Wallis House

Today, Wallis House, the striking Queen Anne revival style building at 589 Rideau St. at the corner of Charlotte St., is a condominium. This, however, is the sixth use of this building which started its life as a hospital, became a catholic seminary, was converted into army barracks during the Second World War, provided emergency housing for returning WW 2 veterans, served as headquarters for the Army’s 28th Service Battalion and 763 Communications Regiment and faced demolition before finally being turned into 47 condo units in the 1990s.

This postcard of the Carleton County Protestant General Hospital, circa 1920, erroneously identifies it as the General Hospital.
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, P113, S5, D23, P003

The Carleton County General Protestant Hospital was built between 1873 and 1875 to complement a smaller hospital immediately to the east which it eventually replaced. The east wing was built in 1898, with a third floor added in 1912. For five decades, the Hospital served as anchor to several medical facilities located nearby including the Lady Stanley Institute for Trained Nurses, a maternity hospital and a children’s hospital. In 1924, these and other local hospitals amalgamated into the Civic Hospital on Carling Ave. Although the maternity hospital and the Lady Stanley Institute have both been demolished, the children’s hospital on Wurtemburg Ave. survives today  as the Turkish embassy.

The Catholic Church purchased the building in 1925 to use it as a seminary offering a classical education to aspirants to the priesthood.

In 1943, the federal government acquired the building to serve as barracks for the Women’s Royal Canadian Navy Service (WRENS). It is then that the building was given its current name, Wallis House, after Sir Provo William Parry Wallis, the Halifax-born lieutenant (later admiral) who won a famous naval battle against the United States navy during the War of 1812 (the capture of the frigate USS Chesapeake by the HMS Shannon). In 1945, Wallis House was used as emergency housing for returning war veterans before returning to military use in 1950 for 40 years.

Threatened with demolition, it became the subject of an intense campaign by Heritage Ottawa to preserve it before it was acquired by Andrex Holdings which converted it into condo units in 1996.

Wallis House is a designated property under the Ontario Heritage Act.

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