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Parliament, Hill, Ottawa

by Dr. Lucien Brault, M.A., Ph.D., D.Lett.
Honorary Historian of Ottawa

This bilingual 44-page brochure, 13.5 x 16.6 cm in size, was published for The National Capital Commission in 1976, for free distribution.


    Parliament Hill, on a bluff jutting into the Ottawa River, sets its buildings in spectacular relief. The work of man complements the work of nature.

    As one enters the Parliament Hill grounds by the central gate, one is facing the pride of the Capital: the Parliament Building and the Peace Tower with, on the right, the East Block and, on the left, the West Block. Behind the Parliament Building is the Parliamentary Library. These buildings are surrounded by an open-air gallery of ten statues of remarkable Canadian statesmen and of Queen Victoria.

    Parliament Hill covers an area of some twenty-nine acres.

    When the Indians wandered over this cliff, it was covered with wretched cedars hardly growing for want of soil. The surface drained south into a beaver swamp near the present location of Laurier Avenue West.

    This piece of land originally formed part of a 600-acre lot granted by the Crown, in 1802, to Jacob Carman, the son of a United Empire Loyalist.

    In 1823, Governor Dalhousie bought the lot from the then owner, Hugh Fraser, lor the sum of 750 pounds sterling (approximately 3,750 dollars). His purpose was to secure an entrance for the proposed Rideau Canal ahead of speculators. It was later decided the canal entrance would be Sleigh's Bay, at the mouth of the outlet of the beaver swamp running down between the present Chateau Laurier cliff and the Parliament Hill cliff.

    When the canal was started, in 1826, Lieutenant-Colonel John By, who had with him two companies of Royal Sappers and Miners, placed his men near the canal entrance to guard the gunpowder and money chest from which the soldiers were paid. He chose the top of the west cliff where he built three frame barracks and the site was called Barracks Hill until it became Parliament Hill.


    Immediately in front of the visitor at the central gates is the Centennial Flame.

    At midnight, dividing December 31, 1966, and January 1, 1967, the Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson, with a torch-light, lighted the centennial flame to mark the dying first centenary of Canadian confederation and the birth of the second. The centennial name represents the flambeau which will enlighten Confederation to her second centenary.

    Surrounded by the shields of the Canadian provinces and territories, and joined by the water of the fountain, the centennial flame symbolizes Canadian unity.

    The years inscribed on the border of the fountain are the dates on which the provinces and territories joined Confederation. Clockwise, starting from 1870, the shields are for Manitoba; 1905, Saskatchewan; 1905, Alberta; 1871, British Columbia; 1898, Yukon Territory; 1870, North West Territory; 1949, Newfoundland; 1873, Prince Edward Island; 1867, Nova Scotia; 1867, New Brunswick; 1867, Québec; 1867, Ontario.

    The coins thrown in the fountain are distributed to charitable organizations.


    The Parliament Building or Centre Block accommodates the House of Commons and the Senate.
    Frontage: 472 feet; depth: 247 feet
    Exterior rubble walls: Nepean sandstone, locally quarried
    Cut stone trimmings: Ontario and Wallace, N.S., stone
    Interior wall stone: Tyndale stone from Tyndale, Man.

    All Canadian laws originate here. They are studied, discussed, amended and adopted and sometimes repealed.

    The light-colored stone of the Parliament Building comes from a quarry situated twelve miles from Ottawa. It is known as Nepean sandstone. Oddly, it has never been exploited outside of the Ottawa Valley. In 1912, the possibilities of the sandstone deposit were first seen by R.E. Williams of Bell's Corners and thousands of blocks were used almost exclusively as paving blocks on Ottawa streets. After the original Parliament Building was destroyed by fire February 3, 1916, stone from this quarry was used tor the present building.


    A striking feature of Parliament Hill is the Peace Tower.
    Height: 291 feet
    Memorial Chamber
    53-bell carillon, bells ranging from 10 to 22,400 pounds
    16-feet-diameter, four-face clock: minute hands, 8 feet, 5 inches; hour hands, 5 feet, 1 inch: hour struck upon the Bourdon, 650-pound clapper: quarter-hour marked by 4 bells.
    Bronze mast, 35 feet high, crowned by cluster of lamps.

    The Peace Tower forms part of the main entrance to the Parliament Building and commemorates Canada's contribution in people and treasure in the First World War.

    "The character of Canada," writes Bruce Hutchison, "is held in the tower for all to see. Here is the solid sense of the English, the lean face of the Scotsman, the whimsy of the Irish in wild sculpture, the laughter of the French in delicate tracery of stone."

    The architect, John Pearson, has been particularly successful in carrying the structure upward to a total height of 291 feet with Gothic motifs.

