Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Red Chamber

Like the House of Commons, there is a space between the Senate itself and its main foyer area. In this space, the bust of a First Nations chief is found. So too is a bust of a woman.

As Canada's Parliament follows the traditions of Britain's Westminster system, the Senate colour scheme is red, a nod to the example of the British House of Lords. Senators are appointed by the government of the day as opposed to being elected. There are fewer Senators- 105 of them- compared to the 338 Members of Parliament. The speech from the throne, given at the start of a Parliamentary session, is done from here by the Governor General, sitting at the far end of the chamber where a bust of Queen Victoria can be glimpsed above the chairs. The rest of the time, the Speaker of The Senate presides over proceedings. While the tour group was in here, the present Speaker, George Furey, came in and wished everyone a happy new year. 

The details of the woodwork and architecture here are remarkable. The art adorning the walls is war art, depicting scenes from the First World War.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Senate Foyer

Coming out of the Library of Parliament and back into the Hall Of Honour, our guide, Nick, spoke about some of the details and contrasts between the library being part of the original Centre Block- built out of optimism- and the second Centre Block- built in the aftermath of the First World War, its tone more sombre. I photographed some of the details in the corridor before we moved on.

The next destination was the Senate foyer hall. This is the overhead ceiling, with crests and symbols adorning it. Words are among them as well- the surnames of those Senate Speakers that preceded the building of the new Centre Block. The corridors leading up here included portraits of the Senate Speakers since Confederation.

The walls around this hall include royal portraits, kings and queens, with their consorts visible in the upper levels. King Edward VII and King George V are side by side here.

Queen Victoria is to their left. Her portrait was among those items saved during the 1916 fire.

Across the space are portraits of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II side by side.

I liked the architecture of the nearby staircase, which leads to an outside entrance on the east side of Centre Block. Tomorrow we'll have a look at the Senate chamber.

Sunday, January 21, 2018


The Library of Parliament is housed in what I think is the most beautiful space in the city. This is the main quarters for the Library, which has annexes in other spots through the National Capital Region. The staff here work with members of parliament and their staff extensively. The structure is the only part of the original Centre Block still standing. On the night of the 1916 fire, a clerk saved it by closing the heavy iron doors before evacuating, protecting it from the blaze. A statue of a young Queen Victoria is at the heart of the chamber. You might notice people working in here if you look closely- our guide spoke at length before and after we were in here, and asked us for silence while we were inside so that the staff themselves were not disrupted. Actually, the space itself tends to awe you into silence.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


This is one of the entrances heading from the Commons foyer into the space between here and the House of Commons.

Tours go into that space, where you can get views into the House itself. Like the British Parliament, our House of Commons takes green as its decorative motif. The government party sits on the left here, with the opposition parties on the right.

The Speaker of the House sits at the far end, overseeing what can often get argumentative. Public galleries are above the Commons. The Prime Minister sits with his party in the front row, about two thirds of the way down from here. Proceedings are done in English and French, with translators at work transmitting to those MPs who aren't bilingual, something that repeats itself in the Senate.

The tour moved off from here, heading down the Hall Of Honour towards the Library of Parliament. I took opportunities to photograph the particular details as I walked along.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Hill

Between Christmas and New Year's, when the city was in a bitterly cold spell, I wanted to get into Centre Block to head up the Peace Tower, and to photograph the Christmas decorations (which will be left for a post in December). On that particular day, when I checked in at the visitor center, I was told that because it was so cold, the elevator heading up the tower had been shut down as a precaution, and that my alternative for the decorations would be to take a tour of Centre Block. I've done this before- once when I had family visiting, and once just for the sake of the photoblog. Most of my visits here have been just for going up the tower. So I decided to go in. Approaching, I photographed the building. As it turned out, by the end of the tour, the elevator up the tower was running, so I got a chance to head up to the viewing platform, which is right beneath the clock faces.

Inside, visitors wait for their guide after going through the security screening. There are a series of panels and displays on the Canadian Parliamentarian process as a way to introduce the visitor to the tour. It includes this cap belonging to a Speaker of the Senate.

The guide arrived and took charge of the full group- quite a large number, as it turned out. Each guide tailors a tour in their own way, so it's different each time. Tours stop first in this large hall, where paintings of former Prime Ministers are on the walls. It's a familiar spot to Canadians- the doors heading into the House of Commons are found here, and when the House is in session, reporters are often in this hall to press the leaders with questions when the House adjourns for the day.

The architecture is exquisite. Centre Block is the second structure to stand here, being newer than the East and West Blocks. The original Centre Block was destroyed in the 1916 fire and rebuilt in the years afterwards, following the Gothic style of its predecessor in a new way. John A. Pearson and Jean Marchand, the architects, intended that the building would have spaces for carvers and other artists to add on features as the nation evolved.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


A reminder to members of City Daily Photo: the theme for February 1st is Tired.

Something got placed into Confederation Park back in December for a few weeks, recently removed with preparations now underway for Winterlude. Territories is a collaborative work, a metal cube that was placed here. Olivier Roberge came up with the concept and worked on it with Vincent Roy and Mathieu Fecteau, incorporating travel photographs from various photographers. This is what it looked like from the outside, both in day and at night when the tiny specks on its surface were lit up from within.

Within were three scale models of mountainous, snowy environments, with the contrast of those travel photographs of tropical locations placed in various spots as if they're billboards. The concept examined the paradoxes of our Canadian relationship with the weather- we might engage in cold weather conditions like a sleigh ride, a mountain climb, or skating above a frozen waterfall, but we dream of tropical getaways. Well, some of us. My idea of a vacation does not include beaches, margaritas, and suntans.

I mentioned mountain climbing. This close up of the second model seen in the following shot features four climbers making an ascent along the left side. What I didn't notice when I took the first two shots was something further up and on the right side of the couloir, watching the climbers: a mountain lion.

This is the last of the three model sets, which includes skaters on a frozen pond above a frozen waterfall, with a horse drawn sleigh down at the bottom of the hill.