Tag Archives: Parliament

Library of Parliament – Parliament Block (Part 2)

So I briefly talked about the Library of Parliament in my Doors Open (Part 2) post, but Tuesday, I got to go on a private tour (it was just me and my coworker) getting more history and information on the library.

Services

The library provides a lot of services, primarily reference and news collation, but the research department also create internal reports, briefs, and publications for House and Senate members. More on their services can be found on their website.

Collections

As to be expected, a large portion of their collection are legislative and legal in nature for federal and provincial, as well as other commonwealth nations, particularly the UK. Obviously, there are also a lot of parlimentary documents including committee decision and evidence, and copies of MPs’ Questions and Answers. However, since they don’t have a lot of space, in terms of more contemporary reference material, they only have a specific range (E-L? I thought) with the rest in storage or at other locations (which apparently total 8).

Most of it was kept on the main library floor or in the basement using compact shelving. Most of it was pretty standard, but they had some neat shelving for microfilm.

You will also notice that some books have new binding and some old. We were told that that’s because they are focused on preserving content and not necessary the book itself, so if the book is brittle (especially if it was printed on pulp paper), they might even photocopy the pages and bind them into a new book.

Rare books are probably exception to this. The library has some really interesting pieces including old books about Canada printed in Europe in the 19th century, and early copies of exploration books. Their rare books has very restricted access though so we unfortunately didn’t get to see it.

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The Library

I previously mentioned that the library is the only surviving part of the original building, but on this tour, we got much more information on some of the smaller details. Due to remodelling, renovations, and whatever else over the years, the library was changed a few times. However, in most recent years, they have been trying to restore the library to the original look.

The railing was painted almost all black in the 50’s, but they now sport a bit more colour. The glass floors and on the tower-looking structures were also ‘put back in’ so to speak since in the 50’s they had made them all wood. Can you also imagine how bland the ceiling would look if it was all beige? Well in the 50’s it was, so they repainted it with the blues. The library also has square wood cuts along the walls, each of which is unique (100+). The reading room is an addition though, since the original reading room is now the largest party’s gathering room.

Additions were also made to make sure the building was following building codes and to help with overall maintenance/survival of the library and its books. So, brass windows were custom made for all 100+. Apparently in the past, the windows didn’t always keep out the rain especially during high winds, so they had to use tarps to keep the water off books! Some of them have evidence of water damage now. Ventilation and fire sprinklers were also added, but in an inconspicuous way so that they aren’t really noticeable (took me 2 minutes to spot a sprinkler even when it was pointed out to me).

The one thing that was removed was the card catalogue along with one wall of drawers in each area, which is a bit strange though since they left the side walls intact.

It was a great tour and if people get a chance, I would highly recommend it!

Doors Open Ottawa (Part 2)

So, to continue from last time. Here is the other half of the places I visited (in alphabetical order):

For the full list and a map with the actual order I visited places in, see Part 1, the previous post.

Embassy of Hungary

I think the Hungarian Embassy was the highlight of the weekend for me. It’s a smallish place as far as embassies go (is my impression anyway), but it had a great atmosphere and look that I really liked.

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The house part of the building was restored to the original look including all the wood paneling and ironwork. It was elegantly decorated. The study had a cool map of Austria-Hungary (from 1867 I think it was). The dining area had a small table set up with photographs of traditional Hungarian dishes. Best part was when one of the other visitors asked if the beautiful china was used for formal or special occasions. The response from the staff, “No, no, he uses it everyday.” I went early (just before it opened) so I got some pictures without anyone in them.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

Honestly, I only stopped here because it was on my way to Blackburn after the Hungarian Embassy. There was really not much to see. I was hoping to see their organ, but it was behind a wall. Oh well.

Government Conference Centre

Government Conference Centre

The Conference Centre was really nice to see, because it’s the old train station essentially. There was a presenter talking about the history of the station and how it was modeled on the (now no longer existing) NYC Pennsylvania station. We got free popcorn too! (Sorry, no pictures from me. They didn’t turn out well.)

Library of Parliament (Parliament & Sparks St.)

So the Parliament library inside the Parliament you can see if you got on a Centre block tour. The Sparks St. one, however, I believe is not normally open to the public.

