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George Sparks House

936-940 North River Road, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1983/11/04

View of the façade of George Sparks House, 1981; National Capital Commission/Commission de la capitale nationale, 1981.
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Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/05/24

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The George Sparks House is located on the eastern bank of the Rideau River amongst other houses set on spacious lots. The double house is a two-and-a-half storey building in the British classical tradition. The restrained, cut-stone structure features a balanced façade with regularly spaced doors and windows, and a gable roof with end chimneys. Plain wall surfaces contrast with the decorative verandah that runs along the principal façade. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The George Sparks House is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value:
The George Sparks House is associated with the early development of Ottawa. Built by Robert and Nicholas Sparks, who themselves played a modest role in regional affairs, the building is also linked to other members of the family who were intimately connected with the early history and development of the Ottawa area. The structure remained in the hands of the family until 1949 when it was purchased by the Federal Capital Commission, (now National Capital Commission), during a land assembly for a proposed park along the Rideau River.

Architectural Value:
The George Sparks House is valued for its good aesthetics. The house is a late example of a rural residence built around 1868 in the British classical tradition with which elements of the Picturesque are incorporated. A fine example of a rare form of rural building, this semi-detached stone house is well built as evidenced by the stonework.

Environmental Value:
The George Sparks House is compatible with the character of the streetscape setting and is a familiar regional landmark to local inhabitants and pedestrians.

Sources: Dana Johnson, The Sparks House, 936 - 940 River Road, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 83-043; George Sparks House, 936 - 940 River Road, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 83-043.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the George Sparks House should be respected.

Its very good aesthetic design, good functional design, and good craftsmanship, for example:
— the two-and-a-half storey massing of the double residence with a gable roof;
— the cut stone exterior walls, the symmetrical, balanced principal façade that is six bays wide, and the gable-end chimneys;
— the two large windows that flank the centrally placed, twin front doors, each with elegant sidelights and transom, and the regularly placed windows in the rear and side elevations;
— the front verandah and its simple wooden detailing;
— the first floor windows along the main elevation topped by segmental arched and radiating voussoirs, the other windows of a more standard scale marked by flat arches;
— the restrained decoration, such as the dressed stone quoins;
— the interior spatial arrangement of the principal rooms.

The manner in which the George Sparks House is compatible with the suburban character of the riverside setting and is a familiar landmark as evidenced by:
— its scale, design and materials that maintain a visual and physical relationship with the other houses in the neighbourhood;
— its location opposite River Road, which makes it a familiar landmark.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1949/01/01 to 1949/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer



Robert and Nicholas Sparks

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Conservation and Commemoration Directorate, Documentation Centre, 3rd Floor, Room 366, 30 Victoria St, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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