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Visiting the Government Conference Centre, Ottawa, Ontario: saved from destruction by the 1967 Centennial!

Updated on October 8, 2012
Flag of Canada
Flag of Canada | Source
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Government Conference Centre (formely Ottawa Union Station), Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Government Conference Centre (formely Ottawa Union Station), Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | Source
Royal visit passing in front of Union Station in Ottawa, Ontario during the 1939 Royal Tour
Royal visit passing in front of Union Station in Ottawa, Ontario during the 1939 Royal Tour | Source
Map location of Ottawa, Ontario
Map location of Ottawa, Ontario | Source

Now celebrating its own Centennial...

This most impressive Roman Revival (1) building in Ottawa, Ontario was saved from destruction in 1967, on the occasion of Canada's Centennial. Its demolition was planned by the National Capital Commission (French: Commission de la capitale nationale ) in what must have been one of its least inspiring proposals.

When what had been Union Station was made redundant by Ottawa's new railroad station in 1966, this intended act of architectural vandalism was saved by the projected Centennial celebrations for 1967, which would need a main venue. Accordingly, the former Union Station was used as an exhibition centre during that historic year.

Eventually, the building was converted into what became known as the Government Conference Centre (French: Centre de conférences du gouvernement ).

Union Station was opened in 1912, as was the adjacent Château Laurier, with which it constituted a joint project of the Grand Trunk Railway (French: Chemin de fer du Grand Tronc ). Responsible for the building was the distinguished partnership Ross and MacFarlane (2) (with prior design contribution by architect Bradford Lee Gilbert).

Among its noted features its prominent, Doric pillars. The design of the former departures hall used the Baths of Caracalla, Rome, Italy, as a model, and is similar to that of the former New York Penn Station (now demolished; seemingly no Centennial-style celebration intervened to prevent it from undergoing the fate planned for the former Union Station by the National Capital Commission!).

The Government Conference Centre is situated at 2, Rue Rideau Street , Ottawa.

October 8, 2012


(1) The style is also described as Beaux-Arts.

(2) This former, Montreal-bsed partnership also designed Union Station, Toronto (its destruction, also, was planned some decades ago! what a history could be written of planned or actual acts of architectural vandalism!), and several of the great hotels formerly associated with the Grand Trunk.

Also worth seeing

In Ottawa itself, other visitor attractions include Parliament Hill (French: Colline du Parlement ), the Rideau Canada (French: Canal Rideau ); the National War Memorial of Canada (French: Le Monument commémoratif de guerre du Canada ), 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. Please 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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