It all started when I was reading this blog post a while back. I got the idea right away but then life happened. You know how it is. My laptop died (I let my human think it’s hers but we all know who’s the real boss, right?), then the kid came along, then my human couldn’t find the time to go take the photographs I requested.
But it’s finally here.
The Cats of the Canadian Parliament Hill.
A Brief History of the Cats of Parliament Hill
(Taken from The Cats of Parliament Hill Blog)
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 on to take care of stray cats in a greater colony beyond this world, Rene took over and loyally fed the cats to this day. In 1997 Rene and a friend built the existing structures. Brian Caines began helping about that time,and I began helping out in 2003. That year brian and I decided to put together a support team to ensure that Rene would be ok (he’s in his mid-eighties now) and that the cats would always be well provided for. We now have a team of eight caregivers who volunteer their time to this amazing cause.
The Cats of Parliament Hill Blog has some amazing photographs and stories. I encourage you to check it out.
The Kitty Condos (shelters) were built by René Chartrand and one of his friends in 1997 and were made to resemble the houses of European settlers along the St. Lawrence. Today, they are in need of some renovations, methinks.
Even though the sanctuary is fenced, all the cats are free to come and go as they please and some of them are even friendly to human visitors. They are also used to wild creatures and it is very common to see families of racoons and squirrels feeding when the cats are not looking.
Unfortunately, most of the area is under construction at the moment due the Queen Victoria Look-out restoration so there are fences all around and the benches are gone but my human says a few years back, one of the cats used to come to sit on her lap every time she went to visit.
According to the official blog, there are currently 7 cats living in the sanctuary:
The cats are well taken care of by a small army of volunteers. Vet care is provided by the Altavista Animal Hospital and their food is donated by a cat food company and a local bakery.
Here are some of the pictures taken by my human:
So, if you are planning on visiting Ottawa, don’t forget to add the The Cats of the Canadian Parliament Hill to your itinerary!
I also asked my human to take some video footage for me to make a little movie but then I found this one on YouTube so I am adding it here as well.
Note from the Sactuary caretakers: We decided to remove the donation box as over the years we had collected sufficient funds to care for the cats. With the ongoing support of Alta Vista Animal Hospital, Studio La Griffe (Gatineau), and Oven Baked Tradition which donates dried cat food, the cats are well cared for. We ask visitors who wish to support our work to make a donation to their local Humane Society or a cat rescue group in the name of the cats.