Monday, May 25, 2009

MyWorld Tuesdy ~ The Cats of Parliament Hill

I have lived in and love Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It is the Captial of Canada, rather conservative but has grown up rather nicely. Each time I visit my daughter and son-in-law, I or we visit Parliament Hill not to see the seat of Government but to visit the "Cats of Parliament Hill"

There is a story that Colonel By brought hundreds of cats with him when he built the Rideau Canal in 1826, to take care of the rodent population, but
unfortunately that cannot be confirmed. What can be confirmed is that cats were employed in the Parliament Building (as in many other building) as pest control until 1955 when they were replaced by chemicals. Until 1970 ground keepers fed the cats in various locations, when Irene Desormeaux began feeding the cats where the existing colony now resides.

Rene Chartrand began helping her in the mid-nineteen eighties and began building some wooden structures (some of which can still be seen) for the cats to keep warm in. In 1987 when Irene passed away, Rene took over and loyally fed the cats.. It is said that Rene visits his charges twice a day and has only missed one day...when his wife passed. He was honored with the Humane Society of Canada's Heroes for Animals Award in 2005.

While the government does not contribute funds it celebrates the nature of his creation. "The contrast between these modest shelters and the formality and tradition of the Parliament Buildings is a symbol of compassion, one of the important elements of Canadian society," says a Parliamentary page devoted to the "cat sanctuary" on the government's website.


There are currently around twenty eight cats on the premises. The cats are all spayed or neutered, and receive free inoculations and care from the local Alta Vista Animal Hospital. The care of the cats is entirely reliant on personal donations and volunteerism, and is estimated to cost CAN$6000 annually.

While formally intended for the cats, the effort also benefits countless raccoons, groundhogs and squirrels who partake in the cats' benefits. Since 2005 a support team of five volunteers has been established to help René with the maintenance of the colony.

There is also a blog dedicated to the The Cats on Parliament Hill with lots of great photos and updates.
The first photo is not mine it is courtesy of wikimedia Commons

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15 comments:

Rinkly Rimes said...

Where else would I have learned all that except on a blog. Prrrrr!

Visit me at

http://rinklyrimes.blogspot.com

Cedar ... said...

As a cat person I have yet one more reason to visit Ottawa. Thanks for that tour!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

What a wonderful post! This is the first time I've heard of the cats of Parliament Hill. I prefer cats way way more than chemicals, any day! In fact, I prefer cats over many of our politicians. (OK, I'll go straight away to wash my mouth out with soap.)

Deborah Godin said...

I'm glad to know about the site for them, I'll definitely visit!

ms toast burner said...

Awww, great post!

I had no idea about these cats and I was in Ottawa for two months last year. Bugger! Next visit though. Thanks for the info and link, Carolyn. :-)

Meandering Michael said...

Wow! The shelters have really been improved (and the brushes cleared) since the last time I was there!

Janie said...

Nice shelters for the kitties. I'm glad a good home is being provided for them.

Linda said...

I think I've heard of these - they must be quite famous. Interesting to see the real thing.

Nessa said...

What a great and interesting story.

Ruth said...

I missed this when I was in Ottawa this year. Yet another reason to return!

CoyoteFe said...

Great story! And, those are some goodlooking, well-kept cats! Wonder which is betterL chemical pest control or natural cat hunters?

Powell River Books said...

I knew I picked the right country! I've never heard about the cats before. What a wonderful story. I've never been to Ottawa, but will have to visit the cats if I do. - Margy

Glennis said...

As a cat lover I appreciate the fact that the cats are treated with kindness, even on very cold nights and days they have a warm house to snuggle into, and food available to them. I am sure they still catch small rodents to assist the city.

Annie said...

What an interesting story...amazing!

Thanks for your visit to My World this week, also!

SandyCarlson said...

They are living the life.

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