a peek inside the fishbowl

05 Sep, 2020

With apologies to John Ceprano

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa

As much as I admire the rock sculptures made by John Ceprano near Remic Rapids, I am disappointed every time I bike by and see his work cordoned off with security tape.

I can’t remember when this started. I just remember going there one year, and there it was. Suddenly, every year after that, the public was not allowed in this public space.

I understand why this is the way it is: He’s an artist who works hard making these sculptures and it must be very frustrating to have them knocked down by local hooligans, but I can’t help but feel that closing them off this way is somehow…. wrong.

I was particularly pleased to find a new place on the water (new to me, anyway), just east of the Champlain Bridge. It’s just along the pedestrian path by the Ottawa River.

If you want to find it, look for a slight rise, and these trees:

Secret entrance

The first time I ventured down this little path I saw that someone builds towers of rocks here. (Or maybe it’s many someones?)

When I go, it’s just me and the birds, ducks, and chipmunks. There is no security tape.

I have been back here many times this summer.

Rock sculptures along the Ottawa River

Sometimes I just sit and stare at the water. Sometimes I talk to the ducks. Sometimes I collect rocks. Sometimes I build a sculpture of my own.

It is satisfying to hold those rocks in my hands. They were here long before I was, and will remain here long after I am gone.

My own creation

Rock sculptures along the Ottawa River

Rock sculptures along the Ottawa River

Rock collecting by the Ottawa River

Curious ducks

I like to think about the people who pile these stones and leave their mark, temporary as it may be.

Some of the rock sculptures inevitably get knocked over, whether it’s by the weather or otherwise. I am ok with this. The impermanence of these stone markers is probably what I like most about this place.

I enjoy this nameless place more than the one everyone visits to see the “real” stone sculptures. It has more meaning for me knowing these could be here one day and not the next. I build one; it could be gone tomorrow. It is life itself.

Somehow enjoyed the view here before me

Edited to add: Mark pointed out to me that the issue probably isn’t with hooligans, but with people getting injured by falling rocks. He’s probably right that the city is cordoning off part of the river because of potential liability. Although I certainly don’t want anyone to get hurt, I still think it’s an unsightly overreach. More injuries probably happen in city parks and beaches every year. What do you think?


1 Response to "With apologies to John Ceprano"

1 | Petropablo

September 5th, 2020 at 4:26 pm


I hear ya. I recently read an article explaining why rock sculptures are wrong wrong wrong.
I don’t remember a single argument other you’re messing with the natural world. I can see how this could be – if these were everywhere. But they aren’t. And if it really bugs you…go ahead and knock them down.

I like stone sculptures and I partake in building them. I also like making little designs with pebbles twigs, driftwood, wildflowers. Ephemeral. Maybe someone else will see it. Probably not. Captured with a photo.

Stones/rocks are quiet wondrous things. A few years ago, a friend of mine was dying. She asked me if there was something of hers she could give me. She had lots of beautiful things. I asked her if someone had claimed the large grapefruit-sized tumble stone (dark brown and rounded) she used to keep her large office door open. She was very pleased when I told her I loved it and would put it in my garden and think of her when I saw it just hanging out – day, night, rain, sun, snow. “I would LOVE that” she said, squeezing my hand. Some day, I hope to give that dear old worn rock to someone who will “store” it in their outdoor life.
Thanks for discussing stones, rocks, and pebbles. ?

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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