Restoration of an Ottawa Gem on the Rideau Canal

June 19, 2017

The historic home at 3 Léonard Avenue sits on a prominent corner lot overlooking the Rideau Canal. Its beautiful turret has acted as a gateway to Old Ottawa South for the better part of a century. It has housed many families, notably the Hintons, the descendants of the esteemed Joseph Hinton – an important public servant who settled in the area in the 19th century, and the figure behind the name of the Hintonburg neighbourhood.

With the surge of development on the canal and without heritage status, 3 Léonard was under the threat of being replaced by as many as four units, allowed by the zoning of the property. The acquisition of the house by a responsible developer was the key to its preservation. Balancing 3 Léonard’s development potential with its valuable historic character, the lot was severed to make way for a contrasting contemporary infill house next door, while the old house was completely restored and reinvented.


The historic house’s exterior refinements were subtle but impactful, using Arts and Crafts detailing to add nuance to the windows, the verandah and the corner turret, and highlighting the existing red brick with a complimentary colour scheme. Strategic enhancements were made to strengthen the home’s connection to its environment. The verandah’s roof was lifted slightly and its solid perimeter half wall replaced by a light picket guardrail. Similarly, the upper turret windows were enlarged, enhancing this defining feature of the home’s exterior and optimizing its commanding view of the canal.

The layout was transformed: the main living level, previously subdivided, was opened into a spacious and light filled great room; upstairs was rationalized with the master suite relocated to the upper turret room; the third level was reclaimed as a guest suite, while the shallow basement was claimed as valuable living space by laboriously lowering the floor and underpinning the foundation to create a full-height space.



The development rationalization and creative expression of designers Barry Hobin and Todd Duckworth, and in partnership with Gemstone Developments, the project introduces a new single family home fronting Colonel By while preserving the historic Hinton house.  The design of the new contemporary house, though stylistically opposite, reflects the same underlying principals of openness and connection to its privileged place next to the canal. The main living spaces were situated at the front overlooking the canal, and fully glazed to fill the house with natural light. Like the front, the rear elevation is also heavily glazed to maintain views throughout the home. The garage entrance, covered by a large verandah, was located in a rear laneway allowing the front of the house to fully engage with the adjacent park. Spaces were connected vertically using an open riser glass staircase that runs the full height of the house.

The renovation of 3 Léonard successfully synthesizes a keen sense of place, contemporary living and a celebration of architectural heritage.

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