Finding the Force in Ottawa

Yoda at Star Wars: Identities in Ottawa, Canada

I was excited to be heading to the Canada’s Aviation and Space Museum. As a plane nerd it was the perfect place to spend a drizzly afternoon in Ottawa and if the weather cleared up we’d be going on for a ride in a bi-plane. Heck, yes!

Only the weather didn’t clear up.

Pulling up to the museum after our morning at the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school the skies were still grey and there was no bi-plane in sight. As a consolation, our guide Jantine managed to arrange for us to visit Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition; but whilst the rest of the group were excited to see the exhibition behind the movies that shaped part of their childhood I just couldn’t muster the same enthusiasm.

I’d never watched Star Wars in my life.

The lights were dim inside the airplane hangar as we collected our wrist bands and headsets. Posters of the characters from the multi-award winning movies lined the entrance and in my head I named them – “white robot, gold robot, evil robot, samurai with a light stick” – whilst the others gushed over their favourites.

This was going to be a long afternoon.

Padme costumes at Star Wars: Identities in Ottawa, Canada

Ashla sketches at Star Wars: Identities in Ottawa, Canada

As I wandered through the museum I discovered that Star Wars isn’t all “Luke, I am your Father” and light saber fights. The characters identity and progression is a key aspect to the movies plots and success; and with so many characters from across the galaxy, crafting a characters identity is a multifaceted job the responsibility of many people.
Wookiees are different to humans, and it’s not just because they look like they need a good shave but their attitudes towards events would be different from humans or even jawas.

Identity can be found in smaller things – choosing to be part of the Galactic Empire and a life time of wearing black hoods akin to that of characters with ‘Darth’ in their name, or as a Padawan be destined to wear a rat-tail and look like modern-day fully sick wogs (okay, I was kidding about the black hoods and the rat tails… sort of).

So why are Luke and Anakin Skywalker so different, despite coming from similar origins?

Interactive features at Star Wars: Identities in Ottawa, Canada

Taking my bracelet I held my wrist to the white plate on the wall. As the wall made a bleep and the plate flashed yellow 3-times it was official, I was a Togruta.

Walking through the exhibition you have to make a series of decisions that will influence and shape your own Star Wars characters identity. What race will they be? What will their job be? Who do you look up to? What is your personality like? and of course, will you join the dark side or will the force be with you?

Luke and Anakin Skywalker made different decisions which impacted on the outcome of their identity just as you will, and like I did to create my character below, and the way producers create these identities – from conception to screen – are highlighted in each stage of the exhibit.

Then there is what will get the real Star Wars fans excited.

Interactive character at Star Wars: Identities in Ottawa, Canada

Star Wars Pod Racer at the Star Wars Identities: the Exhibition in Ottawa, Canada

I’d like to drive that,” were the only thoughts I could muster on the cool piece of machinery that lay before me, “pity I don’t know what the heck it is.”

Throughout the exhibition are hundreds of items from across the movies, many of the items exhibited have never been on seen by the public before.
From costumes, concept drawings – my favourite show the many stages of developing Yoda and Chewbacca, what I late found out was one of the pod racers (pictured above), weapons, out-takes, the list goes on.
Select pieces also have audio commentary, which is where your audio set will come in handy, and you’ll learn things like George Lucas modelled Chewbacca on his own best friend… who that is I won’t spoil, you’ll just have to visit the exhibition!

Helmets from the Star Wars Movies on display at the Star Wars: Identities exhibit in Ottawa, Canada

Darth Vadar sketches at Star Wars: Identities in Ottawa, Canada


No Star Wars exhibition is complete without a visit by Darth Vader. Learning how the decisions he made throughout the movies, in contrast to how Anakin made his, impacted on his position was interesting, even as a person who’d never watched any of the Star Wars movies before.

As I went from display to display I realised the movies were a lot deeper than ‘silly sci-fi’ which I’d previously branded it, and it was becoming clearer why they held a special place in so many people’s hearts, and that wasn’t because of the corny special effects!

Darth Vadar Costume at the Star Wars: Identities in Ottawa, Canada

The afternoon had slowly disappeared, characters had been created and I’d discovered a new appreciation for something previously misunderstood – Star Wars wan’t quite as boring as I’d always imagined. As I left the museum, and in turn left Ottawa, I had one lingering thought cross my mind – “perhaps I should watch a Star Wars movie on my way back to Toronto?

Are you a Star Wars fan?
Are you planning on seeing Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition when it’s in your city?

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Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition

When: On now until September 2, 2013

Canada Aviation and Space Museum
11 Aviation Pkwy,
Ottawa, ON K1K 2X5

How Much? Adults – CDN$24.00, Children (3-12) – CDN$13.25, Seniors/Teens (13-17) – CDN$20.00, (prices don’t include 13% tax), Families – CDN$30.00

How to get there:

By public transport take OC Transpo’s route 129 which begins at Hurdman transitway station. Find out more about the route 129 schedule.

If you drive there is parking available at a rate of CDN$1 per half hour with a maximum of CDN$6 per day.

Many of the city tour buses stop here or at the nearby RCMP Stables.

Extra Information:

  • You’ll need around 90-minutes to explore the exhibition.
  • You can take photos and video but flash is not allowed due to the delicate nature of some of these items. No tripods.
  • Feel free to dress up but helmets and weapons, including light sabres, are not permitted.

Website: www.starwarsidentities.com/

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  • Reply
    July 4, 2013 at 4:16 am

    omg must go!

    • Reply
      July 4, 2013 at 9:16 am

      If you have time you should. It’s a great exhibition!

  • Reply
    July 4, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    This just made my day! I hope it’ll still be around somewhere in North America once I get back for a visit later this year—dying to go!

  • Reply
    July 4, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Very cool. I liked hearing from an non Star Wars Fan perspective. I’m not a huge fan myself but I think it would be pretty easy to fill up an afternoon there.

  • Reply
    fotoeins | Henry
    July 6, 2013 at 5:00 am

    “You do not know the power of the Dark Side of the Force (c) …!”

    Nicole, I agree with Shannon’s statement that it was great to read your description from a non-fan. But now that you’ve seen this exhibit and you’re going to watch the movies, please do yourself a favour: watch Episodes 4-6 *before* watching 1-3. Seriously. Then again, my recommendation will only betray my age. 🙂 Thanks for highlighting the exhibition!

  • Reply
    Travel Blog Love: The Best of July, 2013 | Besudesu Abroad Travel Blog | Traveling 9-5
    August 2, 2013 at 12:35 am

    […] so I got really excited and geeked out over Nicole’s post on Bitten by the Travel Bug about Finding the Force in Ottowa. After reading this, I can only hope this Star Wars exhibit makes it to the US while I’m […]

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