Parliament Hill, Ottawa

This expedition takes us to Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, the capital of Canada.

This story was created for the Google Expeditions project by ePublishing Partners, now available on Google Arts & Culture

First raising of Canadian Flag on Parliament Hill (1965-02-15) by Source: Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives CanadaCanadian Heritage

Our tour of Parliament Hill explores not only Gothic Revival architecture but also Canada itself: its geography, history, culture, and government.

Prime Minister’s Office

The Canadian Prime Minister has two offices. You’re looking at the office on the third floor in the six-story Centre Block of Parliament, the building that contains the House of Commons and Senate chambers. This oak-paneled room is octagon-shaped.

Prime Minister’s Desk

The Prime Minister’s desk in this panorama was replaced with another historic desk in 2015. The desk here was made around 1880, and was used by Prime Ministers Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Lester B. Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, and Stephen Harper.

Beatles Mug

This mug belonged to Stephen Harper, who was Prime Minister from 2006–2015. A huge fan of the Beatles, he famously performed the band’s song “With A Little Help From My Friends” on the piano at the National Arts Centre in 2009.

House of Commons

The House of Commons Chamber, at the west end of the Centre Block, seats 338 Members of Parliament. It’s decorated in green in the tradition of the British House of Commons. 

Ceiling of The House of Commons

The Chamber’s ceiling is made of softly coloured linen canvas, designed in 1920 and painted with symbols from Canadian, provincial, and territorial coats of arms in the stencilled diagonal bands. 

Stained Glass Windows

These 12 windows depict the floral emblems of Canada’s provinces and territories as they existed in 1967, and add bold colour to the dignified room. Below the windows, a series of sculptures explain the components of Canada’s Constitution using symbols.

Library of Parliament

 Let’s move on to the Library of Parliament, a showpiece of High Victorian, Gothic Revival architecture originally constructed in 1866. Its floor features a beautiful pattern of cherry, oak, and walnut. 

Library of Parliament

In 2006, the doors of the library re-opened following 4 years of conservation, rehabilitation, and upgrade. 

Young Queen Victoria

In the centre of the circular, domed room stands a white marble statue of the young Queen Victoria which was sculpted by Marshall Wood in 1871. Canadians celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday annually with a public holiday in May.

White Pine Paneling

Hundreds of flowers, masks, and mythical creatures are carved into the panelling of Canadian white pine. After water damage from a fire in 1952, the panelling was dismantled and sent to Montréal for cleaning and fireproofing, before being reinstalled. 


The Library serves Parliament using state-of-the-art information technologies, and houses a collection of more than 1 million items (books, periodicals, brochures and microforms), of which over 400,000 titles are catalogued in the integrated Library system. 

Peace Tower Observation Deck

At a height of nearly 98 metres, the Peace Tower is the dominant feature on Parliament Hill, and probably the most widely recognized symbol of Canada after its flag. It was dedicated in 1927, as a monument to Canada’s war dead.

Peace Tower Observation Deck

In 2012, the new polymer-based 20 dollar bill was introduced with an image of the Peace Tower in a clear plastic window, alongside an image of Queen Elizabeth II as well as the Vimy Ridge war memorial in France.

Observation Deck

The Peace Tower clock was given to Canada by the UK in 1927 to mark the 60th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. The original clock no longer works, but visitors can view the movement in the observation deck, reached by elevator.

South Corridor

The South Corridor, in the Centre Block, is lined with portraits of former Prime Ministers. The corridor links the Confederation Hall and the Commons Chamber. 

Prime Minister Trudeau

On the right, you’ll see an image of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. He was a Canadian politician who served as the 15th Prime Minister of Canada from 1968 to 1979, and again from 1980 to 1984. He died in 2000.

Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson

On the opposite wall is Lester B. Pearson. He served as the 14th Prime Minister of Canada from 1963 to 1968. He’s also the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize, which he won in 1957.

Office of the Leader Opposition

The leader of the Official Opposition gets an elaborate office on the fourth floor of the Centre Block, just above the Prime Minister's Office. It includes a fireplace and has detailed frescoes depicting soldiers in battle. 

Office of the Leader Opposition

 The office also has what may be the Centre Block's only secret door.

Secret Room

 Identical wooden panels decorate either side of the fireplace, but one actually sits on hidden hinges. Take a look at the panel on the left side of the fireplace. What you can’t see is that it’s actually a secret door. 

Confederation Hall

The Centre Block is arranged symmetrically around what you’re looking at: Confederation Hall, which is also called the Rotunda. It is an octagonal chamber, the perimeter of which is divided by columns of limestone.

Confederation Hall

It serves as the main entrance foyer to Centre Block, and like the rest of the building, is designed in the Gothic Revival style. 

Arcaded Arches

The arches around the perimeter of Confederate Hall form graceful arcades that lead to the House of Commons Chamber, the Senate Chamber, and the Library of Parliament. The ornamental gables between the arches have stone carvings that celebrate Canada’s provinces and territories. 


The central column is borne on a stone carved with an image of Neptune among sea lions and fish in a mythical sea. It was placed at noon on 2 July 1917 to mark the 50th anniversary of Confederation.

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