The Bed and Breakfast is located in the downtown neighbourhood of Sandy Hill which is home to many embassies, residences and parks. During the nineteenth and early twentieth century, this neighbourhood was Ottawa's wealthiest neighbourhood. When Ottawa was chosen as the country's capital, it became home to senior public servants and to the Prime Minister who lived at Stadaconna Hall and later at what is now known as Laurier House, which you can visit.
With the construction of bridges over the canal and the introduction of automobiles and streetcars, Sandy Hill began to decline as the very wealthy moved to Rockcliffe Park. The neighbourhood became much denser and more middle class. Many of the once grand mansions have become embassies.
A characteristic of Sandy Hill, which makes it unique in the city, is the rich and varied architectural styles of its homes. In a walk through the community, you may see a dozen different house styles, ranging from Spanish Colonial Revival and Victorian, to Georgian and Romanesque.
The B&B property
The ornate property at 525 King Edward Avenue was built in 1902 for Daniel Martin and his family and the adjoining units were rental units. Mr. Martin owned a thriving feed and grain business beside the ByWard Market at the corner of Rideau and Dalhousie Streets. His wife, Emma lived here at 525 King Edward Avenue until she died in 1973 at the ripe old age of 92.
During the years 1973 to 1981, the property fell into disrepair as developers bought the properties with the intention of tearing them down to construct a high-rise apartment building. It wasn't long before heritage advocates sounded the preservation battle cry and the buildings were saved. They still were not immune from other threats; however, as the Regional Municipality of Ottawa Carleton planned to use King Edward Avenue for the bus Transitway and the main stop for University of Ottawa would have been on the front lawns of these properties. Fortunately Action Sandy Hill (the community association) convinced the Regional Municipality to move the Transitway to the Nicholas-Waller corridor.
This whole block of King Edward Avenue was eventually designated as a heritage district by the City of Ottawa in 1984. This property was converted to a Bed in Breakfast in 1993. I have tried to re-create the atmosphere of a Victorian home and I believe that I have succeeded in restoring it to its former grace. The home is filled with antiques and a tasteful Victorian character, which includes 11 stained-glass windows and 10-foot ceilings.
During the last 27 years, approximately 15,000 people from all over the world have slept in one of the well-maintained bedrooms.