    Each of the tower's six storeys is marked with groups at openings and mild entablures.

    The first consists of three open arches serving as the main entrance to the Parliament Building.

    The second is the Memorial Chamber, in which Canada pays tribute to her war dead. Inside it is the Altar of Remembrance where lie the Books of Remembrance recording, for posterity, the names of Canadians who sacrificed their lives for their country during the two world wars and in Korea.

    The third contains pairs of narrow traceried windows.

    The carillon was inaugurated by Governor-General Willingdon July 1, 1927, for the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation.

    The clock chamber consists of four balconies offering a bird's-eye view of the Capital, the Ottawa, Gatineau and Rideau Rivers, and the Gatineau Hills.

    The tower is surmounted by a 35-foot bronze mast from which the Canadian flag is flown. A royal standard floated there tor the first time during King George VI's visit to Ottawa, May 22, 1939. A foreign flag flew from it for the first time, January 19, 1943, in honor of the birth of Princess Margriet Francisca, born in Ottawa, the daughter of Princess Juliana (Queen Juliana) of the Netherlands, who, at the time, was a war refugee. At the top of the mast is a cluster of lights which are lighted during the evenings when Parliament is sitting.

    On the upper part of the tower, four grinning gargoyles in granite project ten feet from the stone wall. Grotesque dwarves — one is playing a concertina, another a banjo - occupy niches in the walls.

    Over the strong arch at each entrance is a sculptured inscription standing out from the surface of the wall of the tower. The front one reads "GIVE THE KING THY JUDGMENTS O GOD AND THY RIGHTEOUSNESS UNTO THE KING'S SON"; the west side: "WHERE THERE IS NO VISION THE PEOPLE PERISH"; the east side: "HE SHALL HAVE DOMINION ALSO FROM SEA TO SEA."

    Above the main doorway ot the Parliament Building, a poetic quotation cut into the stonework typifies Canada and greets all who enter. it reads: "The wholesome seas are at her gates, Her gates both east and west."

    The words are taken trom the third verse at the poem There is a Land by J.A. Ritchie.

    The verse is the following

    And oh, her skies are bright and blue,
    Her waters bright and pure;
    There's balm within her rarest shades
    All world-worn men to cure;
    The wholesome seas are at her gates,
    Her gates both east and west.
    Then is it strange that we should love
    This Land, our Land, the best?

    The cornerstone of the Parliament Building, at the northeast anglepillar of the structure, is the only direct link between the present Centre Block and the original Parliament Building.

    Salvaged from the 1916 fire, it was relald by the Duke of Connaught September 1, 1916, exactly 56 years after his older brother, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), had laid it in the original building. it is embedded over some of the first gold coins minted at the Royal Canadian Mint in 1912.

    This cornerstone is on the site of the very first structure erected in Bytown (Ottawa).


    When, late in the summer of 1827, the 7th and 15th companies of the Royal Sappers and Miners, under the command of Captain Savage and Captain Victor, arrived for the construction of the Rideau Canal, three sixteen-room wooden barracks were built to accommodate them. Each cost 499 pounds sterling. They were not painted, inside or out.

    The barracks were erected about where the eastern end of the Parliament Building now stands and the officers' quarters, a little west of the barracks, on the site of the Parliamentary Library. Barracks, parade ground and guard room were surrounded by a stockade of sharpened cedar posts twelve feet high. The gate and guard house at the eastern end of the stockade were close to the cliff edge. The gate had a large padlock with a key about four inches long and an inch thick. The woodyard was handy and a sun-dial stood about 50 feet north of the gate.

    A large stone building was located near what is now the north end of the West Block. It was the engineers' quarters and hospital.

    The barracks were occupied for several years by imperial troops with all their customary ram-roddy appearance. Armed with the smooth-bore Brown Bess, which might carry 200 yards, the troops used to march down the hill to a flat piece of rock beside the river for target practice. This site is now a civil service parking lot.

    To supply the barracks with drinking water, a 28-foot well was dug in solid rock. It came up dry. So it was decided to draw water from the then unpolluted river. Six men and a hand-cart made four to six half-mile trips a day up an ascent of 158 feet.

    On the Wellington Street side of the Hill, there were garden plots where the soldiers grew potatoes and other vegetables. The officers owned cows and were given the privilege of pasturing them on the Hill instead of taking them, mornings and evenings, to the public pasture on adjoining Colonel's (now Major's) Hill where the Chateau Laurier now rests.

    One of the three barracks was the birthplace of theatre in Ottawa. The first theatrical performance was given by a group of soldiers of the 15th Regiment. They played The Village Lawyer February 6 and 7, 1837, in one of the barracks rooms fitted up, with great taste, as a stage. The receipts were for charitable purposes.

