Recognized Federal Heritage Building
© National Capital Commission | Commission de la capitale nationale, 2002.
1 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1866 to 1867
Event, Person, Organization:
F. P. Rubidge, Thomas Seaton Scott, David Ewart
National Capital Commission
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Rideau Cottage is a generously scaled, Georgian Revival brick house located within the grounds of the Rideau Hall complex in Ottawa. It is a two-storey, hipped roof building with a bay wing on its northeastern façade. The building is distinguished by its symmetry, classically inspired doorway with pedimented porch, its sash windows and paired chimneys. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Rideau Cottage is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Rideau Cottage is historically significant for its role as an ancillary building at Rideau Hall and is intimately connected with the administrative machinery of the governor generalship. The building was constructed as a residence for the Secretary to the Governor General and is within easy walking distance of the Hall. The Secretary supports the Governor General in delivering his/her mandate and in fulfilling his/her constitutional, state, ceremonial and other traditional responsibilities. The residence has been the home of the Secretary or Military Attaché to all Governors General.
The Rideau Cottage is valued for its good aesthetic design. Originally constructed as a mid-Victorian house, it has been remodeled in the Georgian Revival style, one of the most popular manners for remodeling Victorian houses into fashionable 20th -century homes. The building is characterized by its symmetry, simple lines, classically inspired central entrance porch and sash windows flanked by decorative shutters. Good craftsmanship and materials are evidenced in the building’s brick masonry construction.
The Rideau Cottage is compatible with the picturesque character of its estate setting at Rideau Hall and is familiar within the immediate area.
Sources:Robert Hunter, Rideau Cottage, Ottawa, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 86-002; Rideau Cottage, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 86-002.
The character-defining elements of the Rideau Cottage should be respected.
Its good aesthetic, functional design, craftsmanship and materials, for
example: the symmetrical composition and two-storey massing with a bay wing on the northeastern façade; the hipped roof with projecting brick chimneys; the brick masonry construction; the centrally located entrance, which consists of paired pillars that support a pedimented porch framing the entrance door; the sash windows and their decorative shutters; the symmetrical interior plan.
The manner, in which the Rideau Cottage reinforces the picturesque character of its estate setting, designated Rideau Hall and Landscaped Grounds National Historic Site of Canada, and is familiar within the immediate area, as evidenced by: its Georgian Revival style and materials that harmonize with its adjacent buildings in its formally landscaped grounds surrounded by mature trees; its familiarity within its immediate area, because of its role within the vice-regal estate.
Heritage Character Statement
The heritage character statement was developed by FHBRO to explain the reasons for the designation of a federal heritage building and what it is about the building that makes it significant (the heritage character). It is a key reference document for anyone involved in planning interventions to federal heritage buildings and is used by FHBRO in their review of interventions.
Rideau Cottage was constructed in 1866-67 by Stewart Taylor and Co. The architect from Public Works in charge of preparing Rideau Hall as a vice-regal residence, F.P. Rubidge, designed Rideau Cottage to serve as a home for the Secretary to the Governor General. It was Recognized because of its association with the Secretary to the Governor General and because the character of the relationship between the building and its site has been retained.
By 1859, Ottawa had been chosen to be the permanent capital of Canada and the construction of the Parliament Buildings soon began. The estate of Thomas McKay, Rideau Hall, was first leased as a temporary residence for the Governor General in 1864 and then purchases in 1868. The post of Governor General carried with it a staff, primary among whom was the Secretary. It was as a residence for this key figure that Rideau Cottage was constructed within easy walking distance of the Hall. It has subsequently been the home of the Secretary or Military Attaché of all successive governors general. The historical significance of this structure rests in its role as an ancillary building at Rideau Hall, intimately connected with the administrative machinery of the governor generalship.
Rideau Cottage, in its original form, was a one-storey red brick cottage with a truncated hip roof and a verandah on three sides. Containing 14 rooms, Rideau Cottage was a generously scaled mid-Victorian house which may be seen as a late interpretation of a picturesque villa. Its one-storey plan, low pitched roof spreading over the verandahs and the picturesque nature of its wooden bargeboard indicate the stylistic roots of Rideau Cottage. The symmetrical plan of the house was reflected in its symmetrical square-headed fenestration. In the same manner that Rideau Hall grew according to the requirements and desires of its successive inhabitants, Rideau Cottage was expanded in 1872 when Thomas Scott, the chief architect of Public Works, prepared plans for a second storey addition. Other than the second story itself the major alteration involved the addition of a small enclosed balcony above the front verandah which transformed the appearance of the house from that of a picturesque cottage to a more substantial Victorian house. Rideau Cottage continued to grow with an addition to its rear in 1905, primarily for an expansion of ;the kitchen: flat-roofed and constructed of red brick, this wing, a portion of which is one-storey and another portion two-storey, is extremely utilitarian. In 1933 a two-storey hip roofed bay wing was added to the northeastern facade to extend the dining room. A screened porch on the rear facade and an attached lean-to frame garage have been added since the 1930s. A major transformation in 1954-55 involved the removal of the verandahs on three facades and the construction of a prominent, classically inspired central entrance porch: aired pillars support a pedimented canopy below which the entrance door is framed.
Rideau Cottage is located behind the rear gardens of Rideau Hall in what was originally a rather wild wooded corner of the estate. A formal entrance drive, lawns and flower beds lead up to the building, behind which is a less manicured wooded area. Behind Rideau Hall a large area of the gorunds is devoted to service structures. Rideau Cottage is in an area somewhat separate from these service buildings but within sight of both them and the rear of Rideau Hall. Because Rideau Cottage is not readily visible from the road its only landmark value rests in its being part of the readily identifiable vice-regal estate.