Description of Historic Place
The Scottish Ontario Chambers is a four-storey brick structure, prominently located on Ottawa’s Confederation Square at the intersection of Sparks and Elgin streets. A corner building with a high ground storey, it is distinguished by the boldness of its decorative multicoloured masonry, its fenestration and its roofline. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Scottish Ontario Chambers is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Scottish Ontario Chambers, constructed as a prestige commercial property by the Scottish Ontario and Manitoba Land Company, who were involved in land speculation and development, is associated with the 19th century commercial development of downtown Ottawa. The building was rented to professionals, largely lawyers and real estate agents, and then sold to the Ottawa Deposit and Trust company in 1896 where it eventually became part of the Canada Permanent Trust Company. Until it was sold to the National Capital Commission in 1965, the Scottish-Ontario Chambers was also known as the Trust Building.
The Scottish Ontario Chambers is valued for its very good aesthetic design, executed in the Victorian Italianate style. The building is typical of a large-scale late Victorian business block and is characterized by its balanced façade and decorative brickwork. Twice as high as the other commercial blocks constructed for rental on Sparks Street during the 19th century, the building demonstrates a good functional design with ground floor retail space and upper storey office space and possessed one of the city’s first elevators. High quality craftsmanship is evidenced in the elaborate stonework and decorative brickwork, including the radiated voussoirs of multicolored brick.
The Scottish Ontario Chambers established the character of the Confederation Square National Historic Site of Canada streetscape in downtown Ottawa and is a well-known landmark in the immediate area.
Sources: Dana Johnson, The former Bell Block, the Scottish Ontario Chambers, Central Chambers and the Fraser Building, Ottawa, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 83-11,12,13,14; Scottish Ontario Chambers, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 83-014.
The following character-defining elements of the Scottish Ontario Chambers should be respected.
Its very good Victorian Italianate style, good functional design and very good materials and craftsmanship, for example:
-the four-storey, massing, including a high ground storey and three upper floors;
-the features of its roofline, including the heavy bracketing, decorative cornice and corner tower in the Second Empire style;
-the balanced composition of the long façade;
-the brick masonry construction;
-the elaborate stonework of the high ground storey and the radiating voussoirs of multicoloured brick above the double-hung sash windows of the upper three floors;
-its interior layout of ground floor retail space and office space for the upper three floors.
The manner in which the Scottish Ontario Chambers reinforces the character of its Confederation Square streetscape setting in downtown Ottawa and is a well-known landmark within the immediate area, as evidenced by:
-its Victorian Italianate style, prominent corner tower and long decorated façade which contribute to the character of the Confederation Square streetscape;
-its overall massing, design and materials which are compatible with its surrounding buildings in the Confederation Square streetscape;
-its visibility and familiarity to residents of and visitors to Ottawa, because of its prominent location on Confederation Square.