It is the end of an era on Parliament Hill.
The cat sanctuary is no more.
The cat sanctuary was born out of a rodent-control plan that until the mid-1950s saw cats employed as mouse-catchers. In 1955 the cats were put out of work by the introduction of chemicals to control rodents but dozens of the cats were still around.
For more than five decades, volunteers faithfully tended to the cats. At first it was Parliament Hill groundskeepers who fed them, but in the 1970s, a volunteer named Irene Desormeaux, took over their care. She was joined by Rene Chartrand in the 1980s and he took over fully from Irene when she died in 1987.
Chartrand even built cold weather shelters to house the cats. More recently other volunteers replaced the shelters with two-story insulated versions. A local Ottawa animal hospital spayed and neutered them. Purina donated food. And volunteers kept coming to feed and look after the animals, day after day.
The cats were a big tourist attraction, often one of the highlights of a tour of the Hill.
The cats still have a Facebook page devoted to them.
As recently as a decade ago there were still at least 30 cats in the colony, but spaying and neutering reduced the population significantly. Just before Christmas there were just four cats left. Public Works decided to shut down the sanctuary the last week of December, and volunteers have adopted the final animals.