Parliament Hill is only about a fifteen-minute walk from where I was staying on Laurier, but it was also HOT. It didn't help that I got all the way down before I realized I forgot my camera and had to go back for it. Fortunately that was the one nuisance in an otherwise lovely day.
Rideau Canal from bridge on Laurier St. E.:
Ceremonial Guard at the National War Memorial/Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on one of the hottest days of the year:
Detail of War Memorial:
Pictureboards with historical info. There were lots of these; they were pretty informative:
One of the reasons for choosing Ottawa for the capital was that it was far enough back from the US border. The War of 1812 was still a pretty fresh memory back then and they were worried about military attacks.
Centre Block, approaching from the East. These buildings really have to be seen in person to appreciate how beautiful they really are:
Far side of of East Block. The limestone's darkened with age and really makes its gothic-ness stand out:
This statue of John Diefenbaker was the first one I saw coming up the hill:
In summertime there are guided walking tours of the outside grounds. When I went to find out about them I was told one had just left and I had to run to catch up with them. I found them here, at the statue of Queen Victoria. The lion represents Great Britain and the woman with her arm out represents Canada:
The woman in the Ranger Rick outfit was our perky but informative tour guide. :)
Statue of Lester Bowles Pearson, fourteenth Prime Minister, Nobel Laureate and all around cool guy. His left shoe is shiny from people touching it for good luck:
Rideau Canal, from the Hill:
Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica:
Statue of Louis Hippolyte-Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin, on the Whispering Wall (if someone stands close to the wall on one end and whispers, someone else on the other end can hear it):
There were more statues on the walking tour, but I didn't take any pictures for some reason (I got a few later). The tour of the inside of the Centre Block didn't start for a while, so I wandered around and took some more pictures of other stuff.
The East Block again, from the other side:
The Centre Block. Remember when I said you have to see these to really appreciate them? This building most of all. It was actually hard to look away from, it's that gorgeous:
The Centre Block is newer than the other buildings. The original Centre Block burned to the ground in 1916 and had to be rebuilt. It reopened in 1920.
The Peace Tower, built to replace the Victoria Tower which was lost in the fire:
When it was time for the tour, we all lined up and went through security, which was like at an airport except they weren't all mean, and then waited in a foyer full of info stations until it was time to start the tour. I didn't take pictures of that or the way in past the plaques listing the various governments. When I got inside, I couldn't stop taking pictures.
This might be part of the House foyer, I'm not sure. It is, however, pretty. Note cool figures carved into the walls:
Ceremonial Mace of the House of Commons, representing the authority of the Monarch. It's brought in by official ceremony at the beginning of each session by the Sergeant At Arms and is placed on a table in front of the Speaker. The House can't officially meet without it:
The Chamber of the House of Commons has a green colour scheme like the British one. The party in power sits on the left, the major opposition party on the right. The other parties sit farther away:
The Speaker's Chair:
The Prime Minister's chair is tilted forward when Parliament isn't in session, which I find oddly amusing:
More from the House Chamber:
Ceiling of the Senate foyer:
Individual panes are of royal symbols and coats of arms, and also the names of all the Speakers of the Senate up to 1920. If you look close you can see the pane that says "Quelqu'un" ("Someone"). The artists figured there'd be plenty more Speakers coming along so they put this panel in to represent everyone else.
Close-up of some of the panels. So pretty:
The Senate Chamber, done up in Red like the British House of Lords. When the Queen visits she addresses Parliament from the red Throne. The Governor General represents her the rest of the time:
Ceiling of Senate Chamber:
The paintings of WWI scenes on the Senate Chamber walls are "on loan" from the War Museum. I don't think they're planning on asking for them back:
Nursing Sisters' Memorial:
Reading room converted to a committee room. It's one of the only rooms that's not Neo-Gothic in style. I think the pictures on the walls look like the Rider-Waite Tarot:
Hall of Honour
Central column of the Rotunda, with inscription dedicated to those who participated in WWI. I wish this shot was clearer:
I got to see the Library as well (the only part of the Centre Block not destroyed in the fire) but picture-taking wasn't allowed because it was open. When scriggle and I were there last week she got a couple of really nice shots of it (pics # 21 and 22). Gorgeous, gorgeous place. It was a really nice tour. The guide was wee and very sweet.
