No matter who you ask, both the locals and tourists in Ottawa agree that the city is the heart of government activity in Canada.
Thanks to its very political climate, the capital attracts plenty of people who are involved in the government or want to work for it in the future.
Besides the government facilities, Ottawa is also home to many prominent political landmarks. In this article, I will be talking about the Official Residence of the Prime Minister of Canada, the abode of the country’s most important government official.
Due to its heavily guarded nature, you can say that there’s a sense of mystery to the area. You will find guards patrolling the grounds 24/7, and at most, we can only view the exterior of the residence.
I’ll explain everything you need to know about the area so you have a better understanding of it.
Overview of the Prime Minister’s Official Residence
The Official Residence of the Prime Minister is a historic and essential building in Ottawa. It’s located at 24 Sussex Drive and has been the official home of Canada’s Prime Minister since 1951.
You can find the house in Rockcliffe Park’s neighborhood, known for its beautiful setting along the Ottawa River.
As for its architecture, the building is a beautiful example of the Georgian Revival style. It was built by Joseph Merrill Currier, a wealthy lumber baron, between 1866 and 1868.
The front of the limestone mansion is symmetrical and has big windows and a door in the middle.
In the past, the property used to be a private home. But it changed hands several times throughout the years before the Canadian government bought it in 1943.
Soon after, plenty of renovation projects have been done to the property to make it fit for the Prime Minister and their family to live there.
You can find bedrooms, sitting areas, and other amenities for the head of the government in the private living quarters. There are also offices and reception rooms that can be used for official meetings and events.
The interior design and furniture reflect the tastes of the people who live there, with a mix of historical and modern pieces. There is also a library in the house, which is full of books and other resources for the Prime Minister’s use.
One of the most attractive features of the mansion’s grounds is its beautifully landscaped gardens, lawns, and trees, which give it a beautiful setting. It was also made with the Prime Minister and their family’s privacy and safety in mind.
Thanks to its importance in history and architecture, 24 Sussex Drive has been named one of Canada’s national historic sites. It’s a crucial part of the country’s legacy, as it has been the setting for many important political and diplomatic events over the years.
Due to the building’s aging infrastructure, several reported caused maintenance problems have been reported. Because of this, it’s got us talking about what will happen to 24 Sussex Drive and whether the Prime Minister might need a new official home.
Even though we aren’t allowed to go inside, we can still look at the outside of the house. When you walk or drive along Sussex Drive, you can see how grand and beautiful this Ottawa landmark is.
Historical and Political Significance
Ever since its acquisition by the Canadian government In 1943, the Prime Ministers of Canada have called 24 Sussex Drive their home. This has made it quite possibly the most important place not just in Ottawa but in Canada as a whole.
Foreign dignitaries and heads of state have made many state visits to the residence, which has helped with official events, meetings, and diplomatic talks. These events help to move diplomatic efforts forward and make international relationships stronger.
Also, important political talks and decision-making processes have taken place at 24 Sussex Drive. Prime Ministers have gotten together at the residence with cabinet ministers, advisors, and party members to discuss policies.
During these meetings, they make significant plans and important decisions that drive the country in a specific direction.
Of course, the residence isn’t just for meetings. On some occasions, the grounds become a place for social events and other informal gatherings.
The Prime Minister’s family, politicians, community leaders, and other influential people can meet together at these events. More often than not, they use this opportunity to make new connections and grow their networks for a stronger political presence.
The Official Residence of the Prime Minister of Canada is the private home of the head of government, so it is kept as secure as possible. As a result, access to the interior is minimal to ensure the Prime Minister and their family are safe.
Officials have revealed that the house has many security features, like physical barriers, surveillance systems, alarms, and controlled entry points.
Professional security guards, likely from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) or other specialized agencies, are responsible for keeping the building safe. Only the best officers are recruited for the positions since this is a very high-stress job.
During very limited times when entrance to the public is allowed, we must go through a thorough security check. You will see get to see the different agencies and departments working like a well-oiled machine to ensure maximum safety for everyone.
