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Union Mission

47-49, Daly Ave., Ottawa, City of, Ontario, K1N, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1985/06/13

Front view of the Union Mission, showing its regular proportions and symmetry, 2009.; RHI2 2009
Union Mission
General view of the Union Mission, showing its prominent location on a corner lot, 2009.; RHI2 2009
Union Mission
Characteristic segmented arched lintels with contrasting stone sills of the Union Mission, 2009.; RHI2 2009
Union Mission

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2011/12/20

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Union Mission is located at the northeast corner of Daly Avenue and Waller Street in Sandy Hill, a residential neighbourhood east of downtown Ottawa. Built ca.1860-62, this three-storey double house is a rare surviving example of a vernacular Georgian stone building, and forms an integral part of the Daly Avenue Heritage Conservation District as its westernmost anchor.

The Union Mission was designated for its cultural heritage value under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act by the City of Ottawa through By-law 296-91.

Heritage Value

The estate of Louis T. Besserer's, loosely delineated by the Rideau Canal, Rideau Street, the Rideau River, and Somerset Street East, was subdivided in the 1840s for development into what is now know as the neighbourhood of Sandy Hill. By the 1860s, given its location close to Parliament Hill and Sparks Street, Sandy Hill had rapidly developed into a desirable residential area for the growing civil service and emerging upper class.

Prominently located at the northeast corner of Waller Street and Daly Avenue, and within historical view of the train station, the Chateau Laurier, and Parliament Hill, the Union Mission is valued as a rare example of a pre-Confederation Georgian stone double residence. It was built ca.1860-62 by the banker and German Counsel to Cuba Wilhelm Rahe as a gift for his in-laws, the Herons. Since his in-laws were a prominent singing family in Ottawa and he was not of elite social status, Rahe wanted to ensure a financial contribution to his union with their daughter. Thus, the double residence was constructed so the Herons could reside in one half while renting the other half as income property. Indeed, the Herons leased part of the property to their friend Miss Harmon, so that she may run a Ladies School for privileged girls not entering the convent.

A splendid example of the late Georgian vernacular style, the Union Mission is simply designed, symmetrical in plan, and solidly constructed. As-built ca.1860-62, it was a three-storey stone double residence, with a metal-clad, flat-topped hipped roof and three gabled dormers. Still present today is the original regular fenestration of six-ranked sash windows organizing the façade with contrasting quoins and window surrounds detailing it. Originally, each unit was based on a central hall plan, with a large room for receptions and gatherings on the eastern side. In 1900, the double residences were linked by a full face, hipped roof front veranda.

Despite changes and additions over time, the core of the original building remains. In 1912, interior alterations were undertaken to serve the building's new function as a temporary shelter for Ottawa's transient male population. Founded in 1906 by a committee of various protestant churches as a collaborative effort to establish a much-needed social service, the Union Mission was a novel concept that has played a significant role in providing for the city's homeless for over 90 years. To deal with the needs of a growing transient population, a brick annex with rusticated stone foundation was added to the rear in 1922, and a fourth storey added in 1927, neither of which relate to the original character of the building. Today, the Union Mission constitutes a complex of five connected buildings: the original stone double residence (now a chapel), a front desk administration building, a food services building, a shelter, a hospice, and an addiction treatment residence.

Today, the Union Mission is an isolated heritage building in the high-rise fabric of downtown Ottawa. While Daly Avenue is predominately residential with a mix of building types, Waller Street is a busy artery with blank building walls and empty lots that makes it incompatible with the heritage character of the Union Mission. As such, the building forms a landmark anchor to the Daly Avenue Heritage Conservation District, in preserving the memory of the late 19th century architectural layer despite its many alterations.

Source: City of Ottawa Heritage File PD071-OHD4300/DALY0047-0049

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Union Mission include its:
- prominent location on a corner lot
- isolation as a heritage building in a high-rise environment
- three storey stone double residence form
- regularly proportioned and symmetrical massing
- regular fenestration of rectangular sash windows and doors
- full face front veranda with hipped roof
- contrasting quoins and window surrounds




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (ON)

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type


Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship


Group Residence
Multiple Dwelling

Architect / Designer




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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