Lover’s Walk Parliament Hill Ottawa

January 18th, 2015 | Posted by jdelroy-admin

We have written previously about Thomas Seaton Scott, the builder and original resident of Albert House Inn Bed and Breakfast and touched briefly on his work in the landscaping of Parliament Hill.  This post is about a long forgotten but very important landscape design of his and, at one time, a must see tourist attraction called “Lover’s Walk”.  The following excerpt is from the history of the construction of the Parliament Buildings and grounds from Public Works and Government Services.

“Providing a proper setting for the new buildings was so important that the Governor General, Lord Dufferin, took a personal interest in getting it right. He suggested that the Chief Architect, Thomas Scott, go to New York to see Central Park. Urban parks were becoming all the rage. They offered stressed-out office or factory workers and apartment bound children a chance to experience nature and take a break from the hectic pace of city life. One of the best parks then and still today, was Central Park, designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Scott toured the park with Calvert Vaux, Olmsted’s partner, who also drew up a plan for terraces, driveways and a fountain for the lawn of Parliament Hill.

Parliament Hill

When Scott returned to Ottawa, he set to work laying out the grounds using what he had learned in New York. Vaux’s terrace walls were designed to give the Centre Block more presence by creating an elegant base and sweeping approach driveways. At each side, a massive flag base and staircase framed the main building. The one problem in Vaux’s plan was the fountain at the foot of the centre staircase. Thomas Fuller complained that the fountain was a distraction and ought to be removed. When he became Chief Architect in the 1880s, one of his first projects was the removal of the fountain.

Scott had learned that a well planned park would offer people many different experiences. Vaux’s lawn was formal and structured. Behind the buildings, Scott created a more relaxed area for strolling, admiring the view and enjoying the exotic floral displays created by skilled gardeners. These Pleasure Grounds had benches, a charming summer pavilion and commemorative statues of Canadian statesmen. This was Nature, tamed and improved by Man.

For untamed Nature, the public could follow a pathway cut into the face of the escarpment along an old raftsmen’s trail. This feature was first created in the 1860s and had always been popular. It was a perfect fit into Scott’s park. He built stairways from the Pleasure Grounds, look-out platforms, washrooms and water fountains for the convenience of the public. Known as Lovers’ Walk, it was a welcome escape from the city streets into the cool shade. “A more charming stroll for man or maid, lover or misanthrope, could not be wished for … shut off from the city life and embowered in trees”.”

Here is a wonderful description of “The Lover’s Walk” from a tourist publication (date unknown).

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Today, sadly, not much remains of this charming pathway.  There were plans not too long ago to revitalize the walkway and surrounding area behind Parliament Hill and we hope that it will still happen so guests of Albert House Inn Bed and Breakfast and all visitors to Ottawa will be able to stroll along Lover’s Walk, enjoy the nature and the views of the Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River and perhaps recapture some of the magic of this wonderful, unique part of Ottawa’s heritage.

 

 

 

 

A Look Back to 1875 When Albert House Inn Was Built

January 4th, 2015 | Posted by jdelroy-admin

As we celebrate the 140 anniversary of the building of our home and bed and breakfast, Albert House Inn, we thought it would be fun to show some of the events that took place during the time of construction between the years 1875 and 1876.

The beginning of the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway was a ceremony of turning the sod which took place on the left bank of the Kamistiquia River in the townsite of Fort William, Ontario about four miles from the river’s mouth.  It would be another 10 years before this great project reached completion.

The Supreme Court of Canada is created in Ottawa.  The Court originally sat in the Railway Committee Room in the Parliament Buildings but in 1882 it was relocated to a newly renovated building at the entrance of Parliament that had been used as a carriage house.  It was only in 1949 that the Court was relocated to the Courthouse where they preside today, only a short walk from Albert House Inn.

In the American west, Pinkerton agents, hunting Jesse James, firebombed his mother’s house, killed his 13-year-old half-brother and seriously injured his mother.

General George A. Custer with some 250 men in his 7th Cavalry were massacred by the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians at the battle of The Little Big Horn in Montana.

Wyatt Earp moved to Dodge City, Kansas and remained until 1879 when he moved to Tombstone where the famous (or infamous) Gunfight at the OK Corral took place.  The days of the Wild West were still flourishing.


