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The National Art Gallery as seen from Parliament Hill.


Founding fathers on commemorative banners.


The tree that thinks its a branch by the Confederation Building. Where the stray cats of the hill used to live.


many of the Parliament buildings seem to be under wraps; this is part of a 20-year, $3-billion (and counting) renova- tion project. Te West Block is particularly shrouded; it is under very expensive and extensive modification to serve as the temporary House of Commons chambers when the renovations to Centre Block take place. To accommodate the chambers, the former courtyard at the centre of West Block is being domed with glass. It is slated to be ready for occupa- tion in 2017, Canada’s sesqui-centennial year. (Te Senate chambers are being moved to the Congress Centre, the old railway station, which is also under extensive renovation to accommodate the temporary move.) At the bottom of the Hill just outside the entrance is the


Confederation Building, where you will see a lovely bushy, but not tall, White spruce tree struggling, it seems, to grow up. It never will. Te tree was planted 15 years ago and should by now be a


giant, but that was back in the days of Dolly the cloned sheep when everyone believed everything can be cloned – and in the horticultural world, it generally can. However, this clon- ing utilized a new process called plasmogenesis that failed. Te result is a tree that “thinks” it’s a branch and, instead of being the giant White spruce it should be after all this time, it is a stumpy, though pampered, eight-foot, disfigured


62 • Fall 2015


parody of a tree. It stands as a monument to man’s hubris! Behind the Hill you can still see the many caves and tun- nels that were once occupied by feral cats, fed by MPs and other volunteers. Te colony was started back in 1924 to deal with an infestation of rodents in the then new Centre Block. Te cats were cleared out two years ago at the request of the volunteers. Within a stone’s throw of Parliament Hill, crossing the Rideau Canal locks, is the famous and wonderful Chateau Laurier, the still beautiful railroad hotel, which is the place to stay. Even if you can’t afford the tariff there, you can still have tea or drinks at elegant Zoe’s Lounge, listening to the piano and rubber necking to see political luminaries. Cross the corner, pass the War Monument and the Con-


gress Centre, and drop into the Rideau Centre, the down- town shopping mall that is now home to the second Nord- strom store in Canada. Te whole shopping centre is getting a makeover as a result. While you are there, drop into Shep- herd’s a couple of doors down. It is owned by Marlene Shep- herd and her daughter Trudy. Marlene is the wife of former MP Francis LeBlanc. Going north, just up the street and around the corner,


though, is the fun place to be: the Byward Market. It is filled with fabulous food and produce, unique boutiques and a


The Hub


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