The Hill grounds
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The Parliament Hill grounds are the setting for a wide range of celebrations, political demonstrations and public ceremonies.
The grounds were originally designed to include formal and informal landscaping that could offer visitors a mix of experiences. More than a century later, architect Thomas Scott's vision remains intact. Visitors to the structured lawn that stretches between the Hill's three core buildings can join in Canada Day celebrations, demonstrate their support for a cause, or watch the changing of the guard ceremony. In contrast, visitors to the more relaxed Pleasure Gardens behind the Parliament buildings can stroll along the pathways, take in the panoramic view or make their way down to the edge of the Ottawa River.
The grounds, designed in the late 1800's, continue to be enjoyed by over 1.5 million visitors a year. Considering the grounds cover an area of 88,480 m2 (290,289 ft2), there is plenty to admire.
The grounds are open to the public year round.
Like any centenarian, the Hill grounds are in need of occasional rejuvenation. Time and nature have taken their toll on ground's features, which are now in need of rehabilitation.
Measures are currently being undertaken to safeguard the walls and pathways.
On the evening of December 31, 1966, Lester B. Pearson launched Canada's 100th anniversary celebrations by lighting the Centennial Flame for the first time.
Surrounded by the shields of the Canadian provinces and territories, and joined by the water of the fountain, the Centennial Flame symbolizes Canada's unity from sea to sea.
The years inscribed on the border of the fountain, corresponding to the shield above, indicate when the province or territory joined Confederation. Starting at 1870, we have the shield of Manitoba. Moving clockwise, the order is Saskatchewan, 1905; Alberta, 1905; British Columbia, 1871; Yukon, 1898; Northwest Territories, 1870; Newfoundland, 1949; Prince Edward Island, 1873; Nova Scotia, 1867; New Brunswick, 1867; Quebec, 1867; Ontario, 1867.
Every day, visitors throw coins into the fountain. The Centennial Flame Research Award funded in part through coins collected from the flame is presented yearly by the Standing Committee on Human Rights and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.
Public Works and Government Services Canada is responsible for the operation and maintenance of this important national symbol. The Centennial Flame burns year-round other than when it is shut off for routine maintenance four times a year, when it can be off for up to a full day. In the winter, heat from the flame and the constant movement of the fountain's water ensures it does not freeze.
Closure of the cat sanctuary
The cat sanctuary that has been a feature of Parliament Hill since the 1970s has been disbanded at the request of the volunteers who had been managing it. The four cats that remained at the sanctuary were adopted by the volunteers.
The volunteers made the decision to close the sanctuary because of the age of the cats, their deteriorating health, and to prevent exposing them to predators and harsh outdoor conditions during the winter months.
Public Works and Government Services Canada has dismantled the wooden structures at the site.
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