The 1st recorded hockey game took place in Montreal at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal, Canada. Organized by James Creighton, who also captained one of the teams, the game was between two nine-member teams, using a wooden ‘puck’.


The founding of Calgary.  The first North West Mounted Police detachment arrived in September 1875 and built a fort at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers. The detachment’s commander, Captain Brisebois, named the fort after himself. In 1876 at the suggestion of Colonel James MacLeod  the name was changed to Calgary after Calgary on the Isle of Mull in Scotland.
And in Ottawa, by 1876, the structures of Parliament Hill were finished, along with the surrounding fence and gates. However, the grounds had yet to be properly designed and the Governor General, the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, sent chief architect Thomas Seaton  Scott (the original builder and resident of our inn) to New York City to meet with Calvert Vaux and view Central Park.  Vaux completed a layout for the landscape of Parliament Hill, including the present day driveways, terraces, and main lawn, while Scott created the more informal grounds to the sides of and behind the buildings.

I really enjoy looking back at some of the things that were going on when our home was being built 140 years ago.  Think about the vast differences between Thomas Seaton Scott and his working on such a civilized project as the design for the grounds of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa and the lives lived by Wyatt Earp and his contempories, the violent deaths of General Custer and his cavalry and the outlaws still robbing banks and trains in the American West (it’s pretty obvious I am great fan of the old west).  It’s hard to believe it all happened over the same years.

So next time you stay at our bed and breakfast inn, as well as appreciating the heritage of Albert House, maybe you too will have some romantic, fanciful thoughts about the old days 140 years ago.

 


 

 


 

Warm and Comfy In Our Cosy Lounge

December 8th, 2014 | Posted by jdelroy-admin

Our guests love the wood burning fireplace in our cosy lounge.  You can smell the lovely wood smoke as you come down Albert Street approaching our bed and breakfast.  What a welcome sight on a cold, snowy night.

Our complimentary beverage selection of coffees, teas and hot chocolate is always at hand for guests and visitors to enjoy a hot drink while relaxing by the fire and reading a book or one of the magazine or newspaper choices available in the lounge.

We start our fire in late afternoon and keep it burning until we close the office at night.  Firewood is stored by the fireplace and in a cupboard close by that has a convenient pass through to the area at  the side of the Inn where we keep our stacked and covered wood.

We usually source our wood from the Lanark area, but last year and this year we are also burning a lot of ash, which fortunately and unfortunately we had close by.  Unfortunately because this ash is from the two beautiful trees which were at the edge of our lane way against our fence (see photo below).  I’m sure many of our guests remember these trees (and inwardly cursed them when backing up their vehicle) but we all miss them now that they are gone.  There is something special about big trees in the heart of downtown with their leaf canopy providing welcome shade and a home to birds.

Our beautiful big ash in healthier times.

Both our ash trees were infested with the Emerald Ash Borer and it only took about a year for the trees to become so sick that they no longer produced leaves, were dying and had to be removed for obvious safety reasons.  The largest tree near the sidewalk was much taller than the inn and about 75 years old when it was cut down.

Like our trees,  the Emerald Ash borer has also caused thousands of trees to be cut down in Ottawa.  By August of this year alone, over 4,400 trees were identified as being infested – and these were only trees on city property.

However, there is something strangely comforting about burning the wood from these beautiful old trees – they never left home and we are enjoying them still.

Albert House Inn Bed and Breakfast where you can enjoy relaxing by a real wood fireplace on those cold, snowy nights with a cup of hot chocolate.  Why stay anywhere else?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting the Central Experimental Farm

April 21st, 2014 | Posted by jdelroy-admin

Many people do not realize that Ottawa is the only country in the world to have a working farm in the heart of its capital.  The  Central Experimental Farm was established in 1886 and is a National Historic Site and is home to the Canadian Agricultural Museum.

The farm covers over 400 hectares and is open to the public all year long.  It is only a short drive from Albert House Inn and a pleasant bicycle ride.  The Ornamental Gardens and the Arboretum are two of the more popular sites at the farm. You often see bridal parties having photo shoots in the gardens and they are a wonderful place just to wonder around and savour all the colours and scents.

The rows of lilacs and the iris gardens are particularly spectacular and of course the roses are amazing, many of which were bred at the farm (the hardy Explorer roses for example).

