Virtual Tour of Centre Block
Embark on the Senate’s Virtual Tour of Centre Block, a digital exploration of the striking art and architecture of this iconic building on Parliament Hill! This immersive, 360-degree experience lets you wander the halls of the Senate’s permanent home from the comfort of your house or classroom and explore the 100-year-old building as it was before it closed for rehabilitation. The history of Canada is written on Centre Block’s walls, hidden in its sculptural details and embedded in the artwork – just click on your surroundings to learn more about them!
Build your own adventure!
For the civics classroom
Visit the Senate Chamber, learn about the legislative process and explore the ceremonial objects that play an important role in our parliamentary traditions.
For the architecture aficionado
Take advantage of your 360-degree viewpoint and look up and around at all the monumental Gothic Revival spaces that marry our country’s past and modern Parliament.
For the entire family
Keep the kids entertained with fun and educational activities, including a treasure hunt!
1. A French Explorer
Sometimes called the Father of New France, this explorer sailed to New France in 1603 and, in 1608, constructed a fort in what is now Québec City. Can you find his bust?
Hint 1: It’s in a room off the main hall.
Hint 2: It’s near a fireplace.
The bust of Samuel de Champlain is in the Salon de la Francophonie, a committee room off the main hallway at the beginning of the virtual tour.
2. A French King
Known as the Sun King, this French king ascended the throne at the age of five and occupied it for 72 years. He ruled from his lavish Palace of Versailles. Can you find his portrait?
Hint 1: His portrait can be found between two windows.
Hint 2: He’s surrounded by some of his relatives.
The portrait of Louis XIV is in the Salon de la Francophonie, a committee room off the main hallway at the beginning of the virtual tour.
3. Depictions of Queen Elizabeth II
Having ascended to the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II is Canada’s longest reigning monarch and head of state. There are several depictions of The Queen in the Senate foyer. How many are there?
Hint 1: There’s more than two.
Hint 2: She looks a little different in each one.
There are three depictions of Queen Elizabeth in the Senate foyer: a painted portrait of her as a young woman on the wall, a sculpture portrait of her face carved into one of the pillars near the Senate Chamber entrance, and the Jubilee window above the door.
4. Senate Foyer Typo
Oops! Somewhere in the Senate foyer is a typo. Test your French and find the misspelled word.
Hint 1: Look up!
Hint 2: It can be found near symbols of the European cultures and the names of past Senate Speakers.
The word “Quelq’un” is misspelled on the Senate foyer ceiling. It should be spelled “Quelqu’un”.
5. A King Who Abdicated
Have you been binge-watching The Crown on Netflix? If so, you’ve likely heard of this King, who chose to abdicate. His modern outlook and good looks had made him one of the world’s most photographed celebrities in the early 1930s. Find his portrait.
Hint 1: He can be found very close to his younger brother, King George VI.
Hint 2: His portrait is unlike those of his brother and niece.
The portrait of King Edward VIII (later known as the Duke of Windsor) is located opposite the Senate Chamber doors in the Senate foyer.
6. Fancy Wrought Iron Tools in the Speaker’s Office
These fancy wrought iron tools were created by iron master Paul Beau during the reconstruction of Centre Block. He was hired to head up the iron workshop on Parliament Hill, and produced a stunning array of iron fixtures, including ornamental door hinges, railings, balconies, and these tools in the Speaker’s Office. Can you find where they are in the Office?
Hint 1: Think, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”
Hint 2: You must take one of the only carpeted hallways.
The tools are located next to the fireplace in the Speaker’s Office.
7. Portrait of King George V’s Consort
King George V wishes all his subjects Season’s Greetings! The Senate foyer celebrates the important role of Canada’s constitutional monarchy. As such, it houses portraits and sculptures of Canada’s monarchs since 1760. This also includes portraits of some of their consorts, or spouses. Find the portrait of King George V’s wife!
