, Australian, and New Zealanders (with symbolic Indian and Canadian troops) to capture the heights of the Gallipoli Peninsula. On April 25, the ANZAC forces went ashore, but their assaults were turned back through the charismatic leadership of the young Turkish officer Mustafa Kemal. A smelting, bloody deadlock dragged on into the summer. Reinforcements failed to take the rugged heights in the face of human wave counterattacks by the Turks.

(Historical Turkish mine ship Nusrat, which had laid dreadful mines to the waters of the Dardanelles and had changed the destiny of the War, after her last trip to the port of Mersin, is now being displayed in the "Dardanelles Peace Park" in the city of Tarsus.)

Cabinet opinion gradually turned against the campaign, and the Allied forces were evacuated with a dangerous operation conducted in January 1916. The Turks had lost some 300,000 men, the Allies about 250,000 to battle and disease.

Every year on the 25th of April, ANZACs and Turks, along with other people from all over the world, get together to remember the "sweet sorrow" of the battles of the First World War. Among the topics shared are the courage and humanistic approach of the Turkish soldiers, the unknown reasons for ANZAKs coming all the way from tens of thousands kilometers distance to fight and die in an unknown land...

Gallipoli was, in Clement Atlee's words, "the one strategic idea of the war." Canadian writer Paul Butler in his article of "Poetry is such sweet sorrow" appeared in Atlantic Books Today, Spring 2005, draws the attention of the readers to "Four poets lead us down a road of hope, and hopeless." Songs of the Wounded by Gregory M. Cook that explore human relationships through telling detail.

In "How I Love You This Morning," the sight of a flock of hungry seagulls and an abandoned, upturned grocery cart becomes beautiful through the eyes of a lover..

The poet goes on to wonder, sadly, [how many wars have been lost, how many /
are being, or about to be waged / where all we wish is love on the green?] ”

"Peace at home, peace in the world!" as Gazi Mustafa Kemal said.

 

* Researcher, author, interpreter

_ . _


Light Millennium #15 Issue, May 2005
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