Parliament building tours are available during the renovation. But, just like your own house, Canada’s Parliament buildings need renovation every so often. The only difference is the price tag: $3 billion dollars.
That is a lot of money, but it is not just a matter of calling the local window company and get the folks in for a day. A lot of the work is very specialized work, specifically focusing on masonry restoration, asbestos removal, vehicle screening, parking, electrical and mechanical systems, and improved visitors’ facilities. So these are big time renos. But before the workers could started, a complicated game of musical chairs had to be performed. People and offices have to be moved to other buildings or example.
First the beautiful Parliamentary Library was restored and completed in 2006. The library, as many Canadians learn in school, was the only building left after the devastating fire in 1916 in the middle of the First World War. That fire destroyed the original Parliament buildings from 1866. What is now the Museum of Nature, was temporarily used as a place to house Parliament.
Parliament usually sits in the Centre Block. In order to house Parliament during the renovations, the West Block was first completely renovated. The historic former Ottawa central train station across from Chateau Laurier was also overhauled: the Senate moved in in early 2019. The Wellington building was extensively renovated for swing space for when the East Block and Centre block are being renovated. At the end of January 2019, Centre Block was closed to the public for 10 years.
But, we hear you asking, I was planning to visit the Centre block with my family. What do I do now? Well, for one, you can see the renovated spaces instead. Started on February 1, 2019 tours are offered at two new sites:
As you could read, those two buildings are renovated now and very impressive to visit (Note, Covid-19 may have changed this, so check in advance). There is also a new visitor centre and a new online booking system for individuals and groups. Please note that those wishing to tour both locations will have to book two distinct tickets as the Senate and House of Commons are located in two distinct building/locations down Wellington Street from one another. We suggest leaving approximately one hour between tours since visitors are required to pass through security at both locations.
The parliament ticket sale office used to be on Wellington St, across from the Peace Tower, but has moved to a new place between Centre and West Block. You can book your tickets here. Visitors are encouraged to reserve tickets in advance. A limited number of same day tickets may be available at each site on a first-come first-served basis. Remember the security is quite strict, so don’t bring backpacks etc.
While in Ottawa, you also want to see the other highlights in the capital, such as the beautiful Rideau Hall, the residence of Canada’s governor General, the Rideau Canal, a World Heritage site and unforgettable views from Quebec on Parliament Hill from across the river.
We offer several tours to cater to the many different customers we have. There’s a tulip tour, a foodies tour and even multi day tours. Check under our ‘tours’ tab at the top of the page.