Visit the Senate of Canada building
IMPORTANT NOTE REGARDING PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURES
Please note that visitors will need to wear a mask while inside the Senate of Canada Building. Physical distancing measures are in place; groups may sit together but should maintain a distance of at least one metre, or one empty chair, from other groups.
Anyone with symptoms should not enter the building; visitors may also be required to answer screening questions.
Welcome to the
Senate of Canada Building!
Curious about the Senate’s role in Parliament? Attracted by architecture? Tempted by time travel? Then come and explore the temporary home of the Red Chamber! Gaze up at the historic vaulted ceiling of the grand foyer, or marvel at the modern artworks that transform walls into expansive landscapes. Then sit on a century-old train bench and be transported to the Age of Steam in what was once among Canada’s marquee train stations. There’s something for everyone at the Senate of Canada Building.
Plan your visit
The Library of Parliament offers free guided tours of the Senate of Canada Building and other parts of Parliament Hill. Friendly, knowledgeable guides can hold you spellbound in English and French.
Take the O-Train Line 1 to Rideau Station. Take the Rideau Centre exit and walk through the mall to the doors at Rideau Street and Colonel By Drive. Cross Colonel By Drive to get to the Senate of Canada. Several bus routes also serve this area; please check the OC Transpo website for the most up-to-date information. Coming from Gatineau? Visit the Société de transport de l’Outaouais to find out how best to get to downtown Ottawa.
Free and secure lockers are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is also a space to hang coats and leave strollers so you can explore in comfort.
The Senate is equipped with accessible washrooms. Washrooms are also outfitted with baby-changing stations so even the newest members of your family won’t miss out.
Bottle-filling stations and drinking fountains are available to quench your thirst and cut down on plastic.
What to expect when you arrive
The Senate of Canada belongs to all Canadians. It’s also a busy workspace for senators, other dignitaries and parliamentary staff. As such, you can expect to pass through a brief security screening on your way in and some parts of the building may be off limits. But don’t worry! Courteous staff and helpful signage are there to make your visit smooth and memorable.
A parliamentary guide kiosk stands outside the Senate of Canada Building. Staff can assist with tours, directions and information.
Friendly and professional Parliamentary Protective Service officers are posted throughout the building. They are pleased to assist you during your visit. (Photo credit: Parliamentary Protective Service)
An information desk staffed by parliamentary guides is in the Senate foyer. That’s where you’ll meet your guide if you’re taking a tour.
All visitors must go through security screening. This short video will let you know what to expect.
So much to see and do
Welcome! Now that you’re inside, here are some of things you can do to make your visit a success.
While waiting for your guided tour, you can choose your own adventure. Artworks, temporary exhibits and other interesting features are labelled to explain their significance. For even more information — as well as photos and videos — grab your phone and go to SenCAplus, the Senate’s digital magazine.
If the Senate is sitting, you can watch senators in action from the fully accessible public galleries. You will be required to go through a short secondary screening to enter the galleries. Once inside, simultaneous interpretation in English and French is available in audio and visual formats.
Public galleries in Senate Chamber
At this time, the public has access to the gallery spaces during the time the Senate is sitting; visitors are admitted one hour before the sitting begins. Visitors are required to go through an electronic inspection station and will be asked to leave certain items with the attendant before entering the galleries (e.g. phones, cameras, overcoats, briefcases, papers). Under the normal sitting schedule, visitors are allowed into the galleries:
Tuesdays, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesdays, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursdays, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
This information is subject to change. Visit the Senate’s Calendars & Events page for up-to-date information on Senate sitting times.
Brochures and booklets
Take some souvenirs home to help you remember what you’ve seen and heard. A suite of brochures is available free of charge. Learn about how senators are strong and principled voices in our parliamentary democracy, find out how a bill becomes law or delve into the history of the Senate of Canada Building. For kids, there’s an activity book and a lovingly illustrated fable of how the Senate came to be.
From a commanding view of the Senate foyer to the original doors of Centre Block’s Senate antechamber, the Senate of Canada Building’s stunning features make for compelling photos. Show off your photography skills and everything you’ve experienced, then tag #SenCA on your social media so the whole world can see! Should you attend a Senate sitting in the public galleries, please note that photography is not permitted in the Senate Chamber during debates.
Can’t make it to Ottawa in person? Visit the Senate of Canada Building from the comfort of home with a virtual tour. Then check out the virtual tour of Centre Block, the Senate’s permanent home, while Centre Block is being rehabilitated.
Read up on the history of what was once Ottawa’s central train station. Narrowly saved from the wrecking ball, it also spent decades as a conference centre before it was restored and renewed as the Senate’s temporary home. (Photo credit: Library and Archives Canada)