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.


  1. It is wonderful that their sacrifice is remembered in this way.

  2. A special place and turning of pages to keep the memories alive of those who sacrificed their lives for their country.

  3. What a wonderful way to remember the fallen.

  4. É muito importante lembrar aqueles que deram a sua vida por uma causa.
    Um abraço e boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

  5. Hello William!
    It is very important to remember those who gave their lives for a cause.
    Like the decorative sculpting and the carvings.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures and all those interesting informations!
    Have a lovely day!

  6. Hello, the memorial is beautiful and a wonderful tribute to the fallen. Enjoy your day and week ahead!

  7. This is truly a wonderful service.
    And the carvings are so beautiful, too.

  8. What a wonderful and touching tradition.

  9. What a wonderful way to pay tribute William. Would be incredibly moving for relatives to be there when the relevant page was open. More incroyable details here.

  10. What a tradition. I'm wondering how much longer relatives will come for people from WW1.


  11. @Joan: I certainly think it is.

    @Nancy: that is quite true.

    @Bill: that it is.

    @Francisco: thanks!

    @Dimi: you're welcome.

    @Eileen: thank you!

    @Iris: it is an amazing room.

    @Anvilcloud: I definitely agree.

    @Tom: yes it is.

    @Grace: I imagine it was for that man.

    @Janis: well, there might still be nephews, nieces, children, grandchildren of those from that war, but it can be just as easily the immediate family member of someone who's died in recent service, as there's a book for that in here too.

  12. Very impressive. I think Canada does a wonderful job in commemorating those who served. Thank you for sharing. :-)

  13. Sobering to visit a memorial place, where the dead are honored who died in wars. Thanks for sharing this one.

  14. i would have to walk quickly through that hallway ...that makes me feel like i am in a totally too small of a place??! can i breathe? never had an issue with that as a kid ...why as an adult? nuts. great details. ( :

  15. I'm sure that families and relatives feel the significance of this remembrance ceremony. I'm sure few people know about it.

  16. Those first four photos remind me so much of the halls at The Cloisters in New York.

  17. @DJan: you're welcome.

    @Barbara: sobering does sum up this room.

    @Beth: I've never had issues with claustrophobia. The corridor is sufficient to get wheelchairs through without incident. I imagine the architects understood that there would be the occasional need for wheelchair access.

    @Red: once you know about it, it becomes something you want to see again. I imagine the books will make their way over to some space within West Block for the duration of the work.

    @Sharon: I can see that.

  18. Your photo of the ceremony brings tears. Wonderful to honor the fallen, to have that place to be

  19. If you have a relative who might be in that book of remembrance, how do you find out when that page would be visible?

  20. Impressive in several ways. Beautiful to see some moments of that special ceremony.

  21. @Maywyn: it is indeed.

    @Lady Fi: definitely.

    @Shammickite: indeed, there is a site accessible here:


    It takes a bit of looking about, but I found a test name among the lot and the date that his name shows up each year.

    @Catalyst: it really is that.

    @Jan: I counted myself lucky to see it again.

  22. Lovely photos of a very historical and beautiful place ~ ^_^

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  23. Love that they having the turning of the page and treat it with such reverence.

  24. Once again I wonder if we have anything as caring and touching as this ritual in the U.S.

  25. So special.
    I think the memorial is lovely and such a wonderful tribute to the fallen.

    All the best Jan

  26. I love the concept of the Memorial Chamber. It's a wonderful and very thoughtful idea. You Canadians do it right.

  27. Canadian pyramid and just as lasting!

  28. @Bill: that it is.

    @Carol: thanks!

    @Michelle: so do I.

    @Kay: I wonder if one of the museums might do it?

    @Italiafinlandia: It is. Apparently the ceremony will continue in interim quarters.

    @Marie: to me too.

    @Jan: it is.

    @Jennifer: I think so too.

    @Jeanie: I agree.

    @Cloudia: thanks!

    @Klara: that it is.