It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Spring has Sprung in Ottawa

They sat like this for a good 25 minutes.
What rivets them so?


It’s the ice-smasher-boat!!


Otherwise known as the “AmphibEx” (amphibian excavator).

How do I know this?

A few years ago, a different group of tots was rivetted by the same spectacle, only this time some of the “workin-guys” were on shore. They admired the kids, and chatted about their work. The children were MESMERIZED.

Those big men!
That big machine!
The roaring and the cracking!
That big machine!
The whoosh of the water!
That big machine!
Those big chunks of ice!
And did we mention, THAT BIG MACHINE???!?!!!

(I mean, really. Does it get any better?)

One of the worker-dudes approached, hitching his jeans importantly. He has their undivided attention, and decides the time has come to impart some Words of Wisdom.

“Stay in school, kids, or you’ll end up driving one of those.”

Well. There goes five families’ hopes of their child’s post-secondary education…

April 2, 2009 - Posted by | Ottawa, our adoring public, outings | , , , , , , ,


  1. Did you know when no one has yet to make a comment its says ‘no comments’ which looks like you dont want anyone to!

    Dumpling would love to see this boat, he loves to watch the discovery channel, I forget which one, the one about megastructures and giant bridges! He definately has that ‘boy brain’, I must scan in one of his ‘technical drawings’ to show you, trouble is I have to listen to the 3/4 hour lecture on what the drawing is of in minute detail!

    There used to be a show which the tots a few years back loooved, called “Mighty Machines”. I used to have a video of it; now that I don’t have a video player, I should see if I can get a copy on DVD. Dumpling would love it — all about, well, big machines of all sorts!

    Comment by jenny | April 2, 2009 | Reply

  2. Woah, that’s cool. I could happily sit there and watch that thing for at least twice that long 🙂

    Me, too, but they got cold, hungry, and (believe it or not) bored!

    Comment by Matt C | April 2, 2009 | Reply

  3. I gotta ask… why? not why to they watch, that I understand, but why do they need to smash the ice? Doesn’t it melt?

    Yes, it melts, but not evenly. Then you get ‘ice dams’, wherein some loose chunks of ice jam up against ice that hasn’t shifted yet, blocking the flow of the river and creating flooding. When they break the ice, from the outflow of the river and moving upstream, they help prevent flooding.

    Comment by Jill in Atlanta | April 2, 2009 | Reply

  4. Lovely post. You have a way with humour too. I loved that last line.

    Thank you! I’m rather pleased with it, myself.

    Comment by Sandra | April 2, 2009 | Reply

  5. Priceless 🙂 You do meet some fabulous people out on the street. And it just goes to show, human connections are not lost!

    But I have to say…any place where they have to smash the ice off the damn river is not a place I could ever live…I’ll just sit here and shiver in my 25 deg C, thankyouverymuch!

    Shivering at 25??? 25 degrees is my perfect summer weather! I’ve often said that if I could choose, summer would range from 24 – 28 degrees. Once it gets past 30, I’m not a happy camper, and 35 has my lying about, moaning, and not in a good way.

    ‘Course, I’m not keen on the super-cold, either. If winter stopped at ten below, and I’d be happy. (Why am I not living someplace temperate? I think I just described the temperature range of Denmark. But then you have the whole “lack of sunlight” thing…)

    And choosing between extremes at one end of the thermometer of the other? Welll… tough call. Because, when it’s truly cold, you can pile on the layers, but when it’s truly hot… well, you can get down to naked, and then what do you do?

    It’s a conundrum.

    Comment by Merrilee Faber | April 2, 2009 | Reply

  6. That is so funny – he was really preaching to the wrong crowd there!

    So right! He totally misjudged his audience. Totally.

    Comment by chosha | April 3, 2009 | Reply

  7. Oh I wish I could have taken my boy to the canal to watch that. He would have loved it.

    I’m sure he would have, but, being from Ottawa, I’m sure you meant to say “river”! (For all you non-Ottawans: the canal is drained every fall. Nothing much in there but a skiff of ice and a lot of muck!)

    Comment by Chantal | April 3, 2009 | Reply

  8. Wow. Coming from Scotland, where it only RAINS. I have NEVER seen anything like this! Is it not sinking??? It doesn’t look very safe. On the plus side, that is a fascinating sight…I could quite happily sit there all day, (in thermals ) enjoying the river!

    It’s not sinking because it’s a genuine, if highly specialized, boat. It chugs along on the surface of open water just like any other boat. It seems quite safe. In all the years I’ve watched it, I’ve never seen a mishap. It puts out that scoop, hauls itself up onto the ice with those pontoon-like outrigger thingies to stabilize it (I guess that’s what they’re doing!), and then the weight of the vessel breaks the ice. And you’re right. It’s quite fascinating. No matter how often I’ve seen it, I always am interested the next year!

    (“pontoon-like outrigger thingies” is the technical term. Yes, indeed.)

    Comment by hel cruse | April 5, 2009 | Reply

  9. Pittsburgh has more snow on the ground. My spring bulbs still have 2 feet of snow on top of them. I’m moving to Ottawa.

    Comment by ClumberKim | March 8, 2010 | Reply

  10. We have one of those in Helsinki too! 😀

    Comment by Suzi | March 8, 2010 | Reply

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