Welcome to the Parliament of Canada, located in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. The Parliament is not only the seat of Canada’s federal government but also a symbol of the country’s democracy and political system. It is a place where important decisions are made, laws are debated and enacted, and the voices of Canadians are represented.
The Parliament of Canada consists of two houses: the House of Commons and the Senate. Members of Parliament (MPs) elected by the public serve in the House of Commons, while Senators are appointed by the Governor General. Together, they form the legislative body responsible for governing the country. The Parliament buildings are not only functional spaces but also architectural masterpieces that showcase Canada’s rich history, culture, and national identity.
Visiting the Parliament offers a unique opportunity to gain insight into how Canada’s government operates and to witness its democratic processes in action. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a political buff, or just curious about Canadian governance, a visit to the Parliament of Canada promises an engaging and enlightening experience.
In this article, we will explore the history of the Parliament of Canada, its location, visiting hours, security procedures, and the various highlights you can expect to see during your visit. Whether you are planning a solo trip, a family outing, or an educational field trip, this guide will provide you with the essential information to make the most of your visit to the Parliament of Canada in Ottawa.
History of the Parliament of Canada
The history of the Parliament of Canada dates back to the incorporation of Canada as a self-governing Dominion within the British Empire in 1867. Prior to this, Canada was a collection of separate British colonies. The creation of a federal system and the establishment of a national government required a central meeting place for elected representatives.
The original Parliament building, now known as the Centre Block, was completed in 1866 and has undergone significant expansions and renovations over the years. It is a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture, designed by renowned architects Thomas Fuller and Chilion Jones. The building features stunning architectural details, including the iconic Peace Tower, which was completed in 1927 and serves as a national symbol of peace and remembrance.
Tragically, in 1916, a fire destroyed the original Centre Block. However, the determination to rebuild was unwavering, and construction began immediately. The new Centre Block, completed in 1922, incorporated elements of the original design while introducing modern features and technological advancements.
Today, the Parliament of Canada consists of three main buildings: the Centre Block, the East Block, and the West Block. Each building houses different government functions and serves as a testament to Canada’s rich and evolving democratic history.
The Parliament of Canada is not only a physical structure but also a symbol of the country’s political evolution and commitment to democracy. Over the years, it has played a crucial role in shaping Canadian society, addressing significant issues, and enacting important legislation that affects the lives of Canadians. It serves as the central hub for public discourse, where elected representatives gather to debate and vote on matters of national importance.
The history of the Parliament of Canada reflects the country’s evolution as a nation, from the early days of confederation to the present. Exploring the historic halls, chambers, and corridors of the Parliament buildings provides a unique opportunity to connect with Canada’s past and gain a deeper understanding of its democratic journey.
Location and Address
The Parliament of Canada is located in the heart of Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. Specifically, it is situated on Parliament Hill, overlooking the scenic Ottawa River and surrounded by stunning views of the city.
The address of the Parliament of Canada is:
111 Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A4, Canada
Getting to Parliament Hill is convenient, as it is easily accessible by various modes of transportation. If you are visiting Ottawa, you can use public transportation, such as buses or the O-Train, to reach the Parliament. There are also ample parking facilities available nearby if you prefer to drive.
Once you arrive at Parliament Hill, you will be greeted by the majestic buildings that make up the Parliament of Canada complex. The Centre Block, which houses the iconic Peace Tower, is the most recognizable structure. The East Block and the West Block are adjacent to the Centre Block, completing the ensemble.
Exploring the grounds of Parliament Hill is a delightful experience. In addition to the Parliament buildings, you will find beautifully maintained gardens, statues representing important historical figures, and memorial structures that pay tribute to Canada’s diverse heritage.
The location of the Parliament of Canada on Parliament Hill not only adds to its grandeur but also offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding cityscape. It is a perfect place to capture memorable photographs, enjoy a leisurely stroll, or simply take in the beauty and significance of this historic site.
As you plan your visit to the Parliament of Canada, keep in mind the central location of Parliament Hill and the address provided above. It is a destination that should not be missed, offering a captivating blend of architectural splendor, natural beauty, and political history.
The Parliament of Canada welcomes visitors throughout the year, allowing them to experience the historical significance and democratic processes of Canadian governance. To make the most of your visit, it is important to be aware of the Parliament’s visiting hours.
