The Royal College Building
The Royal College building resides on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people.
With its tall arches, stained glass windows, and other distinct features, the Royal College’s headquarters is a recognized architectural landmark in Ottawa since 1921.
Canadian architect Alphonse Content designed the classically inspired five-story structure. With wings to house various functions organized around a central axis, the pale-yellow brick permits the architectural details, such as alternating square and round-headed windows and central belfry, to stand out.
The Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood, a contemplative order of nuns originating from Saint-Hyacinthe, Que. in 1881, first occupied the building. A cloistered order, the sisters lived in silence, devoting six hours a day (or more) to prayer.
While public mass was celebrated in the main chapel, the sisters attended service in an adjacent smaller private chapel. License to leave the monastery to further one's spiritual growth or tend to one's physical needs was given.
At its peak, approximately sixty (60) nuns called the Ottawa monastery their home. At the time of its sale in 1991, the 11 remaining sisters moved to a convent near Quebec City.
Led by the architectural firm of Murray & Murray Associates Inc, the building underwent extensive interior renovations. Throughout the renovation process and extensive modifications, careful preservation of the exterior architectural integrity proved essential.
Today, the main chapel serves as Royal College's Council Room, the Sisters' private chapel serves as meeting space and reading lounge, known as The Roddick Room, and the former central exterior courtyard now serves as a glassed atrium.
In 1993, the City of Ottawa officially bequeathed the Royal College a Certificate of Merit in recognition of its efforts to retain and re-use the building while paying particular attention to the preservation of its windows and stained glass. Five years later in 1998, the City of Ottawa designated the building a heritage property. Recognizing the Royal College's ongoing participation in preserving Ottawa's architectural legacy, a Heritage Designation Plaque was affixed to the building's facade. The plaque acknowledges the historical and architectural significance of the building and conveys its importance to the people of Ottawa.