a peek inside the fishbowl

31 Mar, 2017

Andrea’s Tuesdays: libraries and megastores

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life|Ottawa

To review: every other Tuesday is my day off and I’m trying to use this time to recharge my batteries. No work, no meetings, minimal errands. IT IS BRAIN-CLEARING DAY. In my previous “Andrea’s Tuesdays” excursion I discovered that I don’t like swimming anymore.

I was going to post this on Tuesday evening but life intervened. Let’s just say that it involved an 8-hour visit to emergency (youngest daughter did something to her knee, all is well now) and some poking and prodding at the doctor’s (for myself, that is) and now, as I sit here, drinking my hot tea with lemon and honey, I realize I haven’t slept well, eaten very well, or exercised all week and am really feeling it: mentally, and physically. Blarg.

Let’s just say that this particular Tuesday which I am writing about had a less than ideal beginning. Despite my resolution not to work, I worked. I had an interview scheduled for an article I’m working on, which is why I found myself on the other end of the city that morning and doing a whole lot of rushing around before I was fully awake and prepared to do so.

When the interview was done I hopped on the Queensway and made my way downtown. My destination: the Library and Archives building. As a book and history nerd I was pretty excited about this visit. Even though I’ve been living in Ottawa for over 25 years (!) I have never actually been inside. Well, I was quite pleased with myself because I was Going To Change Things.

I parked the car, fed the meter, and walked ten minutes through the dreary drizzle. May I say, for the record, that this is my least favourite time of year? I wish spring would HURRY UP ALREADY. The lack of green is killing me.

Behold, Ottawa The Grey. (That’s the Library and Archives building, by the way):

Library and Archives Canada building in Ottawa

The saving grace is that one of my favourite scupltures is located here:

That lovely statue, outside the Library and Archives Canada building in Ottawa

Did you know this sculpture is called The Secret Bench of Knowledge? You can read a bit more about it on Wikipedia.

As I mentioned, I had no idea what was waiting for me behind those doors. I did know that there were exhibitions here every once in awhile, but that was it.

The exhibition that is currently on display at the Library and Archives is about (drum roll please)…. libraries. The exhibit’s official title is Icons of Knowledge: Architecture and Symbolism in National Libraries. There were photos of international libraries, large wall hangings, and small scale models as well:

Inside the Library and Archives Canada building in Ottawa

Library exhibition at the Library and Archives Canada building in Ottawa

The public only has access to the first floor, anything after that requires registration and a special pass. In hindsight, I regret that I didn’t register because then I could have poked around the reference room on the second floor. (Take a look at the LAC website for a bit more info about what’s there.) There is an overwhelming amount of information at this place. This short YouTube video will give you a better idea of what kind of things go on here.

Anyway, yes, I kind of blew it by not exploring a little further. My exploration took exactly 10 minutes. Maybe it was hunger that was clouding my judgment? I walked back to the car, which I had parked near the graffiti wall:

Someone thought they were being funny

Ottawa graffiti wall

I turned on the car, warmed my hands, and suddenly found myself heading west for Ikea.

Sidebar: I had promised myself that I wouldn’t use my Tuesdays off to shop for fun, but I was hungry and the Very Idea of Ikea’s salad and salmon plate was making me drool. (BEST DILL SAUCE, EVER.) So that’s what I got:

My favourite lunch at Ikea

That pear cider? It’s excellent.

After lunch, I curled up in a cushy couch with a coffee in a different part of the Ikea cafeteria and ate cookies while I read the news. It was probably the best part of my day. It was perfectly blissful, minus the part about the woman who sat near me for awhile and watched videos on her phone… without headphones. (Who does this?!)

Once I was fuelled up I explored the store. I bought some new drinking glasses and a few little things to brighten up the home office. I picked up groceries on the way home (will there EVER be a Tuesday without a stop at the grocery store?) and came home just in time to start dinner.

Looking back, I’d say this particular Tuesday was a mixed bag, but not entirely wasted.

2 Responses to "Andrea’s Tuesdays: libraries and megastores"

1 | Anne

April 7th, 2017 at 7:38 pm


Andrea, you sure know how to order! I usually get meatballs and french fries – yummy, but not elegant like your lunch.

I love library and archives, haven’t been in ages, so enjoyed your story & photos.

Wednesday is my “day off”, but I usually end up working or writing. I could use a day to unplug, so I should try harder to do so. Too bad we don’t have synchronized days off. :-)

2 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Andrea's Tuesdays: running, cupcakes, and a film about cats - a peek inside the fishbowl

April 17th, 2017 at 1:43 pm


[…] minimal errands. In my previous “Andrea’s Tuesdays” excursion I went to the Library and Archives building, and Ikea.  (A weird combo, but there you have […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

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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