The general visiting hours of the Parliament of Canada are from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday. This provides ample opportunities for individuals and groups to explore the grounds, visit the various chambers, and take part in guided tours.
It is worth noting that the Parliament is a working legislative institution, and its schedule may be subject to change due to parliamentary business, special events, or security considerations. Therefore, it is advisable to check the official website or contact the Visitor Services team beforehand to confirm the visiting hours on your desired day of visit.
Furthermore, certain areas and attractions within the Parliament have specific visiting hours or limited access. For instance, the Centre Block and the Peace Tower may have restricted access during parliamentary sessions or major events. It is recommended to plan your visit accordingly and be aware of any temporary closures or restrictions.
During the summer months, visitors have the added benefit of extended hours. From early July to early September, the Parliament offers extended visiting hours, allowing visitors to explore and learn about the institution into the evening. This is particularly popular as it provides an opportunity to witness the spectacular light and sound show projected onto the Parliament’s façade.
Whether you are a local resident or a tourist visiting Ottawa, it is recommended to arrive early in the day to maximize your time at the Parliament of Canada. This way, you can make the most of the available visiting hours and avoid potential crowds.
With the knowledge of the Parliament’s visiting hours, you can plan your visit accordingly and ensure that you have adequate time to explore and immerse yourself in the rich political and historical environment that the Parliament of Canada offers.
Due to the important nature of the Parliament of Canada as a federal institution, security measures are in place to ensure the safety and well-being of all visitors. It is essential to be aware of and follow the security procedures when visiting the Parliament.
Upon arrival, you will notice visible security personnel and screening checkpoints. Before entering the buildings, you will need to pass through a security screening process, similar to airport security. This involves placing personal belongings, such as bags, purses, and electronic devices, into X-ray machines for inspection. Additionally, you may be required to walk through metal detectors for further screening purposes.
To ensure a smooth and efficient security check, it is best to limit the number of personal items you bring with you. Avoid carrying unnecessary items that may delay the screening process or trigger security alerts. It is also important to remember that certain items are prohibited within the Parliament buildings, including weapons, sharp objects, and flammable materials.
When planning your visit, it is advisable to arrive with ample time to accommodate the security screening process, especially during peak visiting hours or when parliamentary sessions are in progress. It is also recommended to dress appropriately and respectfully during your visit, as certain areas, such as the Chambers of the House of Commons and the Senate, have dress codes that visitors are expected to adhere to.
Please be aware that security procedures may be subject to change without prior notice. It is advisable to check the official Parliament of Canada website or contact the Visitor Services team for the most up-to-date information regarding security procedures before your visit. Familiarizing yourself with the guidelines and cooperating with security personnel will ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to the Parliament of Canada.
By following the prescribed security procedures, visitors can rest assured that their visit to the Parliament of Canada is both protected and secure. Remember, the measures in place are essential for the integrity and functioning of this important democratic institution.
Exploring the Parliament of Canada through a guided tour is a fantastic way to fully immerse yourself in the rich history, architectural beauty, and democratic processes of this iconic institution. Guided tours provide valuable insights and ensure that visitors don’t miss out on any of the significant highlights within the Parliament buildings.
The guided tours at the Parliament of Canada are informative, engaging, and led by knowledgeable tour guides who provide fascinating commentary along the way. These guides share captivating stories and historical anecdotes, making the tour both educational and enjoyable.
There are several types of guided tours available, catering to different interests and preferences. The most popular tour options include:
1. Parliament Hill Tour: This tour takes you through the main areas of Parliament Hill, including the historic Centre Block, the beautiful Library of Parliament, and the stunning Peace Tower. You will also learn about the architectural features, the political system of Canada, and the country’s parliamentary traditions.
2. Guided Tours of the Chambers: These tours provide an up-close and personal view of the Chambers of the House of Commons and the Senate, where important debates and legislative decisions take place. Visitors can witness the grandeur of these chambers and gain a deeper understanding of the democratic processes that shape Canada’s governance.
3. Specialty Tours: The Parliament also offers specialty tours that focus on specific themes or aspects of Canadian history and politics. These specialized tours include topics such as women in Canadian politics, Indigenous perspectives, and constitutional history. They provide a more in-depth exploration and offer a unique perspective on Canada’s parliamentary system.
It is recommended to book your guided tour in advance, especially during peak visiting times or if you have a specific tour or time preference. Reservations can be made online through the official Parliament of Canada website or by contacting the Visitor Services team.