    The success of the play encouraged the garrison amateurs to present other spell-binders of the day, including The First Floor, The Blue Devils, The Haunted House and Lovers Ouarrels. The receipts, three pounds, ten shillings, five pence, were presented to the parish priest for his poor parishioners.

    The Bytown barracks included a cell for military delinquents, more often used for civilians than for soldiers. Under the judicial system of the day, district courts and gaols were located in district towns. For Bathurst District, in which Bytown was situated, Perth was the District Town and all Bytown misdemeanants had to be escorted there - a distance of 52 miles - on foot.

    They were lodged in the barracks cell until they could be walked to Perth. A civilian constable had to act as a gaoler because the military refused to become involved in civilian matters.

    Barracks Hill, as well as Parliament Hill later, has been a gathering place for the numerous celebrations which took place in the town and city in the course of its history. Many open-air concerts were given here by the garrison bands and local musicians. When Queen Victoria ascended the throne in June, 1837, the news reached Bytown several weeks after and a military parade took place on Barracks Hill and a royal salute was fired from a little cannon. At night, a huge bonfire blazed for hours on the Hill and residents danced and sang. To celebrate her coronation in the summer following, the town drank Her Majesty's health from a barrel of whisky, with a small tumbler floating on the surface.

    At Queen Victoria's birthday celebration May 24, 1858, the same year Her Majesty had chosen Ottawa as the Capital of Canada, the whisky barrel must have been the opening part of the festivities.

    Eyewitness reports say the military review on Barracks Hill - an artillery company with four field pieces and two companies of Rifles - was a mass of confusion. One spectator reported: "The artillery galloped hither and thither, halted, fired, and set off again in every direction. The Rifles also marched and counter-marched, formed in every possible and impossible form, and charged and fired in all ways. The greatest fun was to see the scampering of the crowd from before the bayonets of the Rifles and the wheels of the artillery. I never saw such a complete scatterflcation. They ran screaming in all directions."

    The imperial garrison was recalled to Britain in 1856 during the Crimean War and Sergeant Ritchie was left in charge of the property. A lover of flowers, he pottered about in his garden and on Sundays, when many people walked up to the Hill, nothing gave him more pleasure than to present flowers to young lovers.

    But by and by, he went away and the Hill was deserted.

    Later, part of the Hill and an unused barracks served local fairs. Farmers of the surrounding area exhibited their products and cattle. As a special attraction, a greased young pig was let loose and whoever could catch it would keep it.


    When Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the Capital, the role as well as the name of Barracks Hill changed dramatically. Her choice was naturally well accepted by Ottawans, but was criticized by a small number of persons. Essayist Goldwin Smith said: "A sub-Arctic lumber village, converted by royal mandate into a political cockpit."

    The American press described the choice as excellent, saying the new Capital could not be captured, even by the most courageous soldiers, because the invaders would get lost in the woods trying to find it.

    Governor Head chose Barracks Hill as the site of the future government buildings on account of its uninterrupted view of the Ottawa River. In May, 1859, architects were invited to a design competition, with prizes at 1,250 and 500 dollars. The winners were Thomas Fuller and Chilion Jones for their plans for the Parliament Building, and Thomas Stent and Augustus Lavers for theirs for the other two buildings.

    The sod was broken at 11 a.m. December 21, 1859, by John Rose, Commissioner of Public Works. The cold and stormy weather did not prevent a large number of persons from attending the ceremony. A band played lively tunes and cannon were fired.

    The following spring, men cleared the stunted growth of cedar trees and shrubs to allow construction to start. The first stone of the Parliament Building was laid April 26.

    The visit of the Prince of Wales to lay the cornerstone September 1, 1860, was the occasion of splendid ceremonies. Ottawa had prepared a reception worthy of her new title of Capital.

    At the eastern abutment of Sappers' Bridge over the canal at Rideau Street, there was a Corinthian arch surmounted by numerous lances and flags. It was such a fine structure it was kept standing for five years as a tourist attraction. One night, the arch mysteriously burned down. It was freely hinted that some of the volunteer firemen had wanted live practice.

    To meet the steamer Phoenix, which conveyed the Prince from Montreal, 1,200 Indians, in war costume, and stalwart lumbermen, in the picturesque dress of the hardy and skilful voyageurs, in 150 canoes, formed a large V to precede the Phoenix to Queens Wharf where the welcoming party was waiting.

    A royal salute was fired by the Ottawa Field Battery from the cliff where the mint now stands. The guard of honor comprised the Light Infantry Militia and the Volunteer Artillery Corps.

