Her­itage Hide­outs

An­tic­i­pat­ing Ot­tawa’s his­tor­i­cal build­ings of the fu­ture


Be­ing the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, Ot­tawa has al­ways had an ex­ten­sive amount of his­tory at its roots. But there are a num­ber of other in­trigu­ing, lesser-known pieces of Ot­tawa’s past tucked away — yet to be dis­cov­ered and en­joyed for their en­dur­ing her­itage. The Tal­is­man Mo­tor Inn was built in 1963 as Ot­tawa’s premier busi­ness con­ven­tion cen­tre and ho­tel. It was de­signed and built by Bill Teron (who also was re­spon­si­ble for the con­cep­tion and de­sign of Kanata’s first sub­urb). Teron de­signed the Tal­is­man with a Ja­panese theme, in­clud­ing a very faith­ful replica of a tran­quil Ja­panese gar­den at the cen­tre of the mo­tel. The Tal­is­man was built at a cost of $2 mil­lion and boasted con­ven­tion fa­cil­i­ties, a re­lax­ing pool area, and nightly en­ter­tain­ment in the Poly­ne­sian-themed Tiki Bar “The Beach­comber Room,” which soon be­came the num­ber-one hot spot for nightly en­ter­tain­ment in Ot­tawa. To­day, the build­ing is home to Trav­elodge Ot­tawa West.


Lo­cated in the for­mer City of Ne­pean, in the west end of Ot­tawa, most of the res­i­dences in this sub­ur­ban area are ex­am­ples of stun­ning mid-cen­tury ex­ec­u­tive homes sit­u­ated on large lots. Qualicum Street boasts large cus­tom houses built by Bill Teron in unique mid-cen­tury-mod­ern styles sim­i­lar to the leg­endary Palm Springs style of res­i­dences. Built be­tween 1961 and 1967, this dis­tinct neigh­bour­hood is a rare pre­served ex­am­ple of our some­times over­looked mid­cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture.


Con­structed in 1914 to shel­ter as­tro­nom­i­cal equip­ment, the Photo Equa­to­rial Build­ing, at the north edge of the Ex­per­i­men­tal Farm, is an el­e­gant, oc­tag­o­nal build­ing that re­sem­bles an eclec­tic blend of Ro­manesque Re­vival and Ed­war­dian Clas­si­cism styles. Built with Old-World crafts­man­ship, the Photo Equa­to­rial Build­ing has a re­tractable, hemi­spher­i­cal cop­per dome de­signed by pub­lic works ar­chi­tect David Ewart to house the Do­min­ion Ob­ser­va­tory’s stel­lar cam­era.


At the height of the Cold War, the threat of nu­clear at­tack by Soviet Rus­sia was taken so se­ri­ously that a Quick Re­ac­tion Alert (QRA) sta­tion was con­structed on the out­skirts of town at Up­lands Air Force Base off Hunt Club Road. Un­der North Amer­ica’s Air De­fence, or NO­RAD, Ot­tawa’s QRA sta­tion formed part of a net­work of five other Cana­dian all-weather jet fighter bases armed with mis­siles and pos­si­ble nu­clear ca­pa­bil­i­ties to counter sur­prise at­tacks by Soviet bombers. Built to house a spe­cial jet fighter in­ter­cept sta­tion and nu­clear mis­siles, these “spe­cial weapon” fa­cil­i­ties were con­structed at the south end of Ot­tawa’s air­port and can still be seen to­day, be­hind rust­ing barbed wire fenc­ing,


Opened in 1932 by the On­tario Hy­dro-Elec­tric Com­mis­sion, this trans­former sub­sta­tion was de­signed for ser­vic­ing the ru­ral ar­eas west of Ot­tawa. In 1932, the clos­est other build­ings would have been the Royal Ot­tawa Hos­pi­tal and the Civic Hos­pi­tal. Now, sit­u­ated across from the Westgate Shop­ping Cen­tre, this fine ex­am­ple of in­sti­tu­tional ar­chi­tec­ture stands out as an im­pres­sive build­ing con­structed not only for a pur­pose, but to look nice as well.

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