Please note that guided tours may have specific time slots and duration. It is advisable to arrive at the designated meeting point a few minutes before the scheduled tour time to ensure you don’t miss out on the tour.
Exploring the Parliament of Canada through a guided tour is an invaluable experience, allowing you to delve deeper into the history, architecture, and political significance of this iconic institution. It is a must-do activity for visitors seeking a comprehensive and enriching understanding of Canada’s democratic processes.
Chamber of the House of Commons
The Chamber of the House of Commons is a key component of the Parliament of Canada and serves as the meeting place for the elected Members of Parliament (MPs). It is a space where lively debates, discussions, and decision-making processes shape the legislative agenda of the country.
Located in the Centre Block of the Parliament buildings, the Chamber of the House of Commons is a striking and historic space. Designed to reflect Canada’s democratic principles, it features a horseshoe-shaped seating arrangement, with rows of desks facing the Speaker’s chair at the front.
During a visit to the Chamber of the House of Commons, you will have the opportunity to witness democracy in action. Typically, the chamber is filled with MPs representing various political parties, engaging in debates on a wide range of issues. It is a captivating experience to witness the passionate discussions, lively exchanges, and the democratic process at work.
The Chamber is adorned with meaningful symbols and significant features. The Speaker’s chair is located at the front of the Chamber, elevated above the rest of the seating, symbolizing the impartiality and authority of the Speaker. The background is decorated with the Canadian coat of arms, and the walls are adorned with historical artworks and portraits of past Prime Ministers.
Visitors can observe the proceedings from the public galleries, which are located above and behind the main seating area. From these vantage points, you can witness the debate, listen to speeches, and gain a firsthand understanding of how laws are discussed, challenged, and ultimately passed.
It is important to note that the Chamber of the House of Commons is a working space, and visitors are expected to respect certain rules and protocols. Mobile phones must be turned off or put on silent, and photography or recording is not allowed during parliamentary sessions. Additionally, visitors are expected to remain quiet and avoid any disruptive behaviors while observing the proceedings.
A visit to the Chamber of the House of Commons provides a unique opportunity to witness the democratic process and gain a deeper understanding of Canada’s political landscape. It offers a glimpse into the diverse opinions, debates, and decision-making that shape the nation’s policies and direction.
Make sure to include a visit to the Chamber of the House of Commons as part of your Parliament experience for an immersive insight into the workings of Canadian democracy.
Chamber of the Senate
The Chamber of the Senate is an integral part of the Parliament of Canada and serves as the meeting place for Senators who are appointed to represent the provinces and territories of Canada. It embodies the principles of sober second thought and provides a platform for thoughtful and comprehensive discussions on legislation and public policy.
Located in the Centre Block of the Parliament buildings, the Chamber of the Senate is a grand and elegant space. The design is inspired by the British House of Lords, featuring red upholstered seats arranged in a semicircular fashion facing the Speaker’s chair.
The Chamber of the Senate exudes an air of tradition and reverence, with its richly appointed decor and symbolic elements. The Speaker’s chair, adorned with a canopy, is positioned at the front of the Chamber, overseeing the proceedings. The backdrop showcases the Royal Coat of Arms and historical portraits of past Governors General.
During a visit to the Chamber of the Senate, you will have the opportunity to witness the deliberative process and observe Senators engaging in debates and discussions on a wide range of issues. The atmosphere is characterized by a more formal and measured tone, as Senators provide a thorough examination and analysis of proposed legislation.
The public galleries are available for visitors to observe the Senate proceedings. From these vantage points, you can witness the speeches, exchange of ideas, and votes on important matters affecting the country.
While in the Chamber of the Senate, it is important to respect the dignity and decorum of the space. Visitors are expected to maintain a quiet and respectful demeanor. Mobile phones must be turned off or set to silent, and photography or recording is not permitted during parliamentary sessions.
Visiting the Chamber of the Senate offers a unique opportunity to gain insight into the role of the upper chamber and understand the importance of independent review and analysis in the legislative process. It provides a firsthand experience of how Senators contribute to shaping public policy and legislation that impacts the lives of Canadians.
Include a visit to the Chamber of the Senate as part of your Parliament experience to appreciate the thoughtful, measured approach to governance and gain a deeper understanding of Canada’s parliamentary system.
