Wednesday, December 12, 2018

In Perpetual Memory

In the upper spaces of the Memorial Chamber, stained glass windows of commemoration give colour to the space inside.


Here we have another of the books of remembrance. Newfoundland and Labrador only came into the Canadian Confederation in 1949, and so for the two World Wars, most Newfoundlanders fought directly under British command, while some were seconded to Canadian units. Hence their names are inscribed in a book of their own. 


A close look at the pages says a lot. Common names as seen in the first two, John Joseph Carew, are accompanied by numbers designating them as separate soldiers (this would be typical of other common names, for instance John Smith). Both men were from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, both died on the same day- July 1st, 1916. That date can be seen on other names on these two pages. They fought and died at Beaumont-Hamel as part of the larger Battle of The Somme- a date in which the Newfoundlanders suffered horrendous losses in battle, nearly wiped out entirely in the space of a morning.


This is an inscribed passage in the wall nearby by Alfred Earle Birney titled On Going To The Wars.


More inscriptions can be found, including a passage from Psalm 139 that is very appropriate for such a place of military remembrance.


The chest beneath it contains the book for dead of the Second World War.


Nearby another case contains a book of remembrance for the Merchant Navy, sailors who risked life and limb bringing much needed equipment and supplies across the ocean to the battlefields of Europe, particularly in the Second World War. Many of them died at the hands of enemy submarines and surface ships.


The floor is inscribed with the names of a number of World War One battles where Canadians fought, bled, and died. Passchendaele, a particularly vicious and costly victory, is one of them.


Another case contains the names of those who have died in service over time from after the Korean War, either in combat, in peacekeeping duties, or by accident. The pages when I visited were open to names from 1991. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Turning Of The Pages

This is the view from the antechamber into the Memorial Chamber, which is in many ways the very heart of Centre Block, deliberately created by the architects as a memorial to Canadian war dead. Note that it is cordoned off. Each morning, a few minutes before eleven in the morning, the corridor is blocked for a few minutes. A ceremony is held inside- the turning of pages in each of the books of remembrance contained within. Those with family members in the books can view the ritual from inside- records give a date in the year when a given name will be displayed, and they can arrange ahead of time to be here. This explains the third person in the room, at the right, not in uniform. He would have been a family member. Otherwise members of the public can view things from out here, and then proceed inside after the cordon is removed. I have previously been here during a visit to the Tower at this time of day and have seen this before. It is a quiet but moving thing to see.


Parliament Hill has a police force for the interior of the buildings, and officers conduct the ceremony each morning starting at eleven, a nod to the hour that the First World War ended. The officers open the cases and turn pages so that a new set of names is displayed for the next twenty four hours. Hence at least once a year, each page is open to view. It is done very much in a military manner, including a salute.


Here we see decorative sculpting in the arch above the corridor, a nod to the various animals that in one way or another played some role in military service over the centuries. 


Inside, the walls are inscribed with names and dates of military campaigns, such as those in the 19th century.


One of the cases is designated for the War of 1812. Records of individual soldiers from that war are spotty, and so instead of a book this case features pages commemorating them as a whole.


The inscriptions on the wall carry on here.


This book of remembrance is for the South African War, as well as the Nile Expedition in the 1880s.


John McCrae's In Flanders Fields is inscribed on the wall behind it.


More of the exquisite carvings are higher up in the room.


And today I finish off with these inscribed battle and campaigns of the First World War where Canadians served along the Western Front. I will pick up from here tomorrow.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Ghosts Within The Fog

Here we have another of the panels up here on the observation deck. Seeing flags around was impossible on this day.


This view takes in the same grotesque I showed a glimpse of yesterday, pointing southwest. Each corner of the Peace Tower has one.


This view looks over the west section of Centre Block. The West Block is barely seen in the upper left.


And looming like a spectral presence to the north, I give you this view of the Library of Parliament. The Ottawa River and the Gatineau shore are hidden beyond it.


I photographed this nearby panel.


Then I looked up again.


It was certainly a bleak day to be up here, so many details of the surroundings completely lost in the fog.


I finished my visit with this panel about the clock faces, which lie directly above the observation platform.


Coming back down to the antechamber area, I paused, as a daily ceremony was about to take place within the Memorial Chamber. I captured details of the ceiling above.


 I photographed the four small stained glass windows in this space while I waited.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Architecture In The Mist

The formal part of the tour ends with the Senate, and the guide escorted the group to the entrance for the Peace Tower and Memorial Chamber. This area lies one floor up from Confederation Hall, the central point of Centre Block. You can see decorations for the holidays arranged among the pillars and arches below. The arches allow for good photo ops of the space.


Turning around, I photographed this view of the window, with frosted glass.


Carvings are found throughout the buildings, including this one near that window.


Carvings are on the walls flanking the short corridor leading from the balcony towards the Memorial Chamber.


An antechamber is found before one goes into the Memorial Chamber, which includes the elevator to go up the Peace Tower. The elevator takes the visitor to the observation deck. The Peace Tower rises to a height of 92.2 metres (302 feet 6 inches). It replaced the 55 metre Victoria Tower, which was destroyed in the 1916 fire. An observation deck is situated beneath the clocks facing each direction. As I pointed out in the first post of this series, it was a foggy day. All the more so when you looked out the windows. I've been up here on sunny days and overcast, but never in a fog like this. Each section of window has upper and lower views looking out- the lower being ideal for children or someone in a wheelchair. This is a lower view, typified by the angles of the stone at left and right. I'm looking over the east side of Centre Block here. The East Block is barely visible in the upper right.


A bit further along this side, I photographed to the northeast direction over Centre Block. The Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River meet somewhere in that fog beyond, but they were invisible.


Beside me was this panel, one of several up here. The Peace Tower includes a carillon, a percussion instrument played from a keyboard instrument. It includes 53 bronze bells arranged below the deck, and is played by a musician, often around the noon hour.


This view looked up from this spot.


I came around to the south windows. This was the view looking out over the great lawn, snow covered in the fog. The Centennial Flame is down there at the far end of the path, but lost in the mist.


For today I finish with this view of the southwest corner. One of the grotesques on the tower is glimpsed looking out. I have more from here tomorrow.