7 Surprising Facts About the Parliament Building
Content partner: Québec's National Assembly
The Parliament Building, which houses Québec’s National Assembly—the central institution of the province’s democracy—is full of secrets and surprises. Discover some of them!
1 A Clock Behind the TimeMention de source
Assemblée nationale©Collection Assemblée nationale. Christian Chevalier
Did you know the splendid heritage clock that adorns the Parliament Tower falls 15 seconds behind every week? For André Viger, the “keeper of time,” every second counts! Viger, a master clockmaker for 55 years now, does his magic every Tuesday and manually winds back the clock. He is one of few with the necessary expertise to work on old mechanical clocks.
2 Je me souviens: More Than Just a Licence PlateMention de source
©Collection Assemblée nationale. Sébastien Chamberland (DDD)
The famous motto Je me souviens (I remember), found on all Québec licence plates, was created by Eugène-Étienne Taché, designer of the Parliament Building. Engraved above the main entrance, it evokes the architecture of the Parliament. As the works of art adorning the facade illustrate, the motto honours the heroes of New France and leading figures of the British regime.
3 Busy BeesMention de source
©Collection Assemblée nationale. Marc-André Grenier
The National Assembly boasts beautiful gardens for you to explore, including an urban vegetable garden where dozens of different herbs, vegetables, berries, edible plants, and fruit trees are grown using organic methods. There are even beehives on the roof! In 2017, over 250,000 bees produced 175 kg of urban honey, sold at the Boutique de l’Assemblée.
4 Prehistoric Fossils in a Beautiful LibraryMention de source
©Collection Assemblée nationale. Claude Mathieu
Open to the public, the National Assembly Library is the perfect place to quietly study or read in a remarkable setting. The walls, floors, and stairs are covered in 7 types of marble that add to the palatial effect. You can even find 50-million-year-old fossilized ammonites and molluscs in the marble of the pillars—truly astounding! The library also houses rare and precious books, the oldest dating back to 1473.
5 Deliciously Well-Kept Secret—Until NowMention de source
©Collection Assemblée nationale. Claude Mathieu.
Once exclusively reserved for members of the National Assembly, Le Parlementaire restaurant has been open to the public since 1967. The enchanting Beaux-Arts style décor and fleur-de-lys china are a treat for the eyes. Enjoy exquisite local cuisine at very affordable prices. What’s more, in season, much of the produce featured on the menu comes from the Parliament gardens.
6 A Portrait Like No OtherMention de source
©Collection Assemblée nationale. Christian Chevalier
The Speakers’ Gallery on the ground floor of the Parliament Building displays portraits of all former Speakers of the National Assembly since 1867. They each selected the artist who created their portrait. Famous Québec painter Jean Paul Lemieux was commissioned to do the portrait of Clément Richard, Speaker of the National Assembly from 1976 to 1980.
7 New at the National Assembly…Mention de source
The National Assembly is getting a makeover, and expansion work is well under way. As of spring 2019, visitors will enter the building via a new, more secure, and more accessible underground reception pavilion. What’s more, there’s a new monument on the grounds marking the 225th anniversary of Québec’s parliamentary institutions and the first election of 1792. Entitled Member of Parliament Arriving in Québec, the monument draws inspiration from the bronze by Québec artist Alfred Laliberté.
The National Assembly offers guided tours by experienced guides. They are free and given in English and French upon reservation. Visitors learn about the history and workings of the National Assembly, discover the architecture of the Parliament Building and the works of art it houses, and hear several fascinating historical anecdotes.
Québec's National Assembly
1045, rue des Parlementaires
Québec City, G1A 1A3
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