«Stone Bodies in the City: Unmapping Monuments, Memory and Belonging in Ottawa by Tonya Katherine Davidson A thesis submitted to the Faculty of ...»
University of Alberta
Stone Bodies in the City:
Unmapping Monuments, Memory and Belonging in Ottawa
Tonya Katherine Davidson
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
©Tonya Katherine Davidson
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This dissertation is dedicated to my parents Tom and Katherine Davidson.
Abstract In this ethnographic study of the dynamic lives of a population of monuments in Ottawa, I argue that long after they have been unveiled, monuments are imbued with many capacities to act. Monuments inspire loathing or affection, and settle or disturb dominant understandings of place, nation, race, and gender. I suggest that monuments have these affective capabilities because they operate like ‘stone bodies’ in their urban environments. Additionally, spirited with a certain life-force, monuments have the ability to haunt, unsettling relationships between place, memory, and belonging. These affective charges of monuments are felt and expressed through articulations of imperial and colonial nostalgia, feminist and other activist mobilities and various articulations of patriotism. To understand the affective power of monuments I developed an understanding of unmapping as a methodological perspective. I define unmapping as a practice that attends to the discursive and affective motility of monuments through using methods like narrative ethnography that attend to movements through space, and site genealogies that attend to shifts within and around monuments over time. I focus on four monuments in downtown Ottawa: the National War Memorial, a monument to the French explorer Samuel de Champlain accompanied by an Aboriginal Scout, a monument to murdered women titled, “Enclave: the Women’s Monument” and the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights. I was also inspired by a monument to War of 1812 heroine Laura Secord, and Champlain’s lost-and-found astrolabe to create narrative ethnographic accounts of Ottawa flanerie attuned to representations and absences of women and Aboriginality in the built environment.
Preface Monuments as dynamic beings produce a conduit through which visitors learn not just about Canadian history, but also how to feel about Canada, affects that are produced through structures of imperial and colonial nostalgia, and gendered relations to the city spaces. Monuments are affectively-charged sites that align people with normative narratives of nation, gender, and race in intimate ways. As dynamic things, they also enable the conjuring of alternative narratives of belonging which erupt through social hauntings, forms of what Roger Simon (2005) calls ‘remembering otherwise’. In this dissertation I offer three key interventions in the study of monuments.
First, I argue that the affective properties of monuments are possible because they are particular ontological things, ghostly, stone bodies. Materially, monuments appear to be stable and inflexible. However, the dynamic lives of monuments demonstrate their inherent affective and discursive motility. I argue that the monuments accrue their power to shock, comfort, or inspire, because they emerge through the synthesis of both material and virtual properties. They are both stable like stone, and dynamic like bodies. Through their virtual capacities, monuments allow for messy tangling of relationships to place and the past. The ambiguity of monuments, the many acts to reassert original commemorative intentions, and acts of defacement, signal towards the affective properties of these urban objects.
Employing this theoretical understanding poses methodological questions.
In particular, how is it possible to understand the affective work of these dynamic urban objects? To answer this question I pursue the idea of unmapping as a methodological orientation. In critical place-based studies, unmapping works to understand how social spaces are produced by undoing dominant, static forms of cartography, and engaging with the contradictions of masculinist, colonial ideologies that have produced social cartographies. I unmap Ottawa’s built environment by producing narrations of place that are mobile through the trope of the walking tour, and by offering genealogies of the monuments’ homes. Through these methods, I both subverted the apparent stability of the monuments studied, and was able to engage with the contradictions they embodied.
These theoretical and methodological ideas were pursued in Canada’s capital city Ottawa as I asked: what kind of affective relationships to the nation are produced through Ottawa’s monuments? I chose four monuments from different eras (ranging from 1915-1992) and representing different commemorative moments: the National War Memorial, a monument to a nameless Aboriginal Scout that accompanied a monument to Samuel de Champlain, the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights and “Enclave”: the Women’s Monument.
At the National War Memorial, understandings of World War One as an imperative national creation myth were constantly re-inscribed, marking both great allegiance to this idea, and a subtle anxiety that this creation myth might be fading. A moment of public urination and the placement of a solitary peace-poppy wreath hinted to these other possibilities for remembering or being ambivalent about Canadian war history. Similarly, the Aboriginal Scout in the central Nepean Point enabled the articulations of colonial nostalgia, as visitors protested his relocation and celebrated what some perceived as his subservient position at foot of a monument to Champlain. Throughout the studies, there is an analysis of the constant privileging of heroic masculinity, both in the content of the monuments and in the ritual valorization of the citizen-soldier at the National War Memorial.
The more recent monuments in this study, the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights and “Enclave”: the Women’s Monument simultaneously reinforce certain ideologies of Canadian liberal multiculturalism and feminism and challenge the dominant spatial narrative of Elgin Street by enabling multiple disruptive street protests.
These four monuments, and the others I encounter in the process of various protest marches and walking tours, offer insights into many modes of belonging in the capital city, in particular through understandings of race, gender, and sexuality. Missing from this analysis is an understanding of how Ottawa’s built environment produces understandings of French-English relations. However, my analysis of imperial nostalgia throughout the dissertation could be expanded to critique how the capital city produces an Anglo-centric understanding of Canada to the exclusion of French Canadians and non-English speaking Canadians.
