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The calendar and the inkstand

David Monaghan, Curator, Curatorial Services


The Clerk's Table occupies a central place in the organization and working life of the House of Commons' Chamber. It is both functional and highly decorative. This combination of function and design is carried to two prominent items on the table: the calendar and the inkstand. While much of the Centre Block, including the furniture, was designed under the direction of architect John A. Pearson, these two pieces on the Clerk's Table were actually designed by the Chief Architect's Office at Public Works.

The calendar is shaped like a pyramid and is approximately 52 cm tall. It is made of wrought iron, brass, and walnut. The piece was made by Paul Beau in 1926, the noted ornamental iron artist, who crafted much of the wrought iron within the Centre Block. The design was inspired by the original calendar on the Clerk's Table that was destroyed in the fire of 1916. The wild grapevine motif on the base and corners is topped by traditional floral emblems and a crown. While ornate, it performs a important basic function by prominently displaying the date in the centre of the room.


The inkstand, designed by T. D. Rankin of the Chief Architect's Office, was also created by Paul Beau in 1926. The inkstand performed an important duty by providing the writing tools for the Clerks to perform their tasks. The stand contains highly ornate pen rests with acorns as well as a central well designed to hold ink. The central well has a domed cover topped by a crown finial. The brass sides are decorated with maple leaf designs engraved with the Arms of Canada. The inkstand is a little over 30 cm tall and rests on a square base of 39 cm.

These two pieces represent ties to our past and remind us of the considerable pride and effort that went into the reconstruction of the Centre Block after the fire of 1916.

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