Ottawa, Ontario – My Top 11 Picks

Ottawa, Ontario – My Top 11 Picks

After the union of the two Canadas in 1841, Kingston, Montreal, Toronto and Quebec were in succession the seat of government. During the 1850s these cities contended for designation as the permanent capital of Canada. During Queen Victoria’s long reign, the nation of Canada was created, grew and flourished. Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837, the same year that violent rebellions broke out in Upper and Lower Canada with demands for a more democratic and responsible form of government. These rebellions prompted many reforms, including the unification of Upper and Lower Canada into the Province of Canada. In 1857, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as Canada’s capital, a political compromise as well as a more secure distance from the American border. In 1867, Queen Victoria signed the British North America Act to create the Dominion of Canada, a self-governing nation within the British Empire, established through peaceful accord and negotiation. The Fathers of Confederation reaffirmed the choice and Ottawa as the capital for the new Dominion.

Parliament Hill sits at the heart of Canada’s Capital, overlooking a river that reflects many histories.  From the beginning, Parliament Hill was designed as a workplace for parliamentarians, and also as a place where everyone could come to meet, talk or just relax in a beautiful outdoor setting.  Today there is a scenic promenade which follows the shoreline of the Ottawa River.

The Centre, East and West blocks of the Parliament Buildings were built between 1859 and 1866 (excluding the Tower and Library).  The Parliament Buildings have vaulted ceilings, marble floors and dramatic lighting which create an air of dignity.  The stone walls have a lot of decoration.

Sir John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) was one of the driving forces behind Confederation in Canada, with Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec joining together to form a new country. Macdonald served as the country’s first prime minister. Manitoba, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island entered Confederation under his government, while the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s transcontinental line was hammered into the ground.

The Rideau Canal, a great military engineering achievement of the nineteenth century, was completed in 1832 and opened central Canada to settlement and trade. The canal was planned after the War of 1812 to provide a safe way to transport troops and equipment between Montreal and Kingston. The entrance locks mark the beginning of a 202-kilometer route linking the Ottawa River and Lake Ontario through a system of lakes and rivers connected and made navigable by the channels, locks and dams that the workers constructed.

In the 1890s, when Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier spoke of making Ottawa a “Washington of the North”, he wanted a new architectural style for the Capital that was distinct from American and older British models, in pursuit of grandeur.

In 1982, the Queen and the Right Honourable Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister, signed the Constitution Act, 1982 to make Canada an independent nation.

Architectural Photos, Ottawa, Ontario

Parliament Hill – Centre Block with Peace Tower – Ottawa Book 1

Architectural Photos, Ottawa, Ontario

Langevin Block – is an office building facing Parliament Hill. As the home of the Privy Council Office and Office of the Prime Minister, it is the working headquarters of the executive branch of the Canadian government. The building is named after a Father of Confederation and cabinet minister Hector Langevin. Built of sandstone from a New Brunswick quarry between 1884 and 1889 – Second Empire style – Mansard roof, dormers, grotesque sculptures (fantastic or mythical figures used for decorative purposes)

Architectural Photos, Ottawa, Ontario

1 Rideau Street – Fairmont Chateau Laurier, one of Canada’s landmark railway hotels, built in the Canadian Chateau style

Architectural Photos, Ottawa, Ontario

44-50 Sparks Street at corner of Elgin – Scottish Ontario Chambers – Italianate design – four-storey brick building with a high ground floor, balanced façade, decorative multi-colored masonry, radiated voussoirs of multicolored brick, fenestration (the arrangement, design and proportioning of windows and doors), roof line with heavy bracketing and decorated cornice – Ottawa Book 2

Architectural Photos, Ottawa, Ontario

555 Mackenzie Avenue – The Connaught Building – 1913 – Tudor Gothic – named after the Duke of Connaught, third son of Queen Victoria, who served as 10th Governor General of Canada from 1911–16 – faced in rusticated sandstone, embellished with turrets, a crenellated roofline, buttresses, corbelling, niches, carved embellishments, an ogee arched entrance and rows of flat-headed windows accented by dressed quoins

Architectural Photos, Ottawa, Ontario

Rideau Hall – Thomas MacKay, a wealthy Scottish stonemason and entrepreneur, helped build the Rideau Canal. Following the completion of the canal, McKay built mills at Rideau Falls, making him the founder of New Edinburgh, the original settlement of Ottawa. With his newly acquired wealth, McKay purchased the 100 acre site overlooking both the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers and built a stone villa in 1838 where he and his family lived until 1855. The building, an eleven-room mansion, was known as MacKay Castle. Following Confederation, Rideau Hall was purchased by the Canadian government as a permanent vice regal residence and home for the nation’s first governor general, Lord Monck. Subsequent governor generals expanded and improved the original building to carry out their increasing official duties. Lord Dufferin added the wings on either side of the main entrance in the 1870s. – Ottawa Book 3

Architectural Photos, Ottawa, Ontario

197 Wurtemburg Street – 1869 – Embassy of the Republic of Turkey – Tudor style – The central portion of the building was a picturesque Gothic Revival structure constructed for W.F. Whitcher, Commissioner of Fisheries. The two wings and the Tudoresque half-timbering were added when the structure served as a Children’s Hospital from 1888-1904.

Architectural Photos, Ottawa, Ontario

320 Chapel Street – Victorian – three-storey tower, cornice brackets, gable, voussoirs, banding, dormer, composite columns around door – Ottawa Book 4

Architectural Photos, Ottawa, Ontario

179 Murray Street – a small house of 9 artist studios – aiding the city of Ottawa in developing an artistic and cultural identity – window hoods, Jacobean-type gable, Doric pillars

Architectural Photos, Ottawa, Ontario

159 Murray Street – Ecole Guigues – The current building opened its doors in 1904 and was one of Ottawa’s largest schools. Two sisters, Diane Desloges and Béatrice Desloges, natives of Ottawa and both teachers at the Guigues elementary school, refused to implement the provisions of Regulation 17, thus defying the ministerial order [issued by the Ontario Ministry of Education] that limited teaching in French to the first two years of elementary school. On January 5, 1916, the Ottawa Separate School Board, with nineteen mothers and the Desloges sisters, stormed the entrance of this school to demand that Franco-Ontarian pupils be educated in their mother tongue. It was not until 1927 that bilingual schools in the province were officially recognized. Thousands of students passed through its halls until it closed in 1979.

Architectural Photos, Ottawa, Ontario

1876 Merivale Road, Nepean – Merivale United Church – built 1875-1876 – Gothic Revival – finials on tower with balustrade; corner quoins