Commemorating the Dedication of Parliament’s Centre Block a century later

Article / July 27, 2017 / Project number: 17-0016

By Lynn Capuano, Army Public Affairs

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Ottawa, Ontario — On June 14, 2017, the heart of Canadian politics was solemnly rededicated to the Fathers of Confederation and to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces who fell or served in the First World War.

The central column of Parliament’s Centre Block rotunda was the focus of the event.

The Centre Block’s rotunda, also known as Confederation Hall, links the two homes of federal Parliamentary democracy in Canada – the House of Commons and the Senate. With its high vaulted ceiling, intricate carvings and emblazoned with the coats of arms of each province and territory, it welcomes visitors to the heart of Canadian politics.

At the centre of this circular room is a magnificent column. A mariner's compass and a swirling marble pattern, symbolizing waves, surround the base of the column to signify the importance of water in Canada's development.

In attendance at the rededication event were Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, parliamentarians and members of the public. The event was presided over by the Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker of the Senate and the Honourable Geoff Regan, Speaker of the House of Commons.

In 1917, as the Centre Block was nearing completion, Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden had performed the original dedication. He declared that the new building would symbolize “the splendid achievement of the past and the still more glorious hope of the future.”

In 2017, with the Parliament Buildings under restoration for future generations, that event was commemorated while also acknowledging the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

“One hundred years ago, even as the First World War continued to rage, our predecessors stood in this still-unfinished place and set in stone their hopes for a more peaceful future,” said Hon. Regan. “Here we are, a century later, to pay tribute to those who constructed this building, and in turn, to affirm our commitment to creating a better future.”

“The reconstruction of the new Centre Block, even in the face of war, is an illustration of Canada’s resilience. In all its richness, today’s Parliament building continues to honour not only the Fathers of Confederation who created this country, but also the men and women who fought for it on land, at sea and in the air,” said Hon. Furey.

He continued, “Within the heart of the Peace Tower lies the Memorial Chamber – a solemn reminder of the cost of freedom and an enduring commemoration to heroic Canadians who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. May we remember both the remarkable events that shaped our country and the extraordinary people whose contributions made them possible.”

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