Explore the blocks south of Wellington Street
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About the blocks south of Wellington Street
The 3 city blocks on the south side of Wellington Street (facing Parliament Hill between Elgin and Bank Streets) are part of the Parliamentary Precinct. The federal government expropriated them in 1973 to provide needed space for parliamentary operations. Over the years, the area has evolved and changed. It is now poised for another step in its evolution as we renew the buildings and land around Parliament Hill.
Below is the map of 3 city blocks immediately south of Parliament Hill. All 3 are bounded to the north by Wellington Street and the south by Sparks Street. Block 1 is bounded by Elgin Street to the east and Metcalfe Street to the west. Block 2 is bounded by Metcalfe Street to the east and O’Connor Street to the west. Block 3 is bounded by O’Connor Street to the east and Bank Street to the west.
Wellington Street faces Parliament Hill and is a prime location in Ottawa.
History and architecture
In the late 19th century, the south side of Wellington Street was known as Banker’s Row. It was lined with Victorian style banks, clubs and financial institutions.
Many of the original Banker’s Row buildings were replaced in the 1920s and 30s with larger Beaux-Arts style buildings.
The Wellington Building (180 Wellington Street, with a façade on Sparks Street) was built for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1927. We finished restoring and modernizing the Wellington Building in 2016. It is now home to offices and committee rooms for Parliament.
The Sir John A. MacDonald Building (144 Wellington Street, with a façade on Sparks Street) was built in 1932. We completed restoring and modernizing it in 2015.
Sparks Street runs parallel to Wellington Street, and is one block south of it. The north side of the street is part of the Parliamentary Precinct campus.
History and architecture
Sparks Street was a bustling commercial hub in the late 19th century and early 20th century. It was lined with banks, lumber companies and shops, including Ottawa’s main post office. Streetcars ran on the street until 1959.
In 1960, shortly after the streetcar service was discontinued, a section of Sparks Street was closed to traffic as an experiment to create Ottawa’s first pedestrian-only mall. Tree and shrub plantings, street furniture, artwork, flower boxes, shelters and benches were added.
Today, the Government of Canada owns and maintains the buildings on the north side of the street. We are renewing these buildings to provide safe, modern and accessible space for Parliament and for commercial tenants. We are also enhancing the streetscape.
Over the last few years we have rehabilitated:
- The Valour Building (151 Sparks Street)
- The Library of Parliament branch (125 Sparks Street)
- Canada’s Four Corners building (93 Sparks Street)
- Postal Station B, formerly Ottawa’s main post office (59 Sparks Street)
We are also working with the City of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission to revitalize Sparks Street as part of the Sparks Street Public Realm Plan.
Architectural design competition for Block 2
Learn about the architectural design competition for Block 2 to renew the city block across from Parliament Hill.
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