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Visiting Cartier Place Drill Hall, Ottawa, Ontario: 19th century building, rich in historical associations, by T S Scott

Updated on October 12, 2012
Flag of Canada
Flag of Canada | Source
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Cartier Square Drill Hall, Ottawa
Cartier Square Drill Hall, Ottawa | Source
Governor-General's Foot Guards, circa 1875
Governor-General's Foot Guards, circa 1875 | Source
HRH The Duke and HRH The Duchess of Cambridge ("William & Kate") inspecting the Governor General's Foot Guards, arriving at Parliament Square, Ottawa, July 2011
HRH The Duke and HRH The Duchess of Cambridge ("William & Kate") inspecting the Governor General's Foot Guards, arriving at Parliament Square, Ottawa, July 2011 | Source
 Laurier Avenue Bridge in Ottawa, with the Drill Hall in the background.
Laurier Avenue Bridge in Ottawa, with the Drill Hall in the background. | Source
Map location of Ottawa, Ontario
Map location of Ottawa, Ontario | Source

Neo-Gothic monumentality

Ottawa's Cartier Square Drill Hall / Manège militaire de la Place Cartier is an historic building dating from 1879. Its designer was Dominion Architect Thomas Seaton Scott (1826-1895)(1).

The Drill Hall, which continues to serve as a military training facility and armoury, has various distinguishing features, including two, twin towers with mansard roofing. These towers are each 43 metres tall, and, given the sheer monumentality of the edifice, cause it to dominate a very conspicuous Downtown area of Canada's capital. I have supplied a photo (right, below) showing the building in relation to the Pont Laurier Bridge and the Rideau Canal / Canal Rideau.

Since its inception, the building has hosted the Governor-General's Foot Soldiers, which, as the name implies, has long been involved in ceremonial duty in Ottawa, and — under different names — the Cameron Highlanders (2). These units serves as Primary Reserves / Premières réserves of the Canadian Forces / Forces canadiennes. Other entities also use the building, including the Royal Canadian Army Cadets / Cadets royaux de l'Armée canadienne. The building houses regimental museums and memorials which trace the history of those who have served in them (3).

Cartier Place Drill Hall is located at 2 Queen Elizabeth Drive, Ottawa. The building's looming presence and active use for its original purpose is a reminder of the important military, as well as civilian administrative, status that Ottawa adopted in the 19th century, and which continues to this day.

October 12, 2012


(1) Other prominent works by Dominion Architect Scott include: the original Union Station of Toronto; Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal; and many others.

(2) Units of these regiments have given distinguished service in many conflicts and spheres of operation with which Canada has been involved since the 19th century — indeed, both these regiments have their origins which date prior to Confederation. (Regarding their names, convention establishes that official French language references to them carry over the names from English.)

(3) These museums are usually visited by advance arrangement, at certain periods of the year.

Also worth seeing

In Ottawa itself, other of its many visitor attractions include Parliament Hill (French: Colline du Parlement ); the National War Memorial of Canada (French: Le Monument commémoratif de guerre du Canada ), the Rideau Canada (French: Canal Rideau ); Rideau Hall, Laurier House (French: Maison Laurier ), and many others.


How to get there: Air Canada flies from various North American destinations to Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport / Aéroport international Macdonald-Cartier d'Ottawa ; car rental is available; however, visitors may wish instead to use OC Transpo public transit for travel within the Ottawa / Gatineau area. For up to date information, you are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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