The Ultimate Guide to Elgin Street in Ottawa

The Ultimate Guide to Elgin Street in Ottawa

A leisurely walk down Elgin Street in Ottawa always feels like entering the pulse of the city itself. At Elgin, you can find some of the best coffee shops and the newest indie bookshops, and you always have some of the hottest gigs happening in the vicinity. 

It’s a perfect blend of classic charm and contemporary vibes, with a story unfolding in every storefront window and corner!

So, if you’re planning on visiting and exploring Elgin Street anytime soon, we’ll gladly reveal everything you need to know about this lovely and lively area. 

Before you know it, you’ll be spouting out random facts and be able to tour your own friends or family on your own!

The History of Elgin Street

The History of Elgin Street

Elgin Street, originally known as Biddy’s Lane, had a residential character in the late 19th century. Over time, as Ottawa expanded, Prime Minister Mackenzie King initiated a beautification plan that resulted in notable projects such as the National War Memorial.

It was unveiled during a royal visit in 1939, and in 1941, the Lord Elgin Hotel, still operational today, was opened as part of this transformation. 

Both the hotel and the street are named in honor of Lord Elgin, who served as Governor General of Canada from 1847 to 1854, playing a significant role in the nation’s history.

Today, Elgin Street stands as a lively commercial hub, recognized as the “Sens Mile” in enthusiastic support of the Ottawa Senators, the city’s National Hockey League team. 

This vibrant area offers a mix of historic charm and modern energy, making it a must-visit for residents and visitors alike!

Getting to Elgin Street

Getting to Elgin Street

Elgin Street in Ottawa runs through the downtown area, and its exact location may depend on which part of Elgin Street you are looking for. 

It spans from Wellington Street to the north, near Parliament Hill, and extends southward. If you’re starting near Parliament Hill, head south on Elgin Street, and you’ll soon find yourself in the midst of its vibrant offerings.

Nearby landmarks include Parliament Hill, Confederation Park, and the National War Memorial, which are all within walking distance of Elgin Street. If you find yourself at these iconic locations, simply head southward.

For a more precise location or if you’re looking for a specific establishment on Elgin Street, it’s recommended to use a map app or GPS.

What to Do in Elgin Street

What to Do in Elgin Street

Now that we’ve navigated the charming history of Elgin Street, it’s time to dive into the heart of the matter: what to do on this vibrant Ottawa avenue. 

So, fasten your seatbelts, and let’s embark on a journey through the myriad experiences that make Elgin Street a gem in Ottawa’s crown. 

Whether you’re a culture seeker, a food enthusiast, or someone with a penchant for retail therapy, there’s something for everyone!

1. Go window-shopping at the Elgin Street Market.

Go window-shopping at the Elgin Street Market

Address: Boushey Square, 211-A Waverley Street, Ottawa, Ontario

The Elgin Street Market promises a unique opportunity to explore local produce, artisanal wonders, etc. 

This market extravaganza is a collaborative venture between the Beechwood Market and the Centretown Community Association.

You can immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere and indulge in the vibrant offerings of local businesses alongside the beauty of seasonal produce and delectable food. 

Although the physical market has taken a temporary pause, the spirit of community and local support continues through its Online Market Store. Accessible year-round, it provides a seamless way to support local businesses.

2. Visit the historic Lord Elgin Hotel.

Visit the historic Lord Elgin Hotel

Address: 100 Elgin Street, Ottawa

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the storied halls of the historic Lord Elgin Hotel, an architectural gem situated on Elgin Street. 

Just steps away from the National Arts Centre, the Rideau Canal, and Parliament Hill, this establishment immerses you in the heart of downtown Ottawa’s vibrant scene.

Adjacent to the Lord Elgin Hotel, you can discover a world of cultural delights, especially if you’ve booked a room here for a night or two. 

For example, you can join the renowned Ottawa Jazz Festival in Confederation Park or lively food and culture celebrations at Ottawa City Hall’s Festival Plaza. 

The modern Lord Elgin Hotel

On summer mornings, witness the Ceremonial Guard parading past the hotel en route from the nearby Cartier Square Drill Hall to Parliament Hill. This is for the Changing of the Guard ceremony

The Lord Elgin Hotel was constructed in 1941 and seamlessly blended modernity with the elegance of the French Chateau’s architectural style. 

Your stay at the Lord Elgin promises not just comfort but an immersion into Ottawa’s rich history and contemporary charm!