These security measures are constantly being examined and improved to keep up with new threats to ensure nothing happens to the Prime Minister and their family.
The tight protocols also make sure that high privacy levels are maintained for the Prime Minister. It also prevents confidential operational details from leaking to the general public that malicious attackers could use.
While we can’t get into the house itself, we are more than welcome to admire it from the outside. It’s also near some famous landmarks, which makes this place a worthwhile place to visit.
Thanks to its location near the Ottawa River, the property offers some incredible scenic views. We can walk or drive along Sussex Drive to better see the building’s beautiful architecture and rich history.
The limestone mansion, built in the Georgian Revival style, looks very grand from the outside. Even for someone who isn’t an architecture expert like me, I can’t deny how picturesque it looks.
The large windows, symmetrical shape, and central entrance of the house make for an impressive sight. The gardens, lawns, and trees on the well-kept grounds add to the beauty and peace of the property as a whole.
I tend to take pictures of the structure’s shapes along with other tourists when we are allowed, and I’m really impressed with the architecture. Just a quick look reminds me why it’s such an iconic part of Ottawa and Canada’s history.
Though when taking pictures, be mindful once staff place signs. This often signals to us that something very important and confidential is about to take place, so be respectful of the protocol lest you get into trouble.
While the limited accessibility of the Official Residence of the Prime Minister of Canada can be a slight bummer, it’s connected to plenty of Ottawa’s other awesome attractions. Here are a few notable ones that I recommend you visit.
Address: 1 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A1, Canada
- Monday-Saturday: 8 AM–4:30 PM
- Sunday: 8 AM–5:30 PM
Rideau Hall (Can you visit the rideau hall?) is home to the Governor General of Canada, the representative of the British monarch. Compared to the prime minister’s residence, it is much more accessible for official state events and functions.
The building is on a 32-hectare property that looks out over the Ottawa River. The original building was built in 1838, and it has grown and been fixed up many times since then.
It shares elements with the Official Residence of the Prime Minister of Canada, having Georgian architectural styles. It also features some distinct Victorian designs that are a marvel to look at.
As you explore the hall, you will find the staterooms, the primary venue for government dinners, inaugurations, and other important events. You’ll also see the private quarters for the Governor General and their family as you continue on with the tour.
My favorite part of the building is definitely the gardens. The flowers and orchids on the grounds are open to the public, and you can take pictures of them to add to your collection.
Just like the prime minister’s residence, the Rideau Hall is an important part of Canada’s history and culture. It has had a lot of important people stay there, including members of the British royal family, heads of state, and other famous people.
Rideau Hall is not only a home, but it is also a proud symbol of our Canadian heritage and identity. It shows the country’s historical ties to the British monarchy and reflects the values and hopes of us Canadians.
Address: Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A9, Canada
- Monday-Thursday: 8:30 AM–6 PM
- Friday: 8:30 AM–5 PM
- Saturday-Sunday: Closed
Parliament Hill is the seat of Canada’s legislative branch and the center of the country’s federal government.
The Centre Block, the East Block, and the West Block are the three most prominent buildings on Parliament Hill. They are all on a limestone cliff that looks out over the Ottawa River.
Of the three main buildings, the Center Block is what I and other Ottawans consider to be the most popular. It has the famous Peace Tower within its vicinity, which is considered to be a symbol of Canadian democracy and unity.
This is also the venue where the House of Commons and the Senate meet in the Centre Block to conduct business as a government. You can find several committee rooms and the historic Senate Chamber and House of Commons Chamber in this area.
Besides those areas, members of the parliament, senators, and people who work for the government have offices in the East Block and West Block.
In terms of architecture, you can find buildings that combine Gothic Revival style with Canadian elements. These same structures are often used as a location for public events, celebrations, and protests.
During the summer, we can watch the “Changing of the Guard” ceremony. This is what I think to be one of the most interesting things about Parliament Hill.
If you are curious about military traditions and routines, this is your chance to watch it firsthand. You can see disciplined soldiers moving in perfect sync as they perform their regimens to perfection.
