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Justice Building

249 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1988/09/01

Exterior photo; PAC, PA-134971.
Exterior photo
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1935/01/01 to 1938/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/07/25

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Justice Building is a large and prominent landmark on Wellington Street where it stands immediately west of Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Distinguished by a high, steep copper roof, it is a handsome building in the Chateau style. The sandstone exterior with projecting and recessed wall planes is highly textured and rich in detail. The building’s height, and roof slopes, the many dormers and tall windows, and the pavilions and towers all give a strong vertical emphasis. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

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

Historical Value:
The Justice Building is closely associated with the development of early 20th century Ottawa and with the evolution of the Wellington Street corridor into a federal government precinct. Designed to provide living and working accommodation for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Justice Building continues to house important federal government departments. Its siting and style were determined by a succession of federally commissioned planning studies initiated between 1904 and 1938 with the goal of developing Wellington Street into a grand avenue lined with monumental governmental buildings and transforming Ottawa into a worthy national capital.

Architectural Value:
The Justice Building is a very good example of the Chateau style which was commonly employed in early 20th-century railway hotels and stations across Canada and which found a champion in then Prime Minister Mackenzie King. The style influenced the design of a number of government and commercial buildings on Wellington Street, including the adjacent Confederation Building, and is expressed here in the steep roof with its dormers and turrets, and in the well-executed carved detailing. Good functional design is evidenced in the central corridor plan. Excellent craftsmanship is seen in the masonry work and the interior fixtures and fittings, including the bronze entrance doors.

Environmental Value:
The Justice Building maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, reinforces the present dignified, urban character of Ottawa’s Wellington Street corridor, and is a familiar regional landmark to people working in the vicinity, to local residents, and to pedestrians and tourists.

Ian Doull, Confederation Building, Justice Building, Justice Annex, Supreme Court of Canada, Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Buildings Review Office, Reports 87-034 – 87-037.

The Justice Building, Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 87-035.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Justice Building should be respected, for example:

Its very good aesthetics, good functional design, and excellent quality craftsmanship and materials, for example:

-The large nine-storey massing;
-The steel frame construction and exterior cladding of Nepean sandstone and Wallace sandstone trim;
-The high, steep copper roof in the Chateau style with its many dormer windows and finials;
-The projecting and recessed wall planes which are highly textured and rich in detail;
-The richly detailed, well-executed carving and decorative elements, including the two oriel windows, the carved labels, and the carved figures of an explorer, a watchman, and a crouching native figure;
-The Canadian coat-of-arms with the word "Justice" incised above the lintel;
-The interior features, finishes and fittings, including the bronze entrance doors and screen, elevator doors, iron pendant light fixtures, handrails and radiator grills, decorative ceiling mouldings and cornice, and marble stairs leading from the vestibule to the main hall;
-The interior spatial arrangement including the original central corridor plan.

The manner in which the Justice Building maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, reinforces the historical character of the Wellington street corridor in downtown Ottawa, and is a familiar regional landmark, as evidenced by:

-Its ongoing relationship to the adjacent and surrounding Parliament and government buildings;
-Its design and materials that maintain a visual and physical relationship between the surrounding government buildings, the open courtyard facing eastward and the streetscape of Wellington Street;
-Its prominent position within the Parliamentary Precinct in Ottawa that makes it known in the vicinity.




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)

1904/01/01 to 1938/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type


Office or office building


Police Station

Architect / Designer

Burritt and Horwood under the supervision of T.W. Fuller, Chief Architect, Department of Public Works



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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