Ottawa – Senate of Canada Building

2 Rideau Street

The railway development in Canada is fascinating and another example is found in this admirable work of architecture. I would have liked to call this section Gare Union, but this is no longer the use of this building. It is now, but only temporarily, the Senate of Canada Building, and has been since 2019.

The official place of the Senate is in the east wing of the buildings of the parliamentary hill but is under major restoration. It is thus in the old station that one chooses to arrange there the offices and even the chamber. Its reception capacity and its proximity (2 Rideau Street) to Parliament and the city center were probably considered in the choice of location, despite the work needed to be done. The activities of the Senate are planned to sit there until 2029.

And if we go back a bit… the building was built from 1909 to 1912 and was inaugurated at the same time as the Château Laurier just opposite and was connected by a tunnel. Typical of the development of the time, large stations were strategically located to access major centers easily. This place was, for several years, the reception area for newcomers and visitors.

The station was originally called Grand Trunk Central Station, named after its initiator, to then take the name Union Station, very much in line with the profound objective of connecting all parts of Canada. The lettering of the station name as well as the exterior clock have disappeared from the facade, but its original style canopy gives it a noble style such as a large theater or a luxury hotel. It is clear, with its Beaux-Arts architectural style with imposing and classic forms, that this place was built with taste and wealth. Some compare its interior to that of Roman baths.

The last train left this station in 1966 and the conservation of this place is often associated with Constance Wright who raised her voice loud and clear against the demolition of the building. Fortunately, she was supported and heard.

One of the tracks used to run along the Rideau Canal but has now been dismantled and made way for a promenade.

Interestingly, at the same time as the creation of the Senate to ensure that each province is well represented in the country, another unification project was on the agenda, Bill S-1, the railway bill that had envision to reach out and connect the regions still on the agenda of the Senate.

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