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Parliament Buildings of Canada – Then and Now Montreal

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Parliament Buildings of Canada – Canada’s Parliament Buildings are located high on a hill overlooking the Ottawa River, and home to the federal government. In 1857 Queen Victoria chose Ottawa for the new capital of the Province of Canada.

Parliament Building, Ottawa – 1869 (Photo: Wm Notman)

A competition was organized in1859 to find architects for three buildings, the Parliament building, two administrative buildings, and a Governor General’s residence. The Centre Block was awarded to Thomas Fuller and Chilion, and the East and West Blocks were awarded to Thomas Stent and Augustus Laver. The governor general’s home was never built. The location chosen for the complex was an area know as Barracks Hill, a military base, used as living quarters for the Royal Engineers working on the Rideau Canal. Ground was broken in 1859. The cornerstone of the Centre Block was laid in September 1860 by Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and future King Edward VII. All three buildings were designed in High Victorian Gothic Revival style, featuring Gothic elements, including pointed arches, lancet windows, spires with crockets and rubble-course stonework. The buildings officially opened on 6 June 1866, about a year before Confederation.

Parliament Building showing the Victoria Tower – 1914 (Photo: Harris & Ewing)
Parliament Hill – 2009 (Photo: Dick Nieuwendyk)

On 3 February 1916, a fire destroyed the centre block with exception of the Parliamentary Library. Reconstruction began immediately. and architects John A. Pearson and Jean-Omer Marchand were selected to redesign the Centre Block in a style similar to the original, but with more office space, which meant that an additional floor had to be added. What was left of the original walls and rubble foundation was demolished and rebuilt with load-bearing concrete walls and a steel frame.

After Confederation in 1867, the newly opened buildings were occupied by the House of Commons, the Senate, and departmental offices of the new Dominion of Canada. It took over seven years to build most of the new Centre Block, which remained incomplete until the central Peace Tower was officially opened on 11 November 1928.

The hill was a local public meeting site before the buildings were constructed. Today people continue to visit the grounds for special occasions, including royal jubilees, state funerals and other significant events such as the annual Canada Day festivities and the ceremonial Changing of the Guard.

The Parliament Buildings and Parliament Hill were designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1976.

By: Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca
To see the article in the Montreal Times 22.80 July 1, 2017 edition please click on the above image
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