Parliament Hill flags

On February 15, 1965, our national flag was raised for the first time on Parliament Hill. Usually, 5 flags fly on the Hill: 1 over the Peace Tower, 1 on each side of the Centre Block, 1 over the West Block and 1 over the East Block. However, during our project to restore and modernize the Centre Block, only 4 flags fly on the Hill. For the time being, we are not flying a flag on the east side of the building.

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Changing the flag on the Peace Tower

The Canadian flag on the Peace Tower is replaced with a new flag every weekday, except on statutory holidays and during poor weather conditions. The flag is also changed for half-masting. The other Parliament Hill flags are changed weekly and on days that they are at half-mast.

To replace the Peace Tower flag, an employee folds and places a new flag in a satchel, takes the elevator to the observation deck, and climbs 33 metres of stairs and ladders. Once at the top, the employee lowers the flying flag and raises the new one on the 10.7-metre flagpole. Throughout the 20- to 30-minute process, the flag is never to touch the ground.

The Centre Block, home of the Peace Tower, is closed for a major project to restore and modernize it. The Peace Tower flag will continue to be changed during construction, as long as it is safe to do so.

The Centre Block project

Video: Changing the Peace Tower flag

Transcript of Changing the Peace Tower flag

Start of video

[Music plays]

(Text on screen: Public Services and Procurement Canada)

[Top view of a corridor where we see the back view of a man walking]

Regular guy doing something special I guess.

[Shot of the Peace Tower during the day, starting at the clock and pans up to the Canadian Flag]

(Text on screen: Behind the scenes: the Peace Tower flag)

I'm Robert Labonté and I'm the flag master.

[Fade to black]

[Shot of Robert speaking.]

(Text on screen: Robert Labonté, Supervisor, Building Operations and Maintenance Public Services and Procurement Canada)

There's five flags on Parliament Hill: one on the East Block, one on the West Block and two on the courtesy poles, and they get changed once a week. And there's the fifth one, the most important one, it's the one on the Peace Tower, and that flag is changed daily, every working day.

[Shot of a wrought iron balustrade with a keystone ceiling, we see the side view of Robert walking from left to right.]

[Back view of Robert walking in a hallway with smooth stone walls; there is a series of windows to his right. He is carrying a bag.]

[Shot of Robert speaking.]

[Front view of Robrert walking in a hallway. He is carrying a bag.]

A lot of people are surprised when they learn that the flag is changed every working day, a lot of them don't know, so it's kinda make your job kinda secret a well kept secret. I mean I'll walk the halls here all day long and nobody will know that I'm the one who went up and changed it.

[Shot of Robert speaking.]

[Waist shot from floor of people walking down a hallway.]

[Waist/knee shot back view of Robert carrying a bag and walking down a hallway. The image is blurred.]

[Back view of Robert walking.]

I added my own little twist when I change the flag that I do and that nobody else does. I fist pump the lions at the bottom of the Peace Tower. I even named them. I named them William and Richard. So those are my little pet lions.

[Close-up of a fisted hand fist-pumping the paw of a carved stone lion.]

[Medium shot of an iron-screened door with Robert behind it preparing to unlock it. A shadow passes in front of the camera.]

[Close-up of a Roberts face behind a screen.]

[Close-up of a hand unlocking a lock.]

[Medium face shot of Robert opening an iron-screened door and closing it behind him.]

[Close-up of a spool that is turning.]

[Close-up facial profile of a Robert looking up.]

[Head and shoulder profile shot of Robert in an elevator looking outside.]

[Overhead shot of a narrow stairwell. We see Robert climbing stairs (blurry).]

[Top view of a machine room.]

[Head and shoulder shot of Robert climbing stairs.]

[Low-angle shot of Robert climbing stairs.]

[Overhead shot of Robert going up a narrow stairwell holding onto rails on each side.]

[Medium close-up of a cubby hole containing a stool and two windows. Robert puts down the bag, and climbs up on the stool.]

[Low-angled view of Robert unlocking a lock above his head.]

[Pan view, a cover opens and Robert appears.]

[Low-angle shot of the flag of Canada on a pole waving in the wind.]

[Medium close-up of the side view of Robert pulling iron cables.]

[Low-angle shot of the Flag of Canada being lowered down a pole.]

[Overhead shot of Robrert that is holding the Flag of Canada in his hands and pulling on cables to raise it.]

[Overhead 180° shot of Robert raising a flag. The roof of the building is visible.]

[Shot of Robert speaking.]

So once the flag is taken down changed we keep 'em, we fold 'em in a specific way and we hold ‘em for the Minister's Office for Public Works, and they're responsible to deliver the flags to the Canadians who have put their names on the list.

[Travelling waist shot of Robert folding the flag of Canada.]

[Medium close-up (blurred) of a hand folding a red and white flag.]

The first time I went up to change the Peace Tower flag by myself, I just, I changed it and I just took an extra five minutes by myself up there just in awe. I couldn't believe that I was starting a career where I got to do this every day.

[Long shot of Robert folding a red and white flag on a table.]

[Medium shoulder/waist shot of a flag being folded.]

[Long shot of Robert picking up a red and white flag off a table.]

[Shot of Robert speaking.]

[Medium close-up of beams and cables, with landscape in the distance.]

[Medium close-up of the rear view of the head of Robert looking out in the distance, he turns his head to the right, stares, then disappears.]

[Fade to black.]

(Text on screen: The Canadian Flag has been flying over the Peace Tower since February 15, 1965.)

(Text on screen: Centre Block is closed for renovation and rehabilitation work. The Peace Tower flag continues to be changed daily during this time.)

[Music stops]

(Text on screen: Check us out: facebook.com/PSPC.SPAC, instagram.com/pspc_spac, twitter.com/pspc_spac, youtube.com/PWGSCanada)

(Public Services and Procurement Canada signature)

(Canada Wordmark)

End of video

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