Henry Poon's Blog

Parliament of Canada Tour

With a good night’s sleep (unlike the day before), we went back to Parliament Hill for the tour of the Parliament building.  We got the 11:20 tour, so there was some time to see other things in the mean time.  It just so happened that the Changing of the Guard show was on.  This time, there were less people, so we actually got to see something.

Changing of the Guard

The guards marched from the National Defense Headquarters to Parliament Hill (about 1.2 km).  The guards marched wearing their uniforms in some 30 degree Celsius weather.  Up close, sweat on their face could be seen dripping down.  They marched in playing their instruments.  The soldiers went in formation and each soldier’s attire was inspected to ensure that they were each fit to stand guard.  This process took about 30-45 minutes.  It was cool seeing these guards dressed up in this kind of uniform.  I didn’t even know Canada had these.

Peace Tower

After the show, we went up to the Peace Tower, the clock tower in front of the building.  At the top, we could see pretty much all of the Ottawa-Gatineau area.  Ottawa has a quite even balance of trees, buildings, and water.  I don’t really know how to define it, but the view just seems more interesting that just seeing endless buildings.  I suppose having some green and blue makes the picture more appealing to the eye.  Bridges across the river adds a nice touch.  There also aren’t a lot of tall builds either, which definitely helps in keeping the view clear.

Originally, we wouldn’t have been able to go up the Peace Tower and come back in time for the tour, but my cousin said that when the tour group comes in, they would have to pass through security.  We had already done that to go up the Peace Tower, and so after we came down the tower, we stayed in the secured area and met up with the tour group once they came in through security.

The Memorial Chamber

Just below the Peace Tower was the Memorial Chamber.  In this chamber, there is a war memorial.  The significance of this one is that there is a book that has the list of names 66 655 Canadians who lost their lives during the First World War.  A second book was also added for the Second World War.  Every day at 11am, coinciding with the time that the First World War ended, a page is turned.  This allows for each page in the book to appear at least once during the whole year.

Inscribed on the walls in this chamber is the famous poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrae along with the locations where battles occurred such as Ypres, Passchendaele, Cambrai, Somme, among others.

The House of Commons

The House of Commons is where the elected Members of Parliament go whenever there is a meeting.  This is where major government legislation is introduced.  Whenever there is a meeting, this is the chance for all the elected members representing their political parties get the chance to debate topics such as how government money should be spent.  At the top of the room, there are additional seats for any spectators for whenever parliament is in session.

Library of Parliament

In terms of old libraries, this one is probably as old as it gets in Canada.  This is a key information source for the Canadian Parliament.  Occasionally, MP’s will come here to do research on various subjects.  In 1916, there was a fire that burned down the parliament except this room.  Therefore, this is the oldest part of the entire building (constructed in 1876).  Naturally, architectural style used in this building is a lot different that the newer part of the building.

The Senate

The Senate meet in a separate location within the parliament.  Here, senators examine bills proposed by the Government.   When the senate is in session, senators debate the bills and bills must pass the senate in order to become a law.  A special thing to note about this room is that because reconstruction of the parliament building began in 1916, the general mood of the population was that they were sick of war.  Therefore, much of the artwork in the room revolves around this.  Paintings of the war hang above the seats in the senate.  They are a constant reminder of the horrors of war.

Next Destination…Thousand Islands!

After the tour, we had lunch and then we made our way to a place called Thousand Islands for a boat tour.  I heard that there was an actual castle on one of those islands.  I didn’t even know Canada had actual castles.  I always though castles were a European thing.

More photos here

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