Peace Tower Parliament Hill Ottawa Canada

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On my third attempt I enjoyed a visit to the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill during my solo trip to Ottawa Canada. My first attempt failed due to a scheduled protest on Parliament Hill in the afternoon. My second attempt I arrived too near closing time but I did receive some useful information from the staff, who told me to arrive 10 minutes or so before opening time at 9:00 am in order to have the best chance of being first in line.


UPDATE 2019: The Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovations throughout 2019. Instead you can tour the Senate of Canada Building, House of Commons, or East Block of Parliament Hill. Reserve your tickets here.


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Canada Parliament Hill Ottawa how to take a free tour plus see changing of the guard

 

Peace Tower Parliament Hill Ottawa Canada - Centre Block - free tours available

Peace Tower – Centre Block at Parliament Hill Ottawa

 

A tour of the Parliament Buildings does require a ticket, which is free for the asking on a first-come first-served basis. Tickets are distributed from the tourist information center at 90 Wellington West – directly across the street from Parliament Hill.

For more information check the Visitor Information section of the Parliament of Canada website.

Peace Tower Ottawa view of Gatineau Quebec and Library of Parliament of Canada - saved from fire of 1916 by heavy iron doors

Peace Tower view of Gatineau Quebec and Library of Parliament (right) – Ottawa Canada

 

The Gothic style Peace Tower, dedicated on July 1, 1927, replacing the Victoria Tower, completed in 1878 but destroyed in a fire in February 1916.

The fire destroyed Center Block of the Parliament Buildings except for the Library of Parliament. Heavy iron safety doors closed by a staff member saved the Library.

 

Memorial Chamber Ottawa Peace Tower - War Memorial dedicated to Canadians who died during military service

Peace Tower Ottawa Parliament Hill – Memorial Chamber

 

Peace Tower Memorial Chamber stained glass - Centre Block Parliament Hill Ottawa ON Canada

Stained glass at Memorial Chamber – Peace Tower Parliament Hill

 

What is the purpose of the Peace Tower?

The Peace Tower was created as a memorial to the men and women who died serving their country.

There are seven books of remembrance listing the names of every Canadian who died during military service to their country.

For more details of the Memorial Chamber visit the Parliament of Canada website.

 

Pink stained glass windows of Memorial Chamber at Peace Tower of Parliament buildings in Ottawa Ontario Canada - free tours available

 

Peace Tower Carillon and Bells

The bells of Peace Tower Carillon were cast at the Gillett and Johnston foundry in Croydon England. The Carillon consists of 53 bronze bells weighing in at 66 tonnes in total.

The bells cover 4 1/2 octaves and during July and August the carillon plays from 11 am to noon on weekdays.

From September to June the Peace Tower Carillon plays from noon to 12:15 pm on weekdays.

More information and photos of the Peace Tower Carillon are available at the Parliament of Canada website.

 

Peace Tower Ottawa ON Canada - carving of lion on west side of arch

Peace Tower arched entrance – lion carving completed 1937 – 1938

 

Peace Tower Ottawa ON - unicorn carving completed between 1937 - 1938 - designed by sculptor Cleophas Soucy

Peace Tower Parliament Hill Ottawa – unicorn on the east side of arched entrance

 

I arrived at 8:45 on a Saturday and first in line to visit the Peace Tower. It was  beautiful summer day in Ottawa. I chatted with the staff and other people in line while waiting for the 9:00 am opening time.

There is a security check point at the entrance and afterwards an elevator to the observation deck which is located just below the clock face of the Peace Tower.

 

Clock of the Peace Tower

The clock was modeled after the clock tower known as Big Ben at the British Parliament in London England.

 

Peace Tower clock Ottawa ON Canada Parliament Hill Centre Block - free tours available

Ottawa Parliament Hill Peace Tower ‘You are here’

 

The chime for the clock plays on 5 out of the 53 bells of the carillon. The largest bell, known as the bourbon, strikes the hour.

 

Peace Tower Parliament Hill Ottawa Canada - clock face viewed from observation deck - beautiful views of Ottawa and Gatineau

Peace Tower Parliament Hill Ottawa – observation deck below the clock face

 

I enjoyed wonderful views from the Peace Tower observation deck. I could even see the giant spider sculpture Maman in front of the National Gallery of Canada.

 

Take a free tour - Peace Tower Ottawa - great views from observation deck

View of Ottawa River from the observation deck of Peace Tower Parliament Hill

 

In 2014 I also enjoyed a bird’s-eye view of the construction site for the restoration of West Block Parliament Building. Although the scheduled completion date was in 2017 the actual occupancy date was in 2018.

 

Restoration of Parliament Buildings Ottawa ON Canada - West Block scheduled to reopen in 2017

Peace Tower Parliament Hill view West Block construction in 2014

 

The observation deck of the Peace Tower is off-limits during the Changing of the Guard ceremony on Parliament Hill so I took the elevator back down around 9:45 in order to view the Memorial Chamber.

Afterwards I attended the Changing of the Guard ceremony for the second time. Standing on the steps of the Peace Tower offered a better view than trying to see through the crowd of people. For the best view arrive early – the ceremony begins at 10:00 am during late June through late August.

 

Peace Tower Parliament Hill Ottawa ON Canada - carving of Mother Beaver designed by sculptor Cleophas Soucy

Mother Beaver sculpture at Peace Tower Parliament Hill

 

Changing of the Guard Ottawa Parliament Hill viewed from steps of Peace Tower - free tours available

Changing of the Guard Ottawa Parliament Hill

 

I visited the Peace Tower and Memorial Chamber at 9:00 am, followed by the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Parliament Hill at 10:00 am.

By 11 am I was wandering around ByWard Market then enjoying some brunch before visiting the National Gallery of Canada to view the contemporary art collection.

 

Canada Parliament Hill Ottawa how to take a free tour plus see changing of the guard

 


Peace Tower visitor info Parliament Hill Ottawa

Address

111 Wellington St

Phone Number

+1-(613)-992-4793

Hours

CLOSED for renovations in 2019

(Normal hours: Open daily: 9 am – 4:30 pm)

Admission Cost

Free; first-come, first-served basis. Tickets available at 90 Wellington St, across from Parliament Hill

Tours

Guided tours and self-guided options. More info available on tours of Parliament here.

How to Get There

Bus #1 or #7


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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling solo around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 5 of a solo road trip around the USA and Canada, living a nomadic life, and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

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