Centre Block sees about 355,000 visitors each year but with construction set to begin in 2019, forcing the building to close for at least 10 or as many as 20 years, the heart of Parliament Hill is turning Ottawans into tourists in their own town. Caught up in the nostalgia, a few Apartment 613 contributors visited the national landmark in December to say farewell. They share their thoughts and photos below.
Dave Weatherall (@davyjo)
I was already feeling nostalgic before I read Jack Layton’s name engraved onto one of the gold Parliament plaques at the beginning of the tour of Centre Block. I was his photographer and regional media officer from 2005-08 and spent a fair amount of time around parliament, and I will never forget how much respect he had for the home of Canadian democracy.
Walking through the halls again, it struck me how easy it is to gain entry to the place. I love that the business of running the country should be so open to the public. It’s a true working museum: well worn and in need of more than a facelift-but it’s served Canadians well for 151 years and I’m hopeful it’ll continue to long into the future once it reopens.
John Arano (@john.arano)
For a place that has boring government and legislative stuff happening inside, the Parliament building itself is nothing short of an awe inspiring piece of historic art. I couldn’t stop admiring the architecture of the halls, ceilings, art pieces, and all the subtle nuances in each area of the centre block. Places like the library are worth seeing. Just seeing the design of the room and realizing it’s the one of the only places to survive the fire in 1916 makes for a really cool experience. It’s going to be closed for at least 10 years for renovations, so if you haven’t been before and are thinking about taking a tour of Centre Block, DO IT NOW.
Hannah Manning (@hannahkgm)
I moved to Ottawa ten years ago to work as a Page in the House of Commons so some of my earliest Ottawa memories are in Centre Block. Even after all this time, I still find Parliament to be a wonderful, magical place, especially when it is decorated for the holidays. It’s going to take time to adjust to seeing Centre Block covered up and I am so glad I went on one last tour before it closes. It was really neat chatting with the tour guides and hearing from them that lots of locals have been coming for tours before it all closes down. If you haven’t been lately, I strongly encourage you to go!
Lenny Wu (@wildworks)
The sculpture of Wilfred Laurier looked impressive and almost real in appearance. It’s like the small hidden details you never expect at Parliament Hill’s Centre Block. It’s almost finding an Easter egg in the building.
Sarah Zaman (@sarahzman)
These photos remind me of why I always enjoy visiting Parliament, despite having been several times. I can’t get over the lines, shapes and (not quite) symmetrical details. I feel like I notice something new with each visit.
Ross Brown (@rossbrownfoot)
Centre Block of Parliament Hill is one of the jewels of Ottawa. It’s hard to believe that this architectural wonder will be closed for the next decade but I look forward to revisiting it when it opens. Though I have been through its halls many times, this was the first time I’ve made it inside the library. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
Philippe Ha (@chowmein.champagne)
I had only ever been up the Peace Tower, so visiting the majestic library was a total shock — no photo can do it justice, really. One element I’ll never forget are the eight paintings inside the Senate chamber. It’s a shame we don’t get to see them on TV; they’re enormous depictions of the First World War.
Guided tours of Centre Block are free and will continue until January 25, 2019. Tours last from 20 to 50 minutes, depending on parliamentary activity. Routes and schedules may vary and are subject to change.