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Visiting the Langevin Block, Ottawa, Ontario: Federal Government building in Second Empire style, completed 1889

Updated on October 4, 2012
Flag of Canada
Flag of Canada | Source
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Langevin Block, Ottawa, Canada
Langevin Block, Ottawa, Canada | Source
Langevin Block / Edifice Langevin, National Historic Site of Canada / Lieu historique national du Canada, Ottawa
Langevin Block / Edifice Langevin, National Historic Site of Canada / Lieu historique national du Canada, Ottawa | Source
Hector-L. Langevin, Montreal, QC, 1865
Hector-L. Langevin, Montreal, QC, 1865 | Source
Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1980
Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1980 | Source
Map location of Ottawa, Ontario
Map location of Ottawa, Ontario | Source

Hub of executive power

Work on this Federal Government building in Ottawa, Ontario, executed in Second Empire style, began in 1884 and was completed in 1889. The building is named for Sir Hector-Louis Langevin (1826-1906)(1), who served from 1869 to 1873, and again from 1879 to 1891, as Public Works Minister under Prime Minister of Canada Sir John A. MacDonald (1815-1891).

The Langevin Block (French: Edifice Langevin) houses both the Privy Council Office (French: Bureau du Conseil privé ) and the Office of the Prime Minister (French: Cabinet du Premier Ministre ). Although the work of the Privy Council is not as publicized as that of the Office of the Prime Minister, the Privy Council Office is essentially the secretariat of policy advisers, who are civil servants, to the Federal Government, whereas the Office of the Prime Minister contains the Head of Government's political staff. Experience working at the Privy Council office is often a precursor to a senior Government position (2).

Compared with Washington, DC, the role of the Langevin Block within the Federal Government compares very approximately with that of the Old Executive Office Building in the US Capital (although it could also be argued that it is comparable to the West Wing of the White House).

The Langevin Block's building material is sandstone from New Brunswick / Nouveau-Brunswick. Features of the building include a steep, mansard roof in copper, with dormer windows, and frequent window arching.

Located at 80 Wellington Street, Ottawa, the site of the Langevin Block close to the Federal Parliament causes it to be often photographed. Part of the building also faces Confederation Square (French: Place de la Confédération ). The building has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada (French: Lieu historique national du Canada).

October 5, 2012


(1) As well as with the Public Works portfolio, Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, known also as a Father of Confederation, at other times served as Secretary of State for Canada, Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs and Postmaster General. He served in three Legislatures: in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, the Legislative Assembly of Quebec and the Parliament of Canada. He was also Mayor of Quebec City from 1858 to 1861.

(2) For example, Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1919-2000), Prime Minister of Canada from 1968 to 1979 and from 1980 to 1984, was sometimes portrayed as somewhat of a political neophyte when he first came to Prime Ministerial office, but he had actually served in the Privy Council office from 1949 until 1951, prior to pursuing various other careers.

Also worth seeing

In Ottawa itself, its many visitor attractions include: Parliament Hill (French: Colline du Parlement ), the Supreme Court of Canada Building (French: Edifice de la Cour Suprême du Canada ), the Chateau Laurier, the National War Memorial of Canada (French: Le Monument commémoratif de guerre du Canada ), Rideau Hall, Laurier House (French: Maison Laurier ), and many others.


How to get there: Air Canada flies from various North American destinations to Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport / Aéroport international Macdonald-Cartier d'Ottawa; car rental is available; however, visitors may wish instead to use OC Transpo public transit for travel within the Ottawa / Gatineau area. For up to date information, you are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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