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.

Skating in Ottawa

January 23rd, 2013 | Posted by jdelroy-admin

Many people come to our fair city to enjoy what winter has to offer and Albert House Inn Boutique Hotel is the perfect downtown Ottawa accommodation choice. Yes, its really cold in Ottawa now but what perfect weather for getting the ice ready for skating.  Ottawa has a long history of skating, well before the idea for the Rideau Canal Skateway was conceived.

Did you know that there is an outdoor rink open to public skating at Rideau Hall, the Governor General’s residence?  This unique part of Canada’s heritage has been associated with the official residence since the time of Lord Dufferin, who was the Governor General from 1872 to 1878.  Whether you come to skate or just to walk the snow-covered paths, the historic grounds are a great place to enjoy winter.

 

Rideau Hall Skating Rink

Ladies playing hockey

Skaters can enjoy the outdoor rink on Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 5 p.m., without a reservation.  For more information go to Rideau Hall.

No need to worry when the weather changes and you’re concerned about the ice conditions.  The newest addition to Ottawa’s skating scene,  the city’s Rink of Dreams, is a 12,500 square foot oval refrigerated outdoor skating facility situated on Marion Dewar Plaza at Ottawa City Hall, about a fifteen minute walk from Albert House Inn.  It is one of the largest outdoor rinks in the City.  The rink features LED lighting, a heated change hut and picnic tables and benches and it is right beside the Rideau Canal.

Rink of Dreams

 Of course, for the best skating experience by far there is nothing like the Rideau Canal Skateway.  If it wasn’t for the foresight of Douglas Fullerton,  the Chair of the National Capital Commission in the early 1970′s,  this wonderful skating area might now be an expressway.  The City of Ottawa actually proposed this idea, but thank goodness the skating plan was implemented on January 18, 1971, despite opposition by city council.  Some 50,000 people skated on the canal on the first weekend.  Now people come from all over the world to skate on the Canal. The cleared length is 7.8 kilometres (4.8 mi) and has the equivalent surface area of 90 Olympic hockey rinks.

Rideau Canal Skateway

Both the Rideau Canal Skateway and the Rink of Dreams are a fifteen minute walk from  Albert House Inn Bed and Breakfast.  When you return to the Inn after your skate you can enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate in our cosy lounge, warm up by the fireplace and then spend a relaxing night in one of our comfortable guest rooms.  Then after a good sleep you can enjoy the many choices of our fantastic breakfast selections and go for another skate!

 

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Travelling to Albert House Inn

January 6th, 2013 | Posted by jdelroy-admin

We are always eager to help our guests in any way we can and ensure that an enjoyable and comfortable stay is always experienced at Albert House Inn when you choose our Ottawa downtown bed and breakfast as your  accommodation.  In this post we would like to offer some help to our guests before arrival by explaining just how easy it is to get to our Inn when you come to Ottawa by train or plane.   We have detailed directions our our website as well.

Via Rail has recently added several scheduled Ottawa stops to their trains running in the Montreal to Toronto corridor.  Make sure you check their website for any specials available for the dates you are planning your trip.   Often these specials are only available online and for a very short period of time.

 

Ottawa Station looking good with its newly repaired and repainted roof

When you arrive at the Ottawa station you can certainly take a taxi to Albert House Inn (approximately $15.00) but many of our guests prefer to take the city bus, OC Transpo,  which offers great service, is more economical and usually faster.  Exit the main doors of the Via station, cross the two car lanes in front and you will see the entrance to the transit station. (To the left of the above photo.)  Go to the Downtown platform and take a route No. 95 bus.  You will need the correct change of $3.30 as drivers do not make change on the bus.  Click on this link for a details of the stop at the Via Station “Train” Transit Stop Map.  Once on the bus, listen for the Bay Street stop.  The trip should only take about fifteen minutes.  Exit the bus at this stop and Albert House Inn is just down and across the street.  Make sure get off at the Bay/Albert stop because it is a couple of blocks to walk if you miss this stop.

If you fly into Ottawa you can of course take a taxi to our downtown boutique hotel.  Taxi’s are about $30 from the airport and are  readily available outside the arrivals area  at the Ottawa International Airport.

However, if you wish to take the city bus,  Route 97 departs from pillar 14 outside the level 1 Arrivals area.  Route 97 uses low-floor, fully accessible buses.

Bus tickets are available at the Ground Transportation Desk located on level 1 at the central door of the Arrivals area.  Tickets are cheaper than cash fare.  Remember if you use cash you must have the exact change of $3.30 prior to boarding.  This bus from the airport also travels on a dedicated transit lane so traffic for the most part is not an issue. It takes about 25 minutes to get to Albert House Inn.  Exit at the Bay Street stop and cross the street.  Your comfy downtown Ottawa accommodation awaits you just a very short walk away.

 

Christmas Lights Across Canada

November 20th, 2012 | Posted by jdelroy-admin

One of the unique things to experience in the nation’s capital this time of year is the Christmas Lights Across Canada program.  From early December through early January the landmark sites across Ottawa are decorated and lit up with Christmas lights.  Over 300,000 dazzling lights will be used throughout downtown Ottawa with over 60 sites on display.

 

Buildings along Confederation Boulevard in Ottawa and Gatineau attract visitors from all over the country during this time of the year.  Many visitors schedule holiday shopping trips to Ottawa in time to see the lights. The lights across Canada program extends to other provinces and territories across the country.

 

On December 6th, the twenty eighth lighting will be take place in a ceremony on Parliament Hill with residents, visitors and dignitaries all sharing this special celebration.  This is one of the most wonderful times to come and visit the capitol.  Between the shopping, Christmas décor and spirit, there’s not a better time to come and check out our great city.   We’ll provide warm housing and delicious hot breakfasts to get the day started.  After experiencing the lights, come back to a welcoming pot of tea or cup of hot chocolate by the fire and then end your day in your comfortable, cozy room.

 

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