THIS WEEKEND! A jam-packed heritage house tour in Sandy Hill
Eating & Drinking

THIS WEEKEND! A jam-packed heritage house tour in Sandy Hill

The Historical House and Garden Tour: In support of the Laurentian chapter of the IODE, the city’s heritage is on display in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood on June 8 and 9. The ambitious tour includes: 9 open houses from all the eras; expert interpreters (historians, designers, restorers, heritage activists, descendants of the Besserer family); tea on the verandah at Laurier House; music both days by Julian Armour (at All Saints – great place to rest your feet); backstage tours of Ottawa Little Theatre; a self-guided walking tour; and an illustrated talk on architect James Mather at St. Alban’s. All this for just $30. 

Richard Gervais, who for many years has run a B&B out of an Edwardian terrace at the corner of King Edward and Laurier, was not thinking about neighbourhood preservation when he bought the derelict property in another older enclave of the city — Sandy Hill — in the 1980s. He merely wanted to save one glorious old house. It was not long, however, before he found himself working to preserve the street and, later, the whole of Sandy Hill. Gervais’ house (pictured at left) is featured on the 2012 IODE House & Garden Tour, the IODE Laurentian Chapter’s 51st annual tour for charity. His house and eight others on the tour give rare insight into the story of Sandy Hill.

The Martin Terrace was almost in ruins when Gervais bought it, but its restoration is only part of the work that he has undertaken on behalf of the neighbourhood. Not long after he moved in, he discovered that the city planned to demolish Panet House next door, a limestone house built in 1874.

Gervais did everything he could to make sure that the building survived. Restored by heritage renovator Sandy Smallwood, the house is now occupied by the Embassy of Angola. (Smallwood has been responsible for the preservation of many historic properties in Sandy Hill, including Wallis House, site of two glorious condos, which are also included on the house tour.)

Tickets are $30 and are available at various retailers (see website), by calling 613-842-5304, or through the website at