National Geographic : 1947 Nov
Star Photographer John E. Fletcher The Senate's Robed Speaker Presides in His Chair The larger chairs are used once a year by the Governor General and his lady in opening Parliament (Plates IV-V). The incumbent is James H. King. As a Senator, he holds a seat for life. The Canadian Senate resembles the British House of Lords more closely than it does the United States Senate (p. 57 2). The new building, opened just after the first World War, is Gothic, of sheer and lean design, a huge oblong dominated by the gaunt, upthrust central mass of the Peace Tower (Plate XII). For miles around, this mighty fin ger of stone, with its fretted stone work, rich carving, gaping gargoyles, and pointed steeple, is seen rising high above the surrounding trees and the city sprawled at its base. On close in spection it always reveals some new feature, a carving, an arrangement of stone, a pattern of shadows which the observer has not noticed before. Years hence masons will still be carving new shapes of flowers, birds, and beasts into its swarming sides. Balancing the tower at the rear of the building is the curious circular Library which escaped the fire, its tangle of flying buttresses and carved pinnacles weathered with an age and mellowness which the new building has yet to acquire (Plate VIII). Cabinet Sits in East Block On the greensward to the east and west of the Central Block, as it is called, stand the original East and West Blocks. Each is a jumble of towers and steeples, as if the builders had started at one end and kept on going until they were tired, but the effect is as satisfactory as the well-balanced aus terity of the modern building-and perhaps a little more friendly. The old buildings have a French feeling in their mansard roofs; yet there is perfect harmony between them and the Central Block which is so reminiscent of Westminster. Inside the East and West Blocks there is a kind of Victorian grandeur, a 19th-century dinginess, but they are greatly loved for their memories. In them the Canadian Government has been carried on since the begin ning of the nation. In the East Block, amid stained glass and red plush, successive Cabi nets have made Canada's great de cisions of war and peace. Nearly every day at noon limousines draw up at the Prime Minister's entrance and the members of the Government hurry inside for the Cabinet meeting. Queen Victoria pushed the capital so far north that many of the ministers appear in caps and coats of fur.