Happy Canada Day! Time To Take A Canadian Architectural Tour

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happy canada day canadian baby

Canada is 148 years old today. As a way to say “Happy Canada Day” and to celebrate architecture across the nation, here are some important Canadian landmarks.


It’s maybe a surprise to some of our American readers waiting patiently for The Fourth of July. But, today on July 1st, it’s Canada Day. Happy 148th birthday, eh!

To celebrate in the spirit of homes, architecture, and design, we thought we’d show you some important Canadian landmarks in our 10 provinces and 3 territories. Some you may know, some you may not. But in any case, think of it as a very inexpensive tour of a very large, very beautiful country to the north of you that has a unique and storied history of its own.

Take a look!

Vancouver Public Library – Vancouver, British Columbia


(image: Andrew Raun)

Even though the library was established in 1869, this is the newest incarnation at West Georgia and Homer streets in downtown Vancouver. This building is five minutes walk away from where I’m writing this. It’s a gem in a city known for its beauty, full of natural light, interesting contrasts, and lots of chances to meet Vancouverites as they filter through.

Art Gallery of Alberta – Edmonton, Alberta

art gallery of Alberta

(image: Heidi G)

This riot of steel and glass in the capitol city of the province of Alberta (as we move eastward from Vancouver …) proves that even here in the great white north, we are not confined by right angles. As artistic as this building appears, it also contains over six-thousand pieces of art – Canadian and otherwise – matching the artistry of the building itself.

The Bessborough Hotel – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


(image: Drm310)

Canada was created when we built the railroads, and then later expanded them in the early twentieth century. But, this also helped in the creation of historical buildings along the line. This is one of them, a sumptuous landmark in the Canadian Prairies built at the end of the twenties by The Canadian National Railway and opening in 1935.

Known affectionately as The Bez, it has become a key architectural landmark in Saskatoon.

Canadian Museum For Human Rights – Winnipeg, Manitoba


(image: Milorad Dimić MD)

Reflecting the Canadian values of cultural tolerance and social justice and the drive to better promote them, the Canadian Museum For Human Rights is unconventional and out of the box in terms of its design.

This one is a more recent creation, with construction beginning in 2008 and completed in 2010. One of its features is the use of alabaster for its ramps near the base of the structure, this being the largest scale project using that material – 15,000 tiles!

Casa Loma – Toronto, Ontario


(image: SimonP )

Tourists to Toronto may be familiar with this location. Casa Loma is a stunning example of Gothic revival architecture, completed in 1914, and opened as a museum in 1937. It was established as a heritage site in 1987, with many visitors coming to admire its intricate stonework and stylistic grandeur every year since.

Château Frontenac – Quebec City, Quebec


(image: Pierre-Olivier Fortin)

Quebec is the oldest region of what would become Canada, and Quebec City it’s oldest city, founded by French explorer Samuel DeChamplain in 1608 – that’s twelve years before the Mayflower sailed, everyone. As such, this city has some truly spectacular and well-established architectural traditions.

This is one of them; another hotel as built by The Canadian National Railway around the same time as The Bez which you read about above. For view of the St. Lawrence River, grab your French-English dictionary, and book a trip now!

Legislative Assembly Of New Brunswick – Fredericton, New Brunswick

Legislative_Assembly_of_New_Brunswick (1)

(image: Julianne Lemelin)

Serving as the seat of the provincial government in New Brunswick, this building exudes parliamentary style gravitas. It opened in 1882 and hosted a parliament that had been in existence since 1786. It is built in the traditions of Napoleonic times known as Second Empire style architecture, with attention to detail was paramount in design.

Halifax City Hall – Halifax, Nova Scotia


(image: Taxiarchos228 )

This is another governmental building, this time a municipal building and in a completely different style to the one above. One of the oldest buildings in the provincial capitol of Halifax, it is also one of the largest.

It was built in 1890, with the primary building material being red sandstone, it serves the city as a meeting place to this day, as well as being a historic site since 1981. In 2012, it underwent an upgrade, allowing for enhanced wiring and with a capacity for data communications. Old and elegant meets fully loaded, 21st century function!

Green Gables – Prince Edward Island


Readers of L.M Montgomery’s books about the adventures of Anne Shirley, otherwise known as Anne Of Green Gables, will recognize this house immediately. Well, this is an actual site in Prince Edward Island where those stories were set.

So, this isn’t just an architectural landmark. It’s a literary one, too. Author Mongomery’s cousins lived here, and she decided to set her stories there. It now stands as a symbol for Canadian rural life as well as of East Coast Canadian maritime culture.

The Rooms – St. John’s, Newfoundland


(image: David P Janes)

Known as “The Rock” by locals, and otherwise pronounced “noofinLAND”, the province of Newfoundland has unique architecture to distinguish it from the rest of Canada.  This building in the capitol city of St. John’s the is a hyper-extension of Newfie fishing village style architecture.

The name “The Rooms” alludes to the “fishing rooms” found in fishing villages all over the province. The Rooms serves as an art gallery, museum, and houses the archives of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Anglican church St. Jude – Iqaluit, Nunavut


(image: Ansgar Walk)

Being in the great northern regions, architectural style in the territory of Nunavut has been adapted accordingly. This building – known by some as the igloo cathedral that opened in 2012 – mimics the traditional rounded buildings of the Inuit, with maximum resistance to the elements. Yet, it still reflects other traditions just as effectively, with a take on the Little White Church House that suits its surroundings.

Northwest Territories Legislative Building – Yellowknife, Northwest Territories


You can see that this modern building found in another of Canada’s northern regions of the Northwest Territories shares that same rounded quality as the one in Nunavut. the Legislative Building in the province’s capitol city of Yellowknife was built in 1993.

To reflect the cultures of First Nations peoples of the region, its interior was designed with those cultures in mind. It’s exterior cladding is zinc, a mineral that is plentiful in the region and linked to the natural resource industry that sustains the local economy. This building is local in nearly every sense, then.

(Old) Yukon Territorial Administration Building – Dawson City, Yukon

dawson city (Old) Yukon Territorial Administration Building

(image: Jimmy Emerson, DVM)

Dating back to the Yukon Gold Rush period of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth, this building was once the seat of local government, reflecting a neoclassical style when it was built in 1901. It was a primary symbol of a link between Canadian society to the south, the untamed subarctic terrain of the great northwest. This building became a historical site officially in 2001, preserving the special bond Canada has with the north.


There you have it! A tour of the great nation to the north of most of you.

So now that your tour of Canada is over, which locations are the most interesting to you?

Which architectural landmarks did we miss?

How many of you have never even heard of Nunavut?

Tell us all about it in the comments section!

And have a Happy Canada Day!



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Rob Jones

Rob served as Editor-In-Chief of BuildDirect Blog: Life At Home from 2007-2016. He is a writer, Dad, content strategist, and music fan.