The Government Conference Centre had noble beginnings. Originally built in the early 1900s as Ottawa’s central train station, the Beaux-Arts building at 2 Rideau Street was inspired by the City Beautiful movement. The aim of this urban-planning philosophy was to introduce beautification and monumental grandeur in cities.
The building and its location on the edge of an open space—Confederation Square—surrounding a grand monument—the National War Memorial—are a rare Canadian example of City Beautiful-inspired design.
Trains ceased to roll into the station in 1966, and the building, despite its beauty and architectural uniqueness, was destined for demolition. It survived and in 1968–69, Union Station, as it was originally called, was reincarnated as the Government Conference Centre.
This 101-year-old heritage building is in great need of rejuvenation. The rehabilitation of the Government Conference Centre will ensure the preservation of this heritage building and will provide a temporary home for the Senate while the Centre Block undergoes much needed renovations. Once the rehabilitation of the Centre Block is completed, the Government Conference Centre will be made available for other government business and used for generations to come.