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).


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.





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.



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.



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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