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June 02, 2011

OttawaStart's off-the-beaten-trail picks for Doors Open Ottawa

It's the 10th edition of Doors Open Ottawa this Saturday and Sunday.  I'm sure you've heard about (and possibly visited) the popular destinations like the U.S. Embassy, Rideau Hall, and a bunch of downtown churches.   Here are our picks for a few under-appreciated buildings on the tour this year, in alphabetical order.  (For full descriptions, times and directions, click here.)

  1.  Blackburn Building - 223 Somerset Street (downtown)
    "This French Art Deco inspired residential building was built by Henry Blackburn and completed in 1936. The interior atrium is five stories high and features internal balcony style corridors and skylight typically found in Europe – a rare gem in residential construction."

    Why I recommend it:
    It's a great place for photography. I was there a few years ago and snapped these pics, for example.

  2. Canadian Space Services Ltd. - 2336 Craig's Side Rd.  (in Carp)
    "In 1960, NATO and the Canadian Department of National Defence built this satellite communications (SATCOM) station at 2336 Craig’s Side Road in Carp. It supports a 68-foot diameter metal space frame radar dome (radome) on its roof, which provides environmental protection for the 50-foot diameter SATCOM antenna it houses. The antenna provided satellite communications between all NATO countries until 1999 when NATO and DND decommissioned the site. In 1999, it was purchased by Canadian Space Services to serve as its corporate headquarters."

    Why I recommend it:
    Haven't you always wanted to see what's inside one of those radar domes?  We checked this place out last year -- it smelled funny but it was cool to climb way up to the top.

  3. CanmetENERGY - 1 Haanel Dr. (west end between Bells Corners and Kanata)
    "Discover the exciting research taking place at Canada’s most diverse clean energy science and technology facility. Learn how clean coal technology works, witness a coal push, discover how biomass can be transformed into clean fuels, view the power of renewable energy, and find out more about how research scientists are developing methods of reducing CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. No photography or video taking is allowed on the complex and there will be restricted access to certain areas and buildings. Visitors must wear closed toed shoes and children must be accompanied by an adult."

    Why I recommend it: I've always wondered what the heck happens in this place. Plus the "no photography or video" restriction makes me really curious what the big secret is.

  4. CKCU Radio Carleton - 1125 Colonel By Dr., Unicentre Building, Rm. 517
    "Canada’s oldest campus community radio station, broadcasting 24x7x365 in 18 languages. On November 14, 1975, Canadian radio history was made when Joni Mitchell’s "You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio" transmitted over the airwaves and 93.1 FM became the first campus-based community radio station in the country. In the ensuing 35 years, CKCU has continued to be a pioneer in community broadcasting, providing an alternative to commercial radio and the CBC as a voice for the many Ottawa communities not served by the mainstream media. Non-stop tours with sound-editing workshops for Doors Open Ottawa."

    Why I recommend it: Because surprisingly, it's the only Ottawa tv or radio station included on this year's list.  

  5. Energy Ottawa, Chaudière Falls No. 2 Generating Station  - Mill St., Amelia Island (near Lebreton Flats)
    "Built by industrialist E.H. Bronson in 1891 during the lumber boom, the Chaudière No. 2 Generating Station is an NCC designated heritage building and one of the original buildings at Victoria Island. It is believed to be the oldest operating hydroelectric generator in Canada. The generators and turbines were completely refurbished in 2001 and a fourth generator was added increasing total output by 65%. Despite being automated and controlled remotely with state of the art electronics, all of the original equipment has been preserved and looks exactly as it did a century ago. Shoes must be closed toe and flat."

    Why I recommend it: In the age of nuclear, solar and wind power - how cool is it that we have a 110-year-old hydro plant still operating in the city's core?

  6. Enriched Bread Artists - 951 Gladstone Ave. (near Preston)
    "Perched on the hill above Little Italy on the edge of Hintonburg,. Enriched Bread Artists (EBA) is housed on the first two floors of the old Standard Bread Factory circa 1924, when bread was delivered by horse and wagon. Close to 100 years old, some of the original architectural features remain both inside and outside the building.  The factory was converted to more than 20 artists’ studios in 1993."

    Why I recommend it: This place is a hive of creativity. If you've never been inside during Doors Open or one of their annual open houses, you should go.

  7. Hazeldean Masonic Lodge - 21 Young Rd. (off Hazeldean Road, not far from the Timmy's on Edgewater)
    "Built in 1914, the Hazeldean Masonic Lodge has served local Masons and their visitors for almost a century. The functional storey-and-a-half timber-frame building is one of the few remaining heritage structures in Kanata that pre-date the modern urban community. Inside the building is a high ceiling and balcony. Heritage photos show the first use of the Lodge in 1914 and Lodge officers throughout the years. Masonic furnishings include the Master’s and Wardens’ chairs and columns, altar with Bible, and other pieces used in Masonic ritual. Members of the Lodge will answer questions and discuss Masonic history and traditions."

    Why I recommend it: I've lived near this location in the suburbs of Kanata for almost six years, and until now had no idea this existed.  I bet you didn't either.

