Ottawa – The flying cow of the Aberdeen Pavilion

I could have a lot to say about the Aberdeen Pavilion, a heritage building in the Lansdowne Park area of Ottawa. When I was younger, I went there a few times with my father to visit agricultural exhibitions. This is a place that has always greatly impressed me, with its elegant architecture that almost makes it look like a castle from a distant time.

The pavilion, which is often referred to as the Cattle Castle because of its use for agricultural exhibitions, was built in 1898. The architect was inspired by the architecture of the Crystal Palace of London (an exhibition hall that hosted the London Expo in 1850) to build the Aberdeen Pavilion. Metal structures support the roof, providing a covered space of more than 3,000 square metres without any columns.

Aberdeen Pavilion
The Abereen Pavilion

The Pavilion has mainly been used to host agricultural exhibitions. But it also hosted the Senators hockey games for a season in 1904. Stanley Cup games were even played there! During the Great World Wars, the Pavilion also served as a recruiting centre. In 1983, the site was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada. But it was in such disrepair that the city of Ottawa voted for its destruction in 1991, a decision that became an election issue the following year and was finally overturned. In the following years, the Pavilion was renovated and reopened to the public.

Today, the entire Lansdowne Park area has been restored. Lansdowne Stadium (now TD Place) has undergone a good makeover and shops and condo buildings are slowly growing in the area. But the Aberdeen Pavilion still has its place and every time I go through Lansdowne Park, it still impresses me…

The Flying Cow
The famous flying cow of Aberdeen

And in front of the Pavilion, there is a curious wind vane … A flying cow, mounted on wheels, indicates the direction of the wind. A work of art that stands out a bit with the Victorian architecture of the pavilion. The work of the artist Tim DesClouds, however, is a beautiful tribute to the agricultural past of the place and draws inspiration from a poem published in the farmer’s almanac in the 19th century:

The cows fly home on Sunday
Wind from the east is bad for man and beast
Wind from the south is too hot for both
Wind from the north is of very little worth
Wind from the west is the softest and best

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