Treasures of the Library of Parliament.

AuthorLamb, Lane

The Treasures of the Library of Parliament include items from its rare books, art and artefacts collections, as well as the architecture and fixtures of the Library building itself. This article, which highlights each of these four facets, was compiled from submissions written by the Library of Parliament's Preservation Group for the Library's Treasures web page.


The Treasures of the Library of Parliament include items from its rare books, art and artefacts collections, as well as the architecture and fixtures of the Library building itself. With the exception of the Library building, the items in these collections are conserved to modern museum standards in the Library's rare book room, where temperature, humidity, light levels and access are controlled. Some items have undergone conservation treatments to preserve them for future generations.

With the closure of Centre Block as part of the Long-Term Vision Plan for Canada's Parliament, the preservation group at the Library was tasked with providing access to these compelling collections despite their move off of Parliament Hill. In response to this call to action, items from these collections are now being highlighted on the Library's new Treasures of the Library webpage, on which a new treasure is posted each month. Each new treasure is added to the archive so that the site will eventually feature the full collection. To view the Treasures of the Library, visit

This article highlights each of these three facets of the Library's treasures--art and artefacts, rare books and decorative arts and finishes in the Library building.

Art and Artefacts Collection

The Library of Parliament's collection of art and artefacts consists of rare and unique items that chronicle the history of Canada, as well as the history of Parliament and of the Library. The collection also includes items of ceremonial or esthetic value and examples of decorative and visual arts, such as busts, statues, bas reliefs, paintings, heritage furniture and other decorative pieces. Architectural plans and drawings of the Library building are also preserved in the collection. In addition, the collection includes some textiles and clothing, such as the civilian dress uniform that belonged to Joseph de la Broquerie Tache, General Librarian from 1920 to 1932.

Arguably the most significant non-documentary artefact in the collection is the Confederation Inkstand.

Confederation Inkstand

The Confederation Inkstand was used at three important moments in Canadian history, as described on the sterling silver plaques attached to its side. They read:

"Encrier dont se sont servi [sic] les Promoteurs de la Confederation Canadienne pour signer les resolutions adoptees a la Conference de Quebec" [Translation: Inkstand used by the proponents of Confederation to sign the resolutions adopted at the Quebec Conference] (the 1864 conference presided over by Sir EtiennePaschal Tache)

"Cet encrier fut prete a M. Mackenzie King devant servir au president des Etats-Unis et au premier ministre de Grande-Bretagne, lors de la Conference de Quebec en 1943 [Translation: This inkstand was loaned to Mr. Mackenzie King, to be used by the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Great Britain at the 1943 Quebec Conference] (a secret meeting hosted by Prime Minister Mackenzie King in the city of Quebec during the Second World War)

"On December 11, 1948, this Inkstand was used by the delegates of Canada and Newfoundland at the signing in Ottawa of the Terms of Union" (in the Senate chamber when...

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