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Lisgar Collegiate Institute

29, Lisgar Street, Ottawa, City of, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1976/01/01

Detail.; Rideau Heritage Initiatve 2006
Lisgar Collegiate Institute
Stone detail.; Rideau Heritage Initiative 2006
Lisgar Collegiate Institute
Side view.; Rideau Heritage Initiative 2006
Lisgar Collegiate Institute

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/01/22

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Erected in stages between 1872 and 1908, Lisgar Collegiate Institute is a four storey, Gothic Revival building constructed of grey limestone. It is situated near the Rideau Canal, at 29 Lisgar St., in downtown Ottawa.

Lisgar Collegiate Institute is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, by the City of Ottawa, By-law No. 288-76.

Heritage Value

Lisgar Collegiate Institute's heritage value is derived from its role as Ottawa's first high school. The School Act of 1871 provided for the establishment of high schools and Ottawa Collegiate Institute (renamed Lisgar Collegiate Institute shortly thereafter) was one of the seven schools in Ontario to be given this designation. The school, Ottawa's only Collegiate Institute for many years, grew rapidly. Its success signalled the growing importance of secondary education in late 19th century Ontario. The property has particular historical significance as a widely recognized educational facility and for its associations with many people who have aided the development of Ottawa and who are an integral part of its fabric; among them, basketball inventor James Naismith, actor Lorne Greene, and former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.

The property lies in a prominent location in downtown Ottawa near the Rideau Canal. The heritage value of the building is linked to its use of the Gothic Revival, popular at the time in Canada for institutional buildings. Designed by prominent Montreal architect W. T. Thomas, it was erected in 1874, with the Earl of Dufferin (Canada's third governor general) laying the cornerstone. Following the construction of additions to the south façade and east wing in 1892, the building suffered a disastrous fire a year later. It was quickly rebuilt to virtually the same appearance. East and west wings were added in 1903 and 1908, respectively.

Sources: City of Ottawa By-law No. 288-76; CIHB- Historic Building Report, November, 1974; Ottawa: A Guide to Heritage Structures, 2000.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that relate to the Gothic Revival style of the Lisgar Collegiate Institute include its:
- grey rock-faced Gloucester limestone exterior, highlighted by smooth white stone quoins, door and window surrounds
- pointed arches, buttresses, battlements and heavy dentil trimmed cornices
- four storey bow window
- gabled dormers highlighted by cresting set in a crested mansard roof
- central crenulated tower housing the main entrance, which incorporates an octagonal finial and pointed arched windows, in a flat Tudor arched opening
- stone oriel window springing up from a Corinthian column atop a buttress, which features alternating quatrefoils and shields, a cornice of carved acanthus leaves, and four male and female heads looking down from the drip stone
- stained glass transoms and windows of the entrance
- bas-relief sculpture over the entrance featuring symbols of learning
- central location in downtown Ottawa near the Rideau Canal




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (ON)

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1903/01/01 to 1903/01/01
1908/01/01 to 1908/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being

Function - Category and Type


Primary or Secondary School


Architect / Designer

W. T. Thomas



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Ottawa 110 Laurier Avenue West Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1J1

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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