The NCC River House is a century-old heritage building that is universally accessible year-round. The house is located on the Ottawa River along the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway.

In all seasons, it features options to enjoy the shoreline. It also has food and beverage amenities. In summer, there is a free public dock to swim from and launch a kayak or canoe. In winter, you can ski, snowshoe, bike and walk on a multi-use winter trail that leads to the NCC River House.

Tag your best Instagram photos with #NCCRiverHouse for a chance to be featured in this gallery.

Directions

Location: 501 Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway, Ottawa

Limited parking is available at P3 (15 to 20 spots, including accessible parking spaces) across from the NCC River House or at P4 (40 spots), east of the NCC River House, within a short walking distance along the Ottawa River Pathway. A drop-off lane is located along the parkway for universally accessible drop-offs.

The NCC River House is accessible via the Ottawa River Pathway along the Sir George-Étienne Cartier pathway.

  • In summer, there are bike racks around the site on the upper and lower landscape, and also along the shoreline. NEW this summer: We’ve added additional bike racks and two new bike parking areas along the upper pathway.
  • In winter, there are ski racks available at the entrance of the building, on the outdoor deck.
In summer, there are docking spaces available on a first-come, first-served basis for canoes, kayaks, and other non-motorized watercraft. Motorized watercraft are not permitted to dock at the NCC River House for now.

New this summer: Get to the NCC River House using a universally accessible* water taxi service ($). The water taxi has scheduled trips to and from the River House and departs from the Ottawa Locks. Rides can be pre-booked online.

  • Spring hours (starting June 14): Friday to Sunday, noon to 7 pm
  • Summer hours (starting June 24): Daily, 10:30 am to 7 pm

Note: all rides are weather dependent.

New this summer: Hop aboard an authentic, London-style double decker bus for a hop-on hop-off tour with Gray Line Tours from the NCC River House.

  • Schedule:
    • Available Monday to Thursday
    • May and June busses run every hour
    • August busses run every 30 to 45 minutes
NCC River House swimming area on a sunny day.

Swimming

In the summer, the NCC River House boasts a free, enclosed and supervised swimming area and two 25-metre swimming lanes. Swimming conditions at NCC River House can vary, depending on river conditions. Water depth can range from 1.5 to 2.7 m (5 ft. to 9 ft.).

Capacity is limited to 125 swimmers at a time on a first-come, first-served basis. There are no reservations. The swim area can reach capacity quickly. Swimming at off-peak hours is recommended.

  • New this summer: Universal access to water with a new chair lift that allows everyone to get into the water safely.
Regular bacteriological testing is conducted by Ottawa Riverkeeper and the water quality at the NCC River House results are posted on the Swim Guide website.
  • Open Monday, June 3
  • 7 days a week, 8 am to 8 pm

Change rooms are available on the lower level (level 1)

  • Features:
    • Universally accessible
    • Showers
    • Lockers (bring your own lock)
    • Family change room with change table for baby

Equipment rentals

Escape Tours and Rentals Logo

New this summer: You can now rent single and tandem kayaks, paddleboards and bikes right next to the NCC River House (350 m east off the lower trail)! Book your equipment online or in person.

Hours of operation are weather dependent. Contact Escape Tours & Rentals directly for details.

Rental kiosk location

Boat launch

In the summer, you may launch your own small non-motorized boat (e.g. canoe or kayak) from the public dock. There are no equipment rental services.

Motorized watercrafts (boats or jet skis) are not permitted on the dock.

Fishing

You may fish from the shoreline with a valid Ontario fishing licence. Fishing from the dock or close to the dock area is prohibited.

Tables and chairs installed inside the building

Food and beverage services

The NCC River House features an outdoor patio with panoramic views of the Ottawa River. You can also enjoy a snack at the Café & Bistro. In winter, there is indoor seating available. However, it is closed when the ballroom is reserved for events. The Café & Bistro does not accept reservations.

During private events, a section of the second-floor patio, as well as the lower, covered patio, remains open to the public.

Schedule

  • June 1 to August 31: 9 am to 9 pm (7days/week)

Menu

The all-day menu can vary, but includes light fare such as sandwiches, salads, pizza, baked goods, pastries, ice cream, beer, wine, and hot and cold beverages. Visitors can contact the Café & Bistro for further information on menu offerings.

Room rentals

  • Ballroom: The space can generally accommodate 150 to 200 people for seated events. Available for event bookings through Bytown Catering. Please contact them directly for details.
  • Boardroom: The space can generally accomodate 15 to 20 people. Available for event bookings through Ottawa Riverkeeper. Please contact them directly for details.

Community-groomed multi-use winter trail

The Ski Heritage East winter trail now leads directly to the NCC River House. A team of volunteers maintains the lower trail all winter. Winter trail users can stop in for a snack at the Café & Bistro and warm up during business hours.

Accessibility

The NCC River House includes several universally accessible upgrades, including elevator access to all three levels, universally accessible pathways to the docks, and accessible washrooms. Accessible change rooms and a lift for the swim area are available.

View of the universally accessible pathway leading to the NCC River House

There are two universally accessible parking spaces available in P3, located 160 m from the NCC River House. There is also a drop-off lane along the parkway for universally accessible access, approximately 80 m from the building. Due to the site’s unique location on the Ottawa River, the drop-off lane is the shortest universally accessible route. There is no parking in the drop-off lane.

Additionally, a universally accessible pathway extends approximately 570 m from P4 to the base of the docks of the NCC River House.

Rules

  • Dogs: Leashed dogs and pets are permitted on the shoreline but are not permitted at the NCC River House or on the docks.
  • Food: Glassware is not permitted on the docks.
  • Alcohol: You may drink items bought at the NCC River House on the patios or inside the building. No outside alcohol is permitted onsite, including in the landscaped areas. Alcohol is not permitted on the docks.

About the NCC River House

The NCC River House is a landmark asset in the NCC’s portfolio. Designed by architect C.P. Meredith, it was constructed between 1914 and 1925 for the Ottawa New Edinburgh Club (ONEC). For nearly a century, it has been a place for canoeing, boating and recreational activities along the Ottawa River.

In 2010, the boathouse was designated a recognized federal heritage building due to its longstanding links to the history of canoeing in Canada. Its architecture is a rare example of early boathouse design, and its unique setting on the river gives it special historical significance.

From 2019 to 2023, the River House revitalization project brought required repairs and upgrades to this heritage property to make it usable year-round. It now provides new opportunities for public access and shoreline animation.

Current tenants

Current tenants include: Bytown Catering, Ottawa Riverkeeper and Ottawa New Edinburgh Club (ONEC).

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