Library of Parliament
The Library of Parliament is not only a valuable resource for Members of Parliament and Senators but also a stunning architectural gem within the Parliament of Canada complex. Located in the Centre Block, it serves as a hub of knowledge and research, housing a vast collection of books, documents, and historical artifacts.
Designed in the Victorian Gothic Revival style, the Library of Parliament is renowned for its impressive architecture and meticulous attention to detail. The entrance features intricately carved wooden doors and a beautiful vaulted ceiling adorned with exquisite stained glass windows. The library’s iconic circular shape and towering octagonal roof make it a distinct landmark on Parliament Hill.
Visitors to the Library of Parliament are greeted with a sense of grandeur as they step into the Reading Room. The room is surrounded by two stories of polished wood bookshelves, containing collections on a wide range of subjects, including Canadian history, law, and political science. The ornate domed ceiling, gold accents, and natural light filtering through the stained glass windows create an atmosphere of intellectual inspiration.
While access to the main reading room is reserved for Members of Parliament and Senators, visitors can still appreciate the beauty and elegance of the Library from designated viewing areas. These areas provide glimpses of the remarkable architecture and allow visitors to marvel at the rich history and vast collection housed within.
The Library of Parliament is more than just a repository of knowledge; it also serves as a research hub for parliamentarians. It provides extensive resources, research services, and specialized databases to support their legislative work, policy development, and inquiries.
Visiting the Library of Parliament offers a chance to appreciate the rich literary and historical heritage of Canada. It provides a glimpse into the important role of research and knowledge in shaping public policy and governance. Whether you are a bibliophile, a history enthusiast, or simply appreciative of stunning architecture, a visit to the Library is sure to be a highlight of your Parliament experience.
Take the time to explore this architectural masterpiece and immerse yourself in the world of knowledge at the Library of Parliament. It is both a testament to Canada’s intellectual heritage and a symbol of the power of information in a democratic society.
The Peace Tower is one of the most iconic and recognizable features of the Parliament of Canada. Standing tall in the Centre Block, it serves as a symbol of peace, remembrance, and national unity. The tower is not only an architectural wonder but also holds great significance in Canada’s history and cultural heritage.
Rising 92 meters above Parliament Hill, the Peace Tower offers breathtaking panoramic views of Ottawa and the surrounding area. Its distinctive design combines Gothic and Beaux-Arts styles, featuring intricate stone carvings, stained glass windows, and a prominent clock face. At the top of the tower, a majestic observation deck provides visitors with an unparalleled view of the cityscape.
Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the Peace Tower holds a deeper meaning for Canadians. Within the tower is housed the Memorial Chamber, dedicated to honoring the sacrifices of Canadians in times of war. The chamber contains the Books of Remembrance, which list the names of Canadian service members who lost their lives in conflicts around the world. It serves as a solemn reminder of the price paid for peace and the resilience of the Canadian spirit.
The Peace Tower also plays a significant role in Canada’s cultural life. Its Carillon, an impressive musical instrument consisting of 53 bells, fills the air with beautiful melodies throughout the day. The resonating tones carry a sense of harmony and symbolize the unity and diversity of the Canadian people.
Visitors to the Parliament of Canada can appreciate the Peace Tower from the outside, admiring its grandeur and taking in the intricate architectural details. Additionally, guided tours of the Parliament often include a visit to the Memorial Chamber within the Peace Tower, providing an opportunity to pay homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The Peace Tower stands as a beacon of hope, unity, and peace in the heart of Canada’s capital. It serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience and strength of the nation, while offering visitors a chance to reflect on the importance of peace and remembrance. A visit to the Parliament of Canada would not be complete without experiencing the awe-inspiring presence of the Peace Tower.
The Centennial Flame is a beloved and symbolic feature located on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada. It was created in 1967 to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Canada’s Confederation. The flame represents the unity, diversity, and shared values of the Canadian people.
The Centennial Flame sits in a circular pool of water, surrounded by beautiful bronze plaques representing each province and territory of Canada. The flames emanate from a central column, symbolizing the eternal flame of Canada’s spirit and the enduring strength of the nation.
What makes the Centennial Flame even more special is that it represents more than just a beautiful monument. It has a functional purpose as well. The flame burns natural gas and is continuously lit, serving as a symbol of the ongoing commitment to the ideals of Confederation.
