Re-purposed Heritage Buildings of the Parliamentary and Judicial Precinct

Jane Jacobs advised that re-purposing older buildings help nurture new ideas and new enterprises, and that their presence in the streetscape contributes to civic vitality and local identity. 

Fifteen important heritage buildings on Confederation Square, Sparks Street, and Wellington Street have seen or will soon see major renovations by the Federal Government. Most of these have resulted in a new use that is quite different from the original intended use of the building. The most spectacular changes, completed this year, are to the West Block and the former Union Station/Government Conference Centre, now housing the House of Commons and the Senate.

The tour will be in English but questions are welcome in French.


We'll meet at the new Senate of Canada Building, the former Union Station/Government Conference Centre (2 Rideau St).  From there, we'll cross Confederation Square, go west along Sparks St, then north via Metcalfe St to the Centennial Flame.  The walk will take us past the West Memorial Building to Bank & Wellington, and then along Wellington as far as the West Memorial Building at Lyon Street.

Buildings on the tour include:

Senate of Canada Building
Senate Committee Building (former Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography),
former Postal Station B,
Blackburn Building,
Library of Parliament Branch (former Bank of Nova Scotia),
PMO-PCO Building (former "Langevin Block"departmental building),
the former United States Embassy (future Aboriginal Centre),
Sir. John A. Macdonald Building (former Bank of Montreal),
West Block (House of Commons),
Victoria Building,
Wellington Building (former Metropolitan Life Insurance),
Confederation Building,
Justice Building,
Veterans' Affairs
Industry, Trade, and Commerce (future temporary Supreme Court).


There are some interesting videos here that show details of the restoration of the West Block.

About the walk leader

David Jeanes is president of Heritage Ottawa and has been leading heritage walking tours, particularly along Wellington and Sparks Streets, for eighteen years. He has followed closely the renovation of all the heritage buildings on this tour and has studied their historical uses and architecture.


David Jeanes

Date:Sat May 4, 2019
Time:11:00 AM
Duration: 1 hour
Language: English
Start:Senate of Canada Building, 2 Rideau St
End:Wellington & Lyon Sts
Area:Parliament Hill/Downtown
Distance:1.5 kms

The walk will follow city sidewalks. 

The former Union Station (and later the Government of Canada Conference Centre) will serve for the next few years as the Senate of Canada. The former Bank of Nova Scotia building on Sparks St has been converted into a branch of the Parliamentary Library. The temporary chamber of the House of Commons built in the former courtyard of the West Block.  The West Block on Parliament Hill, the interim location of the House of Commons Chamber. The interior of the ground floor of the future Aboriginal Centre, showing the arched windows. Marble staircase in the former US Embassy This building, formerly the US Embassy, is being transformed into the Aboriginal Centre. Interior of the Sir John A Macdonald Building. The Sir John A Macdonald Building, formerly the Bank of Montreal, now the permanent home for large parliamentary meetings and functions. Postal Station B, designed by W.E. Noffke, presides over the entrance to Sparks St. The interim chamber for the Senate of Canada. Senators' lounge in part of the Great Hall, which was the Waiting Room of the former Union Station. The Victoria Building was finished in 1928.  Today, most of the space is used for the offices of Canadian Senators.
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