Iconic Canadian erection for peace and victory

From my explore Canada travel series | Read other chapters – See photo gallery

Tour of Ottawa’s Peace tower

The Peace Tower (officially the Tower of Victory and Peace) is a focal bell and clock tower, sitting on the central axis of the Centre Block of the Canadian parliament buildings in Ottawa. It’s a beautiful tower 92.2m high and decorated with over 350 architectural elements keeping with the Victorian High Gothic style of the rest of the parliamentary complex.

Getting there

Earlier this fall, I visited this tower and took a tour to the top and middle sections. I would recommend visitors to visit this attraction after checking out the House of Commons and Canada’s Senate.

Entrance is free but you need to get a ticket (which has a designated time) and line up at the elevator entrance after clearing security check. The elevator will take you up to the top of the tower first (for breathtaking views) and then to the central chamber (for the memorial hall).

View of Ottawa and Gatineau from the top

Ottawa is a small town but very pretty for sure. Parliament hill is located on the edge of the Ottawa river which is the dividing line between Ottawa and Quebec provinces. Just cross the bridge is Gatineau where all the signs are in French. It’s neat!

The tower’s flagpole holds symbolic significance, and acts as the flagpole of the nation. The flag, proudly flying atop this tower, did invoke a sense of nationalism and belonging in me which didn’t surprise me given that I’ve spent almost six years in this country.

Memorial chamber

Yesterday was Remembrance Day, a day celebrated by most commonwealth countries to honor those who died in the line of duty, specifically the world wars. November 11, 1918 marked the end of World War 1.

The Peace Tower was built not only to stand as an architectural feature and landmark, but also to function as a memorial. The memorial is a beautiful chamber in the middle section of the tower with high stained glass windows and various embellishments of symbolic nature. Books of Remembrance are placed along the walls. These books list all Canadian soldiers, airmen, and seamen who died in service of the Crown—whether that of Britain (before 1931) or that of Canada (after 1931)—or allied countries in foreign wars. The displays were later modified to represent a broader overview of Canadian armed conflict, both foreign and domestic, since Confederation in 1867.

Carillon, bell ensemble

From the top floor you can also see the large clock and hear bells from close. Every hour on the hour they play Canada’s national anthem “O Canada” which is a nice idea but the bells are so awfully tuned that it sounded like a child hitting random notes on a toy keyboard.

The peace tower is a distinctive Canadian icon and appears at the back of $20 and $50 bills. If you are visiting Ottawa, there’s no way you’d miss it. 🙂