Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A Sacred Space Within The Tower

The Memorial Chamber is contained within the Peace Tower, directly over the main entrance. Stained glass windows and elaborately carved details loom over a series of books of remembrance paying tribute to those who died in military service for the country. Each morning, pages are turned in the books so that a page will be visible at least once a year. Inscriptions on the walls include theatres of operation and battles of specific wars or passages of scripture or literature.

The floor inside contains blocks marked with major World War One battles that involved Canadians, such as the Arras and Cambrai campaign that was part of the Hundred Days that ended the war.

The books of remembrance will be moved out to a new location for the duration of the project, and the ritual of page turning will continue to take place each day at 11 AM. This case contains the book for the dead of the South African War and other names of the latter 19th century.

Taken from nearby, this includes the South African War book on the right, and the War of 1812 commemoration on the left. While I was in here I chatted with one of the guides, who confirmed that work is being done to compile a formal book for the dead of the War of 1812- a problem given that many of the rank and file names simply were not kept in records upon their deaths.

This book contains names from Newfoundland and Labrador, as the province wasn't a province until 1949, and during the two World Wars, soldiers and sailors from there served separately from Canadian forces, often under British commanders. Hence their names are kept in this book.

The central book of the room contains the names of the dead of the First World War, and is held at the top of this elaborately carved centrepiece.

Here we have a view towards the book containing names of the dead from the Second World War. 

Looking up gives another perspective on some of the carving done in here. I'll carry on here in tomorrow's post.


  1. This is perhaps one of the most impressive and massive memorials of a country's service men and women I've ever seen. Stained-glass windows bring a special beauty to such an effort.

  2. Impressive. I´ve never heard of such books, I don´t know if we have this to honour the men who gave their lives. Beautiful glass, too.

  3. Very impressive what you can see there !

  4. The photos give the feeling that you were there all alone. Such solitude!


  5. There are books in the Melbourne shrine of rememberance but I don't know if they turn the pages every day.

    Sorry I have just discovered that my comments have been getting lost in ether for the past couple of days, that is why I may have been quiet on your blog.

  6. Great windows. I really like the last photo although it seems like natural light and not stained glass.

  7. I am not sure I like this constant reminder of wars past. It seems to lead some people, especially politicians to glorify and romanticize it, and they seem to have no hesitation about launching us into another conflict. There has never been a minute free from war in my entire lifetime and I am sure we will continue to build monuments to yet another conflict - ad Infinitum and ad nauseam too. Enough already!

  8. ...let's hope that they don't need to expand for additional wars.

  9. gorgeous glow from that pinkish glow ... love the stain glass windows. such a peaceful place. ( ;

  10. @Lowell: I agree.

    @Iris: the initial idea was to carve the names of the Great War dead into the walls. The architects quickly realized there would be too many names for the walls. Hence the books.

    @Gattina: it is indeed.

    @Francisco: thank you.

    @Janis: yes, it was just me and two guides.

    @Joan: it wouldn't surprise me if they did. I've seen a number of people who have noted they've been having comment issues either at their blog or at others.

    @Anvilcloud: in this case, that window is not exposed to exterior light.

    @David: I think in the Canadian style of memorials, the emphasis is not on glorification, but on mourning.

    @Tom: that is quite true.

    @Beth: it is peaceful.

    @Marie: definitely!

  11. The stained glass windows are beautiful and the rest is just very impressive.

  12. Those stained glass windows are beautiful. Going back and listing the war dead so long ago seems like it will be difficult.

  13. I just love the stained glass windows.

    All the best Jan

  14. Beautiful windows William. I love the idea of the Memorial Chamber, good to know those names are recorded there forever ✨

  15. Hello William!
    Very impressive! I like the Stained glass windows and i like especially the last photo!
    Have a lovely day!

  16. There is a huge job ahead to move all of these precious things to new places.

  17. It's a beautiful memorial, and I hope all the stonework will be preserved with the renovations. Somehow I imagine it will.

  18. Wow. Whenever I hear the word "renovations" in a place like this, I worry that some of the beauty will be sorely damaged. I hope they take good care. And I am grateful they are continuing with the ritual of the memorial book and page turning. I hope they have it in a public location somewhere.

  19. We seldom think about all the different conflicts we have been in. this will remind us of sacrifices made.

  20. The carvings are stunning.
    I don't know of a place nearby that has such presence.

  21. I bet there were hushed tones in this area.

  22. @Whisk: so do I.

    @Jan: I agree.

    @DJan: back during the War of 1812 the thinking often might have been that the enlisted man, who did most of the fighting and dying, was only good for that and not actually remembering, hence the lack of records.

    @Jan: I always go for stained glass.

    @Grace: it was a fitting tribute by the architects.

    @Dimi: thank you.

    @Michelle: it is.

    @RedPat: it'll be quite a task.

    @Barbara: considering what's already been done with other areas of the Parliamentary precinct, I would think that taking great care to get it right is going to be the priority.

    @Jeanie: they've got good people doing the work. As I understand it the books will be placed in the visitor centre.

    @Red: we've been in a lot.

    @Maywyn: this does have presence.

    @Sharon: it does awe you into quiet.

    @Nancy: that it is.

  23. Lovely photos and lovely 'page turning tradition' ~ ^_^

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

  24. A glorious memorial and it would be very moving to see those pages. Loved these photos, truly a magnificent place.

  25. The windows are beautiful. My favorite is the last photo, I like it a lot.

  26. This is such a beautiful memorial William! Love the windows... especially in the last picture!

  27. Beautiful and what a wonderful memorial.

  28. Absolutely magnificent! Yes, I Tweeted.

  29. @Carol: thanks!

    @Denise: thank you.

    @Bill: it is a grand space.

    @Tanya: I figured people would go for that one.

    @Happyone: it is a magnificent part of the building.

    @Mari: thanks!

  30. What a beautiful spot. Doesn't it say a lot about class and privilege that rank and file names weren't kept?

  31. A beautiful and very majestic structure, William.

  32. If I was in charge, I would order that stand moved a bit, off the Arras and Cambrai block. Show some respect!

  33. I think you are right about Harper.

  34. Pictures of stained glass windows are wonderful.

  35. I'm impress with your present prime minster. I know I will get some thumbs up and thumbs down.
    Coffee is on

  36. It would be an honor to tour this building. Your pictures and words really do feel almost as if I have taken a guided one.

  37. @Kay: true.

    @Beatrice: that it is.

    @Catalyst: I didn't notice it until after I'd posted the shots.

    @Marie: I expect so.

    @Klara: they are!

    @Dora: he's done well enough for me. We have an election coming up this year, but the alternatives are a social conservative Howdy Doody, and a left of center party leader who's taken his bloody time vying for a seat in Parliament.

    @Sallie: it's quite a building.