|Rideau Hall main façade
Ground floor plan
Aerial view from the South
Restoration work at Rideau Hall, the Official Residence of the
Governor General of Canada
|Rideau Hall main façade, 1999
||Rideau Hall, aerial view of the residence and
Rideau Hall in Ottawa was built in 1838 for a local industrialist,
Thomas MacKay. In 1864, it was leased as a temporary residence for
the Governor General, and then purchased as such in 1868. The official
residence known as Rideau Hall comprises 88 acres of grounds, the
main building with about 175 rooms covering approximately 9,500
square meters plus 24 outbuildings.
About 500 square meters in the main building are used for the private
areas; the remaining 9,000 square meters are state, service and
1838 WALL RESTORATION (1995-97)
|1838 Wall of Main Building before restoration
||1838 Wall. Students from Algonquin College
discussing proposed restoration work
This wall dates back to the first building that was built on the
Rideau Hall site. The masonry was quite deteriorated. With the collaboration
of the heritage restoration program of Ottawa's Algonquin College,
our team restored the weathered stones and replaced the stones that
were rotted. The wall recovered its structural and weather proofing
[click] For additional images about masonry restoration
CHIMNEY RESTORATION (1995-97)
|Chimney before and after restoration
||Chimney restoration work at the Main Building
Following a careful inspection and testing, almost all the chimneys
at Rideau Hall were found to be in an advanced state of deterioration
and deemed unsafe. Six chimneys were restored during 1995. One of
the challenges of this project was to find bricks that matched the
existing ones in size and color.
[click] For additional images about chimney restoration
PERIMETER FENCE RESTORATION (1995..)
|East Gate restoration work
||East Gate before restoration
With a length of 2,500 meters (7,700 feet) and more than 100,000
parts, the restoration of this fence was quite a challenge. A complete
survey of the fence and all its elements had been done by the firm
of Barry Padolsky Arch.
First, our team had to determine what were the exact causes of
the fence's deterioration. This was done with the help of conservators.
It was found that the metal elements were made up of five different
types of metal. Most of the elements were made of cast iron that
had been galvanized and were in good condition. The metal elements
of the most damaged sections were found to be not galvanized.
Most of the 346 masonry pillars were made of cast stone. AAR, a
substance which when in contact with humidity expands the aggregate
crystals volume by up to 30% in one direction, was found to be present
in the concrete of the lower-wall structure. You can imagine the
problems that this can create.
Once our research was finished, our team presented a restoration
program that spanned over eight years. The Perimeter Fence is to
be restored section by section beginning with the most damaged ones.
The restoration project will resolve the drainage and vegetation
problems, and repair of the concrete foundations, the masonry lower-wall,
the cast-stone and stone pillars and the metals parts.
During the second year of our research on this project, three cars
crashed into the fence during the fall and winter. This gave us
the opportunity to try out and fine tune our restoration techniques
while the car insurance companies paid for the work.
[click] For additional images of siteworks.
LANTERN RESTORATION (1995-96)
An ornamental lantern provides natural light to the main staircase
in Rideau Hall. It was built in 1865. Close inspection revealed
that it did not meet the current Building Code in case of fire.
Plans and specifications were prepared to upgrade the glazing, provide
structural support to the original decorative frame, install new
mechanical and electrical systems and provide adequate fire protection.
This was a complex project that required custom fabrication of many
A NEW VISITOR RECEPTION CENTER (1996-97)
| The Visitor Reception Center was rehabilitated
to welcome a maximum of 40 people.
||11 Rideau Gate, rehabilitated into a Visitor
Reception Center; a new public washrooms addition (to the left
of the image) was built to integrate with the existing architecture.
His Excellency Roméo LeBlanc, Governor General of Canada
and Mr. Marcel Beaudry, President of the NCC officially opened the
new visitor reception center on May 15, 1997.
This project is a modest intervention but one which was done with
a great deal of attention to details. It is a warm and welcoming
space that functions efficiently for a group of 40 visitors.
|Exhibition room during rehabilitation work
||Exhibit room being fitted with new exhibit
The interpretation area and the retail space are housed in only
one hundred square meters on the ground floor. The rooms on the
first floor were renovated to accommodate staff and administrative
The project which involved the participation of consultants, staff
from the NCC and the Office of the Secretary of the Governor General,
was completed within a very tight schedule of seven and a half months
and with great teamwork. Building rehabilitation costs were $115,000
and exhibit fabrication costs were $144,000.
[click] For additional images click here
COPPER ROOF REPAIRS AND WATERPROOFING (1996)
|Copper roof restoration in progress, replacing
only the damaged sections.
||Restoration work almost complete; the new copper
will eventually oxydize to harmonize with the older sections.
