It’s often said that Ottawa is a big city with a small-town feel, but it’s also the capital of a country with a global reach. A new monument will soon be erected to remind us of that.
It will be constructed on the west lawn of Green Island, where the Rideau River empties into the Ottawa River. The site is next to one of the most striking buildings of its era, what was once the city hall on Sussex Avenue, since given over to the federal foreign service and now the John G. Diefenbaker Building.
Designed by artists Michaela MacLeod and Nicholas Croft of Polymetis Studio, in conjunction with James B. Lennox and Associates and GRC Architects, the new monument will commemorate those who have died while on duty with Global Affairs Canada in a way that links their names to the whole planet.
At the centre of the monument is an analemma, the date equivalent of a sundial; shaped like an oblong figure eight, it traces the location of the Sun as the Earth makes its trip through the solar system. It’s designed so that the name of each person who has died will be highlighted by the sun at noon on the date of their death.
“We explored a monumental expression of a scale visible from vantage points around the site and across the river,” said MacLeod. The exterior monument will surround a sphere carved out in the middle, intended as a “space of remembrance and contemplation” where the names of the dead will be visible. Once built, it will stand as a reminder of a link between the city and the globe, and the cost of playing a part in our world.