Long Ma, blowing off a little steam.

In many ways, up until now, Canada’s 150th year has been a bit of a let down in the capital city.

Not a complete failure – there have been some interesting events – It just hasn’t been as spectacular as the hype leading up to Canada’s big year had promised.

For instance, back in the winter, when Red Bull brought it’s Crashed Ice competition to town, there was a lot of buzz. But while it’s a cool concept, the didn’t set up sufficient viewing screens, and most of us were unwilling to brave the frigid temperatures for hours to get a decent spot to watch from. So for manny (including me) it was a bit of a flop.

Canada day itself was literally a wash – with torrential downpours making for a wet day on Parliament Hill. The fireworks at night were pretty special though, I must admit.

Kumo, spitting…um…acid, maybe?

There are a number of reasons for the lack of lustre, and the wet summer hasn’t made the situation any better.

I know we’re about a month past our national day, but this weekend, Ottawa really delivered on the celebration that was promised. The City pulled off an absolute spectacle, bringing gigantic robotic creatures to lumber around the capital, capturing the imaginations of residents and tourists alike.

This was the first time that La Machine brought its beasts to North America, and they have single-handedly redeemed any perceived misfires from earlier in the year. All is forgiven – just give us more giant robots!

My social media feed has been congested with robots. Everyone I know in Ottawa has been sharing their photos and videos of Long Ma (the Dragon Horse) and Kumo (the spider). Every moment I’ve spent among the thousands of people out following the creatures around the downtown core has been rewarding. The excitement has been palpable, and spectators are absolutely invested in the story of how Kumo stole Long Ma’s wings and how he aims to get them back and to vanquish the spider.

The people controlling Kumo – I’d like to add this skill to my resumé!

We spent Saturday morning wandering the ByWard market in search of the beasts and got some great photos as they interacted with the gathered crowds and with each other. And then, later that evening, we snagged an amazing spot in front of the Supreme Court of Canada to see one of their final encounters. With pyrotechnics and live music to accompany them, the two fought an epic battle that concluded with Long Ma getting his wings back.

Everything else is gravy at this point. Whatever else happens this year for Canada’s 150th, I will no longer feel cheated. La Machine was all I could have asked for and more. Happy birthday, Canada!

You can see some of our best photos of the beasts below (and a video or two, taken by my sister). We’ll share the rest of our photos on our SmugMug page.

Just to give you a sense of scale, Here’s Long Ma in among the crowd, watching a band playing feverishly on a rooftop patio.

Another shot for scale, this time of Kumo.

Close-up of Long Ma’s eye. My what long lashes you have!

Just a little proof that these guys were in my hometown!

Aside from steam, Long Ma can also spray water (snot?) from his nostril. Had to be quick to avoid getting water on my lens.

We were standing at the perfect spot – Kumo walked right over top of us.

Kumo can also spray from her abdomen.

A little more detail from beneath the beast.

Between the woodwork shells on both creatures, and the detail in the paint, they really are as beautiful up close in detail as they are impressive from a distance.

One more shot of the detailed woodwork and paintwork on Kumo’s legs.

Waiting for the evening show to begin – in front of the Supreme Court of Canada.

The artists descending to their seats aboard Kumo.

The spotlights were casting some pretty cool shadows on the Parliament Buildings.

Kumo, awaiting the arrival of Long Ma, and spraying more “web.”

After the epic battle, Long Ma looks up to see his wings returning.

Rejoined – Long Ma’s wings are back in place. Next up – the final showdown (but not until Sunday night.)


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