The Meeting Rooms of Canada House
In the autumn of 1864, three British Crown colonies — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the Province of Canada — came together, first in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and then in Quebec City, to forge a new country. They sought protection from US invasion and the creation of more stable commercial markets. They were driven by their historic and cultural relationship with the UK and their mutual interest and respect.
“Never was there such an opportunity as now for the birth of a nation,” one writer of the time proclaimed
When Queen Victoria granted Royal Assent to the British North America Act of 1867, the Fathers of Confederation saw their vision of a new country come into being with four provinces — Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario (formerly Upper Canada) and Quebec (formerly Lower Canada) — and a federal government of Canada.
Other provinces followed the founding four: Manitoba in 1870, British Columbia in 1871, Prince Edward Island in 1873, Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1905 and Newfoundland in 1949. The ten provinces were accompanied by three territories: the Northwest Territories (from which part of today’s Manitoba and all of Saskatchewan and Alberta were formed), Yukon, home of the famous Klondike Gold Rush, and the newest territory, Nunavut, which was created in 1999.
Today, Canada is the second-largest country in the world, bordering three oceans, extending across six time zones and stretching 5,187km from east to west and 4,627km from north to south. With 265,523km of Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic coast, Canada has the longest coastline of any country.
The United Kingdom is about two per cent of the size of Canada, with almost twice its population. While there are about four people per square kilometre in Canada there are about 260 in the United Kingdom. Only three Canadian provinces — New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia — are smaller in area than the UK, while the territory of Nunavut is almost ten times larger in area. In total, Canada’s protected areas and national parks occupy four times the entire landmass of the United Kingdom. Despite the difference in geographic scale, however, the cultures and traditions of Canada and the UK are intertwined in a way that is unparalleled.
“Let us in this new century, look to the future, secure in our joint values, and seeking new opportunities. We are two nations, but under one Queen and united by one set of values. Let us fear no foe as we work together for a safer, better world.”
David Cameron, 2011 address to Canadian Parliament
“Some years after Prime Minister King delivered his speech here, the people of Canada sent you a gift: the handsome table gracing the floor of your House of Commons, part of an Allied effort to rebuild the chamber after the damages of war. A gift, no doubt, to remind you of the defence of Britain by Canadians done, from the outset, voluntarily and passionately, not simply out of the value of friendship, but also because of the friendship of values. I ask that, if you happen to find yourselves looking at that table, think of us in Canada; perhaps not your most powerful friends, but your truest and most reliable, and know that, as we tackle the great challenges of this and future eras, we shall face them together, always, and we will succeed.”
Stephen Harper, 2013 address to UK Parliament
To show the diversity of Canada’s federation, the meeting rooms of Canada House are named after each of the country’s ten provinces and three territories, as well as the three oceans that wash Canada’s coasts. To capture the spirit, landscape and creativity of each province or territory, the rooms are furnished with artwork by the artists from that province or territory, with furniture created by designers and manufacturers from that province.
Twenty-first century Canada is an energy superpower, rich in both human and natural resources. Since the country’s creation, immigrants from around the world joined Aboriginal communities and the founding cultures of the British and French empires to shape a modern, ethnically diverse federation recognized for its quality of life and its welcoming nature.
“There are no limits to the majestic future which lies before the mighty expanse of Canada with its virile, aspiring, cultured and generous-hearted people.”
Four Great Rooms are named in tribute to Prime Ministers with special connections to our joint histories. The high-ceilinged and crystal-chandeliered Macdonald Room is devoted to Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald (in office 1867–1873 and 1878–1891). The Sir Wilfrid Laurier Room honours Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1896–1911), who celebrated Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee here in London on behalf of Canada. Sir Robert Borden (1911–1920) was Canada’s Prime Minister and the UK’s ally throughout World War I. The Mackenzie King Room recognizes Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister and its leader during World War II, as well as the Prime Minister who established Canada House on Trafalgar Square.