    The following day, the Hill offered a spectacular scene. At the entrance stood a handsome Gothic arch. On each side of the roadway were platforms for children and other people who could not be accommodated within the amphitheatre built about the cornerstone. There was a Gothic canopy immediately in front of and over the stone and a dais with a full-length painting of the Queen.

    Punctually at 11 am., the Prince arrived. He spread mortar on the stone with a silver trowel and gave it three raps with a mallet.

    Dr. Adamson, Chaplain, read the prayer which ended: "And may God Almighty grant that the building thus begun in His name may be happily carried unto its complete termination without injury or accident; and that when completed it may be used lor the good of the province, the glory of our Queen, the happiness of our Prince, and the good government of the people, Amen."

    Lunch was served on the high ground commanding a view of the river and its surrounding scenery.

    One of the most interesting items of the day's entertainment was the descent of the timber slide at the Chaudiere Falls, on a square timber crib. The slide consisted of a total fall of 40 feet divided into four pitches or aprons of about 10 feet each. At the end of the slide, the Prince was so delighted that he expressed his regret that the chute was not at least a mile longer. Slides were used to get logs around waterfalls and rapids.

    In the evening, the Prince went by carriage to see the city decorations. A procession of members of what was known as the "Physiocarnivalogicalist Society." wearing bizarre costumes and carrying torchlights, joined in cheering of the Prince.

    On September 5, 1865, when the buildings were ready for occupancy, the Press Association of Canada, commonly known as the "Press Gang," visited the city of "backwoodsmen and lumber merchants" by special train from Prescott. The carriages and engine were gaily decorated with flags and evergreens. The press judged the new buildings "unrivalled on the continent in extent or architectural splendor,"

    The city had no water-works system and the Government decided to install its own system in the buildings. A six-horse-power steam engine pump drew water from the river into a 10,000-gallon reservoir placed in the tower so that water could be distributed to each office by gravity.

    The Parliament Building was ready for its first session June 8, 1866, which was, at the same time, the last session for the Province of United Canada. During the session, the Quebec Resolutions, which became the basis of the 1867 British North America Act, were adopted before being submitted to the British Parliament. Confederation of Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick formally took place July 1, 1867.

    Some of the most important debates which took place in the original Parliament Building (that is, up to 1916) were:

        Admission of Red River Colony (now Manitoba) to Confederation
        Admission of British Columbia to Confederation
        The Pacific Scandal
        Macdonald's National Policy
        Manitoba School Question
        Alberta and Saskatchewan enter Confederation
        Canada joins Britain in the First World War


    In 1904, the first lawn bowling green in Ottawa was laid out west of the Parliamentary Library.

    In the spring of that year, A.F. MacLaren, MP for North Perth, returning from a trip to Scotland, brought with him a case of bowls - eight pairs sufficient for two rinks. With permission of the Commons Speaker, R.F. Sutherland, the Parliamentary Lawn Bowling Club, consisting of two teams, was formed by some Members of Parliament and Senators. They played their games as a breather during the session. MacLaren was chosen president and the annual fee was one dollar.

    This initial venture led to the organization of the Ottawa Lawn Bowling Club. It provided the competition needed to lend added interest to the game. Merchants and pedestrians on Wellington Street were often startled by the cries of bowlers on the Hill.


    The three Hill buildings had been declared virtually fireproof because their basements and first floors were of concrete and their towers contained enormous water tanks.

    But at 8:57 pm. February 3, 1916, a fire started in the Parliament Building and within 24 hours it was wiped out.

    The fire broke out in the reading room and within an hour the entire building was blazing. Seven persons died in the conflagration. At the alarm, everyone got out safely but seven went back in for coats and papers. They became lost in the dense smoke. Despite the best efforts of Ottawa and Hull firemen and of half of the Montreal Brigade, rushed to the Capital by train, the fire could not be controlled.

    With flames all around it, the old tower clock struck the midnight gong and stopped forever at 12:30 am.

    Three days after the fire, a royal commission was appointed to enquire into its origin. It was said that a journal of Providence, R.I., had published, three weeks before the fire, an article that the Canadian Parliament Building would be destroyed by fire. The commissioners reported that some circumstances "lead to a strong suspicion of incendiarism, but there was nothing to prove that the fire had been maliciously set."

    While the new building was being erected, Parliament met in the Victoria Museum at the south end of Metcalfe Street. On February 26. 1920, the new Parliament Building was occupied by the Members of Parliament and Senators.


    At the time of Confederation, the government needed only two departmental buildings, the East and West Blocks. to house the civil service. They were built by Jones, Haycock and Clarke and occupied at the same time as the Parliament Building.

