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.

Hogs Back Falls on Ottawa’s Rideau River

Hog’s Back Falls, the Rideau River and the Hog’s Back Bridge in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Photographed from Hog’s Back Park.

hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

Hogs Back Falls from Ottawa’s Hogs Back Park (Purchase)

During my trip to Ontario and Québec I visited a waterfall in Ottawa, along the Rideau River, called Hogs Back Falls (or Prince of Wales Falls, officially). Hogs Back Falls are not actually a natural waterfall, and are the result of construction of a waste water channel during the building of the Rideau Canal. Originally this section of the river was a 2000 meter long rapids, some of which is still visible below Hogs Back Falls.

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Hog’s Back Falls and Hog’s Back Bridge in Ottawa (Purchase)

The first two photographs here are from the first viewpoint we found in Hogs Back Park. It has a nice view up the Rideau River and looks directly towards Hogs Back Falls. I made this initial composition to try to portray what a visitor would see here. I often start with a “big picture” photograph of an area and then try to work on more detailed compositions of individual elements that make a scene interesting. At this viewpoint we noticed a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) hunting for prey next to a small waterfall below. Another photographer at that spot offered me the use of his 100-400 lens. I declined, but he insisted, so I put the lens on and made a few photographs which did not turn out. This lens was interesting to try, but I also knew this was the wrong angle to photograph the Heron and I could probably do pretty well at a better spot. The 100-400 is a nice lens, and there are times when I’d want to use one, but not enough to buy one. Rather expensive for the amount of use I would get out of it and also quite heavy and large for my already near capacity camera bag (and back). If I was a serious wildlife photographer I’d likely own one already, but until that happens I’ll stick with my 70-200 and the 1.4x extender that I usually have attached (since I moved to a full frame camera).

fall foliage above hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) fishing in the Rideau River (Purchase)

After I changed locations to a spot closer to the bridge, I was able to view and photograph the heron much easier than at the first viewpoint. The photograph above is the result. A number of people have picked it as their favourite out of my “top 10” favourite images from 2018 post. I like Herons. Not only do they “pose” nicely and sit still quite often which makes a photograph easier, they seem to have an air of elegance or something about them. Except when they don’t. Years ago I photographed one strutting around near the Capilano Fish Hatchery in North Vancouver (Great Blue Heron at Capilano River). I still quite like that photograph, but I most remember that heron as appearing young and inexperience by trying to eat some discarded gills (from the hatchery) that were laying about. It seems gills are quite rough and hard to swallow, as the heron appeared to choke for about 10 minutes before expectorating the gills back up onto the rocks. I chalked this up to an inexperience Heron, but perhaps they just aren’t that bright?

fall foliage above hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

A Great Blue Heron bites off more than it can chew

The Heron at Hogs Back Falls also had an embarrassing moment in public. At one point it snagged what looked like a Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) and then tried to swallow it whole, as Herons do. It appears that no matter how willing the Heron, its esophagus was not up to the diameter required for the task, After several inelegant minutes attempting to choke down this Bass, it too was spit back onto the rocks, only to fall into the river. The Heron then returned to fishing for something a bit more manageable. After photographing the Heron we worked our way over the Hogs Back Bridge and photographed the Rideau River and many smaller water falls on the rocks below.

fall foliage above hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

Fall Foliage above the Rideau River and Hogs Back Falls in Ottawa (Purchase)

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