Inside the boxPublished on June 28, 2017

  • Parks Canada
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Photo by: Mark Holleron

This summer the ByWard Market will be transformed into a hub of activity as Inspiration Village for Ottawa 2017 creates a new public space along York Street to celebrate the country’s sesquicentennial.

Built out of 41 sea containers, many of which span 20 feet in length and weigh in at 5,071 pounds, Inspiration Village will bring together immersive and interactive experiences for tens of thousands of visitors to Ottawa. From May 20 through September 4, the Village will feature exhibits, demonstrations and performances.

Architects and designers around the globe are transforming the blank canvases of sea containers into beautiful buildings, creative collaborative spaces and aesthetic artistic installations.

“This is the first time that something like this has been done in Canada,” explains Gayle McClelland, Ottawa Project Lead, Inspiration Village, for Wendy Kane & Associates. “It has truly been a team effort from start to finish, from the initial brainstorming where small models were used to create potential layouts, to the final renderings, to onsite construction.”

Leading the team of engineers for Inspiration Village was Matthew Main of the Ottawa-based firm Dymech Engineering Inc. Matthew, a Carleton graduate, oversaw the unique design that took more than one year to come to fruition and includes programming partners ranging from the RCMP, Ottawa School of Art, Carleton University, Algonquin College, the Ottawa Mission, World Wildlife Fund, and Tale of a Town. The regionally-themed containers, from Nunavut to Newfoundland and Labrador, provide a snapshot of the adventures available across Canada.

For instance, visitors can find an authentic East Coast experience amongst the raw, natural beauty of Cape Breton. “Inspiration Village is a completely unique opportunity and privilege to showcase Cape Breton,” says Mary Tule, CEO, Destination Cape Breton Association. “Even in today’s online and technical world, there is still nothing as powerful as face-to-face interaction, and we are confident that throughout Inspiration Village this is going to be an unprecedented opportunity.”

With the tag line  ‘Your Heart Will Never Leave’, Destination Cape Breton Association has created an interior space that brings the very essence of Cape Breton to the nation’s capital. Mary explains that they researched what visitors are looking to experience when they come to Cape Breton and chose images that reflect that. A captivating backdrop of an eagle-eye view atop a dramatic headland cliff overlooking the rugged coast, vast ocean and winding Cabot Trail below makes visitors feel as though they have stepped into one of Cape Breton Highlands National Park’s gems, the world-renowned Skyline Trail.

The largest of the installations belongs to Parks Canada, with a 60-foot horizontal container and two additional vertical containers. It showcases Canada’s incredible history, places and events, as well as presenting a Parks Canada oTENTik, the Red Chair program and a paddle-boarding experience.

“Participating in Inspiration Village will allow Parks Canada the opportunity to engage with a variety of Canadians including youth, families and young adults to inspire them to experience our country’s natural and cultural treasures first-hand,” says Meaghan Bradley, Communications Officer with Parks Canada.

Much like the traditional Parks Canada experience, the container provides a gateway to nature, adventure and discovery through a series of activities. Divided into three areas using the theme Discover, Connect, Protect, the containers encourages visitation to a network of protected places and some of the Canada’s most spectacular landscapes. With 47 national parks, 171 national historic sites and four national marine conservation areas, there is a lot to discover, and Parks Canada staff are there to help visitors with trip planning and to participate in a photo booth experience that inspires Canadians to share their ideas and views of their dream country.

“This year not only marks the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, but also the centennial of Canada’s historic sites,” explains Meaghan. “Our national historic sites reflect the rich and varied heritage of our nation and provide an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about our diverse history.”

As Ottawa 2017’s longest-running Canada 150 event, Inspiration Village is the perfect occasion to come explore the nation’s capital and experience our vast and breathtaking country.

Rochelle James

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