When it comes to things that you can do free of charge in Quebec City one of the most interesting is to tour the Parliament Building. Check the National Assembly website to see what time the tours are offered depending on which language you prefer. You need to enter the building through door Number 3; it is on the side of the building facing the old city.
Eugene Etienne Tache is the architect who designed the National Assembly Building. It was completed in 1886 and is in the second empire style. The building is decorated with 22 bronze statues of persons who have had an impact on the history of Quebec. There are also two sculptures of Native Americans on the grounds. The building has three levels on the façade that represent the three periods of Quebec History, the French, the English and the Federation.
Our tour in English began at 10:30am. Arrive at least ten minutes in advance of the time you plan to tour. You need to go through security, this is very much like boarding a plane, you need to empty your pockets and send your purse and wallet through the ex-ray machine. After you are checked one member of your party needs to provide ID. You then proceed to the room where a short video is offered. There are two separate rooms one for French speakers and one for English speakers. I leave it to your imagination to decide which the larger room was.
Our group was quite large; there may have been 40 people. Our tour guide came to meet us in room 181 and escorted us into the main lobby where you proceeded to point out all the things we should be noticing. You need to be able to walk up stairs; we went up to the second and then the third floor. You spend a good part of the tour walking and standing. The staircase is grand as you would expect from a very important building. There is a magnificent canopy of stained glass from the workshop of Gauthier and brothers who are Quebec artists.
The National Assembly Chamber is where history is made in the Province of Quebec. The walls are decorated with a theme that echoes the façade of the building with fleurs-de-lis, maples leaves and roses. The walls are a beautiful blue, what I found interesting is that green is the traditional color but blue is better for TV so blue it is. What I found really amazing was that above the seat at the head of the room is a crucifix. Religion is not kept out of public buildings in Quebec. The members of the majority and minority face each other across the room in the British style.
We also visited the legislative Council Chamber. It is done all in red, the color of the British monarchy. In this room number 8, governor generals were sworn into office between 1886 and 1935. It is identical in size to the National Assembly Chamber and the decoration is inspired by the motto ‘Je me Souviens”. I will remember.
After your tour take the time to walk through the exhibit entitled Le Quebec, ses deputes, ses region. Being of French Canadian ancestry I enjoyed looking at the photos of people of note and the different regions of the Province of Quebec. I know the region where my mother is from quite well but I have ancestors from Gaspe and other regions that I have never seen. I enjoyed seeing the people who share family names with me as well.