Located on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, the Centennial Flame commemorates Canada’s 100th anniversary as a Confederation. The Flame was first lit as the climax of the centennial celebrations of January 1, 1967, in the presence of then Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. He was joined on the hill by leader of the Opposition and former Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, and Secretary of State, who was in charge of the Centennial, Judy LaMarsh as well as thousands of onlookers. The Flame is fuelled by natural gas and surrounded by a fountain whose ledge contains the shields of 12 of Canada’s provinces and territories—Nunavut is absent as it was not created until 1999.
This Centennial Flame was erected as a temporary monument, but due to great public support it still stands today. It is located near the Queen's Gates (the centre gate), in front of the stairs leading to the Peace Tower and Centre Block. The Centre Block is home to the House of Commons, the Senate and serves as an office building for MPs and Senators. The Centennial was celebrated across Canada in various ways; for example the re-enactment of the Battle of the Thames, the building of a destroyer out of match sticks, etc. The government also encouraged the building of a Centennial memorial in each of Canada’s 10 provinces. The provincial and federal governments matched whatever the municipal government spent on their memorial, thereby encouraging the construction of grand buildings such as the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.
The Centennial Flame is encompassed by a fountain into which many visitors to Parliament Hill throw coins for luck. That change is gathered, washed, dried and sorted by maintenance before it is put into a government bank account. From there the money is given to the winner of the Centennial Flame Research Award. The award, which was begun in 2005, is given “to a person with a disability to enable him or her to conduct research and prepare a report on the contributions of one or more Canadians with disabilities to the public life of Canada or the activities of Parliament.” The 2011 recipient, Andrew Morrison-Gurza, received $5,500. The 2012 recipient, Andrew St. Kitts, is a Masters student with cerebral palsy who plans on using the $5,000 he received to research “attitudes of able-bodied Canadians when they see people like him.”
Because of the fire that burns above the water, the fountain doesn't freeze, even in the middle of the winter.
The flame is often confused with the Eternal Flame; however, it does not burn eternally. It may sometimes be extinguished due to bad weather or for maintenance purposes. In 2002, for example, during the G8 protest, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien made the decision to have the flame extinguished and the monument covered in order to avoid any damage. It was covered by a welded steel lid attached to concrete.
- Robert Bothwell, “Centennial Year,” The Canadian Encyclopedia (2012): (http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/centennial-year)
- “Centennial Flame Change,” CTV News – CTV Television (2012): (http://search.proquest.com/docview/916268679?accountid=14789).
- Pierre Berton, 1967 the Last Good Year (Toronto: Doubleday Canada ltd, 1997) 39-42.
- “News Release: Centennial Flame Research Award for Persons with Disabilities,” Subcommittee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities (2005): accessed January 24, 2012. (http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=1585012&Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=38&Ses=1)
- “News Release: 2011 Centennial Flame Research Award.” Subcommittee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities (2011): accessed January 24, 2012. (http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=5257752&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=1&Language=E)
- Sheldon Alberts, “Centennial Flame Snuffed for Fear of Summit Vandals,” National Post (2002): (http://search.proquest.com/docview/330083905?accountid=14789).
- Francis, Douglas, Jones, Richard, and Smith, Donald, Origins: Canadian History to Confederation 6th edition. Toronto: Nelson Education, 2009.
- Public Works and Government Services Canada – Centennial Flame
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