Several roof leaks occurred during the late 1990s in Rideau Hall's
main building. Water infiltration was caused by various roof defects
such as copper roofs damaged by ice removal operations, non-water
tight joints or flashing, temporary maintenance repair, faulty or
insufficient roof slopes. Ice damming was also found to be a serious
public safety issue.
Technical investigations revealed that the copper sheathing still
had 25 to 30 years of useful life. The approach to restore the areas
which could be restored and to replace the areas in the worst shape
was found to be the most economical approach respecting the heritage
character of the property.
|New security anchors were installed for the
An initial $250,000 roof repair and replacement program was initiated
and will be carried over several years. The Ottawa region is fortunate
to possess several very good copper roofing contractors and one
of the very best firms won the public tender bid for this work requiring
specialized skills and knowledge.
Faulty slopes were corrected, new water tight details were designed
and a new protective membrane was installed in the areas where the
roof was replaced. New ice guards with heating cables were installed
in the areas where ice damming was most severe.
[click] For additional images about roof restoration
ASBESTOS REMOVAL IN ATTIC (1996-97)
|Asbestos removed and bagged, ready
||Temporary protection to prevent
asbestos dust to contaminate other building sections.
The original roof structure at Rideau Hall was covered with fireproofing
material containing asbestos. It was necessary to remove and replace
this material to repair the structure damaged by fire in 1904 and
to do the work necessary to install roof anchors that are to be
used by workmen doing repair or maintenance work on the roofs.
The removal of material containing asbestos is a delicate and costly
operation that is regulated by the Ontario ministries of Labor and
[click] For additional images about asbestos abatement
RECEPTION ROOM AIR CONDITIONING AND UPGRADES TO MECHANICAL AND
ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS (1996-97)
|Reception room air conditioning installed in
ceiling beams. Notice discrete air grills at base of beams
This project was to introduce air conditioning and upgrading mechanical
and electrical systems to a lovely historical room. The challenge
was to introduce these systems in a classified heritage environment
without diminishing the heritage character defining elements of
the room that dates back to 1838. The project had to be completed
within a very tight schedule but quality was not compromised and
the results are very pleasing.
In the same room, doors and windows were restored to meet functional
requirements. The work required fine woodworking skills and attention
RESTORATION OF RIDEAU COTTAGE (1999-2000)
|Rideau Cottage before restoration in 1999
||After restoration of the exterior envelope
Ever since its construction, Rideau Cottage was the residence of
the Secretary to the Governor General. This residence is located
on the site of Rideau Hall, close to the Main Building.
Not long after his Excellency Roméo LeBlanc left office
and the new Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson took office, there
was a change of Secretary to the G.G.
This was an opportunity to access Rideau Cottage and undertake
much needed restoration and rehabilitation works. The basement floor
was a wooden floor laid on tree trunks. Humidity was always rising
from the basement creating all sorts of problems. The old floor
was removed, the area researched by an archaeologist, then a cement
floor was built.
|Rideau Cottage basement new load bearing partition
installed and floor being readied for new concrete slab
Several main beams were reinforced (parts had been cut in the past).
The electrical and heating systems were upgraded. The original windows
were kept and restored. The roofs were repaired and resheated. The
interior wooden floors were sanded and refinished. The interior
was painted. The kitchen was renovated with new counters and appliances.
One of the many challenges was the brick masonry restoration. The
original residence was a one-storey building.
|Rideau Cottage brick masonry was repaired over
time with bricks of different sizes and colors. Special dies
were used to harmonize the color of those repairs and give the
envelope a pleasing appearance. The windows were restored.
||Rideau Cottage after the exterior envelope
restoration work that involved using dies to harmonize the color
of previous restoration work with the rest of the exterior envelope
and new restoration work. The windows were restored.
Shortly after its construction, a second storey was added using
a different type of brick and a verandah surrounding three walls
was built. The brick under the verandah was covered by stucco painted
to imitate bricks. Later on, the verandah was removed and a small
porch added. The stucco remained on the brick of the first storey.
The overall aesthetic effect was not very pleasing.
Using a "staining" technology, each brick and joint was
dyed individually. The entire building envelope was restored to
a pleasing appearance while keeping the original and repair materials
MAIN ENTRANCE BROUGHT TO UNIVERSAL ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS
A few steps at the Rideau Hall main entrance prevented persons
in wheelchairs to access the main lobby. They had to enter via the
service entrance or the service personnel had to install plywood
ramps when people in wheelchairs participated to official ceremonies.
By slightly modifying the access road slopes and subtly adjusting
a few architectural details, the main entrance was made fully accessible.
|Work under way to modify levels at the main
entrance to render it universally accessible.