Photostory #471A: Canada's Seat of Government: The Houses of Parliament
National Film Board of Canada
June 22, 1968
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
Sedate, dignified, proud and impressive, Canada's massive stone-built Houses of Parliament in Ottawa are a medley of historical facets, pageantry, contemporary government and eye-catching whimsical detail. From sparkling summertime scenes of red, green, gold and silver, when the Canadian Guards on parade, with brass bands and fife and drum, ceremonially march past with the ramrod-stiff Peace Tower taking the salute in the background, to the reverent stillness of the chamber containing the nation's Book of Remembrance, these buildings are a living symbol for all Canadians. Here are the commons and the senate, prim and churchlike when deserted between sessions, crackling with debate when at work, thundering in crisis, heavy with pomp during time-honored formalities. Here also, is the Parliamentary Library, so richly appointed and superbly panelled that human thought and study must surely touch upon the truths it seeks, and nearby, the reading room where silence rules amid the rustle of newspapers that come from the Avalon Peninsula to seaward of the Rockies and the distant northern wilderness of Yukon. Among these splendid features are others less obvious, but intriguing to the curious. Fossils imprinted eons ago in the quarried rock that forms the walls and stairways, strange gargoyles playing mandolins in cornices, creatures from other worlds snarling their rage at mythical enemies, cherubs and carved owls regarding all from vantage points atop fluted column and ornate doorway, the heads of kings and queens of bygone eras and many other treasured, perhaps half-forgotten, symbols and designs from ancient heraldry. The whole, from the new Centennial flame and the weathered wrought iron railings along the walls outside, to the public gallery and the speaker's chair in the actual chamber of government itself, up to the graceful maple leaf flag rippling confidently in the breeze high up on its staff on the Peace Tower's apex - these are Canada's fine and proud Houses of Parliament.