The Arboretum covers about 26 hectares of rolling land between Prince of Wales Drive and the Rideau Canal. Many of the trees and shrubs planted in 1889 are now among the largest specimens of their kind in Canada.  The Arboretum is open every day from sunrise to sunset and is a popular place for picnics.

So when you are staying with us in our downtown Ottawa bed and breakfast inn and have enjoyed our fabulous breakfast, why not visit the Central Experimental Farm and discover all the wonderful delights it has to offer.

 

 

More History of Albert House Inn – Rosary Hall

March 30th, 2014 | Posted by jdelroy-admin

We continue to delve into the past of our Inn and recently found some more history of Albert House when it was known as Rosary Hall from 1932 until 1968.

In October of 1932 the Sisters of Service, an Order founded by Catherine Donnelly,  established Rosary Hall at 478 Albert Street.  “She became convinced that only dedicated Sisters living with and among the people would enable them to remain faithful to their Catholic and Christian heritage. Her inspiration led to the founding of a new Canadian Catholic Women’s Religious Order. The Sisters of Service were founded in Toronto in 1922. They were to dedicate their lives to the care of these newcomers, helping them to remain faithful to their Catholic heritage.

Catherine’s gift was a holistic approach to life and mission, seeing the spiritual, social and cultural needs of all people and a way of being church where the church was not present. The Sisters would live in small groups, in scattered settlements being the ministering church for those most in need. To carry out their mission, the Sisters of Service taught in public schools with a strong emphasis on home visiting, operated small rural hospitals, taught religion by mail, provided immigration services at the ports of entry to Canada and established hostels in the major cities across Canada”.

The work of the Sister’s at Rosary Hall  was to be with overseas girls, principally those engaged in domestic work.  A social club was organized and an employment service was established.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, immigration ceased and young ladies from all over Canada came to Ottawa for employment.  Rosary Hall offered a place to live and make friends and the Sister’s helped these young women move towards independent living. The girls, usually two to a room, had to make their own beds, look after their own things and do their laundry.  Room and board was $17 a week.

The Sisters were apparently quite friendly and neighbourhood children living in nearby apartment buildings asked permission to bury their pets in the back yard of the Hall.  We believe the yard extended right through to Slater Street.

In the years following the end of the war, Rosary Hall offered its services to girls from seventeen to twenty one who came to the city to work and also offered housing to students taking short courses.

Occasionally guests staying with us have mentioned that they know of women who stayed at the Hall and several years ago we had many ladies tour the Inn after a reunion at St. Patrick’s Basilica.  They told us with great delight of their time spent at Rosary Hall, of the dances that were held here and the mischief they got into.

We are enjoying our twenty-seventh year as custodians of this wonderful old building and continue to discover new aspects of its history which we will share with you.

 

 

 

 

 

Turning of the Page Ceremony Memorial Chamber

February 4th, 2014 | Posted by jdelroy-admin

 

Just about every one of the guests at our downtown Ottawa bed and breakfast go and visit the Parliament Buildings which of course is one of the most visited attractions in Ottawa.  After a wonderful breakfast at our Inn, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll to the Hill and take the guided tour.  In the busy tourist season you will have to go the Visitor’s Tent and book a tour (they are free).   Most people take the Centre Block tour  and see the House of Commons and the Parliamentary Library.  We would like to talk about the Turning of the Page ceremony which takes place every day at 11am in the Memorial Chamber in the Centre Block.

Construction of the Chamber began in

1923 and was open to the public on Remembrance Day in 1928.  The Books of Remembrance contain the names of the men and women who died in service to Canada. There are seven books in total, which include names from the country’s first expeditions until the most recent missions.  Both the overall style and the materials used reflect the solemnity and importance of the Memorial Chamber to Canada and to the countries where Canadians died.  The floor is made of stone collected from the battlegrounds of Europe where Canadians fought in the First World War.

One of our guests recently attended the Turning of the Page ceremony which listed one of his relatives.  The order of pages turned is based on a perpetual calendar system that ensures each name appears at least once yearly. With the date for each page set, family members can be present for the ceremony when the name of a relative is shown.  You can email the office of the Deputy of the Sergeant-at-Arms to arrange a private viewing.

