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Woodwork and Sculpture

House of Commons Chamber

The finish of the lower portion of the Chamber is of stained white oak. The carpentry work executed by George Roberts of Montreal was installed in 1920 and included the wall panelling, tracery screens, and teak floor for the main aisle of the Chamber. All of the woodcarving displays the artistic skill of Elzéar Soucy, a sculptor from Montreal.

The Tudor-style wainscoting consists of tiers of plain moulded panels. The panels of the galleries are enhanced, in the lower part, by a billet moulding and a frieze. Painted to imitate wood, the compo plaster frieze is freely modelled with a grapevine scrolled stem incorporating a menagerie of animals. The plaster artwork was executed by sculptor Walter J. Allen, superintendent of the modelling and carving shop during the building's construction.

Sculpted finial

Posts crowned with sculpted finials, also called poppy heads, divide the galleries. Admirable for their spirit of execution, the imps, squirrels and gryphons were carved by Elzéar Soucy. In addition, two owls wearing wigs and holding shields are perched high at the level of the Press Gallery, dominating the entire scene. Delicate fan tracery and carved reliefs ornamented with heraldic motifs embellish the galleries supports. The oak glazed doors, opening onto the antechamber and lobbies, feature linenfold patterns, carved spandrels and tracery work ornamented with miniature bosses of foliage and lively grotesques.

The floor of the main aisle of the Chamber - consisting of teak planks interlined with ebony strips - was covered in its early life to improve the acoustical properties of the room. The traditional green colour of the House of Commons, used in the Chamber since 1867, was selected for the woven wool carpet. Also added were gold velvet draperies harmonizing with the gilded ceiling cove.

Sculpted finial

Since the Chamber's completion, two major innovations have necessitated additional woodwork. Simultaneous translation was introduced on the floor of the House and in the Press Gallery around 1959. Accordingly, translation booths, maintaining the original lines of the wood panelling, were added in the southeast and southwest corners of the room. In the public galleries, a translation system was inaugurated in February 1965. When the proceedings were televised and broadcasted over the radio in 1977, important alterations were made: the creation of a mezzanine or control room above the south public gallery, and the fabrication of a projecting desk console in the Ladies Gallery.

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