Explore the West Block
The West Block, with the Centre and East Blocks, makes up the core of Canada’s Parliamentary Precinct. Commanding the western side of Parliament Hill, the West Block was built in three phases starting in 1859, and opened in 1866. The West Block was completed in 1909 by the Department of Public Works (now Public Services and Procurement Canada). It encompasses:
- the South and East Wings, built from 1859 to 1865
- the Northwest Wing, built from 1875 to 1879
- the North Wing, built from 1906 to 1909
Today, we are at the end of a major project that has both restored the West Block to its original glory and equipped it for the needs of a 20th century Parliament. It now plays host to Canada’s members of Parliament in its. interim House of Commons Chamber, a soaring, glass-roofed structure, built into the central courtyard at the heart of the building.
Since 2011, work has been carried out to repair and modernize the building at a cost of $863 million (excluding Harmonized Sales Tax). The project has brought West Block up to standard and has ensured it will meet the current and future needs of Parliament while preserving its heritage characteristics for the next 150 years.
Watch the restoration of the West Block video
History and architecture
In 1859, architects Thomas Stent and Augustus Laver designed the West Block in a Gothic Revival style. It was designated a Classified federal heritage building in 1987 for its important historical associations, architectural quality and environmental impact.
Designed to accommodate the federal civil service, as more space was required the two large additions were built: the Mackenzie Wing and Tower in 1878 and the Laurier Tower and Link in 1906. The West Block was last completely renovated in 1965.
- The only room in the entire West Block to remain nearly intact is the Prime Minister’s office. It is located immediately above the tower entrance and accessible by a private cast-iron circular staircase in the tower’s northwest turret. This office contains magnificent examples of fine craftsmanship including a High Victorian Gothic stone fireplace with five tall beautifully carved panels featuring Canadian flora and fauna.
- The West Block was constructed in the same way that stone castles were built in Europe.
- As a result of a fire that destroyed the Centre Block in 1916, the West Block is the oldest of the Parliament’s Buildings.
The West Block was emptied for vital restoration in 2011.
The restoration of the West Block will be completed in time for the return of Parliament in January 2019.
- Learn about restoring and modernizing the West Block
- Discover the West Block photo gallery
- Learn about restoring the Sir John A. Macdonald Building
- Watch the Visitor Welcome Centre video
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