One of the biggest tourist attractions (with about 3 million visitors a year) in Ottawa is the Nation’s capital – Parliament Hill.
That being said, in the almost four years that we have lived here, we haven’t done the tour! Thankfully, we had friends in from Winnipeg and that gave us a good excuse to go check it out (finally). We got our (FREE!) tickets across the street from Parliament Hill, at 90 Wellington Street, before heading over.
At the entrance to Parliament Hill, this flame burns on top of a fountain that is decorated with the shields of Canadian provences and territories to represent the unity of Canada. I didn’t realize when we were there that it is a wishing fountain, and that all of the money tossed in goes into the Centennial Flame Research Award. This award is granted to “a person with a disability to allow him or her to conduct research and prepare a report on one or more Canadians with disabilities who have made a contribution to the public life of Canada or to the activities of Parliament.” Next time I’m there I will make sure to make a wish!
Peace Tower Tour
We were able to go right to the Peace Tower, as we had about two hours for our Parliament tour. To get in, you have to wait to have your turn through the TSA-like security and metal detectors. Then you climb the stairs and hop in an elevator that takes you right below the iconic clock and gives you a spectacular view around the city.
Once down the elevator, you visit the Memorial Chamber, which honors the Canadians who have died in combat during the wars and conflicts throughout history. The Books of Remembrance that are on display have one page turned at 11am each day (if you have a family member listed, you can call to find out when their name will be visible). It is a very humbling experience.
Center Block Tour
This February marked 100 years since the Parliament Hill fire of 1916. That fire caused the destruction of all of the center block, except for the Library. The tours this month were themed around the fire, complete with photos of what the halls and rooms looked like prior to the fire (and being rebuilt). The guide promised a look into the cause of the fire, but that ended up being the in-person form of click-bait. They only mentioned what we already knew, that the fire may have been caused by an abandoned lit cigarette or cigar, or WWII German sabotage (a cigar pipe bomb, specifically).
The tour included viewings of the Hall of Honour, House of Commons foyer, House of Commons Chamber, Senate foyer, and Senate Chamber (we did not get to see the House of Commons Chamber, as I believe they may have been sitting). It was very neat to see all of the amazing architecture and appreciate the history of the building.
The Library of Parliament
The Library was untouched by the fire, due to the fact that it was only connected to the rest of the building by a corridor, and the librarian on duty was able to seal it off by its iron doors.
It is 140 years old and holds 600,000 items! The library is in a circle with high vaulted ceilings, and was designed in the Victorian High Gothic style. The white marble statue in the middle is Queen Victoria.
It was the most spectacularly beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I would live there if I could!
National War Memorial
We also walked over to the National War Memorial and paid our respects to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was my first trip there, and I can only imagine how crowded it must be on Remembrance Day.
Overally, it was a great day of touring the Capital City. Each time I hope to see a bit more, and continue to gain an appreciation for this city that I am lucky enough to live and work in!