Are you planning a trip to Ottawa? It’s a beautiful city to visit in any season, for its architecture and its parks. While developing our Ottawa Tourist Scavenger Hunt, we identified many iconic buildings in Ottawa that sign the visual landscape of this city which we thought you should take time to admire.
14 iconic buildings in Ottawa
Government Conference Center
- Built in the Beau-Arts style by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1912, the Government Conference Center by the Rideau Canal faces the Chateau Laurier hotel and is very close to Parliament Hill. It was originally Ottawa’s Union Station, the main rail hub.
- Today, this building serves to host various conferences and political activities such as the G20 in 2001. A section of the Berlin Wall resided in its entrance from 1991 until 2011 when it moved to a museum.
- The Lord Elgin Hotel was built in 1941 in the chateau style. It bears the name, like the road it is on, of James Bruce (1862-1863), 8th Earl of Elgin and first Governor General of United Canada. He was the official representative of the British Crown in this British province – before it became a country.
The post office on Sparks
- This beautiful château and art-deco style building was built in 1939 as a Post Office. It has been classified as a national landmark. Note the inscription at 59 Sparks, a reference to a prior institution.
- The Confederation Building was erected in 1931 for the ministry of agriculture, in the Chateau style, like the Chateau Laurier hotel. Many MPs have their offices here today.
- Also built in the Château style, the Justice Building opened in 1938 for the RCMP – Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
- Ian Fleming’s novel « For Your Eyes Only » (1960), which became a film in 1981 with Roger Moore, brought James Bond to meet the RCMP here. It accurately describes the building and its interior. However, none of the 24 films in this franchise has set foot in Canada.
Supreme Court of Canada
- This institution is the highest judicial level in the country, hearing 40 to 75 cases per year. Decisions from the 9 judges are final. No appeal is possible. The only possibility of overthrowing or changing one of their rulings is an Act of Parliament, which must be voted by the House of Commons, or lower house of the government.
- The cornerstone of this building was laid in 1939 by Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elisabeth II’s mother and spouse to King George VI. You may know her best as the Queen Mother. It was completed in 1946. However, there’s an error in the date on the cornerstone. The Queen faced bad weather in her Atlantic crossing and was delayed by 1 day to the ceremony. As it was already engraved, it was laid as such.
- Located in Hull, across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill, is the Canadian Children’s Museum.
Canadian Museum of History
- The national history museum is also located in Hull, next to the Children’s Museum. Its original name was the Canadian Civilisation Museum
- Its goal is to collect and present objects that illustrate the human history of Canada and its cultural diversity.
National Arts Gallery
- This museum, founded in 1880 by the Governor General of the time who was married to Princess Louise, who was an artist. In 1882, the museum moved to Parliament Hill in the same building as the Supreme Court. It moved in 1911 to the Victoria Memorial Museum which later became the Canadian Museum of Nature. In 1962, it moved yet again to Elgin road near the British Embassy. Finally, it moved to its own new home in a large glass building on the northern point of Ottawa, in 1988.
- The Canadian Parliament was originally built between 1859 and 1878 in the Neogothic Style, similar to the Chateau Style. Inspired by French, English and Flemish architectural elements, its construction employed mostly wood.
- In 1916, a great fire ravaged the central building. Only the library, at the back, escaped unscathed because of an employee’s quick reflexes in closing the firewall door connecting it to the central building. Stone comprises the bulk of the current building, completed in 1920. Keep in mind this construction occurred during World War One which ended in 1918.
- The Parliament building houses the Senate, composed of 105 members, as well as the Chamber of House of Commons, composed of 338 representatives from all regions of Canada.
- In the center, you can see the Peace Tower, built between 1919 and 1928, grander than the original Victoria Tower. The bell from the original tower stands exposed behind the parliament among other monuments. At its base is the Remembrance Chapel, dedicated to Canadians killed in armed conflict abroad.
- The main entrance is Confederation Hall, commonly called the Rotunda.
- The Chateau Laurier hotel, today operated by Fairmont, opened in 1912. The Canadian Pacific Railway built it in tandem with Union Station across the street.
Prime Minister’s Office
- The offices of the Prime Minister of Canada and the Privy Council are located to the front left of the Canadian Parliament Hill, on Wellington. It opened in 1889, built in the Second Empire style.
United States Embassy to Canada
- The American embassy in Canada is at 490 Sussex Promenade, next to Major’s Hill Park. It opened in 1999. The is the most important embassy in Ottawa, as well and the most impressive of American embassies around the world.
Royal Canadian Mint
- This museum is on the eastern edge of the downtown area. Learn how money gots designed and fabricated in Canada throughout its history. It stands next to the Ottawa River.
We invite you to try our Ottawa Tourist Scavenger Hunt. It is a 2-hour self-guided walking tour of the downtown area that you do with your smartphone (how it works). It costs $35 for a group of 2 to 6 persons. You’ll come across most of these buildings and much more. Moreover, you’ll enjoy solving the various challenges at each step of the way while learning the history of Ottawa.Suivez-nous / Follow us