    Immediately after the laying of the cornerstone of the Parliament Building by the Prince of Wales, Miss Haycock, the daughter of one of the builders of the departmental buildings, laid the cornerstone of the East Block. The ceremony was more modest. She kept the silver trowel and level.

    The East Block, with its many towers and mansard roof broken by dormer windows and chimneys and capped by artistic wrought-iron crestings, is the only original building of 1865 which has not suffered fire damage. Its copper roof dates from 1918 and with time has turned blueish-green.

    Its main tower, at the southwest corner, is 150 feet high with lovely wrought-iron terminals. Above its doorway the Coat-of-Arms of the two provinces of United Canada is carved in the stone.

    On the western facade is what used to be the Governor-General's Entrance. a carriage-porch standing out 18 feet and built of cut freestone. Over the front arch is a pediment on which the Royal Arms are elaborately carved. This again issurmounted by a wrought-iron terminal. Since 1942, this entrance has been closed. At the northern end of the west wing is the Privy Council and Prime Minister's entrance.

    The entrance at the centre of the southern front was closed for security during the Second World War and has been opened only once since then: to permit the entry of President Eisenhower in July, 1958.

    On the east front or canal exposure is the Agricultural Tower. Over its doorway a sheaf of wheat is carved to represent the department of agriculture which was housed here in 1865. Later, this entrance was known as the Diplomatic Entrance because diplomats used to take the state landau from here to go to Rideau Hall for the presentation of their credentials to the Governor-General.

    When the government moved to Ottawa, in 1865, these departments were located in the East Block: Governor-General's Office; Council Chamber; Attorney-General; Militia and Defence; Receiver-General; and the Department of Agriculture. Today, it shelters the office of the Prime Minister and the Privy Council Chamber.


    The West Block has a southern frontage of 277 feet parallel to Wellington Street and an eastern facade of 220 feet.

    The main entrance is on Wellington Street. On the east face, opposite the Governor-Generals Entrance in the East Block, is a groined entrance porch supported on pillars with an archway in front. This portico has small arches for light in its north and south sides and, over the centre archway, a pedimented gable in which the Royal Arms are carved.

    The western face or the north wing is by far the finest front. This wing was added to the West Block in 1878 under the immediate direction of Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie. The extension has a magnificent 274-foot central tower. Mackenzie Tower. It stands as a monument to the honaty, industry and ability which raised Mackenzie from the position of a stone mason to be master of the destinies of the country.

    The top storeys of the West Block were damaged by fire February 11, 1897.

    On the site of the West Block, Col. John By had erected, about 1829, a substantial stone building as engineers' and officers' quarters and hospital. In early Bytown, this military hospital was open to civilian doctors for their patients whenever beds were available. In 1845, the Grey Nuns opened the first civilian hospital on St. Patrick Street. It is now the Ottawa General Hospital.

    Located in the West Block in the early days were the Postmaster-General, Public Works and the Crown Lands departments. Today it contains offices of Members of Parliament and of Parliamentary staff and the Confederation Room, used for some state occasions.


    In the rear of the Parliament Building is the Parliamentary Library, connected to it by a covered archway of solid masonry. With its flying buttresses crowned by pinnacles, it is the architectural design of Thomas Fuller, one of the two Parliament Building architects.

    Of polygon shape, the Library has at each of its sixteen angles buttresses carried up solid to a point above the top of the lean-to and serving as bases for the flying buttresses, which receive the thrust of the main vault.

    The general exterior view presents the form of an inverted cone. The roof is groined, with ribs of stone filled in by solid masonry, and supported by marble columns resting on corbels of the same material. The groin is 42 feet high and the springing line 40 feet above the floor. In the centre of the vaulted space is an opening 30 feet in diameter. Above the opening is a groined lantern 42 feet high and the top of it is 124 feet above the library floor.

    The library is open to Members of Parliament and Senators. Its circular form recalls the British Museum reading room. The principle of its polygonal shape is to have the librarian's desk in the centre so that the Librarian can easily see all reference books at a glance.

    The official opening was held February 28, 1876, before the desks and library furniture were installed. A fancy-dress ball was attended by some 1,500 people. Unfortunately, there is no longer room in the library for dancing.

    When the original Parliament Building was burned, in 1916, the library was saved by closing the heavy iron fire doors. During the summer of 1952, a fire started in the cupola but was controlled. However, the water caused considerable damage and the books had to be taken out and dried. The building was restored and fireproofed.

    It is still one of the showplaces of Canada. It holds on its shelves and in its vaults nearly half a million books, many of them priceless.


    There used to be two other fine buildings on the Hill: the government workshops, which were transformed into the Supreme Court building, and a greenhouse. The former stood at the extreme west end of the grounds and extended from the great gates at the southwest entrance of the Hill to the entrance of Lovers' Lane. These buildings of two storeys and an attic were constructed of Nepean sandstone.

