Confederation Square, Ottawa, Ontario
Located in the heart of the nation’s capital, Confederation Square is best known to Canadians as the site of the National War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Confederation Square was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1984, and is considered the second most important ceremonial centre of the national capital, after Parliament Hill. It is a rare instance in Canada of a large-scale downtown development following the planning tenets of the City Beautiful movement, which was based on the belief that beautiful surroundings and first-class city planning could improve the lives of citizens.
The square opens at the north end of Elgin Street, immediately southeast of Parliament Hill. It was built in stages between 1899 and 1939 by a succession of planning agencies, working under the aegis of the federal government. Originally a crowded complex of warehouses, shops, hotels and public buildings, this area was converted into an open space which is familiar to all Canadians as the site of the National War Memorial.
Confederation Square is framed by a familiar and eclectic group of structures impressive for their variety in age, style, scale and function, including the Central Chambers, the Scottish-Ontario Chambers, the Central Post Office, the Langevin Block, the East Block of the Parliament Buildings, the Château Laurier, Union Station (now the Government Conference Centre), and the National Arts Centre. This is a diverse group of buildings that represent several different architectural styles, including: the Italianate (the Scottish-Ontario Chambers), Queen Anne Revival (Central Chambers), Art Deco (Central Post Office), Château style (Château Laurier), Second Empire (Langevin Block), Beaux-Arts (former Union Station), Gothic (East Block) and Brutalist (National Arts Centre) styles.
A number of buildings within the square are individually designated as national historic sites, including the Langevin Block, the Château Laurier, the Central Chambers, the National Arts Centre, and the East Block portion of the Parliament Buildings. Additionally, the square is built over a portion of another national historic site, the Rideau Canal. Since 1939, when the present National War Memorial was unveiled, the square has become a focus of annual Remembrance Day commemorations, as the nation honours its war dead.
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