As a home inspector, I am fortunate because I get to see inside many, many houses here in Ottawa. These can be anything from a condo apartment or townhome, all the way to some pretty magnificent mansions. And no matter what type of building it is, I always find something interesting about it.
But there are still some buildings that even I can’t get into. Nobody can. Unless you have a reason to be there or are invited. These are buildings such as embassies, offices, utility structures, even some churches and fine residences. But that all changes once a year when the City of Ottawa runs Doors Open Ottawa. This is the annual event which invites the public to visit normally restricted locations around the city. This is when some of Ottawa’s historically, culturally, and functionally significant buildings open their doors for the public’s viewing pleasure.
In the past I have had the delight of touring some remarkable buildings. These include the Transportation Safety Board Engineering Laboratory, Traffic Operations at Public Works, the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence at Algonquin College, and the remarkable Hydro Ottawa, Chaudière Falls No. 2 Generating Station.
This year, Doors Open Ottawa took place during the recent weekend of June 7 and 8. The highlights for me this year were being able to visit Earnscliffe, the British High Commissioner’s Official Residence, and the Embassy of the United States on Sussex Drive. At Earnscliffe, the second floor was open for viewing for the first time. It was great seeing Sir John A. Macdonald’s former house, set on the beautiful Ottawa river.
To get access to the US Embassy tour in Ottawa you have to apply in advance. I happened to remember to do that and got in for the grand tour. It is quite a remarkable building! It is great to finally see inside one of Ottawa’s more significant buildings. And, as a bonus, I got to meet the US Ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman. He is a very charming man. On the way out, my wife, Amanda, and I bumped into a couple of old chums (see the picture).