    When the Supreme Court was created in 1876 it was housed in a suite of apartments formerly occupied by the Library of Parliament. In 1883 the Minister of Public Works. Sir Hector Langevin, shifted a disgruntled Court to the workshops where it remained until 1945 when it moved into its present building. Prime Minister R. B. Bennett hinted in 1938 that Sir Hector moved the Supreme Court into what was, in effect, a carpentry shop, because it had found against him in a case involving the clergy and elections.

    The workshops were converted into an art gallery briefly after the Court left and then demolished to make way for a parking lot.

    The greenhouse was for the more tender varieties of flowers and plants which ornamented the various parts of the grounds. In architectural design it corresponded with the general Gothic style of all the buildings. It was also demolished.

    From 1869, the buildings on the Hill were under the protection of the old Dominion Police Force, which was absorbed by the North West Mounted Police in 1920. The latter force, renamed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, did guard duty in the buildings until 1946, when Parliament established its own protective staff. The RCMP still patrols outside.


    On the river slope of the cliff, about halfway down, there used to be a popular path known as Lovers' Lane and which half-encircled Parliament Hill.

    Its source had no emotional beginning as its name suggests. The walk, a delightful winding way, was the offspring of the big spiked boots of the sturdy raftsmen who brought the cribs of squared timber safely down the tumult of the timber slides of the Chaudiere Falls. Once the cribs had been tied in Rafting Bay, at the west end of the cliff, the raftsmen used the path as a shortcut to their lodgings in Lower Town.

    During construction of the Parliament Building, a ventilating shaft was made with an opening below the north edge of the hill. The Minister of Public Works, William McDougald, went down to inspect the work and saw among the trees the path made by the raftsmen. He had the path widened and a cosy look-out built near the centre of the walk. Rustic benches and chairs were set out where one could recline in comfort and enjoy the cooling breeze from the distant hills.

    Gradually Lovers' Lane, with its pleasant shady nooks in the very midst of the city, became a great attraction for old and young, particularly lovers. During the summer sessions of Parliament, before air-conditioning, Members of Parliament often met along the walk to discuss important questions.

    A dark-coated Dominion policeman made a regular round at ten each night to all seats occupied by young lovers and, at each one, would say with apologetic voice: "Ten o'clock."

    With the shortening of the courting period of engaged couples during the First World War, Lovers' Lane lost its romance. During the depression of the 1930s, there was concern that hunger marchers might sleep there. The area became a hangout for what some people termed "undesirables" and the government closed the path.

    Remains of it may be seen today, such as sections of handrail. A new promenade, not as romantic as the first, has been built along the river edge from the foot of the Rideau Canal.

(Starting with Laurier at the southeast corner of the Hill and going counter-clockwise).


    Executed by J.-Emile Brunet
    Unveiled by the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) August 3, 1927.

    Laurier represented a Quebec constituency in Parliament during 48 years continuously, a record. Leader of the Liberal Party from 1887, he was Prime Minister of Canada from 1896 to 1911. His first cabinet was described as a "ministry of all talents."

    Laurier left a deep impress on the history of the country. He attended Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in London. where he delivered a brilliant speech in which he said that he was "British to the core." But he firmly resisted pressure to consider an imperial customs union.

    Canada achieved enduring national status under his guidance. British troops were withdrawn from Canada and the Canadian militia ceased to be under the command of an imperial general officer. The policy of a Canadian navy - a "tin pot navy," the opposition said - was adopted and Canada took charge of the defence of her own shores. Canada acquired the right to negotiate separate commercial treaties.

    Even his opponents recognized Laurier to be a very perfect gentleman.


    Executed by Raoul Hunter
    Unveiled by Governor-General Michener July 1, 1968.

    King was Prime Minister of Canada 1921-26; 1926-30: 1935-48. He holds the record for length of time in office.

    Lester B. Pearson, in paying tribute to King, described him as a "lonely soul - as all men on political summits must be." Three things stood out, he said: the manner in which this most unwarlike man led his country during the Second World War and in the transition from war to peace; his deep and lifelong concern for national unity; and his leadership in the growth of Canada from colony to sovereign state. King had the zeal of a reformer with the caution of a traditionalist.

    His statue, north of the East Block, is so placed that he appears to be watching who is using the Prime Minister's Entrance to the East Block.


    Executed by Louis-Philippe Hébert
    Unveiled by Mackenzie Bowell July 1, 1895.

