Max Folsom – Author of the Baker Somerset series of mysteries

The Setting

Ottawa

Baker Somerset’s Ottawa is a world-class city rich in culture and vibrant with excitement. It is the capital city of Canada, located on the south bank of the Ottawa River. Originally called Bytown, it became Ottawa in 1855 and is now the fourth largest Canadian city. The crime rate is low, but Somerset is never short of detective work.

As a political center it hosts embassies from approximately 130 countries, endowing the city with a culturally rich atmosphere with unique sights, sounds, aromas and activities.   The Byward Market in Lower Town, Parliament Hill, and the Centretown core are the prominent cultural settings in Ottawa.

Bank Street, where Somerset has her office has three distinctive areas. The downtown area to Gladstone Avenue is officially known as the “Bank Street Promenade” .From Gladstone to Somerset Street West is the centre of Ottawa’s growing gay village. This is the location of Somerset’s favorite Second Cup coffee shop. Turning west on Somerset Street will take you to the stunningly beautiful gate to Chinatown, an area rich with residents, merchants and restaurants of many Asian countries. The house that Keys shares with Jewels is just before you get to the gate. Continuing south on Bank you come to The Glebe.

The Glebe is an area with a strong community identity. Young professionals raise their families in upscale detached homes. Aspiring up-and-comers live in tasteful rental units subdivided within grand old houses. The shopping district is one of Ottawa’s highlights, featuring small stores and restaurants. The last Saturday in May of each year is the date for the “Great Glebe Garage Sale” attracting a multitude of bargain hunters and “Glowfair” is a ten block street party of music, light, art and food is held in June. The Glebe is Somerset’s home, haven and stomping ground.

Spring in Ottawa brings the Canadian Tulip Festival. In June of 1940 Princess Juliana brought her daughters Beatrix and Irene to safe harbor in Ottawa. Princess Margriet was born here in 1943. In 1945, Juliana and her daughters returned to the liberated part of the Netherlands and as a thank-you to Canada she sent 100,000 tulip bulbs as a gift to the people of Canada. The following year she sent more than 20,000 bulbs and bulbs were sent each following year. In 1953 the Canadian Tulip Festival was created both as a celebration of spring and as a reminder of Canada’s ties to the flower and its wartime association. Today over 1 million bulbs bloom throughout the Tulip Route and this is the scene that Somerset sees during One Bad Day After Another.

The interior of the Parliamentary Library with the stunning statue of Queen Victoria.

The Fire From Gatineau by Bhat Boy. I’m very grateful to Bhat Boy for allowing me to use the image of his painting. He is a wonderful Ottawa artist whose paintings are usually full of whimsy and fun. The series that he did of the fire is full of drama.

The fire took place the night of 03 February, 1916, and it destroyed the entire Centre Block. However, during the library’s construction steel fire-proof doors were installed and the fact that they were slammed shut during the fire saved the library. Seven people died during the fire.

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