Hint 1: You’ll have to take the stairs.
Hint 2: Her portrait is near his!
The portrait of Queen Mary of Teck is located on the second floor, above the Senate foyer with the other consort portraits.
8. A Territorial Shield
Test your knowledge of Canadian history! Which territory was the last to join Confederation? Find its territorial shield near the Senate Chamber.
Hint 1: It’s a different shape than all the others!
Hint 2: It can be found on a door.
The last territory to join Confederation was Nunavut (1999). The shield is the round one on the bottom of the Senate Chamber door.
9. Animal Carvings
A muskox, a ram, a bison and a moose, oh my! Each suggests a region of the country: the muskox for the Arctic, the bison for the Prairies, the ram for the Great-Lakes-St.-Lawrence basin, and the moose for the Canadian Shield. Can you find these carvings?
Hint 1: They look as if they are supporting the oak roof with their sheer bulk.
Hint 2: Look up!
The four animal carvings are in the Senate Antechamber (just outside of the Chamber) in the corners near the ceiling.
10. Canada’s First Female Senator
In 1930, this woman was appointed to the Senate. She was the first woman to become a senator in Canada, after the famous “Persons Case” in 1929 recognized women as “persons.” There is a bust of her somewhere in the Senate. Can you find it?
Hint 1: It’s not the same colour as the other busts in that room.
Hint 2: There are two other busts in the same room.
The bust of Cairine Wilson, the first female senator, is in the Senate Antechamber, on the left side of the room.
11. A First Nation Senator
In 1958, this man became the first member of a First Nation to become a Canadian senator. He worked hard to support First Nations’ causes as a senator. Find his bust somewhere in the Senate.
Hint 1: It is near the bust of Canada’s first female senator.
Hint 2: It can be found near the Senate Chamber.
The bust of James Gladstone, the first First Nation senator, is in the Senate Antechamber, right beside the entrance to the Senate Chamber.
Do you know the difference between a grotesque and a gargoyle? A gargoyle is a waterspout, while grotesques are just decorative! There are four grotesques perched in the Senate, watching over everyone who enters and exits. Can you find them?
Hint 1: They’re perched high above an important entrance.
Hint 2: They’re carved out of wood.
The four grotesques are located above the entrance doors to the Senate Chamber, two on the outside and two on the inside.
13. Ottawa Senators Logo
In 1927, the Ottawa Senators beat the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup. Legend has it that, in a burst of home-team pride, one of the artisans carved the team’s logo in the Senate Chamber. Can you find it?
Hint 1: It’s REALLY small, so look closely!
Hint 2: It’s located near something that gives you the time.
The Ottawa Senators logo is carved into the wood below the clock above the entrance to the Senate Chamber.
14. A Marble Bust of Queen Victoria
Although she never visited the country she helped create, a marble bust of Queen Victoria, who was affectionately referred to as the Mother of Confederation, is in the Senate Chamber. Can you find it?
Hint 1: She watches senators as they debate.
Hint 2: She’s centre stage.
The bust of Queen Victoria is located at the front of the Senate Chamber, above the thrones and Speaker’s Chair (the three chairs).
15. A Welsh Dragon
Can you spot the Welsh Dragon among other national icons of the European cultures that shaped the young nation of Canada?
Hint 1: It’s framed by hand-painted gold leaf.
Hint 2: It’s located up high near a French fleur-de-lis, three gold lions on a red background symbolizing England, an Irish harp, and a red lion on gold symbolizing Scotland.
The Welsh dragon is located on the Senate Chamber ceiling.
About the virtual tour
Find out how the Senate collaborated with Carleton University’s Immersive Media Studio to build the Senate’s Virtual Tour of Centre Block.
See how the Virtual Tour of Centre Block was expanded to include special rooms in the building that are normally off-limits to the public.
Now that you’ve explored the Senate’s permanent home, get to know its temporary home. Take the Senate of Canada Building Virtual Tour!