Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)
I trust hon. members will allow me to make a few brief remarks on the tragedy we are commemorating today.
Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the destruction by fire of the original parliament buildings of Canada. The blaze broke out in the reading room at 8.55 p.m. and spread swiftly throughout the building. At the time the house was debating problems concerning the fishing industry.
Hon. members may be interested in the following extract from Hansard of February 3, 1916, as reported at page 578:
At this time Mr. C. R. Stewart, Chief Doorkeeper of the House of Commons, came hurriedly into the Chamber and called out: "There is a big fire in the reading room; everybody get out quickly." The sitting was immediately suspended without formality, and members, officials, and visitors in the galleries, fled from the Chamber. Some of them were almost overcome by the rapidly-advancing smoke and flames before reaching a place of safety. The fire, which had originated in the reading room, gained momentum with extreme rapidity and was soon beyond control. It continued till the following day, resulting in the almost total destruction of the parliament buildings, together with the loss of several lives.
As hon. members know, the only part of the original building remaining virtually intact was the library. Following the disaster, parliament met in the lecture theatre of the Victoria Memorial Museum and sessions continued there until February 2, 1920, when parliament met in the present building for the first time. Yesterday marked our 46th year in this chamber of our parliament.
Among the casualties of the fire was the mace. A temporary replacement was hastily constructed and was used for several months after the fire, and it is this mace which is in use today.
Subtopic: FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF CONFLAGRATION