Climb up the Peace Tower and Tour Parliament’s Central Block Before it Closes for 10 Years

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Photo Credit: Ottawa Tourism

Have you been inside Canada’s most famous building?

Was the Grade 6 trip to Ottawa, the last time you took a guided tour of the Central block of the Parliament? Whatever the answer, if you have not taken a guided trip to see the central block of Parliament, now is the time to go!

The Centre Block is the main building of the Canadian Parliamentary complex, containing the House of Commons, Senate chambers, members of parliament, Senators and senior administration for all the legislative houses. The Centre Block also houses several ceremonial spaces such as the Hall of Honor, the Confederation Hall and the memorial Chamber.

The present building in the Gothic Revival style is the second building iteration, unfortunately, the first building was destroyed by fire in 1916, what was left is the Library of Parliament.

The Centre Block is closing in January for Rehabilitation and renovation.

The Building is set to be closed for ten years as Public Services and Procurement Canada gears up to restore and upgrade the country’s most recognizable symbol of democracy. According to department, without the upcoming restoration, the structure would be at risk of “critical failure” by 2019 and “total failure” by 2025. All aspects of the building is going to be upgraded as well as the architectural layout, utilities and equipment. The project is meant to improve the technology and security to meet the modern codes and to ensure seismic reinforcement suitable for Canada’s active seismic zone. The heritage and historical character of the building is to be restored and respected during the renovation period.

Structural steel is rusting and at risk of losing its integrity. Major building systems, including life safety, are approaching failure. The 100 year-old embedded electrical and mechanical systems cannot be accessed or serviced in an occupied building and have been stretched beyond a useful lifecycle. Leaking roofs, walls, windows and plumbing are damaging historic interiors.

Mechanical failures (for example elevators) are affecting parliamentary business and tourist operations. The building does not meet current seismic construction standards. It is located in an active earthquake zone and is exhibiting signs of seismic damage (that is cracking in masonry), particularly in the Peace Tower… Public Services and Procurement Canada

Nearly $762 million has been set aside to date for the Centre Block project, including the cost next year to decommission the building and prepare for construction. The House of Commons will sit in the recently-reopened West Block. The Senate’s temporary chamber will be down the street, at the Government Conference Centre.

Read more here.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE JANUARY 25, 2019

  1. Get a bird’s eye view of the National Capital Region from the Peace Tower.
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    Credit: Govt of Canada

    Pay your respects at the Memorial Chamber, dedicated to the Canadians who died in conflicts around the world. The Memorial Chamber is located near the base of the Peace Tower. The Chamber houses a massive stone central altar surrounded by seven altars that are made of stone and bronze. Each altar holds a different Book of Remembrance displayed open in glass cases that contain the names of the more than 118,000 Canadians who fought and died in the service of Canada.

  3. Go on a guided tour to discover the history, functions and art of Canada’s Parliament.
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    Credit: Govt of Canada

    Enjoy the breathtaking architecture of Library of Parliament — its massive flying buttresses, ornamental ironwork and handcrafted details.

  5. See the magnificent example of High Gothic Revival architecture as you tour the Hall of Honour and various sculptures including a memorial to nursing in Canada that adorn the hall.
  6. Enjoy the sculptures that depict themes of art, history and philosophy at the House of Commons foyer.
  7. Explore House of Commons Chamber and Senate Chamber.
  8. Appreciate the exquisite details of originals portraits of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria.

If you are visiting during Christmas holidays, there are plenty to do in Ottawa.

Christmas in Ottawa

New Year’s Eve in Ottawa

January in Ottawa

HOW TO PLAN YOUR TOUR BEFORE CENTRAL BLOCK CLOSING

  • SAME DAY FREE tickets for guided tours (individuals and groups with fewer than 10 people) of Centre Block and the Peace Tower and Memorial Chamber are available on a first-come, first-served basis at 90 Wellington Street, across from Parliament Hill.
  • You need to line-up at 90 Wellington Street, across from Parliament Hill in the morning to get the tickets. Tickets are distributed starting at 9 a.m and runs out very quickly.
  • Groups of 10 people or more who wish to take a guided tour of Centre Block must reserve in advance.

Parliament is closed on Christmas Day (December 25), New Year’s Day (January 1)

GUIDED TOURS HOURS (Building hours and tour schedules are subject to change without notice due to parliamentary activity.) are available until January 25, 2019

PHONE 613-992-4793 (local), 1-866-599-4999 (toll-free) or email info@parl.gc.ca.

Weekdays — When Parliament is sitting:
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday | 9:00 am to 12:50 pm and 3:20 pm

Wednesday | 12:30 pm to 3:20 pm

Friday | 9:00 am to 9:50 am and 12:50 pm to 3:20 pm

When Parliament is not sitting (December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019):
Monday to Friday | 9:00 am to 3:20 pm

Weekends
Saturday and Sunday | 9:00 am to 4:20 pm

WHAT CAN YOU SEE FROM FEBRUARY

Parliament Hill will remain open.

The central block will however be closed for to visitors during the renovation. But House of Commons and Senate will be accessible with the house being moved to the west Block and Government Conference Center respectively.

You can book guided tours of the Senate at the Senate of Canada Building and the House of Commons at West Block from February. You can book them online now.

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