Monday, January 6, 2014

The stones don't fall far from the Hill

The Confederation building (1927) and Justice building (1935) on Wellington Street just west of Parliament Hill nicely frame the original Bank of Canada building (1937) on the south side of the street when you look south from Vittoria Street.

In this space used to be a number of stone carvings from the parliament buildings, including these two top-pieces from the stonework along Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill. The photo above and the two below were taken on Victoria Day, 2009:

And here's the gate they're from, which a document on the Parliament website referred to as the "Diagonal entrance (from Elgin)". The smaller West and East entrances on either side of the Queen's Gates were both closed, and this one is further east, in front of the East block of parliament, seen in late December 2010:

This gate has since been reinforced, with two sets of retractable bollards to allow authorized vehicles to enter, then proceed after the bollards behind them have closed. In an article describing this and related modifications to the accesses to Parliament Hill, the CBC referred to this as Elgin Gate (as in the actual gate, not "Elgingate", a term which Google suggests has yet not been affiliated with any scandal!)

Another stone piece that was in that yard was this lion cub (which I somehow keep misremembering as a squirrel):

There are squirrels, and lion cubs, and beavers and other wildlife carved into the stonework on Parliament Hill and on the Confederation and Justice buildings, as has been documented by Urbsite, whose author introduced me to them on that Victoria Day in 2009.

I'm not aware of any raccoons carved in the stonework, but this frightened little critter was perched on a windowsill of the East block this past May during Jane's Walk 2013 (luckily there was fencing at the base of the stairs to keep people from getting too close to it):

In spring 2012, the gap between the Confederation Building and Justice Building was boarded up for unspecified works.

I spotted these and other pieces in the stone yard at the Oak Street Complex this past fall, with the recently-opened O-Train pathway giving a keen vantage point for stone-spotting:

Backing up a bit, here's the Somerset Street entrance to the Public Works Complex, at #1010, seen in late November 2011. It's just east of the O-Train tracks, beyond the stub streets west of Preston, and the warehouse building extends all the way to Gladstone Avenue. I described the area and a bit of the history in this instalment of my series on the Somerset Street West reconstruction.

Eric Darwin did a good post on West Side Action a while back about some plans the feds have for the building. In brief, they want to sell off the south part for redevelopment and keep the north part to either rebuild or leave as-is.

At the northwest corner of the site is a stone yard. I've been told the stones are stored outside so they experience weathering similar to those on the buildings they're associated with, to make for a less stark contrast when they are eventually needed in repairs. Looking south from the Somerset Street viaduct (with the City Centre building behind the camera), the stone yard goes on for quite a while, shown here in March 2010:

In June 2010, the vegetation made the site look like mystic ruins:

These pieces are recognizeable, though not familiar to me, seen in June 2011:

In August 2013, perhaps due to all the traffic from the new O-Train pathway adjacent, or maybe just an obsessive-compulsive new site manager, the yard was very thoroughly tidied and organized:

And then the pieces that were moved out of the corner section were moved back in September. The Somerset Street viaduct is on the left; we're looking east from the ramp connecting it to the O-Train pathway:

Here's the bear cub, looking a bit lonelier than when it was on Wellington. In the background is some granite, as well as what appears to be a flagpole that isn't immediately familiar. Do you recognize any of the pieces from around Ottawa?

I'm unable to find out when this started use as a stoneyard. Most of the information about the stonework of Parliament Hill is about where the stone was originally quarried. The closest I could find was a reference in Figure 11 of this journal article (PDF) which references a stone cutting shop on Sussex Drive in 1916.

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