  8. Nepean Sailing Club - 3259 Carling Ave. (near Andrew Haydon Park)
    "The Nepean Sailing Club is located at Dick Bell Park on Lac Deschenes. The club’s beautiful and unique pavilion, designed by Ottawa architects Griffiths Rankin Cook to reference a paddlewheel boat, features bright, airy and spacious pine rooms with high natural wood beams and ceilings. Natural light streams in via the twin glass lanterns on the roof, and the club room and lounge overlook the harbour, providing guests with an unobstructed view of the Ottawa River and the Gatineau Hills. The club was started in 1979 by a group of sail enthusiasts from local communities and the City of Nepean."

    Why I recommend it: It is the only Doors Open Ottawa location where you can buy a beer and drink it while sitting on a patio overlooking the Ottawa River.

  9. OC Transpo Industrial Garage - 745 Industrial Ave. (near St. Laurent Blvd)
     "OC Transpo opened this maintenance garage, the first of its kind in over 30 years, in September 2010. This is one of the most modern bus garages in North America, measuring 480 ft. by 430 ft. It is the first transit garage in North America that is LEED Silver Rated Certified (Environmental) and equipped with latest technology in wireless controlled hydraulic hoist. On display: OC Transpo’s bus evolution – the oldest in our fleet to the newest articulated bus and the double decker bus."

    Why I recommend it: Bring a wrench, and maybe they'll let you pitch in and help repair the broken air conditioning on some of the articulated buses!

  10. Ottawa Citizen - 1101 Baxter Rd. (near that big new IKEA they're building)
    "Founded as the Packet in 1843, it became the Ottawa Citizen in 1851. Designed by Webb Zerafa, Menkes Architects in 1973. The building houses staff and the printing press room is described as "the size of a football field." The addition was made in 1979 by Alistair Ross. Guided Tours. Restricted photography."

    Why I recommend it: Go for the tour and see what happens when you yell "Stop The Presses!" or the new digital equivalent, "Undo That Article You Just Posted Via The Content Management System!"

  11. Ottawa Mail Processing Plant - 1424 Sandford Fleming Ave. (off Riverside Drive, not far from the Train Station)
    "Due to the possibility of a work disruption at Canada Post, the Ottawa Mail Processing Plant will not be participating in this year’s Doors Open Ottawa."

    Why I recommend it: You can't go inside, but you might be able to march with the strikers. (Email me if you decide to do this.) Hey, is that a sculpture of knives on the outside of the building?

  12. Robert O. Pickard Environmental Centre - 800 Green Creek Dr. (east end)
    "What happens to water when it disappears down the drain? Find out at the 150 acre Robert O. Pickard Environmental Centre (ROPEC), the 3rd largest wastewater treatment facility in Canada and the largest industrial site in Ottawa. Experience the 1.7 km network of underground tunnels and the awe of pipes and pumps big enough to move 25 rain barrels of wastewater per second. Explore state-of-the-art treatment processes & programs that protect our water environment. Be sure to check out our Kids’ Zone!"

    Why I recommend it: Ever dropped something down the drain or wondered where your poop goes? This is the place to find out!  And be sure to visit the Kids Zone, because kids love poop.

  13. Suntech Greenhouses Ltd. - 5541 Doyle Rd. (Manotick)
    "Home of the 'Little Miracles,' the greenhouses and have recently expanded from 2.5 acres to 4 acres. SunTech specialize in Beefsteak Tomatoes, but also carry other varieties of tomatoes including grape and cherry. They also grow green beans, mini cucumber, eggplants and zucchini."

    Why I recommend it: They won't notice if I accidentally borrow a tomato or two, will they?

  14. Traffic Operations, Public Works - 175 Loretta Ave. N. (near Preston)
    "Built in 1974-75 to accommodate a branch of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton’s transportation department. The first computerized traffic system was installed by Honeywell in 1976 to maintain 200 traffic signals, which at the time was the second system of its kind in Canada. In 1990, the City of Ottawa installed its own unique upgraded system. Now the operation maintains more than 1091 traffic control signals, the central traffic control system, the audible pedestrian signals program, and 145 traffic cameras. The Red Light Program has 13 red light cameras that are rotated among 33 designated intersections."

    Why I recommend it: Slip them a crisp $20 bill and ask them to guarantee green lights for your drive home.
See also: Ottawa History Guide


  1. Anonymous3:40 PM

    This is such a thorough and awesome post. What great suggestions! Thanks!

  2. Nice post. There’s a handy free mobile web site at http://dott.thoughtcorp.com that let’s you view which buildings are open and other various details, including mappage.

  3. Great list - I will definitely check out the Blackburn building. Another one with great light is the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat. Can't wait to see that today!

    I put up at eco list at Heartfelt: http://greeneststuff.blogspot.com/2011/06/doors-open-this-weekend.html

    I really want to check out the C.D. Howe green roof!

  4. We went to the SATCom one last year and were disappointed. It paled in comparison to the Diefenbunker just around the corner...

    And while Nepean Sailing Club is great, as a BYC member I have to point that not only can you buy a beer at the Britannia club, but some think it has a better view of the river.

    No quibbles with your num 14 recommendation though. We went two years ago (http://parenthood.phibian.com/?ID=93) and LOVED it!

  5. I took my daughter to the OC Transpo garage and it was lots of fun!! http://points4mom.blogspot.com/2011/06/tourists-in-our-own-city.html

  6. Lots of great places to visit. I did a post on Doors Open. It's a great concept. I liked the Muskoka Doors Open.
    All the photos are mine, of course.
    Who took these photos? There is no photo credit.

  7. Hi Jenn. All the photos on this page are from the City of Ottawa's Doors Open guide.


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