Library of ParliamentLibrary of Parliament

(Apologies for the quality of the pictures, but with the sun coming through the windows, it wasn’t easy.) The statue of Queen Victoria stands tall more or less in the center of the circular room with walls of books. At intervals, there are large wooden towers with the coat of arms of the 7 provinces that existed in 1876. It’s the only part of the original parliament that wasn’t burnt down, so it’s quite special.

Library of Parliament at Sparks

I spent little time at the Sparks St. Parliament Library, but I took a couple of pictures. It’s housed in the old Bank of Nova Scotia done in the Beaux-Arts style, so it has a nice open atmosphere to it. It’s quite grand in a modern way, and rather impressive, though I found the one in Parliament more interesting.

Maplelawn Garden & Keg Manor

Maplelawn

Maplelawn was really nice. How often do you see a (what used to be private) acre garden in the city? It actually had a lot of flowers that I don’t remember seeing elsewhere (at least not in bloom). It was great to just get “out” of the city for a little while, especially out of the downtown/core area. One of the volunteers even cut a few flowers and gave it out to the ladies.

Keg ManorKeg Manor Entrance Hall

The Keg Manor is the house next to the garden where the original family lived. It was originally owned by the Thomson family, but is now called the Keg Manor since it houses the Keg Restaurant. It was nice to see the inside since even if you were to dine there, you don’t exactly get to wander around.

National Capital Commission

The National Capital Commission (NCC) is housed in a restored building. Apparently, it was so old and unmaintained that it was pretty much falling apart and unlivable. However, they didn’t have enough money to get it restored, so they made a deal with the management company that the company would get a fixed number of years ownership and would get all profits during that time before it was given back to the city.

NCC buildingInside NCC

The paint colours and everything were restored to the original based on shaving down the layers, historical documents, etc. The style of the building is a really interesting mix including Japanese tea rooms (seen in the railing). The offices that lease that part of the building are really allowed to do more or less what they would like as long as they restore it to the original when they leave.

7 Rideau Gate

7 Rideau Gate

This is where they house foreign dignitaries and it’s pretty much right next to Rideau Hall. In a way, it’s just another house, except that it’s furnished with rather varied cultural decorations and styles. They also have their own chef! Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed on the inside.

Rideau Hall

Rideau Hall

Rideau Hall is the Governor General’s house (and again you can’t take pictures inside, don’t know why). Heads of State and Royalty will stay here, so Queen Elizabeth II stayed in 2010 during her tour. The rooms were quite vast, obviously meant to hold large groups of people and for functions. The tent room was especially neat since it’s an indoor room but is made to looks like you are inside a colourful tent. The highlight of my visit though was seeing Glenn Gould’s piano.

St. Andrews Church

St Andrews ChurchSt Andrews Church Stainglass

This church was near C.D. Howe so I thought I’d take a few minutes to check it out. It turned out to have a really nice looking altar as well as some nice stainglass. (Excuse the poor quality shot of the stainglass, it’s hard without a SLR.)

Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts

Saint Brigid's Centre for the Arts

This church is probably one of the nicest I’ve seen in Canada. It has a grand but not overwhelming sense of presence to it (it’s hard to explain). The organ was impressive especially with the stainglass behind it, which would have made a very nicely framed picture if I had a camera that could have captured it properly in the kind of lighting I was working with. What I liked most though was the triple altar with its nice paintings. Of course, I have yet to visit the Notre-Dame in downtown.

Studio of Canadian Landscape Artist Gordon Harrison

No pictures. I just stopped by here since it was on my way to the bus stop. It was interesting though not art that I would purchase regardless of the rather high prices. On the up side, they had a bit of free food and wine! (though I opted for perrier since it was the middle of the afternoon.) The cottage itself was really small, but cute. The garden was made for lounging.

Supreme Court of Canada

Supreme Court of CanadaSupreme Court of CanadaSupreme Court Foyer

The Supreme Court of Canada was a really interesting place to visit, especially with the speakers who were there to talk about how everything works. It was educational learning about what kind of cases would be heard and that each side only has one hour to make their case unlike in lower court proceedings. The Federal Court of Canada is in the same building, and thought I could have guessed, I didn’t know that criminal cases are tried at the federal level, but only federal crimes, such as treason and terrorism.

Phew~ Finally, that was my Doors Open Ottawa 2011 experience!