3. Jam out at the Ottawa Jazz Festival.

Jam out at the Ottawa Jazz Festival

Address: Confederation Park, Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5J2, Canada

The Ottawa Jazz Festival is a summer celebration that transforms downtown Ottawa into a buzzing hub of musical delight. 

Outdoor stages, theatres, galleries, restaurants, and clubs come alive with the harmonious sounds of jazz, spanning from big band performances to the avant-garde.

You can bask in the intimate ambiance of indoor settings or relish the open-air concerts. The festival also provides a diverse lineup of both established and emerging artists. 

From day to night, the city pulses with the magic of jazz during this week-long musical extravaganza.

Since its inception in 1981, the festival has been a magnet for musical talents, drawing Canadian and international greats to Canada’s capital. 

The list includes legends such as Herbie Hancock, Dave Brubeck, Aretha Franklin, Toots Thielemans, Branford Marsalis, Norah Jones, Sonny Rollins, and Diana Krall. There’s also Jane Siberry, Maynard Ferguson, and John Mayall to look forward to! 

4. Catch a show at the National Arts Centre.

Catch a show at the National Arts Centre

Address: 1 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5W1, Canada

Don’t miss the chance to experience the magic of a performance at the National Arts Centre. This unique venue offers an array of artistic expressions, including orchestra, dance, variety, and theatre shows in English, French, and Indigenous languages. 

As the sole bilingual, multidisciplinary performing arts center in Canada, the National Arts Centre (NAC) stands as a cultural gem in Ottawa.

It collaborates with artists and arts organizations nationwide and brings adventurous performances while also actively supporting the arts throughout the country. 

Whether you’re into the latest creations by established and emerging Canadian artists, the NAC caters to diverse artistic tastes. Even if you’re not catching a show, it invites you to savor the relaxing ambiance. 

Beyond performances, the NAC extends a warm welcome to all ages with its diverse range of free events, ensuring there’s something for everyone in this cultural haven.

5. Pay your respects at the National War Memorial.

Pay your respects at the National War Memorial

Address: Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5A4, Canada

Every year on November 11, the Royal Canadian Legion hosts the National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the National War Memorial. 

The ceremony, starting around 10:45 a.m., marks a solemn tribute to the men and women who have served in Canada’s military.

Dignitaries, including the Prime Minister, the Governor General, and the Silver Cross Mother—a woman who has lost a child while serving in the military will be present. 

The ceremony unfolds with the national anthem, a moment of silence, a wreath-laying ceremony, and a stirring fly-past, weather permitting. 

As the day progresses, a heartfelt tradition ensues: people remove poppies from their coats and place them on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

For those wishing to extend their support, the option to purchase a wreath is available. These wreaths, serving as visual symbols during the event, can be acquired beforehand and will be strategically positioned by staff around the National War Memorial. 

Alternatively, you can contact your nearest Legion Branch to procure a wreath for placement at a local commemorative event. All proceeds from wreath purchases contribute to the Legion Poppy Fund, supporting Canada’s Veterans and their families.

6. Grab a souvenir or gift at Boogie + Birdie.

Address: 256 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1L9, Canada

Contact Details: +1 613-232-2473

Boogie + Birdie is a haven nestled in downtown Ottawa where creature comforts for your home and life take center stage. 

This shop is a celebration of all things Canadian, showcasing an array of designed and made goods that embody the essence of our vibrant nation. 

Whether you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift or treating yourself to a little indulgence, a visit to Boogie + Birdie is an exploration of a carefully curated selection. 

From exquisite jewelry and accessories to aromatic candles, bath and body essentials, and delightful home goods, each item tells a story and adds a touch of Canadian charm. 

Where to Eat on Elgin Street

Where to Eat on Elgin Street

In the culinary landscape of Elgin Street, the options are as diverse as they are tantalizing. From cozy cafes and bustling bistros to upscale dining experiences, this vibrant strip boasts an array of eateries that cater to every craving and palate. 

Whether you want a quick bite, a leisurely meal, or a culinary adventure, its dining scene invites you to savor a delectable journey through flavors and ambiance.

1. 1 Elgin Restaurant

Address: 1 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5W1, Canada


Contact Details: +1 613-594-5127

Must-order Menu Items: Pasta Special, Artic Char, Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Elgin Cheese Plate

Price Range: $$ (Average)

1 Elgin offers a culinary haven where exquisite Canadian cuisine meets a sophisticated atmosphere. 

It’s renowned for crafting high-quality meals, and the restaurant prides itself on artistry, meticulously incorporating the finest locally and nationally sourced ingredients. 

