55. Victoria Memorial Museum Building (1911)

Victoria Memorial Museum Building

Starting shortly after the 1881 move to Ottawa, each subsequent director of the Geological Survey of Canada lobbied the government for a suitable building to house its extensive collection of natural history and human history artifacts. Finally, in 1901, Parliament approved funding, and planning began for the Survey’s new purpose-built home, the Victoria Memorial Museum Building.

David Ewart, who had designed the Dominion Observatory, was the architect. The construction was a massive endeavour that was complicated by the site being underlain by unstable clay. The building started shifting even before it was completed, and, in 1915, the tower over its entry had to be removed for safety reasons. The supreme irony was that no one had consulted Survey specialists about the geology under their new home.

By November 1910, the Survey’s museum collections were being transferred to the new building, and, in 1912, its exhibition halls started to open to the public. In 1916, when the Centre Block of Parliament was destroyed by fire, the museum became home to the Canadian House of Commons. In 1920, the Survey moved back in, and the building remained its headquarters until 1959.

Category: Buildings and Places

Decade: 1910s


Vodden, C. and Dyck, I., 2006. A World Inside: A 150-Year History of the Canadian Museum of Civilization; Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, 104 p.

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