By Mahera Mustafa
There’s a piece of Ottawa’s rich architectural history hiding in plain sight. Nestled in a courtyard in the ByWard Market is the Tin House, a curious feature hanging on the side of a stone building.
Originally built and owned by Honoré Foisy, a tinsmith who used sheet metal to mimic materials such as wood and brick used for other homes at the time, the home was demolished in 1961. When demolition took place, a piece of the home was saved and later reconstructed by artist Art Price. It was installed in 1973 and now hangs on a wall in a courtyard in Ottawa’s ByWard Market.
Although it may look like a piece of a world that is entirely different from the one we live in now, you can visit this beautiful rendering of a time in Ottawa’s history, that may seem long gone, on your walk home from work. For those who aren’t familiar with the history of the house, it elicits some double-takes or puzzled looks. However, The Tin House remains a largely unrecognized oddity in a town with plenty of interesting history.
Those wishing to find The Tin House should go to the courtyard between Murray and Clarence… and look up! There, embedded in the wall, is a unique piece of Ottawa’s architectural history.
The courtyard is the largest of the Sussex courtyards in the heart of the Market.
“It’s my favourite place to read during the summer! It’s so peaceful and tranquil, even though it’s surrounded by the market!” said Sarah W., a patron of the courtyard, passing by on her way from work.
After all this time, this courtyard hasn’t really changed. It’s quaint and quiet, despite being surrounded by city life. It’s been there a long time, but continues to elude most of us. Still, it is a gift for those who enjoy the slightly odd, and especially lovers of local history. While this may be one person’s place to read, it’s another person’s reminder of their place in world and in time.
“Looking at the Tin House may only take a few minutes, but it reminds you that you can make your mark in the world, even if what you’re doing seems insignificant!” added Sarah.
The Tin House Courtyard is a tranquil—some may even say romantic—place to have a seat and relax while still downtown Ottawa. It’s a quirky piece of history, and despite it only taking a few minutes of your time looking at the Tin House, the spectacle is worth it.
The Tin House Courtyard is located near the intersection of Murray and Sussex in the ByWard Market. Access is free.