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The Grey Nuns Mother House

9, Bruyere Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1980/01/01

view of The Grey Nuns Mother House; RHI 2006
The Grey Nuns Mother House
side elevation of The Grey Nuns Mother House; RHI 2006
The Grey Nuns Mother House
closer view of The Grey Nuns Mother House; RHI 2006
The Grey Nuns Mother House

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1849/01/01 to 1851/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/01/21

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Grey Nuns Mother House is located at 9 Bruyere Street, on the corner of Bruyere Street and Sussex Drive, in the City of Ottawa. The Grey Nuns Mother House is a four storey limestone structure built in various architectural motifs during successive phases.

The Grey Nuns Mother House is recognized by the City of Ottawa for its heritage value under By-law 69-80.

Heritage Value

The Grey Nuns Mother House is associated with the Grey Nuns of the Cross and was originally used as an infirmary, convent, and orphanage. The Grey Nuns Mother House is still in use as a convent today.

The Congregation of the Sisters of Charity at Ottawa, also known as the Grey Nuns of the Cross arrived in Ottawa in 1845, under Mere Elizabeth Bruyere, to render nursing services to the needy. The Order went on to establish the Ottawa General Hospital. The Grey Nuns Mother House was constructed in several phases; the first phase was completed between 1849-1851, an orphanage on the north part of the building in 1867, a central wing connecting the two previously constructed buildings in 1889, and an addition of a fourth storey in 1937.

The site eventually evolved into the Ottawa General Hospital, a Catholic hospital intended to offer care without regard to age, sex, language or religion. The Ottawa General Hospital was relocated to a new site in the 1980s but the original building is now known and used as the Elizabeth Bruyere Health Centre.

The Grey Nuns Mother House is associated with several architects who completed different parts of the building between 1849 and 1937. The original structure was designed by Antoine Robillard and initially consisted of a three-and-a-half storey limestone structure. The addition on the second storey of a matching pair of sundials, in 1851, was designed by Father Jean-Francois Allard, a geometry teacher. These sundials marked the first public timepiece in Ottawa and are considered to be unique in North America. Between 1935 and 1937, a fourth storey was designed by architects Werner Ernst Noffke and Lucien Leblanc, in an Art Deco-influenced style, which they also used in their designs for the adjacent Ottawa General Hospital.

Sources: City of Ottawa By-law 69-80; Ottawa: A Guide to Heritage Structures, City of Ottawa (2000); City of Ottawa File PD071-OHD4300/Bruy 00009.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of the Grey Nuns Mother House include its:
- four storey limestone construction
- dormers situated along the hip roof
- matching pair of sundials on the southwest corner of the second storey
- ashlar string course along the base of the windows and at the top of the wall
- vertical bands of smooth stone above upper windows on the centre of the Sussex Street façade
- Tuscan columns around the centre windows, surmounted by an entablature and a prominent blind elliptical arch
- stone wall surmounted by iron cresting along the Bruyere Street façade
- high stone wall along Sussex Drive




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (ON)

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1867/01/01 to 1867/01/01
1889/01/01 to 1889/01/01
1937/01/01 to 1937/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions
Building Social and Community Life
Community Organizations

Function - Category and Type


Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Institution


Architect / Designer

Werner Ernst Noffke and Lucien Leblanc



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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