A Magical Musical Place

on Wednesday, June 10, 2009

There is a wonderful place located behind the National Gallery in Ottawa, Canada. It is called Nepean Point and is essentially a small hill from which there are stunning panoramic views of the Ottawa River and the Canadian Parliament buildings in the distance. Also on Nepean Point is an open-air theater, the Astrolabe Theater, which holds many fond memories for me because I spent many summer days there soaking up the sun's rays and also many warm sultry and magical evenings there listening to enchanting streams of music performed by talented artistes in that intimate setting. With the view, atmosphere and music combined, I feel like I have been given a preview of heaven.

View of Parliament Hill from Nepean Point

On one occasion, I had the privilege of watching a young family band from Nova Scotia back in 1991. They had released two albums but was still not widely known yet. Their breakthrough was to come just 2 years later when they won all kinds of awards and became a household name in Canada. I can claim to have also enjoyed free concerts from Alanis Morrisette before she made it big and also Celine Dion while she was still a rocker and before she became Disnesque.

Anyway, this band was called The Rankin Family and consisted of the siblings Jimmy, Raylene, Cookie, Heather and John Morris. This lively group draws inspiration from their Celtic-Scottish roots and their Nova Scotia heritage and delivers both soulful songs as well as live affirming jigs. That night, their music had me enthralled. Later, I waited with the rest of the crowd to buy their CDs and to have them personally autographed. The signed CDs and a friendly kiss on the cheek from Cookie completed my capitulation to their charms (that's my memory of the night and I am a sticking to it!).

They disbanded to pursue their own interests in 1999 and John Morris was tragically killed in a car accident in 2000. The Rankin Family rose again though to have a successful tour in 2006 and are active again this year. May their musical legacy "live on in the faces of their children" (lyrics from their song, We Rise Again) Now, through the wonders of YouTube, I hope to put you under their spell too.


blackcrag said...

You've no need to enchant me, I'm all ready a convert. I noticed John Morris' daughter played with the her aunts and uncle at a recent concert, as well as putting forth her own music.

While I know that angle of Parliament (I took some great pics of Parliament from the bridge last autumn) I didn't know of the park. I will have to drop by there on the next sunny evening. Thanks.

Sally's World said...

the pictures are great, thanks for sharing!

Janice Thomson said...

Great videos from YouTube LGS...love their music.
I have been in those Parliament Buildings a few times when much younger - impressive buildings to say the least.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

It must have been bittersweet to see John Morris's daughter take his place on the band, so to speak. I truly wish them well and that their gift of music will continue for at least another generation.

I am not surprised that you don't know about the park and theater. Those of us who know, try to keep it to ourselves. I am feeling magnanimous and letting everyone know on the account that I have no longer access to the park. Enjoy. P.S. quite a romantic setting too. Bring a picnic and a date. :)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Glad you liked it.

The last two weren't really videos at all but I chose them for the sound quality which I felt was what I wanted to share......the crystal clear sounds of the Rankin Family.

I know I am not Canadian but I love those Parliament buildings and the way ordinary citizens have such open access to them.

Jo said...

I love, love, love the Rankin family. What a great video!

I had no idea Nepean Point even existed. You know, I have never been to the Parliament Buildings, and I am Canadian. I must go sometime. I would love to ice skate on the Rideau Canal.

jmb said...

I have always loved this group, who are have such a distinctive sound.

I only spent one summer in Ottawa but my husband was a post doc at NRC for two years before we met. Although the climate leaves something to be desired he loved his time there.

VioletSky said...

All that Celtic music enjoyed quite alot of attention back in the early 90s, now you never hear it played (on the radio). I was glad to see the next generation of Rankins filling up the stage with their elders.

One day I'll make it back to Ottawa - so many bloggers to see as well as the views.

Molly said...

I hadn't heard them before. Now I am duly enchanted!

Owen said...

Thanks LGS for expanding my musical world, hadn't come across them before... isn't it wonderful what can be found on YouTube ? For a squirrel, you sure do get around ! Amazing how some places like that leave powerful memories, I'll never forget some of the sites where excellent music was played...

olivia said...

It's wonderful and your photos and memories are wonderful. What a great post ... it's cheered me up on this grey day ... :)

Dr.John said...

Thanks for sharing both the place and the music.

Glennis said...

Wonderful place, I like the big statue high up on the hill overlooking the great view. The city view is also very nice.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

As I replied to blackcrag, those of us who know aren't keen for too many people crowding into our favorite place. But I hope you will get to enjoy Ottawa one day.

I love Ottawa. Of course, the 6 month winter gets on the nerves towards the end but I guess you just got to like winter sports!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I hope to get back to Ottawa one day too.

Happy to know that you were enchanted by their magic.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I do like to remember places and the impressions those places give me. Somehow, music seem all the more enthralling when heard in an especially special and intimate place.

please go enjoy a concert there and tell me about your experience.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Dr. John,
Thank you. It is a great place for summer days and summer nights.

The place has a quiet and peaceful type of grandeur - which is why I like it very much.


Wow! What a beautiful location to create memories! And the music is just fantastic! I love all musical styles but those with celtic backgrounds have a special something extra. :)

Thanks for sharing!

Ruth W. said...

I love reading about your journeys, I feel like I've traveled with you.

Sorry I haven't commented much lately, but I am a faithful reader of your blog.

MedStudentWife said...

Thanks LGS :D !! YOu did Paradise pround !!!

I have some awesome pictures of the back of Parialment, walking over the bridge in JAnuary.

Marja said...

Very nice LGS Love the pictures too
Seems like a wonderful place My mum has family in Ottawa. Must remember that.

Owen said...

**** Blog Squirrel News Flash ****

Another squirrel has been sighted on the radar in blog land :


Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I too have a weakness for all things Celtic. I like the way public areas are so well planned in Ottawa.

Thanks for visiting regularly. I hope you are keeping well despite your admin problems.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Always glad to promote Paradise! Are U going to post your photos? Hope U do.

Ottawa also has close ties to Holland as the city hosted the Dutch Royal Family during WWII. As a result of an annual gift of tulips from Netherlands in appreciation, the city has a spectacular Tulip Festival in spring! You'd love it.

Thanks. Appreciate these updates.

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