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A Tale of Six Chandeliers

Kerry Barrow, Collection's Cataloguer, Curatorial Services

Chandelier

The Parliamentary Precinct is home to a vast number of objects and artefacts that have interesting and varied histories. Often however, with the passage of time misinformation gets attached to these objects and the truth is often obscured or even forgotten. Such was the case with the six magnificent chandeliers that hang from the ceiling and illuminate the large expanse of space that is The Confederation Room, (Room 200) in the West Block. The origins of these wonderful chandeliers had become vague and largely unknown. Curatorial Services therefore undertook to rectify this matter and using factually based research, the true origins of the chandeliers and how they came to be in the Canadian Parliament Buildings was revealed.

The chandeliers have been in place in The Confederation Room since the room's creation and official opening on April 15, 1964. At that time, the chandeliers were already over 100 years old. The chandeliers are in the style that is known as the Regency tent and date from 1840. They are attributed to the renowned glass firm of Henry G. Richardson & Sons Ltd. of Stourbridge, England, whose workmanship was of such quality it could not be reproduced in 1964, let alone today.

The history of the chandeliers can be traced back to the first half of the 19th century, to The Royal Assembly Rooms in Liverpool, England. The rooms, popular social gathering places of the time, were created in 1844 to play host to concerts and balls and were in existence until 1908. When exactly the rooms ceased to exist, is as yet unknown.

Chandeliers

Following the end of the First World War and with the onset of the Great Depression however, such places as assembly rooms fell out of fashion. Many of these spaces were closed and were often left derelict with their contents stripped and sold off at auction. The Royal Assembly Rooms probably met with such a fate and was subsequently demolished, as no trace of the building exists today. Circa 1930, the six chandeliers were purchased by a Mrs. M.E. Crick, the proprietress of a chandelier shop in London.

Sometime between 1930 and 1960, the chandeliers were repaired by the well-known and respected lighting firm of F & C Osler, of Birmingham, England, as by this time the frames were in very poor condition. It was from Mrs Crick's establishment in 1960 and at a cost of $75,000 that the Canadian government purchased the chandeliers, after an employee of the Department of Public Works spotted them. It was decided that they would be ideal for the new room that was being created in the West Block. Before being shipped to Canada, the chandeliers were rewired and adapted for Canadian voltage and over a six-week period were installed in the new room, in time for its grand opening.

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