Front doors of Centre Block:
These grotesques are everywhere on the building. Very cool:
The Peace Tower wasn't included in the guided tour so I went up by myself. The line was long because the elevator only holds seven or so, but the views on the way were awesome.
Looking down on the Rotunda from the second floor of the Tower. The arches and stonework are breathtaking:
I took so many pictures on the way to the elevator that I was afraid the cop would think I was a spy. The Rotunda is my favourite part of the whole building, even more than the Library.
I experimented with the flash and got two views of the same window:
I have a thing for photographs taken through bars/slats in general, but there's something about the ironwork in this building that's just...more, I guess:
One of the stone lions guarding the way to the tower. The other one has "1914" on its shield:
There were lots of info signs at the top of the tower. Canadians are all about fun facts, apparently:
Overlooking Rideau Canal. That's the roof of the Library in front:
Overlooking Wellington Street:
Overlooking East Block. If you look close you can see the National War Memorial on the upper-middle right just behind the tallest turret (are they called turrets?):
Weird ceiling of dangly gold thingies:
I hung around the top of the tower for a while taking pictures and reading all the info signs, then went back in the elevator (one side of the elevator is transparent and you can see the carillon with its sixty-three bells) to the second floor. On the way out is the Memorial Chamber. The atmosphere is very solemn and peaceful and everyone automatically dropped their conversation to a whisper:
The stone for these plaques is from France and Belgium:
There's a floor tile like this for each battle Canada fought in during WWI. The brass is from actual spent shell cases found on the battlefield:
One of the Books of Rememberance that list the names of the dead from past wars:
After the Memorial Chamber I took a tour of the East Block but didn't take any pictures (it was all reenactments which were fun but not picture-worthy). Then I wandered around the grounds a little.
The white pavilion is where we got the tickets for the tours:
Beaver sculpture over main entrance to Centre Block:
Statue of the current Queen, which is also the only statue on the Hill that was commissioned of someone living:
There's a whole story about how the horse's tail fell off while the statue was being delivered and how they had to solder it back on in a hurry.
Statue of the Famous Five, Alberta women whose case got the Supreme Court to rule that women were legally "persons" and could be appointed to the Senate:
Pretty iron gate:
I went back to the hostel after that but came back for the Sound and Light Show.
Centre Block at dusk:
The colours and pictures were projected right onto the front of the building. Everything was larger than life and full of brilliant purples and golds and blues. Everyone sang the national anthem at the end. The whole thing was flamboyant and musical, larger-than-life and unabashedly patriotic:
I had video of the beginning on my camera but I don't know if it's been deleted. I can't find it. And they were playing Gordon Lightfoot! *pout of woe*
Centennial Flame. I tried to get a picture without people but it was impossible. Last week I was downtown at night and there was nobody around, but I didn't have my camera:
After the show I wandered down to the Rideau Canal and took a longish walk along the path:
I had to Photoshop these next ones. I have a lot more pics of the canal but they all came out too dark or too fuzzy or both. These aren't perfect, but they give you a feel for what it looks like:
The next day I got pictures of the Centennial Flame during daylight:
I did other stuff while I was in Ottawa, too, like go to Byward Market and walk along the quiet tree-lined streets near the University of Ottawa. I ate at a yummy Korean place that I liked so much I took scriggle there on my next trip. I found a small but awesome used bookstore on Rideau and spent a good half-hour talking to the owner about politics, Canadian and American both, and I bought a history book. Geeky fun! I loved being by myself for this trip because I could go where I wanted.
I also went to a screening of a US-made film called "New World Border" hosted by the Ottawa chapter of the Council for Canadians about undocumented workers and Bush's militarization of the border between Mexico and the US. Afterwards there was a discussion about the Security and Prosperity Partnership, and also about NAFTA and how it's affected everyone badly but big corporations.
I didn't get to go to the Museum of Civilization because it was really too hot to walk/bus there. It'll be there when I finally do get to go, so I'm not too worried.