Explore the grounds and the Centennial Flame
The Parliament Hill grounds are the setting for national celebrations, political demonstrations and public ceremonies. Learn about the design of the grounds and about the Centennial Flame and its upcoming transformation.
About the grounds
In the late 1800s, architect Thomas Scott designed the grounds, which cover an area of 88,480 square metres. These designs included landscaping that would provide visitors with a mix of experiences. Visitors to the lawn can join in Canada Day celebrations. They can also demonstrate their support for a cause or watch the changing of the guard ceremony. More than 1.5 million visitors enjoy the grounds every year.
The Centennial Flame is a major feature on the Parliament Hill grounds. You will find it just inside the Queen’s Gate in front of the Peace Tower.
It was originally built as a temporary monument. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson lit the flame for the first time on December 31, 1966, to open the celebrations of Canada's 100th anniversary of Confederation. Canadians loved the monument so much that it became a permanent feature.
Design of the Centennial Flame
The Centennial Flame burns atop a fountain. Each side of the fountain has a bronze shield with the coat of arms of a province or territory. The year that the province or territory joined Canada is carved into the granite in front of the shield. The granite is also carved with the provincial or territorial floral emblem. The shields of the provinces and territories surround the flame to symbolize Canada's unity.
Adding the symbols of Nunavut
To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, the symbols of Nunavut were added to the Centennial Flame. In fall 2017, the monument was deconstructed and rebuilt to add a 13th side with Nunavut’s coat of arms, territorial flower, and the date it officially joined Confederation. The new structure was unveiled and the flame relit on December 13, 2017.
Coins for a cause
Every day, visitors make wishes and toss their lucky coins into the fountain. This money is collected and helps to fund the Centennial Flame Research Award. The award helps pay for disability research and reporting. The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities presents the award each year to a researcher with a disability.
Maintaining the Centennial Flame
The Centennial Flame burns year round, except when it is shut off for occasional maintenance. Public Services and Procurement Canada is responsible for operating and maintaining this national symbol.
The water in the Centennial Flame’s fountain never freezes, even in Ottawa's cold winters! The continuous movement of the water keeps it from freezing.
Maintaining the Centennial Flame video
Rebuilding the Centennial Flame video (short version)
Transcript: Rebuilding the Centennial Flame – Video (short version)
(Light instrumental music plays in the background.)
(Text on screen: Fifty-one years after its construction,) (Close-up of the Centennial Flame; Parliament Hill visitors are taking photos of the monument in the background)
(Text on screen: the Centennial Flame was transformed.) (Overhead shot of the monument)
(Text on screen: During Canada 150,) (Wide-angle shot of the monument, with the Centre Block in the background)
(Text on screen: the symbols of Nunavut were added to the structure.) (Close-up of a sculptor’s hands chiseling the North Star in the mold of Nunavut’s shield)
(Close-up of a hand turning a page of the Centennial Flame’s designs)
(Text on screen: This iconic monument now represents every province and territory.)
(Close-up of a masked and gloved welder using a blowtorch to weld pieces of the monument’s metal frame)
(Close-up of a welder’s hands using a grinder to smoothen edges of the monument’s frame)
(Overhead shot of a transport truck travelling on a highway, carrying the rebuilt monument’s frame on the back) (Text on screen: Follow us to learn more about this historic project.)
(Cut to black, and music stops.)
(Main Public Services and Procurement Canada social media handles)
(Public Services and Procurement Canada departmental signature)
Rebuilding the Centennial Flame video (long version)
Transcript: Rebuilding the Centennial Flame – Video (Long version)
(Light instrumental music plays in the background throughout the video.)
(Wide-angle shot of Parliament Hill’s Centennial Flame, with the Centre Block and the Peace Tower in the background)
Voice over (Phil White): When the Centennial Flame was built in 1966, (Close-up of the monument showing British Columbia’s bronze shield; camera pans to the left towards Yukon’s shield) Nunavut didn’t exist as a territory. (Close-up of the monument showing a carving of the year 1867) Now, 150 years later (Chest shot of Phil White), Nunavut was brought into Confederation (Text on screen: Phil White, Dominion Sculptor), made part of Canada in 1999 officially.
