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Central Column and Vault

Confederation's 50th anniversary

The January 1917 Speech from the Throne mentioned different measures which would require Parliament's attention that session. One of these was the celebration of Confederation's 50th anniversary. The special joint committee appointed to report on the celebration of Canada's Golden Jubilee tabled its report in the House on May 31 that year, recommending that an appropriate inscription be incised upon the central column which was to support the fan vault of the Confederation Hall, and "that the government arrange a fitting ceremonial service for setting in place and dedication of this inscribed stone at 12 noon, on the 2nd day of July, 1917."

A simple but emotional ceremony marked the dedication of the new Parliament building, then still under construction, to the Fathers of Confederation, as well as to the soldiers still serving at the Front. In the words of Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden, the new building was to symbolize "the splendid achievement of the past and the still more glorious hope of the future." For this special event, Neptune, together with sea lions and fish, was sculpted bathing in the waves of a mythical sea, at the base of a reduced central column. This would echo the motto and inscription, which were later incised over the main entrance doors.

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