Hon. Serge Joyal:
Honourable senators, today we have the privilege of resuming this Senate session in a new chamber built from scratch in the arrivals hall of the old Union train station, which opened in 1912. The Senate is the only place that contains all three components of Canada’s Parliament, namely Her Majesty’s crown, the senators themselves and the House of Commons, whose members stand behind the bar on certain special occasions.
The presence of the Crown is symbolically present by the two thrones located at the end of the chamber behind the Speaker’s chair. These are the thrones of Her Majesty, the Queen of Canada.
Since ancient times, thrones have been associated with the authority of divine or royal power. The thrones quite literally represent the seat of majesty and might, the attributes of kingship. The thrones are usually located under a canopy to represent the link of the sovereign with its divine source. They are elevated by steps, signifying that its authority commands all and everyone.
When it came to designing the new Senate Chamber, it was correctly suggested that the neo-Gothic thrones, which had suited the architectural style of the old chamber, did not match the Beaux Arts classical setting of the Senate’s new home. For this reason, and to mark the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Senate, it was decided to commission new thrones that would be more appropriate for this chamber.
Her Majesty, the Queen, was informed of this important project by the Speaker of the Senate. She graciously offered some walnut taken from the forest of the royal estate at Windsor Castle to be used in their construction. This gift of wood was used for the crowns and the carved panels bearing the royal cypher and the Canadian crest that are the chief decorative elements of the thrones.
Honourable senators, you won’t be surprised to hear that the task of building the thrones was entrusted to a workshop in Quebec, namely the Treebone workshop in Montreal, headed by Ross Munro, using plans developed by Dominion Sculptor Phil White. Francis Camiré is the wood artisan who built the structure of the thrones. The sculptor is Alexandre Lepinsky. The seats and backs were upholstered by Richard Soucy, with trimmings from Houlès de Paris. Lastly, all the gilding was done by Isabelle Hordequin, who is also from Montreal. We thank them all.
The thrones are decorated with branches of maple leaves, a symbol of Canada, and they display the English rose and the French fleur-de-lys, representing the two official languages of the country. The thrones are superb works of art and craftsmanship and they are now part of our Canadian heritage.
When the Senate returns to Centre Block, these thrones will make their way to Rideau Hall where none currently exist. The presence of these thrones here in the Senate is a testament of our esteem and gratitude to the Queen and of our recognition that Canada continues to develop under the regime of a constitutional monarchy to flourish as a society where rights and freedoms are guaranteed and where the rights of Indigenous peoples were first recognized by royal proclamation in 1763. We will certainly look to a brighter future for our country in this new Senate Chamber. Thank you, honourable senators.