In addition to being the governor general of Canada’s official residence and the meeting place for foreign dignitaries visiting Ottawa, Rideau Hall is a serene green space beloved by locals and travelers alike. The manicured grounds contain a vast lawn, rose garden, private greenhouse, and more than 10,000 trees—some planted by famous visitors.
Built in 1838, Rideau Hall became home to Canada’s governor general in 1867. The 175-room Federal Heritage Building is the site of various ceremonies and state affairs, and where the British royal family stays when visiting the capital. The grounds reflect Canada’s diversity and openness through art, artifacts, and horticulture. At the gates, visitors will find the Governor General’s Foot Guards standing at attention outfitted in red coats and tall bearskin hats. The changing of the guard at Rideau Hall is a popular summertime draw.
Some bike tours of Ottawa take in Rideau Hall, though many folks visit independently. Guided tours of the grounds are available daily May to October, and the residence is open for tours year-round; check the website for schedules and reservation information.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Rideau Hall is ideal for those who appreciate history, art, and architecture, and for all first-time visitors to Ottawa.
- All activities, including tours, are free of charge.
- Tote a picnic to enjoy in the landscaped park, on the lawn, or with the kids in a play area.
- Cricket games are played on the lawn during summer, and an outdoor skating rink is available in winter.
- The residence and grounds are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. The latter are available for use at the visitor center and the residence.
How to Get There
Rideau Hall is located at 1 Sussex Drive, across the street from the official residence of Canada’s prime minister. It is easily and quickly accessible from downtown Ottawa by public transit, car, taxi, or bicycle. Street parking is available in the neighborhood.
When to Get There
Rideau Hall is open from 8am until one hour before sunset throughout the year. The visitor center is open May to October. Activities and special events take place year-round; note that visiting dignitaries and various goings-on may affect opening hours and access.