On the

This "song of the Ottawa" tells the story of boat traffic from the
urban Ottawa river downstream past Kettle and the Duck Islands to Besserer’s Grove.

I elected to sonify the trips back and forth of three boats whose schedules I could determine over the course of a single week in July of 1912.

The steamer Quinte Queen made regular trips to-and-from Kettle Island's Belle Isle Park. This site was one of recreation for city-dwellers, where the amusement park featured the “Gaiety Theatre” for moving pictures, a restaurant, acrobatic performances, slides, and a merry-go-round. Other city-dwellers vacationed further afield in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, taking steamboats to resorts upstream at Aylmer’s Hotel Victoria or downstream to Besserer’s Grove, Montebello, or Caledonia Springs. The steamer Wanakewan travelled between Ottawa and the summer resort at Hiawatha Park, downstream at Besserer’s Grove, beginning for the season on July 1, 1912.

Above: A June 15, 1912 promotion for Belle Isle Park, on Kettle Island. Ottawa Citizen.

This song also sonifies the steady informal ferry traffic between Rockcliffe and Gatineau Point. I had to estimate the number of trips taken by the Seguin family ferry based on later interviews with family members who remembered operations during this time.

Each boat's journey is represented over the course of a day through the number of trips it took per hour. I used the same interface as for the first “song of the Ottawa,” MIDITime, to turn the data into sound. I built a separate Python script for the Quinte Queen, Wanakewan, and the Seguin Ferry, and ensured that each contained a dataset the same length. I layered these three files on top of one another to produce the song below.

Take a look at three scripts used to depict these stories of the river here.