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seminar title The Upside-Down Astrolabe Tour: Colonialism & Confederation

 In 1996, Assembly of First Nations Chief Ovide Mercredi visited Ottawa’s Nepean Point and
was disgusted to find a racist statue of a nearly-naked, unnamed Indigenous man crouched
at the feet of a grand statue to Samuel de Champlain, an explorer who the accompanying
plaque described as “the first great Canadian”. As a response to protests led by Mercredi,
the National Capital Commission moved the Indigenous scout to Major Hill’s Park.
Champlain, however, has kept his spot, and continues to thrust an (upside-down) astrolabe
triumphantly in the air, enjoying an excellent panoramic view of the National Capital Region.
Beginning at Nepean Point, this walk and talk explores how colonial logic shapes Ottawa’s
built environment. The tour continues through Major’s Hill Park, dips into the Byward
Market, and ends on Parliament Hill where we will meet many storied statues (one statue
was accused of sexual harassment, another was designed by the famous sculptor Walter
Allward). Through the statues, we will discuss and unsettle the dominant understandings of
Confederation celebrated on Parliament Hill.
 TKDfaceAbout your tour guide: Tonya Davidson is a sociologist who has
spent many years studying the social lives of Ottawa’s statues. She
has published in the academic journals: Space and Culture, Topia:
Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, the Public Historian, and
the Journal of Canadian Studies. Tonya has also written for various
magazines including Briarpatch, Herizons, THIS, and Canadian
Dimension. She teaches sociology at Carleton University.
Further details:
Meeting place: Nepean Point (Champlain statue)
Ending place: Parliament Hill
Duration: 1.5 hours
Total distance covered: approx 2.5 km
Ease of terrain: flat terrain, some stairs
Accessibility: alternative route available to accommodate wheelchair accessibility, please ask
On-demand: Tonya may also be able to offer this tour on demand to groups of 3+ (at flexible times).
Please get in touch with us at info@ottawadetours.ca for more information about this option.
  • walking seminar guide - The Upside-Down Astrolabe Tour: Colonialism & Confederation
  • availability - Runs Saturdays (10:30am start) and Thursdays (2:00pm start)
  • meeting place - Nepean Point
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