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Canadian Parliament Buildings in Ottawa

The Parliament Buildings (Centre Block) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Centre Block contained the House of Commons, the Senate chambers, offices of some MP’s (Members of Parliament), and administration offices.

canadian parliament buildings in ottawa canada

Parliament Buildings – Centre Block (Purchase)

I first saw the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa when I was 18. In the Vancouver area we don’t really have as much in the way of impressive, historically significant buildings, so I still remember the first time I saw the Centre Block building. During my trip to Ottawa last fall I was happy to see these buildings again, and to have a chance to photograph them. I also found a historical architecture equivalent of a bad sunset or clouds hiding the mountain thats we get with landscapes sometimes: construction.

peace tower at canadian parliament buildings in ottawa canada

The Peace Tower at Parliament Hill (Purchase)

The first session of the Parliament of Canada was held on Parliament Hill in in November 6, 1867, before the buildings were completely finished construction (which had begun in 1859). Parliament Hill has 3 main buildings – East Block (opened in 1866), West Block (opened in 1906), and Centre Block (which held the “House of Commons” and Senate Chambers). Most of the Centre Block standing today is not the original, a fire in 1916 burned down the original building. Only the Library of Parliament survived the fire intact. It seems the library clerk at the time had the presence of mind to close the large iron main doors before the fire reached the library. It is also for this reason that there is a different architectural style in the newer Centre Block compared to the Library of Parliament or the East and West Block buildings.

flag on peace tower at parliament buildings in ottawa canada

Canadian Flag on the Peace Tower (Purchase)

Construction on the current Centre Block building began in 1917 after the fire, and was completed in 1927. The original buildings were constructed in a “Victorian High Gothic” style while the newer Centre Block is a “Modern Gothic Revival” style. The original Centre Block also had a large clock tower in the middle, though that tower was called the Victoria Tower. During the fire the original Victoria Tower Bell fell to the ground, and is still displayed on the Parliament Hill grounds. After the fire and reconstruction, the new tower was called the Peace Tower. The Peace Tower is 92.2m (302 ft) in height and flies a new Canadian flag each weekday. Canadians can request this flag but as this is quite a popular idea – the current waiting time is 99 years!

canadian flag on peace tower at parliament buildings in ottawa canada

Canadian Flag on the Peace Tower (Purchase)

If you look at the lower right corner of the Peace Tower (in the two photographs) you can see some scaffolding covered in similar coloured tarps. The Parliament Buildings are all undergoing rehabilitation. The West Block building had its repair begin in 2011 and recently finished – and now contains the interim House of Commons as the Centre Block is just beginning its 10 years of rehabilitation. The Senate chamber has been temporarily relocated to the Senate of Canada Building (formerly the Government Conference Centre) near Parliament Hill. So while my photograph above contains some construction equipment and scaffolding, I probably did actually come at a fairly good time as the place is going to be closed for the next 10 years. A previously overcast day giving way to blue sky helped a lot too!

For more photographs from the Ottawa area visit my Ottawa Gallery.

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