In the context of a capital city like Ottawa, monuments offer a series of material, compelling interpellations into the texture of the nation. While these seductions are structured by discourses of race, gender, and nation, the specific ontology of monuments allows the precariousness of these discourses to be engaged. Acts of defacement, removal, and neglect all highlight the ability of monuments to engage with these sets of precarious logic. In Ottawa, visitors learn that to belong in Canada is to mourn the soldiers from WW1, to celebrate the hero statesmen on Parliament Hill, and to applaud contemporary commitments to human rights. However, the insistence to compulsively remember WW1 veterans becomes subtly undone through acts of defacement, protest marches suggest that Canada is not a bastion of upholding human rights, and allegorical female figures highlight not only male desires, but the threat of the barely-visible female other.
AcknowledgementsI would like to thank my parents Tom and Kathe for their endless and sincere support. I would like to thank my supervisor Rob Shields for his enthusiasm for this project and encouragement to pursue tangential ideas and whims of intellectual fancy. I would also like to give profound acknowledgements to Dr. Sara Dorow, and the late Dr. Sharon Rosenberg for their provocative insights, thoughtful reading and support of this project.
This dissertation and all of my academic writing would not be possible without the generous reading, editing, and inspiration of my colleagues at the University of Alberta and elsewhere. The genius that I have encountered and been able to work with at the University of Alberta has been endlessly inspiring. In particular, I need to thank Carolina Cambre, Bonar Buffam, and Ondine Park for their continuing support and thoughtful editing. I am indebted to the intellectual generosity of the Space and Culture reading group at the University of Alberta. I would also like to thank my sister Stephanie for offering up her support for this project by making maps, illustrating colouring books, reading drafts, and being an ever-willing creative collaborator.
I would like to express appreciation to the individuals that I interviewed in the course of this research. I look forward to engaging more thoroughly with their stories of statues in the future. Many archivists and librarians have helped me along this journey; in particular, the meticulous research of the late Terry Guernsey that was donated to the National Gallery archives was incredibly helpful. My examining committee: Michael Gismondi, Sarah Carter, Karen Till, and Sourayan Mookerjea provided very comprehensive readings of this project which I hope to attend to in the future.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge and give a hearty thanks to all of my friends, roommates, neighbours, and relatives who have shown interest, cheered me on, and suggested that devoting many years to writing about the social lives of statues was in fact a good idea.
Table of ContentsIntroduction _________________________________________________________________ 1 Chapter 1: Monuments as Stone Bodies __________________________________________ 12 Chapter 2: Unmapping as a Methodological Practice _______________________________ 40 Part I: Unmapping Nation _____________________________________________________ 57 Chapter 3: Phantasm Agora: Confederation Square_________________________________ 57 Chapter 4: The Life of the National War Memorial: Ritual, Offerings and Defacement ________________________________________________________________ 78 Part II: Aboriginality & Colonialism in Ottawa ____________________________________ 123 Chapter 5: Unmapping Nepean Point ___________________________________________ 123 Chapter 6: Unmapping Coloniality _____________________________________________ 160 Part III: Unmapping Multiculturalism, Gender and Sexuality ________________________ 190 Chapter 7: Unmapping Gender in Ottawa’s built environment: Laura Secord keeps walking ______________________________________________________________ 190
Chapter 8: Dwelling at the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights and “Enclave”:
The Women’s Monument _____________________________________________________ 217 Chapter 9: The Protest March and the Motility of Monuments: Unsettling belonging on Elgin Street. ____________________________________________________ 243 Chapter: Conclusion _________________________________________________________ 259 Appendix 1: Chart of Monuments ______________________________________________ 271 References ________________________________________________________________ 274 List of Figures
Introduction On the first nice spring Sunday in 2009, I ventured out on a long, meandering walk around Ottawa. I arrived on Parliament Hill, visiting the squirrels that live in the esoteric ‘cat house’ and reading the historic plaques. On this muddy spring day, I was struck by the whimsy of the capital. There are many lions, wobbly lions that insist on carrying a scepter in one paw while walking, and there are more unicorns in the capital city than you might think. These creatures suggest to me that the city has wonderland potential. In all of the lion’s invocations in the Ottawa streetscape— on its hind legs, carrying a scepter, the lion is an invocation of the strength of the British Empire, while the unicorns are symbols of purity and Scotland. Together they appear in the crest of Canada, securing their uncontested presence all over Ottawa. There is a statue of a lion and a statue of a unicorn that preside over Centre Block’s main entrance. These figures, the design and craftsmanship of Coeur de Lion MacCarthy, were installed between 1919-1928 during the construction of the Peace Tower (MacLeod 1985, n.p).
In July of 1985, two men, Ebie Weizfeld and Yvon Dubé drove on to Parliament Hill, jumped out of their vehicles and, wielding sledgehammers, began swinging at the statues of the lion and the unicorn, damaging the figures in at least five places. The vandals had been part of a peace camp that had been stationed on Parliament Hill (MacLeod 1985, n.p). Eleanor Milne, as the Dominion sculptor for thirty years, was responsible for not only overseeing the design and construction of monuments in the capital, but also for taking care of injured and abused monuments. She repaired the knee of the Aboriginal Scout that was pushed off of its pedestal in 1963, and, decades later she tended to the lion that guards the front doors of Parliament Hill.
Milne suspected that the vandals had thought, “Well, they can’t fix that,” assured of the permanence of his attack. Milne asserted that she and her colleague “did a beautiful job, but you can see [the scars] if you look hard” (Milne personal communications, January 19th 2009). On my visit this Sunday, I found the lion and the unicorn guarding the front doors of Parliament Hill, and I did find the seams of their repairs.