    Macdonald, Conservative Prime Minister of Canada from 1867 to 1873 and 1878 to 1891, was the chief organizer and planner of Confederation, which he wanted to stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

    He continuously represented Kingston in Parliament from 1844 until his death in 1891. If the so-called Pacific Scandal caused his defeat in 1873, his National Policy of high protection brought him back to power in the three subsequent elections.

    Macdonald was unrivalled in the art of managing men. He successfully united in his cabinets individually opposed factions of Canadians: English and French, Roman Catholics and fiery Orangemen. The inclusion of British Columbia and the North West Territories in Confederation is due to his initiative, as well as the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

    In a few words, his statesmanship created Canada.


    In the early days of Bytown (Ottawa), clocks and watches were scarce, and it was dilficult to know the exact time of day. A sun-dial was installed on Barracks Hill by Col. John By, in 1827, lor the benefit of his officers and soldiers. It served its purpose until about 1872, when it was accidentally demolished during construction of the Library of Parliament. After almost half a century. a new sun-dial was placed on the exact site of the first one. A gift of Thomas Ritchie, who had seen the original sun-dial in his youth, it was unveiled by the Duke of Devonshire May 19.1921,

ROBERT BALDWIN (1804-1858)

    Executed by Walter S. Allward, erected in May. 1914.

    In 1842-43 and 1848-51, Baldwin and Latontaine formed a joint administration of United Canada, the latter being called "The Great Ministry." They were the architects of responsible government in Canada. In 1854. Baldwin approved the formation of the union of the Conservatives and the "Baldwin Liberals" in what came to be known as the Liberal-Conservative Party.

    Lafontaine, the leader of the French-Canadian Reformers, introduced the famous Rebellion Losses Bill of 1843. It demonstrated the triumph of responsible government, though indirectly causing the worst riot (Stony Monday) experienced in Bytown between the Tories and the Reformers.


    This bell was installed in the tower of the original Parliament Building in 1878 as a fire alarm. when the Centre Block was gutted by fire February 3, 1916, the bell plunged to the ground through the mass of flames. It now stands as a memento of the fire.

    The huge slab of stonewhich serves as a base comes from the local quarry from which the Parliament Building stone was extracted.

THOMAS D'ARCY McGEE (1825-1868)

    Executed by G. W. Hill, erected in 1922

    Implicated in the abortive Irish Rebellion of 1848, McGee, disguised as a priest, fled his country and escaped to America. In Canada. he loyally supported the imperial connection and became increasingly critical in Parliament of the Irish extremists. In 1866, he incurred the enmity of the Fenian Brotherhood by his denunciation of its activities.

    During St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Ottawa McGee made a very strong speech against violence and thus sparked a plot against his life. After a speech in the Commons April 6. 1868, he walked to his Sparks Street boarding house, the Toronto House, operated by Mrs. Trotter.

    As he reached the door, he removed the glove from his right hand, put his cane under his left arm, stooped and inserted his latchkey. At that moment, the assassin crept up behind him and fired from close range, scorching McGee's curly hair. Passing through his head, the bullet came out of his mouth. Death was instantaneous.

    Hearing the pistol shot, Mrs. Trotter looked out just in time to see the victim falling to the ground. She at once aroused the other boarders who hurried downstairs to find McGee's body with the cane still under the left arm and his white hat crushed but still on his head.

    The government offered a reward of $5,000 for information which would lead to the capture and conviction of the assassin. The City of Ottawa also offered an additional $2,000 and Mayor Friel added another $2,000 on his own account.

    James Patrick Whelan, a tailor employed by an Ottawa firm, was arrested on Sussex Street, tried and executed at the Ottawa jail and his remains buried in the yard.

    McGee's funeral in Montreal was the most imposing pageant of its kind ever witnessed in the country.

    Soon after the McGee statue was completed in Brussels, Belgium, German troops invaded the city in August, 1914. The statue was hidden underground and survived the war without scar. In 1919, it reached Ottawa where it was erected in December, 1922, without any ceremony.

GEORGE BROWN (1818-1880)

    Executed by G. W. Hill, unveiled in March, 1913.

    George Brown, the guiding spirit of the newspaper The Globe, of Toronto, advocated with success representation by population, commonly expressed as "Rep by Pop."

    He was the outstanding Reform leader in Canada West (Ontario), and represented the Reformers in the "Great Coalition" which brought about Confederation. Goldwin Smith described his editorship of The Globe as "a long reign of literary terror." Brown was shot to death by a discharged employee.