(Close-up of the monument showing the flame burning at the centre of the fountain) Now is our opportunity to rectify the absence of Nunavut (Overhead shot of the monument) in the circle of the Centennial Flame.
(Chest shot of Phil White) Adding Nunavut (Close-up of a hand turning a page of the Centennial Flame’s designs) is a bit of a challenge because it requires (Medium shot of the rebuilt monument’s metal frame in a workshop) redesign and rebuild of the flame (Medium shot of masked and gloved welder using a blowtorch to weld pieces of the monument’s metal frame), but we want to preserve the same heritage character. (Chest shot of Phil White) We don’t want it to change in appearance. (Medium shot of a steel worker cleaning a metal part of the monument using a sand blasting tool) Really, it involves completely rebuilding the flame, adding new stone, but in exactly the same design (Chest shot of Phil White) that it was before, but we have to add a 13th slice. (Various shots of steel workers in a workshop handling, measuring and smoothening the edges of the frame of the monument’s cauldron using a grinder) The monument itself was designed with 12 facets to represent the 12 provinces and territories, so we have to include a 13th, which means all the stones have to be redesigned, recut and rebuilt.
(Various shots of a steel worker intentionally creating a green patina on the surface of a bronze shield by heating it with a blowtorch, pouring copper nitrate onto it and spreading it with a brush) We also have to add a new bronze shield for Nunavut because all the provinces and territories in the monument are represented by their shields, the year in which they joined Confederation, (Close-up of the Centennial Flame showing a carving of the year 1905 and of the provincial flower of Saskatchewan) and a carving in stone of their provincial or territorial flower.
(Various shots of Phil White standing at a drawing table, designing representations of the symbols of Nunavut) I have designed the way the flower and the date will be interpreted and have created the model for the bronze shield. (Various shots of Phil White chiseling the model for Nunavut’s shield)
(Close-up of Nunavut’s shield) The shield of Nunavut is circular (Camera pans to Ontario’s shield), unlike all of the other shields (Close-up of the inuksuk on Nunavut’s shield), and has the main symbols of the territory in the design. (Brief fade to black)
(Overhead shot of a transport truck travelling on a highway, carrying the rebuilt monument’s frame on the back) Now that the new decorative elements have all been recreated, (Night shot of the rebuilt frame being lowered into place on Parliament Hill; the construction site is surrounded by wood hoarding) and/or cleaned and are ready to go, (Sparks fly in the night as a worker smoothens part of the monument’s frame using a grinder) we can rebuild the monument (Various shots of stone masons measuring stones), bring all the new stone in and recreate the Centennial Flame on site. (Close-up of hands installing Nunavut’s shield on the monument, followed by a medium shot of the installation of the monument’s cauldron) (Brief fade to black)
(Excerpt of the relighting of the Centennial Flame ceremony on Parliament Hill, which occurred on December 13, 2017. The Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, the Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, representatives of the territory of Nunavut and other dignitaries lit the flame.)
(Overhead shot of the rebuilt monument)
(Close-up of the rebuilt monument showing the flame burning at the centre of the fountain)
(Cut to black, and music stops)
(Public Services and Procurement Canada departmental signature)
(Canada 150 logo)
Canada Day 150 time-lapse video
This video was produced by taking images from the Hill camera during the evening of June 30 through the night of July 1st.
Canadian Forces Snowbirds and the Patrouille de France flyby over Parliament Hill video
A flyby over Parliament Hill featuring the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and the Patrouille de France air demonstration team took place on May 2, 2017, to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary. The two plane formations made a deafening sound as they cut through the sky, leaving behind them a few slim streams of smoke, coloured red, white and blue.
Transcript of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and the Patrouille de France flyby over Parliament Hill video
Start of clip.
(Low-angle shot of the sky above Parliament Hill)
(Two plane formations, flying North to South, one behind the other, make a deafening sound as they cut through the sky.)
(The second plane formation leaves behind a few slim streams of smoke, coloured red, white and blue.)
(Sound fades out)
(Fade to black)
(Public Services and Procurement Canada Wordmark)
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