This establishment beckons patrons to indulge in an elegant dining experience, whether it’s a pre-performance feast or a refreshing interlude for lunch during a busy workday. 

At 1 Elgin, the promise isn’t just a meal but a culinary journey where each bite reflects a commitment to exceptional taste and quality.

2. Harmons Steakhouse

Address: 283 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1M1, Canada


Contact Details: +1 613-421-4202

Must-order Menu Items: Brussels Sprouts, Cremini Mushrooms, Mac and Cheese, Orange Blossom Crème Brulee

Price Range: $$$ (Expensive)

Harmons Steakhouse is an upscale haven on Elgin Street that seamlessly combines a steakhouse, wine bar, and distinguished butchery. Your senses are in for a treat as you embark on a gastronomic journey that goes beyond the ordinary.

This restaurant takes pride in curating a menu that showcases the finest ingredients, boasting fresh seafood and a rotating selection of dry-aged and Wagyu beef. 

The result is an exquisite culinary experience set against the backdrop of an elegant dining space, where thoughtful and genuine hospitality takes center stage.

Additionally, if you’re inclined to elevate your home dining experience, Harmons Butchery awaits. 

Here, you’ll discover quality beef, including USDA and Canadian Prime, Argentine Beef, North American Wagyu, Australian Beef, and A5 Japanese Wagyu. 

Beyond the carnivorous delights, Harmons Butchery offers a treasure trove of local cheese, charcuterie, seafood, and prepared foods. 

Be sure to complement your choice of meal with an exclusive assortment of wine and beer, creating a culinary symphony that tantalizes the taste buds!

3. Forty One

Address: 100 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5K8, Canada


Contact Details: +1 613-569-2126

Must-order Menu Items: Grill 41 Burger, Cabernet Sauvignon, Calamari, Steak Fries

Price Range: $$ (Average)

Forty One, formerly known as Grill 41, embraces its historical roots, deriving its name from the significant year of 1941 when the Lord Elgin Hotel was erected. 

This restaurant effortlessly marries a contemporary ambiance with a timeless menu, creating an ideal setting for forging connections with both new and familiar faces. 

With a generous capacity nearing 150, the restaurant cleverly incorporates booths and banquette seating, ensuring flexibility to cater to various guest needs. 

For those desiring a more private affair, the restaurant also boasts a private dining room accommodating up to 30 guests, providing an exclusive setting for special gatherings.

4. Beckta 

Address: 150 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1L4, Canada


Contact Details: +1 613-238-7063

Must-order Menu Items: Smoked Duck Breast, Cold Smoked Shrimp, Grilled Octopus, Smoked Cylindra Beet Steak

Price Range: $$ (Average)

At Beckta, you can look forward to its carefully curated Wine Bar—an inviting space with an ever-evolving menu of fine-dining bar food with a cocktail and wine program. 

The stately charm of Beckta’s grand residence perfectly complements its vision to elevate fine dining in Ottawa. It’s no wonder why this restaurant is a popular spot for wedding ceremonies, receptions, anniversaries, and so many other special occasions!

All ingredients are guaranteed fresh and are turned into exquisite dishes that’ll have you coming back for more!

5. Pure Kitchen

Address: 340 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1M5, Canada


Contact Details: +1 613-233-7873

Must-order Menu Items: Delighted Banana Bread French Toast, Magical Huevos Rancheros, Cauliflower Bites, Cauliflower Wings

Price Range: $$ (Average)

Pure Kitchen, an Ottawa-owned gem, extends its warm embrace across four locations to cater to your culinary cravings. 

Its team takes pride in crafting a diverse menu that caters to the vegan/vegetarian palate, offering a mix of internationally inspired comfort food and healthy options.

Beyond its delectable savory and sweet offerings, Pure Kitchen boasts a refreshing smoothie and cold-pressed organic juice bar. 

Additionally, you can complement your meal with Ontario beer and wine and pick through a curated cocktail menu featuring local distillers or its own organic juice. 

As a community-engaged establishment, Pure Kitchen stands as a sustainably focused and allergen-friendly oasis. With breakfast options available at three of our locations, it invites you to savor not just a meal but a holistic culinary experience.