Fire engulfs Parliament buildings

It was 99 years ago today that fire broke out in the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings at 8: 50 pm during a debate.

By midnight, the main tower is ablaze, yet the clock is still able to strike 12.

According to canadachannel.ca., the gothic Parliamentary Library was saved by a quick thinking clerk, who shut the iron doors.

Seven people died in the blaze: Nova Scotia MP B. B. Law, caught in a telephone booth; Assistant Clerk J. B. LaPlante, who refused to slide down a rope to safety; Mme. Bray and Mme. Morin, guests of the Speaker’s wife, Mme. Sevigny, who went back to fetch their furs and were overcome by smoke; Dominion policeman Alphonse Desjardins, who went back into the inferno after rescuing one MP – he and his nephew and Randolph Fanning were buried when a floor collapsed.

1dollarparliamentnoteThe tragedy was widely blamed on German wartime saboteurs; 1, 200 soldiers were sent to guard Parliament Hill, and police arrested a 28-year-old Belgian musician, but nothing was proven. Parliament was relocated to the Victoria Memorial Museum at the foot of Metcalfe Street, with the Commons holding its sessions in the lecture hall, and the Senate, according to a report, was accommodated in the apartment set apart for fossils and extinct leviathans, which has not escaped the notice of certain humourists .

The Centre Block was rebuilt in the Gothic revival style, and completed in 1920.

The Parliament buildings are featured on various stamps issued by Canada Post, and was  on the back of the $1 banknote, issued between 1974 and 1989 when the bill was replaced by the loonie.

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