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Victoria Museum

240 McLeod Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1986/07/28

Rear view of the Victoria Museum, showing its crenellated silhouette, 1986.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 1986.
Rear façade
View of the Victoria Museum, showing the central pavilion on the north side, which clearly announces the main entrance.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 1984.
View of the front and east elevations of the Victoria Museum, showing its regular fenestration and balanced massing, 1986.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 1986.
Side façade

Other Name(s)

Victoria Museum
Canadian Museum of Nature
Musée canadien de la nature
Victoria Memorial Museum

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1905/01/01 to 1911/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/07/09

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Victoria Museum in Ottawa is a freestanding Beaux-arts composition in Gothic Revival cladding. Its balanced massing of Nepean sandstone incorporates a projecting central entrance, corner towers with turrets, and a semicircular wing to the rear tower containing a two-storey amphitheatre. The regularity of its design is reinforced by orderly arrangement of windows, while its picturesque character is enhanced by its crenellated silhouette, carved ornament and ogee-arched entrances. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Victoria Museum was designated Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical and architectural significance, and because it defines the character of the surrounding area.

As the first purpose built federal museum, the Victoria Museum was the most ambitious of the five buildings designed and built by David Ewart between 1900 and 1914 in response to Laurier's famous "Washington of the North" speech. From 1916 to 1920 the building housed the Parliament of Canada.

Architecturally, the Victoria Museum is a Beaux Arts composition in Gothic cladding, and is the largest and most richly ornamented of Ewart's Ottawa buildings. All four façades are equally important. Seen from the south, the building reads as a castle on a gentle rise; from other quarters it is more clearly institutional.

Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 85-056; Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 85-056.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Victoria Museum should be respected.
- its Beaux Arts formality the essential character of the Victoria Museum expressed in and made slightly romantic by its Gothic cladding;
- on the exterior, regular fenestration and balanced massing, which are embellished by a crenellated silhouette, carved ornament, and stained glass windows in the central pavilion;
- the central pavilion on the north side, which clearly announces, in the Beaux Arts manner, the main entrance;
- in the interior, the Beaux Arts device of a clear axial plan centered on a formal hall from which the entire layout of the building is evident, and from which all of its main spaces are accessible;
- the entry sequence and circulation pattern, which moves from the formal doors through the vestibule into the hall and up a substantial open stair and balconies to destinations within the building.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type




Architect / Designer

David Ewart



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate Documentation Centre 3rd Floor, room 366 30 Victoria Street Gatineau, Québec J8X 0B3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places

General view

Victoria Memorial Museum National Historic Site of Canada

Victoria Memorial Museum is a large Tudor Gothic-style Tyndall-stone building located near downtown Ottawa. It sits alone, prominently sited on a city block surrounded by green…


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