Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hidden treasures of Union Station

Much has been written about the former Union train station, now the Government Conference Centre. So much so that I didn't even have photos of it in my collection until I went out to get some for this post. (Note: flags are at half-mast due to recent passing of Governor-General Romeo Leblanc)

Varoius writeups and photos include an illustrated architectural history article by Heritage Ottawa, overhead historical photos at The Ottawa Project, a "blunders" article at NCC Watch, and the obligatory Wikipedia article link.

Most images of the building are from the side, or at least oblique. Very few images are of the front, and even when you look at this photo of the front, it has an unfamiliar look; the protruding columns no longer donimate the facade:

As it is one of the more monumental buildings on Confederation Plaza, there are many old photos of it, too--many shots of Ottawa's former streetcars feature it in the background:

Not too many photos of the interior, though. The Wikipedia article has one photo of the ceiling, but that was taken last July. The Heritage Ottawa article has a photo of the interior. But that's all the internet would give, at least for Ottawa's Union station.

This Mid-1950s photo of the Waiting Hall at Christmastime was sent to me by e-mail earlier this month, accompanied by a suggestion I visit it during Doors Open Ottawa (see posts with the "tours" label for various Doors Open Ottawa sites I've covered). By posting it here, I'm doubling the number of photos of its interior that are on the web (as always, click to enlarge):

But there's more. As you can see, the benches and lamp standards were quite ornate; it was definitely a very decadent space.

So just a few days after that e-mail, at this year's Doors Open Ottawa tour of the National Museum of Science and Technology's general collection, I immediately recognized this bench high atop a storage shelf:

And I also recognized these beautiful lamps. They're missing the marble plinths and a few bulbs, but you can easily make out the bronze bay-leaf pattern on the columns:

I must say, this was quite a serendipitous treat. The museum seems to be doing more tours of their collection, not just during Doors Open. So go check them out!


  1. Ray Hnatyshyn died 6 1/2 years ago. I'm guessing you mean Roméo LeBlanc.

  2. Whoops! Thanks, I've corrected it.

  3. i was fortunate enough to get inside the station just the other day. being an enthusiastic teenager with a keen interest for old architecture, i was able to talk one of the security guards into giving me a quick peak inside. i have some photos too. send me an email if you'd like to see them