Sparks Street - the Commercial and Banking Centre

Sparks Street was once the commercial and financial centre of Ottawa. When its busy streetcar line was removed in 1959 it began a rapid decline. The creation of an innovative pedestrian mall in 1961, (by architect Watson Balharrie), was an attempt to reverse this decline.

The street still has many imposing buildings built to the new 1910 height limit by Ottawa's leading industrialists and designed by local architects. Many Beaux-Arts pavilions of the banks and insurance companies, mostly headquartered in Montreal, Toronto, and New York, were designed by architects from those places.

Today the decline continues, particularly outside office hours, but a hoped-for infusion of mixed-use residential space may bring a recovery. Many of the business are now tenants to the government Department of Public Works and National Capital Commission, which have aquired most of the properties.

Confederation Square to Metcalfe Street:

Hope Chambers (Bible House), 61-63 Sparks Street (map 7)
W.E. Noffke, 1910 II
Canada Life Building (Saxe Building), 75 Sparks Street (map 8)
Weeks & Keefer, 1909-10 II
Ottawa Electric Building, 56-60 Sparks Street (map 9)
J. Albert Ewart, 1926-7 II

Imperial Bank of Canada, (former Bank of British North America), 62 Sparks Street (map A)
unknown architect I, 1936
Blackburn Building, (Union Bank Building, CPR), 83 Sparks Street (map B)
W.E. Noffke, 1908, 1913 III

Metcalfe Street to O'Connor Street:

Birks Building, 101-107 Sparks Street (map C)
Weeks & Keefer, 1910-1911 I
Richmond Building, (Bate Building), 109-111 Sparks Street (map D)
Stent & Laver, 1859 I
Bank of Commerce, 119-123 Sparks Street (map E)
Darling & Pearson, 1922 III
former Bank of Nova Scotia, (Parliamentary Information Centre and Library), 125 Sparks Street (map F)
John M. Lyle, 1924 III
Bank of Nova Scotia, former Murphy-Gamble Department Store, 118 Sparks Street (map G)
C.P. Meredith, 1909 I
Home Bank. 126 Sparks Street (map H)
unknown architect, possibly C.P. Meredith, 1919 I

O'Connor Street to Bank Street:

Bank of Montreal, 161 Sparks Street, see also 144 Wellington Street (map J)
E.I. Barott, 1929-1932 III
Booth Building, 165 Sparks Street (map K),
J. Albert Ewart, 1910-11 II

former Sun Life Building, 124 Sparks Street at Bank Street (map L)
E.L. Horwood, 1897 I
former Metropolitan Life Building, now Wellington Building, House of Commons, 180 Wellington Street, fronts on Sparks and Bank (map M)
Dan Everett Waid and J. Albert Ewart, 1924-7 III

click here to proceed to Wellington Street or return to the overview.