National Capital River Pavilion Bird's eye view

To protect this heritage building — a historic landmark — and to make it universally accessible for all Canadians to enjoy year-round, several elements will be restored.

The NCC River House, previously known as the National Capital River Pavilion and the Ottawa River Boathouse, is a remarkable structure designed by architect C.P. Meredith, and constructed between 1914 and 1925 for the Ottawa New Edinburgh Canoe (ONEC) Club. It has been the site of canoeing, boating and recreational activities for nearly a century.

In 2010, the boathouse was designated a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its links to the history of canoeing in Canada, its architectural value as a rare example of early boathouse design, and its remarkable setting on the river.

About the project

The River House revitalization project will bring required repairs and upgrades to this heritage property, and make it usable year-round. It will also provide new opportunities for public access and shoreline animation. The work outlined below began in summer 2019, and is scheduled to be completed in 2023.


Work to preserve the heritage character of the pavilion, and allow four-season use of the two upper levels, will include the following:

  • the conservation, repainting and reinstatement of the existing wood siding;
  • the introduction of a standard exterior wall assembly, including thermal insulation, continuous water, air and vapour barriers, and interior drywall;
  • the conservation of viable heritage windows for reuse on the club level, which will continue to be for three-season use;
  • the installation, on the two upper floors, of new windows of a design that is compatible with the historic character, but that provides the required thermal performance.

Universal accessibility

Rendering of the National Capital River Pavilion design

The River House is located on a water lot, and the lowest “occupied” floor, the club level, is below the 100-year flood plain. This presents a challenge for the integration of accessibility within all levels, interior and exterior. The universal accessibility improvements will maintain the essence of the building’s use and function, and will include the following:

  • converting an existing parking lot into universal accessible parking;
  • providing a safe crossing of the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway for all users;
  • creating a universally accessible path from the parkway to the pedestrian bridge landing;
  • raising the pedestrian bridge to the original hall level;
  • installing an elevator inside the building to allow access to the three main levels of the building.

Replacement of the pedestrian bridge

The existing bridge and foundation have reached the end of their life cycle. They have been deemed unfit for repair and reuse, and will be replaced.

View of the land from the National Capital River Pavilion's bridge

A new, prefabricated bridge made of Corten steel, compatible with the nautical and transportation style of the boathouse facility, will be installed at the bridge’s historic level. The new bridge will also have a longer span to reach the escarpment, which will facilitate the creation of universally accessible pathways from the parkway to the new raised bridge landing.

The bridge will also feature a custom guard rail which is a contemporary reinterpretation of the historical wood balustrade of the building.

Landscape and Shoreline Animation

We will transform the shoreline to offer a unique experience and access to the Ottawa River.

The work will address the following:

  • landscape design and improved shoreline resiliency for the site
  • traffic and parking management for the site
  • the design and implementation of new, universally accessible public dock infrastructure

The landscaping work should start this spring/summer. It will be completed by fall 2022. The installation of a new dock system will take place in 2023.

Site services

Site service upgrades will include the following:

  • new sanitary services out of the flood plain;
  • electrical service upgrades;
  • municipal water connection for potable water;
  • a new sprinkler system as a part of the fire protection upgrades.

Closures and detours

The following traffic management plan will be in place during the work:

This work is part of the NCC’s major infrastructure projects funded by the Government of Canada’s $55- million investment announced in the 2018 federal budget.