    Brown objected to the Queen's choice of Ottawa as the Capital but defended the construction of the Parliament Buildings. Some complained that the cost was extravagant but Brown wrote:

    "The buildings are magnificent: the style, the extent, the site, the workmanship. are all surprisingly fine. But they are just 500 years in advance of the time. It will cost half the revenue of the province to light them, to heat them, and to keep them clean. Such monstrous folly was never perpetrated in this world before. But as we are in for it, I do think the idea of stopping short of completion is out of the question. I go in for tower, rotunda, fountains and every conceivable embellishment. If we are to be laughed at for our folly, at least let us not be ridiculed for a half-finished pile. I go in for making it a superb folly that will bring visitors from all countries to see a work they can't see elsewhere. To say the truth, there is nothing in London, Paris or Washington approaching it."


    Executed by Louis-Philippe Hébert, unveiled in September, 1901.

    Liberal Prime Minister of Canada, 1873-78, Mackenzie was a man of great industry, strict integrity, and great religious principles. He changed the election system from public voting to secret ballot.

    The first telephones in Ottawa were installed in the Prime Minister's office and in the studio of the Governor-General, at Rideau Hall. A third was installed in the office of Mackenzie's secretary as a practice line.

    For the inaugural telephone ceremonies, the cabinet ministers were invited to hear the human voice coming out of a box. when everything was ready Mackenzie rang the telephone in his secretary's office and said: "William, say Our Lord's prayer." Nervously, William started the prayer. About the middle of it, Mackenzie stopped him, saying: "No, no, William, you've got it wrong. Repeat after me." And Mackenzie intoned the prayer with his secretary repeating every word. Mackenzie added: "Very well, William, and don't you forget it."


    Executed by Louis-Philippe Hébert
    Unveiled January 29, 1885, by Sir John A. Macdonald.

    Cartier was a Father of Confederation and his statue was the first erected on the Hill.

    Thousands of people who had witnessed the opening of Parliament assembled around the Cartier statue to express their veneration for this great statesman. The City Council, remembering the part played by Cartier in the choice of Ottawa as the Capital, attended in a body.

    The snowshoe clubs, Le Frontenac, Le Canadien, the Taché Hill Club, the St. Hubert Club. the Rifles Club. all in their colorful costumes, arrived in procession behind the Ste Anne's Band. They formed a line in front of the platform. When the Governor-General's Foot Guards arrived, there was at first some rivalry as to which group was entitled to the from position. The Guards tried to break through the line of snowshoers but the latter stubbornly resisted and succeeded in holding their ground.

    Sir John A. Macdonald described the role played by Cartier in the organization of Confederation and ended his moving speech with a couplet of a Canadian folk song which Cartier had sung so often:

        II y a longtemps que je t'aime
        Jamais je ne t'oublierai.


    Executed by Louis-Philippe Hébert
    Unveiled by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, September 20, 1901.

    Queen Victoria chose the Capital of Canada at the request of the Canadian Government, which could not agree on a site. She selected Ottawa in 1858.

    The unveiling of her statue was attended by thousands of spectators. At noon, the Duke and Duchess pulled the lanyard and the mantle fell from about the bronze representation of the Queen.

    Awarding of decorations to South African War heroes followed. The 40 decorated men paraded in khaki behind a pipe band. The Ottawa contingent had figured conspicuously and gallantly at Paardeberg, one of the most decisive battles of the war.

    The Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for military bravery, was presented to Sergeant Edward James Holland of Ottawa for action at Komati River November 7, 1900, with the First Canadian Mounted Rifle Battalion. The citation said: "Sergeant Holland did splendid work with his Colt gun, and kept the Boers off the two 12-pounders by its fire at close range. When he saw the enemy were too near for him to escape with the carriage, as the horse was blown, he calmly lifted the gun off and galloped away with it under his arm."

    The government had a dreadful time selecting a site for the Queen's statue.

    Finally, the Minister of Public Works, Israél Tarte, had a wooden dummy built to represent the statue and it was placed alternately at the several suggested Iocations. But none would do. At last, it was decided to try the mound at the northwest corner of the grounds. The dummy was set up there and everybody wondered why the minister had not thought of the place before.

    About thirty designs were submitted by British, French, Italian, American and Canadian sculptors. That of Philippe Hébert, the Canadian sculptor, then working in Paris, was unanimously chosen.

    A very fine white marble statue of Queen Victoria, the work of Marshall Wood, a British sculptor, is in the Parliamentary Library.


    Executed by Frances Loring
    Unveiled by Henry Borden, a nephew, January 8, 1957

    Borden was Prime Minister of Canada from 1911 to 1920. His greatest years were unquestionably the four years of the First World War; he inspired the Canadian war effort. He introduced military conscription which was opposed by farmers and organized labor. As a war measure, his government introduced a "temporary" personal income tax which still lingers. Borden is remembered for his outstanding contribution to the Imperial War Cabinet in London.

    He secured recognition for Canada as an independent sovereign nation at the 1919 Versailles Peace Conference.