Much more information about the Memorial Chamber is available on the website that was unveiled in 2005 in conjunction with the Year of the Veteran.  There is a virtual tour of the Chamber and also one of the Turning of the Page ceremony.

So when you are planning your visit to the Parliament Buildings make sure you see this important feature.

Albert House Inn – A Brief History of our Bed and Breakfast

January 13th, 2014 | Posted by jdelroy-admin

Many guests who stay at our bed and breakfast inn ask about the history of our lovely building and we thought we would write a brief blog of Albert House Inn and its builder, Thomas Seaton Scott.  (Following are excerpts from a more extensive history on our website).

Thomas Seaton Scott (1836-1895) – Before accepting the prestigious position as the first Chief Architect of the Dominion of Canada, Scott was employed by the Grand Trunk Railway in Quebec and Ontario and designed a number of important works for the company.

 Scott began his career around 1871 with the federal government as Public Works sole architectural employee and went on to make the Chief Architect’s Branch into the largest building design firm in the country. Scott’s was appointed in February of 1872 to the post of Chief Architect of the Dominion of Canada. 

As Chief Architect Scott eventually assumed responsibility for the design, construction, maintenance and repair of all federal buildings across Canada from 1871 to 1881, including the original post office at Elgin and Sparks (1875-1938), the Cartier Square Drill Hall (1879)

and the Langevin Block where the Prime Minister’s offices are located. Also during this period the grounds of Parliament Hill were landscaped (Scott revised the plans of the New York landscape architect Calvert Vaux) and the Library was completed.

In the early 1870′s plans were drawn up for a new Customs House in Victoria, British Columbia the capital of Canada’s newest province. They were discarded as being “not grandiose enough to represent the Dominion”, and the building erected under the new plans in 1873 still stands on the Victoria waterfront near the Empress Hotel. Known as the Malahat Building, it has been given historical designation by the City of Victoria.

Scott, partially for technical reasons, used those plans for this building, albeit one third (or one set of fireplaces) shorter. The building remains largely unchanged from the time of construction and is considered a rare and well-crafted example of the Second Empire style.

Visitors from out of town are always surprised to find our bed and breakfast inn located amid the high rises and office buildings in downtown Ottawa,  Locals often say that they wonder about our unique property as it stands out so much when they go by on the bus.  We encourage people to drop by and have a look at our bed and breakfast inn as we are proud of our heritage property. 

We have enjoyed Albert House Inn and our role as innkeepers since 1987 and have always endeavoured to preserve and enhance the historic integrity of this wonderful old building. In continuing to do so we hope to see it well on its way into another century.

 

National Arts Centre in Ottawa

December 6th, 2013 | Posted by jdelroy-admin

One of the many attractions that brings visitors to Ottawa is the National Arts Centre (NAC), a world class showcase for music, theatre and dance.   We are fortunate that the NAC is only a short walk away from Albert House Inn.  Because of the Centre’s proximity, many of our guests stay with us to attend an event that they have prebooked and others are delighted to find that they are able to take advantage of performances during their stay that they otherwise would not have an opportunity to enjoy.

We thought we would present some things about the National Arts Centre that you may not know.

The NAC was designated a National Historic Site in 2006.  A description of the heritage value and character defining elements can be found on Canada’s Historic Places website Canada’s Historic Places.

The creation of Canada’s National Arts Centre was part of the explosion of pride and optimism that led to the celebration of Canada’s 100th birthday in 1967. Unfortunately, the NAC’s construction fell behind schedule. It took seven years to complete and did not open until June 2, 1969, two years after the celebratory year.   Southam Hall, the largest venue with over 2,300 seats is most likely a name familiar to those who have attended performances there.  But did you know that the hall was named after  G. Hamilton Southam, an ex-diplomat and Ottawa resident who took a modest proposal by local citizens to build a decent concert hall in Ottawa and developed it into a magnificent edifice and national organization for the arts.  You can read more about the creation and development of the National Arts Centre at “About the NAC “  The NAC In A Nutshell.

The Centre is one of the largest performing arts facilities in Canada, at 1,158,000 sq ft (107,600 m2) and  is the only multidisciplinary, bilingual, performing arts centre in North America, and one of the largest in the world.  The NAC orchestra is considered one of the world’s leading classical-size orchestras.  Pinchas Zukerman,

the current Music Director’s  recordings have received 21 Grammy nominations, and 2 Grammy wins.  He will be stepping down in 2015 and Alexander Shelley, the youngest Music Director ever appointed, will be taking over then.

