Sunday, December 20, 2009

Roadside Memorials

When I was growing up, I don't recall ever seeing a roadside memorial around Ottawa.  The first time I remember seeing any roadside memorial was on a trip to India in 1986.  On the roads around Delhi, there were quite a few shrines beside the road, most of which were likely remembering people who had died on the road.  The traffic in and out of Delhi was unbelievably wild, and bad accidents were common.

In the past few years, I have been noticing roadside memorials in Ottawa, in various places around town and outside of the city.  I can think of seven right now from the center of town westwards.  I'm in the process of looking for more memorials -- I'm sure they are more out there.

The latest is a memorial for a bicycle commuter who was killed in September on a busy road in downtown Ottawa; the photographs in this posting are from that memorial.  This happened only two days after a horrible incident where five cyclists riding in formation were hit by a single vehicle in Kanata, a community in the far western end of Ottawa. There was a considerable level of shock felt by Ottawans, and the cycling community in particular over these two incidents, and in at least one other cycling death in the area.

I find these memorials quite touching.  They are all hand-made by people who obviously care a lot about the people who are being remembered, and the sites can be very moving.   Some have hand-written signs and notes that give a very personal feeling.  Most are frequently maintained with new flowers (usually plastic, but very colourful when you drive past) and new designs from one season to the next.

I am building a portfolio of photographs from roadside memorials which I will show on my website as soon as I have enough photographs.  If anyone in the Ottawa area knows of a roadside memorial site, I would appreciate an email with the location.

. . . Rob Williams