The unusual case of the Nunavut carving.

Author:Labelle, Brenda
Position::Sketches of Parliaments and Parliamentarians Past

To honour Canada's development and prevent rewriting of history, by tradition stone carvings or sculptures are never removed from the country's Parliament buildings once placed there. There is a single known exception--a Canadian coat of arms was removed to make room for representation of the country's newest territory.

Once something is carved in the stone of our nation's Parliament buildings, there it remains. By tradition, carvings or sculptures are not removed from Parliament buildings. They are "carved in stone," both literally and figuratively. There is only one recorded example of a break in this tradition.

Each architectural element in our Parliament's buildings is emblematic of a moment in Canadian history. For example, provincial coats of arms are found in the Library of Parliament where, notably, some provinces are not represented, and the coats of arms of several provinces are outdated. These carvings will not be altered, however, as they reflect the Canada of 1876, the year in which the library building was completed. Yet in 1999, a carving of Canada's coat of arms was removed so that the newly created territory of Nunavut could be represented in the rotunda of Parliament's Centre Block.

The rotunda, also called Confederation Hall, is the grand entrance of the main building. It is the heart of Parliament linking the Senate and the House of Commons on either side and the library to the north. The space features a central column that leads dramatically up into the vaulted ceiling. Archways and columns encircle the hall, and it is above these archways that we find carvings of the coats of arms of all of the provinces and territories, as well as the Canadian coat of arms. In 1999, the coat of arms of the territory of Nunavut was added above the entrance...

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