Journalism professor Randy Boswell penned the foreword to a new then-and-now-style historical book by photographer John McQuarrie. Ottawa: An Aerial Panorama, the latest in McQuarrie’s “Spirit of Place” series of books showing views of New York, Boston and other major cities from the air, pairs aerial images from the past with contemporary photographs of the national capital.
Boswell’s foreword highlights the link between McQuarrie’s work and the most famous aerial image of Ottawa from the 19th century, which is prominently featured in the book: the 1859 “bird’s-eye” painting of the newly chosen capital of the Province of Canada by Thomas Stent and Augustus Laver, the architects who would soon be chosen to design the East and West blocks of the Parliament Buildings.
“Aerial perspectives allow us to momentarily escape the imperfections, complications and ordinariness of ground-level existence. They offer pleasing patterns, a sense of order and scope, the giddiness of a hot-air balloon ride,” Boswell writes. “We shouldn’t surrender ourselves wholly to sublime delusions, but neither should we forget the awe-inspiring, ancient landscape that underlies contemporary Ottawa.”
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