Hardy Arcade

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Ottawa, Ontario
Hardy Arcade building façade (© Parks Canada | Parcs Canada)
Hardy Arcade building façade
(© Parks Canada | Parcs Canada)
Address : 130 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 1987-07-14
  • 1936 to 1937 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Davidson and Smith  (Architect)
Custodian: National Capital Commission
FHBRO Report Reference: 86-39
DFRP Number: 01854 00

Description of Historic Place

The Hardy Arcade is situated on Sparks Street in the core of Ottawa’s central business district. The two-storey building has a cut-stone, Art Deco façade. The façade is flat, with a shallow, carved arch over the storefront and entrance above which is the building’s name in characteristic Art Deco lettering. Three windows pierce the upper floor and stone urns cap a modest cornice. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Hardy Arcade is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value:
The Hardy Arcade is associated with the commercial development of Sparks Street in the early 20th century. This area has been, since the 1880s, the core of Ottawa’s central business district. Its original owner, the Hon. Arthur C. Hardy, was a prominent Ontario politician and lawyer. He served as president of the Liberal Party of Ontario from 1919 until 1932. In 1922, he was called to the Senate where he served as speaker in 1930. The well-known photographer, Yousef Karsh, rented part of the Arcade’s upper floor for his studio. During the 1950s, the Embassy of Haiti also resided there.

Architectural Value:
The Hardy Arcade is valued for the good aesthetics of its Art Deco design. The fireproof concrete-and-steel, two storey building is faced with a cut stone façade that employs a decorative vocabulary derived from the Art Deco movement. The emphasis on flat surfaces, streamlining and incised details gives an effect of sleek simplicity. The good functional interior maximizes the use of limited retail space. Good craftsmanship is evidenced in the stonework and carving of the principal façade.

Environmental Value:
The Hardy Arcade maintains an unchanged relationship to its site and is compatible with the commercial character of its streetscape setting in Ottawa’s central business district and commercial core. The building is a familiar landmark to local residents, people working in the vicinity and pedestrians.

Sources: Dana Johnson, Five NCR Business Blocks: 40 promenade du Portage, Quebec (86-007), 41 York Street, Ottawa Ontario (86-025), 461-465 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario (86-037), 7 Clarence Street, Ottawa, Ontario (86-038), 130 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Buildings Review Office, Report (86-039); The Hardy Arcade, 130 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Federal Heritage Character Statement 86-039.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Hardy Arcade should be respected.

Its good Art Deco design elements, very good functional design, and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example: the two-story massing of the fireproof concrete-and-steel frame construction; the flat Art Deco principal and secondary façades that use cut stone cladding with simple decorative treatment; the precisely cut and shallow carving of the scalloped stone arch directly over the storefront’s main entrance, and the building’s name in characteristic, Art Deco, raised metal lettering; the ground floor windows and entrance, the three windows of the upper floor separated by blocks of stone, the slightly projecting sills and the slightly recessed window surrounds; the modest, slightly undulating cornice finished with stone urns.

The manner in which the Hardy Arcade maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, is compatible with the commercial character of the streetscape setting in the centre of downtown Ottawa, and is a familiar landmark as evidenced by: its continued relationship to its prominent site in the core of Ottawa’s commercial and business district; its scale, design and materials that maintain a visual and physical relationship with the surrounding buildings and complement the Sparks (Street) streetscape; its location, design and use by retail businesses, which make it a familiar landmark to visitors, passing pedestrians, and local residents.

Heritage Character Statement

Disclaimer - 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.

Hardy Arcade was built in 1936-37 by Doran Construction Company of Ottawa to designs attributed to the architectural firm of Davison and Smith. See FHBRO Building Report 86-39.

Reason for Designation

On March 27, 1987, Hardy Arcade was designated Recognized because of its association to the well known photographer Yousuf Karsh whose studio was located on the upper floor of Hardy Arcade for the major part of this career until he moved to the Chateau Laurier in the 1960s.

The two storey modest Art Deco building is also of considerable interest in the national context because it is a rare surviving example - admittedly on a modest scale - of a form of commercial architecture, the arcade. The peculiar approach taken by the architects of Hardy Arcade maximized the number of rentable stalls which could be placed within a 33-foot wide frontage, and this in turn reflects the property values and economic realities of the Great Depression.

Character Defining Elements

The heritage character of Hardy Arcade resides in its exterior design, its decorative vocabulary derived from the Art Deco movement which produces precise angularity and clearly cut lines. The building is also characterized by its internal pedestrian street "the arcade" which links Sparks Street and Queen Street.