This Week in History
This story was initially published in 1999
On February 3, 1916, a spectacular evening fire destroyed the Centre Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Almost overnight Canada was left without a legislative home.
The two-day long blaze caused injury and death. People were forced to escape the building quickly. The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Borden, had to crawl out on his hands and knees! Government papers were found 400 metres away. Spray from firemen's hoses turned to ice in the cold night air making the ruins look ghostly white. Only the library was saved – thanks to an employee who closed its iron fire-proof doors.
Added to the new construction was the Peace Tower. It houses the Books of Remembrance, listing thousands of Canada's war-dead. The floor of the Tower's chapel is made of stones from French battlefields.
Because of their importance to the nation's political life, the Parliament Buildings were designated a National Historic Site by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1976.
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