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The Peace Tower

The Peace Tower is the crowning jewel of a magnificent structure, and is one of the most recognized landmarks in Canada. Like the earlier Victoria Tower, this dominant feature of Parliament Hill is a campanile separated from the main building by light walls.

During construction of the Centre Block, architect John A. Pearson carefully studied the design of the tower and produced, at different intervals, sketches and study models. It was stated that Pearson dreamt of it and, in his own words, "lived with it so long day and night" in his desire to produce a satisfactory design that met both his aesthetic and engineering vision. The result of his concern for detail is a splendid architectural piece with exquisite exterior and interior features, perfectly equipped with a Memorial Chamber, carillon, clock, observatory and soaring spire.

On September 1, 1919, the Prince of Wales laid the cornerstone of the tower and designated it the Tower of Peace and Victory. However, it was during 1927 celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of Confederation that the name of the tower was finally settled. Prime Minister Mackenzie King was keen on giving this important memorial a name that would match its role as a symbol of the principles for which Canada fought in the Great War, as well as the high aspirations of the Canadian people. As in so many other decisions surrounding the reconstructed Centre Block, architect Pearson's opinion must have carried considerable weight. He wrote to the Prime Minister: "In all my thought of the tower, Peace was dominant. I believe there is a quiet peaceful dignity about it."

The architectural sculpture for the Peace Tower was completed at the end of 1928, except for its arched entrances. In keeping with Gothic architectural tradition, the architect provided for prominent heraldic decoration by installing huge blank blocks of sandstone for carving. During the fall of 1937, as the decoration at the base of the Peace Tower was taking shape, journalists compared the elegant main archway to the most beautiful portals of Europe. Carved in Wallace sandstone from Nova Scotia, the archivolt ornamentation is noteworthy not only for its high level of craftsmanship, but also for its distinctive character, highlighting Canada's identity. National and provincial symbols and emblems, combined with the country natural heritage, were selected for the main entrances of Canada's most important public building.

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