Overall, Parliament Hill is the center of Canadian politics and a symbol of the country. It is an important place for government, democratic debate, and national identity because it represents the Canadian nation’s ideals and values.
Address: Ottawa, ON, Canada
- Monday, Tuesday, Sunday: 10 AM–5 PM
- Wednesday: 10 AM–5:30 PM
A personal favorite of mine, ByWard Market is a lively, old neighborhood in downtown Ottawa. It is also one of the oldest and biggest public markets in Canada.
The market can be summarized as a busy area with a mix of markets, shops, restaurants, and nightlife.
ByWard Market is known for its busy vibe and wide range of goods. There is a farmers’ market in the area that is open all year round, where local farmers and vendors sell fresh food, flowers, baked goods, and hand-made items.
In addition to the farmers market, the area is also known for its wide range of shops, boutiques, and galleries. There is a variety of things for people to see and do, such as fashion boutiques, art galleries, antique shops, jewelry stores, and specialty food shops.
I usually go to this place to find unique gifts or mementos or just to go shopping for fun. This part of the market gets two thumbs up for me for having so much awesome stuff to choose from.
Once you are done buying your desired items, there are many great places to eat, thanks to the plentiful selection of restaurants, cafes, and pubs.
There is something for every taste, from trendy bistros and cozy cafes to restaurants with food from around the world and specialties from the area. ByWard Market is known for its wide range of maple syrup products and BeaverTails, a popular Canadian pastry.
The place is charming even when it’s not daytime. When nighttime comes, the area comes alive with a lively nightlife scene.
You can mingle with locals and other tourists as you visit the bars, clubs, and pubs. While doing that, you can also listen to live music, dance, and meet new people.
Just like the prime minister’s residence, the ByWard Market is also surrounded by historical sites and places of interest. It is just east of Parliament Hill and close to the National Gallery of Canada, the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, and other great places.
National Gallery of Canada
Address: 380 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4, Canada
- Monday-Friday (except Thursdays): 10 AM–5 PM
- Thursday: 10 AM–8 PM
- First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples: Free
- Members: Free
- Adults: $20
- Adults 65+ (Proof of age required): $18
- 24 and under / Students (Proof of age or ID required): $10
- Families (2 adults & 3 youths age 17 and under): $40
- Children (Age 11 and under): Free
The National Gallery of Canada is one of Ottawa’s most famous museums and is one of the best cultural institutions in the country. Its main highlight is its extensive collection of Canadian and international art.
The building was designed by architect Moshe Safdie and is a work of art in and of itself. It is near Parliament Hill and has a view of the Ottawa River from Sussex Drive.
The building is made of glass and granite, and its design is a mix of modern and natural elements. This not only makes it a great place to display and learn more about art, but it’s also a feast for the eyes of any person who appreciates gorgeous architecture.
The National Gallery of Canada has works from many different times, styles, and mediums. You can find European masterpieces, Canadian and Indigenous art, modern and contemporary art, photography, and sculptures as you walk down the halls.
You also have art pieces by many famous artists. A few names I can list off the top of my head are Emily Carr, Tom Thomson, Lawren Harris, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Andy Warhol, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso.
Personally speaking, I think that the museum’s best feature is its permanent and temporary installations. These give us an opportunity to learn about different themes, artists, or art movements to better understand the medium.
You can find people from all over the country and the world coming in to see these shows. We can mingle with them to see art from many different points of view and how their own culture reflects on different canvases.
Besides being a place to enjoy art, the National Gallery of Canada also acts as a hub for research, education, and public participation. It has classes, workshops, guided tours, and lectures that are meant to help you learn and appreciate art better.
You can also find a large library and a lot of old records, making it a great place for art research if you are looking for specific information. There are plenty of scholars and researchers there too, and they might be willing to answer some of your questions.
Thanks to the gallery’s location near Sussex Drive, you can see beautiful views of the Parliament Buildings, the Ottawa River, and the area around them. It is also right next to Major’s Hill Park, where you can take long walks and enjoy the outdoors.
The gallery is a rich cultural experience for art lovers, researchers, and people of all ages, so you definitely want to give this place a visit.