Ottawa's newest walking tour becomes Roof Gardens

Last Sunday I found myself atop the rooftop garden of the Rideau Centre to participate in the newest addition to Heritage Ottawa’s long list of city walking tours. I was there for the tour of the Roof Gardens of the Rideau Centre and NAC, which is led by the Vice-President of the organization, David Jeanes, and offers a fresh perspective on the history of surrounding buildings and sites that we all think we know so well.

Alongside me were roughly forty keen local heritage enthusiasts, whose impressive turnout on the roof made nearby pot-smokers noticeably uneasy. I, too, felt a little uncomfortable for having not sported a Tilley hat, but now know better for next time. Also, it may be relevant to note that anyone expecting to learn exclusively about the roof-top gardens will be disappointed, however they are easy to admire during the tour.

While I can appreciate that there are people who have a love/hate relationship with this part of town, it is arguably the pulse of the city - so spending the time to get properly educated helps to not take it for granted. For those who believe in the art of urban evolution, you’ll be impressed by the rate and scope of how Ottawa has developed over time, as well as the subtle grandiosity of the city’s architectural achievements. Given David’s career as an urban activist and author of five downtown heritage tours, this kind of insight into the past, present, and future state of our city’s development makes for the perfect opportunity to learn something new, take someone on a nice date, and get a little exercise – all at the same time! Not bad.

Over the course of two hours, David led us around the perimeter of both the Rideau Centre and the NAC’s rooftop gardens in a slow, pigeon-perching kind of way, moving from one panoramic vantage point to the next, while he explained the historical significance of what we were looking at.

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