Sussex Drive Gardens Self-Guided Tour

A. Jeanne D’Arc Courtyard Gardens
Location: behind Paper Papier, access through York St. and Clarence St., ByWard Market
Address: 18 Clarence St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5M4
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 Courtyard 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 1950s 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 7:30 am to 11 pm daily makes this a very special place.
Jeanne D’Arc Coutyard Garden.

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 – Dog Friendly (on leash) – Café & Eating Areas
Description: Between events, 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. Take a stroll through the park’s stately trees, over its rolling lawns and winding pathways, and learn about its history through a series of interpretation panels.
Major’s Hill Park is an exceptional site to see tulips blooming in the spring.
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.
The park features the remains of the house where Colonel By lived during the building of the Rideau Canal. It also features Header House in the northern end of the park, the last remaining section of the Major’s Hill Park greenhouse complex, which was dismantled in 1937–1938.
Nowadays, Header House is home to Tavern on the Hill, a seasonal outdoor canteen, patio, 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

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 their 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.

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

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. Forecourt Garden – Global Centre for Pluralism
Location: Global Centre for Pluralism
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 supports and sustains inclusive societies. In pluralist societies, choices are made to ensure the full participation of all people in political, economic, and socio-cultural life.

E. Char Bagh (Courtyard Garden) – Agha Khan Foundation Canada
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).

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