Lisgar Collegiate Institute
29, Lisgar Street, Ottawa, City of, Ontario, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
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.
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 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
Local Governments (ON)
Ontario Heritage Act
Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)
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
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Ottawa
110 Laurier Avenue West
Cross-Reference to Collection