Between Christmas and New Year's, when the city was in a bitterly cold spell, I wanted to get into Centre Block to head up the Peace Tower, and to photograph the Christmas decorations (which will be left for a post in December). On that particular day, when I checked in at the visitor center, I was told that because it was so cold, the elevator heading up the tower had been shut down as a precaution, and that my alternative for the decorations would be to take a tour of Centre Block. I've done this before- once when I had family visiting, and once just for the sake of the photoblog. Most of my visits here have been just for going up the tower. So I decided to go in. Approaching, I photographed the building. As it turned out, by the end of the tour, the elevator up the tower was running, so I got a chance to head up to the viewing platform, which is right beneath the clock faces.
Inside, visitors wait for their guide after going through the security screening. There are a series of panels and displays on the Canadian Parliamentarian process as a way to introduce the visitor to the tour. It includes this cap belonging to a Speaker of the Senate.
The guide arrived and took charge of the full group- quite a large number, as it turned out. Each guide tailors a tour in their own way, so it's different each time. Tours stop first in this large hall, where paintings of former Prime Ministers are on the walls. It's a familiar spot to Canadians- the doors heading into the House of Commons are found here, and when the House is in session, reporters are often in this hall to press the leaders with questions when the House adjourns for the day.
The architecture is exquisite. Centre Block is the second structure to stand here, being newer than the East and West Blocks. The original Centre Block was destroyed in the 1916 fire and rebuilt in the years afterwards, following the Gothic style of its predecessor in a new way. John A. Pearson and Jean Marchand, the architects, intended that the building would have spaces for carvers and other artists to add on features as the nation evolved.