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Main Greenhouse Range #50

Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1996/02/29

General view of the Main Greenhouse Range, 1996.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, K. Spencer-Ross, 1996.
General view
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Other Name(s)

Main Greenhouse Range #50
Motherwell Greenhouse
Serre Motherwell
Building No. 50
Bâtiment no 50
Main Greenhouse
Serre principale

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1915/01/01 to 1967/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/04/24

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Main Greenhouse Range, also known as Building No. 50, Main Greenhouse and Motherwell Greenhouse, is a series of interconnected greenhouses centrally located at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. The majority of the units are utilitarian and modular in design. However, the octagonal Palm House, with its ogee-shaped glass roof and picturesque entrance provides a major focus to the range. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Main Greenhouse Range is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.

Historical Value
The Main Greenhouse Range is directly associated with the Central Experimental Farm’s role in conducting research and disseminating results to farmers across the nation. The greenhouses are also related to the Dominion-wide system of experimental farms used to promote the latest agricultural practices across Canada.

Architectural Value
The Main Greenhouse Range is valued for its good aesthetic design. Distinguished by its function-driven design and layout of greenhouses, headerhouses and utility units, the majority of the complex is utilitarian and modular in design, varying only in wall heights and roof pitch. The good functional design is evidenced in the building’s evolution over time to accommodate the changing needs of the plant research program. The octagonal shaped Palm House section reflects a greater attention to detail and demonstrates the building’s good craftsmanship and materials as does the overall pattern of metal mullions separating glazed panels in the roofs and walls of the building.

Environmental Value
The Main Greenhouse Range reinforces the character of its park-like setting at the Central Experimental Farm. The building is well-known to local visitors and employees of the farm.

Sources:Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, NOTES 95-077; Main Greenhouse Range (Builkding 50), Central Experimental Farm. Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 95-077.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Main Greenhouse Range should be respected.

Its good aesthetic and functional design and good materials and craftsmanship, for example:
-the low scale and massing that consists of a series of interconnected greenhouses that are attached to an L-shaped spine of single-storey flat-roofed headerhouses;
-the repetitive greenhouse modules built on concrete foundations with partial-height concrete block walls and glass set within wood or metal frames;
-the pattern of the roofs, curved eaves, the two ogee-shaped roofs over the east entrances, and the ogee roof of the Palm house;
-the octagonal plan, and decorative, panelled and glazed wood entrance doors of the Palm House;
-the pattern of vertical metal mullions separating glazed panels in the roof and walls;
-the interior plan, which consists of open volumes and axial planning which is expressed clearly through the building’s massing, roof profile and footprint;
-the interior finishes such as the headerhouse masonry walls, concrete floors and glazed walls and ceilings in the greenhouses.

The manner in which the Main Greenhouse Range reinforces the character of its park-like setting at the Central Experimental Farm and is a well-known landmark, as evidenced by:
-its low scale, massing, roof profile and materials, which contribute to the central core of science and administration buildings surrounded by open lawns;
-its visibility, due to its scale and prominent location, which makes it a well-known landmark in the area.




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)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Health and Research
Research Facility

Architect / Designer

Pierson U-bar Company



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate Documentation Centre 3rd Floor, room 366 30 Victoria Street Gatineau, Québec J8X 0B3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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Aerial view of research centre and fields

Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site of Canada

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