A. Jeanne D’Arc Courtyard Garden

Address: 18 Clarence St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5M4 (behind Paper Papier, access through York St. and Clarence St., ByWard Market)

Services for Visitors: Street Parking nearby – Parking $ nearby

Description: This peaceful urban oasis of lush greenery and flowering plants in the courtyard provides a beautiful resting place and a beautiful backdrop for passersby to snap some memorable pics of Ottawa.

This Couryard is home to the Dancing Bear sculpture. Created by Pauta Saila, a Nunavut based artist, the bronze Dancing Bear sculpture was installed in 1999. A plaque on the wall of the condominium near the Paper Papier store includes the following description:

“Pauta Saila, an Inuit hunter, began carving in the 1950’s to supplement his livelihood. He is widely known for his powerful, somewhat abstract, dancing bears. His father was a legendary Inuit leader on Baffin Island, where Pauta grew up learning about the polar bear firsthand. In memory of Charles Jennings, one of the pioneers of Canadian broadcasting, and his wife Elizabeth Jennings. Donated by their family.”

In the spring, summer and fall seasons, the City places benches on the perimeter of the sculpture along with flowers and other plants making this a great place to sit and take a break from the day or read a book. Also, the fact that this courtyard is somewhat hidden from view and only open to the public from 7:30am to 11pm daily make this a very special place.

B. Major’s Hill Park Gardens

Location: Major’s Hill Park

Address: 1 Rideau St., Ottawa ON K1N 8S7

Services for Visitors: Parking $ Nearby – Bicycle Racks – Wheelchair Accessible – Child-Friendly – Dog0Friendly (on leash) – Tavern on the Hill & Eating Areas

Description: The park is a calm oasis in downtown Ottawa, and the perfect spot to take a break between visits to the ByWard Market and nearby museums and galleries. This park features some of the best lookouts in Ottawa, offering stunning views of the Ottawa Locks on the Rideau Canal, the Ottawa River, and the Parliament Buildings. Major’s Hill Park is the Capital’s first park, used as such since 1826 when the building of the Rideau Canal began. In 1867, fireworks and bonfires in the park marked the Capital’s first Canada Day celebrations. It was formally established as a park in 1875. Also, in the park, Tavern on the Hill, a seasonal outdoor canteen, patio, cocktail lounge, and ice cream shop that offers up locally sourced food. Major’s Hill Park covers 5.06 hectares of land across from the Embassy of the United States of America on Mackenzie Avenue in Ottawa. The park is located between the National Gallery of Canada to the north and the Fairmont Château Laurier to the south.

C. National Gallery of Canada Gardens

Address: 380 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4

Services for Visitors: Parking $ – Washrooms – Child Friendly

  1. Taiga Garden

Description: The garden spans the side of the National Gallery, from the building to St Patrick as it turns into the Alexandra bridge. A part of the garden can be seen from the street but most of it can’t.

Landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander created the National Gallery’s indoor and outdoor gardens. Her inspiration for the taiga garden came about because the group of seven first showed Canada the north with their paintings – for this garden, A.Y. Jackson’s painting “Terre Sauvage”, was the main one. Oberlander was also wanting to incorporate some of the plants that are found in the Canadian North, with its severe northern beauty and muted colours. Pines, grasses and native Dogwoods make up the plants in this garden. The results later earned awards, but the concepts seemed radical at the time, and required careful selling. “I had to fight for them, and enlighten them,” says Oberlander.

Because the National Gallery did not want any water features included in the garden, as the idea originally had, irises represent the water that would have been there. It features Rock that was excavated as well, while building the Gallery and the stone was washed by Oberlander herself. The pine trees are uniquely shaped as well, giving a nice quality to the space.

The Gallery and the Landscaping were opened in May 1988 and cost 122 million dollars to make happen. The design architect was Moshe Safdie

2. Sunken Garden

Description: On the northeast side, a sunken garden of 12 flowering crab-apple trees is surrounded by the living rock into which the building is set. There are vines on the walls as well, on the side of the wall (and stairs) which provides access to the garden. The public walkway next to the sunken garden leads to a path that zigzags up the hill toward Nepean Point.

The Crab-Apple trees are spaced in a nice way and are well maintained. They provide nice shade and visitors can walk underneath the canopy they create.

The Gallery and the Landscaping were opened in May 1988 and cost 122 million dollars to make happen. The design architect was Moshe Safdie

3. Fred & Elizabeth Fountain Garden Court 

Description:  When the Gallery invited celebrated landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander to redesign its interior garden court, she didn’t hesitate. Oberlander, after all, was responsible for the institution’s original landscape design, inside and outside the building, when she worked with the building’s architect Moshe Safdie in the late 1980s.  “It was very exciting,” says Oberlander. “The idea was to have a garden based on the Canadian Shield.” The garden is fluid and organic, meant to evoke the iconic, pre-settlement Canadian landscape, as well as the Gallery’s stunning setting atop Nepean Point, overlooking the Ottawa River. It contains massive Canadian Shield limestone rocks that create an undulating topography, a gravel path that suggests a riverbed and a bed of greenery with ferns and orchids. “These rocks depict the escarpment that is our original landscape of Canada,” says Oberlander.

The garden court’s original purpose remains as it was: no revision required. It’s meant to be a calm, reflective space. “We have made a contemplative space for the 21st century,” Oberlander says. “It’s very green, it’s beautiful, it’s inviting, and it relates to the needs of the city dweller to have contact with nature.”

D. Global Centre for Pluralism Forecourt Garden

Address: 330 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 0C7

Services for Visitors: Street Parking nearby – Parking $ nearby

Description: The forecourt garden is an attractive, tranquil space and a unique and engaging urban garden experience. Trees and planters frame a diverse palette of durable and hardy plant species that provide fragrant blooms from early spring well into autumn.

The Centre is a partnership between the Government of Canada and His Highness the Aga Khan.  Inspired by Canada’s experience as a diverse and inclusive country, the Centre’s work advances global understanding of pluralism and positive responses to the challenge of living peacefully and productively together in diverse societies.

The Centre defines pluralism as a set of values and actions, founded on respect for diversity, which support and sustain inclusive societies.  In pluralist societies, choices are made to ensure the full participation of all people in political, economic and socio-cultural life.

E. Agha Khan Foundation Canada Char Bagh Garden

Address: 199 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON K1N 1K6

Services for Visitors: Street Parking – Washrooms – Wheelchair Accessible


Description: An interior courtyard at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat provides a modern interpretation of a char bagh, or four-part garden, drawn from historic Islamic landscape architecture in South and Central Asia. Landscaped for Canada’s four seasons, the garden is a peaceful sanctuary throughout the year. Plantings include boxwood hedges, Japanese lilac trees, and black scalloped ajugas, all of which create an interesting snowscape in winter. In keeping with His Highness the Aga Khan’s desire for openness and transparency within the Delegation building, the two ends of the garden enclosure are made of glass. The result is an unimpeded line of sight through the courtyard and building between Sussex Drive and Boteler Street.

Designed by award-winning architect Fumihiko Maki. The design emerges from the Aga Khan’s belief that architecture is not simply about buildings, but about the quality of life of those that inhabit the built environment. Home of the Char Bagh (courtyard garden).

Plan Your Visit

The Visitor Program provides the public with an opportunity to explore the Delegation through regularly scheduled tours, and admission is free. Volunteer guides will be on hand to facilitate open-house visits of the Atrium, the Resource Library, and, weather permitting, the Char Bagh (courtyard garden). Please plan on approximately 30 minutes for your visit.