Senate of Canada

Ottawa, Ontario | C.2013

Photo Credit: David Woolsey

Since the 19th century, the railways of Canada have been entwined in the country’s development – surprisingly not just through infrastructure. Not only were the railways integral in establishing the country’s signature Chateauesque architecture popular in its Canadian Railway hotels, but Ottawa’s former railway station has been the temporary seat of the Senate of Canada since 1966.

Ottawa’s Union Station was designed in the grand Beaux-Arts style architecture similar to that of the Metropolitan Museum of Art or Grand Central Station in New York City. Serving Ottawa’s rails for 54 years, Union Station was decommissioned following a decision to remove the tracks and build a new station more central to the city’s center.

After laying vacant, the building transformed into the Government Conference Centre, and hosted high-level government meetings. Historic moments occurred within its walls, including the Repatriation of the Constitution in 1981 – a meeting in which Canada transferred the country’s highest law, the British North America Act, from British Parliament to Canada’s federal and provincial legislature.

When the Centre Block-Canada’s main parliament building-started undergoing a massive restoration in 2013, Ottawa’s Union Station was selected to hold the Senate chamber in the former train station’s main concourse. Twenty-one Senate offices and three committee rooms transferred to their temporary location. Following a six-year rehabilitation of its own, the Senate of Canada Building continues to serve as an interim home for Canada’s Senate.

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