Launched in 2016, urbform is a collection of posts about architecture and planning in Ottawa. From time to time, sites in Montreal and other favourite places experienced through travels are likely to pop-up.
As an observer and champion of interesting places and quality design, my aim is to share some photos and information about places that inspire or intrigue. At times, I may offer an idea or two on possible enhancements to a place, or explore buildings / ideas lost to time.
Each post examines a building, a site, a theme, or a district. Some are short and some will be lengthy. Briefs looking back at lost buildings or unrealized plans tend to be organized in a timeline of oldest to most recent events, while places that continue to exist / evolve are usually arranged from most recent to oldest activity. If new developments occur or research reveals something of interest, a brief may be updated with the info inserted at the appropriate place in the timeline.
If you have research or photos to contribute, I encourage you to send me a note; if your info fits into the narrative I'm trying to tell, I'll be most thankful and will eagerly credit you as the source of your contribution.
Born in western Canada and raised in eastern Canada, I've lived in Ottawa since 2000. My studies in architectural theory and history led me to a multi-year stint on the Ottawa Built Heritage Advisory Committee. My passions include design and photography, and I do a some small-scale web design as time permits.
Finally, if you enjoy something you find on this site, please consider donating to the Ottawa Food Bank.
Built in 1929/1930, The Windsor Arms is a gem among Ottawa's pre-WWII apartment buildings. Highly-intact to this day, it features generously sized apartments and impressive views to the Victoria Memorial Museum, today's Museum of Nature. Mid-20th century planning called for the demolition of The Windsor Arms to make way for a large garden terrace to the south of the museum - thankfully it never came to pass.
150 Argyle remains a rental building and is managed by Andrex Holdings Ltd.
The landlord restores the main entrance doors. The original exterior leaded stained glass panels are brought back to life by Northern Art Glass. At the same time, the panels of the inner entrance doors - damaged and removed decades earlier - are recreated based on the design of the exterior doors.
In mid-2006, the author of this post is on a site visit of the Museum of Nature when he observes piles of building material on the roof of The Windsor Arms. It's clearly material from the building's original staggered brick and stone parapets, which had been dismantled at some point in the 1990s due to deterioration. In mid-2007, Andrex restores the missing parapets using the original stone and new brick of the same texture/dimension of the original, with the work performed by Keystone Traditional Masonry.
With the parapets back in place, the building's original massing and presence are reinstated. In 2009, Andrex and Keystone are recognized by the City of Ottawa with a Certificate of Merit - Restoration.
Taken before the Queensway replaced the railway corridor, the photo below shows The Windsor Arms some thirty years after construction, with the Beaver Barracks immediately to the south (demolished in the 1990s) and The Auditorium a little towards the west (demolished c.1967 for the construction of the Metro YMCA). The block to the east shows what appears to be a large car dealership that pre-existed today's Ottawa Police headquarters.
And a similar perspective a couple years later during construction of the Queensway, taken circa 1964 with a box camera by L.A. Sandy Smallwood, founder of Andrex which today manages/owns The Windsor Arms.
An exhaustive 4-page spread announces the looming tenancy of the building, in the boosterish tone of the day. Advertisement as news.
The Windsor Arms Apartments is designed by architect Cecil Burgess and completed on 1 April 1930 at the cost of $300,000 (1930 dollars), which the builder Stewart Christie claims to be 85% above the average cost of construction because of conveniences put into the structure. The building's design features a detailed entrance portico, stained and leaded glass windows, and wood burning fireplaces in some units. When first tenanted, the building offered lobby and parking attendants and maid services.
Some 40-years before construction of The Windsor Arms began, a substantial victorian home occupied the site. Note that the civic address was 70 Argyle at the time, before being renumbered to 150 Argyle at some point in the intermittent years.
The Topley photo indicates that 70 Argyle was on the southeast corner or Argyle and Metcalfe, however archival fire insurance maps confirm that 70 Argyle was on the southwest corner, todays 150 Argyle.