Have a look at the  Christmas Preparations for this year’s festivities at the NAC and remember, if you want to attend any of the wonderful performances, Albert House Inn Bed and Breakfast is a fine accommodation near the National Arts Centre.  Here’s a link to the   NAC Box Office.  We look forwarding to welcoming you to our Inn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

June and July in Ottawa

June 3rd, 2013 | Posted by jdelroy-admin

The next couple months will feature plenty of events and things to do in the Ottawa area.  Let’s take a look at what’s happening in downtown Ottawa and area in June and July.  Most of these events are easily accessible from Albert House Inn.

Supreme Court of Canada  ongoing until the end of August. Many people don’t realize that tours are available.  The Court is just a short walk from the Inn.  The guides, who are all law students,  familiarize visitors with the operation of the Canadian judicial system and explain how legal issues of public importance are dealt with by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Chicken and Rib Cook-Off Sparks Street Mall  June 19-23.  The Sparks Street Mall hosts this annual event and teams from Canada and the United States  compete for the top rank of best rib choice, best rib sauce, best chicken choice and best chicken sauce. Each day, the ribbers will start their grills at 11am and continue cooking until the evening hours.  Head on over to the Mall (a ten minute walk from Albert House Inn) and chow down!

Ottawa Dragonboat Festival  June 20-23.  This is the 20th Annual Festival and is shaping up to shatter past participation and attendance records.  187 teams have registered with teams coming from Boston, New York City, Florida, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton and more. The Dragonboat Foundation was founded in  2004 to help efforts with fundraising for local charities.

The challenge has raised over $2.43 million. The event takes place at Mooney’s Bay on Riverside Drive and is free for spectators.  Free concerts and extreme sporting displays are also on offer.  Mooney’s Bay is less than a 15 minute drive from Albert House Inn.

Ottawa Jazz Festival  June 20-July 1.  Jazz musicians from Canada and around the world perform in open air venues and intimate studio spaces.  The main stage is at Confederation Park and performances will also be taking place at different venues such as the Dominion-Chalmers United Church, the National Arts Center  and the popular Late-Night Jamming sessions will be at AlphaSoul, located at 1015 Wellington St. West in Hintonburg.  Albert House Inn is central to all venue locations. This is the festival’s 33rd edition and promises “a diverse, expansive, and above all genuine Festival . . . .”

Canada Day  July 1.  The big event of the year draws thousands of people to Parliament Hill to enjoy music, dance and a great fireworks display. 

The festivities are also happening in downtown parks and on the streets. Get there early to ensure you have a good viewing spot.

Ottawa Bluesfest  July 4-14.  This great outdoor music festival  has become the largest blues festival in Canada and the second largest in North America.  The festival takes place at Lebreton Flats which is only a ten minute walk from Albert House Inn.  We are the closest accommodation to the festival.

The above events are just a few reasons to visit Ottawa in June and July.   Stay at our comfortable bed and breakfast inn in the heart of downtown Ottawa and you will be able to walk to many of these great activities.  Our heritage boutique hotel is just perfect offering fabulous, gourmet breakfasts, outstanding personal service and comfy rooms with modern amenities.

 

 

Cycling Paths In Downtown Ottawa

April 2nd, 2013 | Posted by jdelroy-admin

This is one of the many questions we get from people as some of the most popular things to do in Ottawa during the warmer  months are cycling, walking or jogging (especially before enjoying one of our sumptuous breakfasts).  Albert House Inn is in a great location in downtown Ottawa for easy walking not only to many of outstanding national attractions, businesses, great shopping and dining choices but access to one of the largest networks of pathways in North America is just a five minute stroll away.

Ottawa’s Capital Pathways has more than 300 kilometres of recreational paths which connect parks, museums and attractions in Ottawa.  The paths will soon be ready for use as they are cleared and repaired every spring and are usually open to walkers, joggers and cyclists by May 1st.

All you need to do is go west on Albert Street (go out the front door and turn left), cross the street to the north at the intersection, continue west through the lights and as soon as you get to the next street which is half a block (Commissioner) turn north (right) and you will see the Fleet Street Pumping Station.

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