The plaques surrounding the flame bear various symbols and important historical images that represent the character and contributions of each province and territory. They provide a fascinating glimpse into the diverse cultural heritage and regional identities that make up Canada.
The Centennial Flame is not only a significant symbol but also a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike. It offers a peaceful and picturesque setting to relax and take in the beautiful surroundings of Parliament Hill. Many visitors gather around the flame, capturing photographs or simply reflecting on the significance of the monument.
Visiting the Centennial Flame is a wonderful way to celebrate Canada’s history, diversity, and unity. It serves as a reminder of the progress made since Confederation and the ongoing journey towards a prosperous and inclusive future.
As you explore Parliament Hill and the surrounding area, make sure to take a moment to appreciate the Centennial Flame and reflect on the remarkable story of Canada’s past, present, and future that it represents.
Gift Shop and Cafeteria
Located within the Parliament of Canada complex, the gift shop and cafeteria offer visitors the opportunity to indulge in culinary delights and find unique souvenirs to commemorate their visit.
The gift shop, also known as the Parliamentary Boutique, is a treasure trove of Canadian-themed merchandise. From maple syrup and Canadian chocolates to clothing, accessories, and artwork, you’ll find a wide array of high-quality products that showcase Canadian culture, history, and craftsmanship. Whether you’re looking for a memento to remember your visit or searching for a thoughtful gift for someone back home, the gift shop has something for everyone.
Aside from traditional souvenirs, the gift shop also features specialty books and publications, including works by Canadian authors and titles that delve into the country’s political history. It’s the perfect place to find educational resources or dive deeper into the fascinating world of Canadian politics.
After exploring the Parliament buildings and immersing yourself in Canadian history, you may find yourself in need of refreshments. The cafeteria, conveniently located within the Parliament complex, offers a variety of dining options to suit different preferences and dietary requirements.
From delicious sandwiches, salads, and hot meals to freshly brewed coffee and a selection of baked goods, the cafeteria provides a tasty respite during your visit to Parliament. You can sit down and enjoy your meal while basking in the historic ambiance of the surroundings.
It’s important to note that the gift shop and cafeteria may have specific operating hours that coincide with the visiting hours of the Parliament. It’s always a good idea to check the official website or contact the Visitor Services team for the most up-to-date information.
Whether you want to indulge in some retail therapy, find a unique Canadian souvenir, or simply refuel with a delicious meal, the gift shop and cafeteria at the Parliament of Canada have you covered. They provide a delightful and convenient experience that adds to the overall enjoyment of your visit.
A visit to the Parliament of Canada in Ottawa is a captivating and enriching experience that offers a glimpse into the country’s history, democracy, and national identity. From the awe-inspiring architecture to the lively debates in the chambers, every aspect of the Parliament reflects the spirit of Canada’s vibrant democracy.
Exploring the Parliament allows you to witness the democratic processes in action, observe the dedicated work of elected representatives, and gain a deeper understanding of Canadian governance. From the Chamber of the House of Commons to the Chamber of the Senate, these spaces are not only visually stunning but also significant in the decision-making that shapes the nation.
The Library of Parliament, with its wealth of knowledge and resources, showcases the importance of research and understanding in the legislative process. The Peace Tower stands tall as a symbol of peace, remembrance, and unity, while the Centennial Flame represents the strength and diversity of the Canadian people.
As you journey through the Parliament, taking in the grandeur of the buildings and learning about Canadian history and politics, don’t forget to visit the gift shop to find unique souvenirs and the cafeteria to enjoy a delicious meal.
Whether you are a history enthusiast, a political buff, or simply curious about Canadian governance, a visit to the Parliament of Canada is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the country’s rich heritage and witness the democratic processes that shape its future.
Plan your visit, be aware of the visiting hours, observe the necessary security procedures, and consider taking a guided tour for a more comprehensive experience. By doing so, you can make the most of your time and leave with a deeper appreciation for Canada’s political system and the significance of its Parliamentary heritage.
Visiting the Parliament of Canada is not just a tourist attraction; it’s an opportunity to connect with the heart and soul of the country. So, come and explore this historic institution, be inspired by its architecture, and witness democracy in action.
Experience the Parliament of Canada, where the past, present, and future of Canada’s vibrant democracy converge, leaving you with a lasting impression of the nation’s political significance and the enduring values that define it.