Canada honours national historic significance of Hart Massey House

From: Parks Canada

Designed by the architect Hart Massey as a home for his family, Hart Massey House in Ottawa, Ontario is an iconic example of mid-20th century modernism in residential architecture in Canada, and a Canadian example of the International style because of its sensitivity to its natural surroundings.

Today, the Government of Canada commemorated the national historic significance of Hart Massey House with a special ceremony to unveil a commemorative plaque at this new national historic site.

Hart Massey, son of former Governor General Vincent Massey, was a renowned architect who built this minimalist modular box home on the shoreline of MacKay Lake in Rockcliffe Park in Ottawa. Massey elevated the house entirely above ground on thin steel columns in order to preserve the steeply sloping site beside the lake.. Floor to ceiling windows connect the interior with the surrounding landscape and the house appears to float among the trees. In 1964, the design was awarded a Massey Medal, then Canada’s highest honour for architecture.

The Government of Canada, through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes significant people, places, and events that shaped our country as one way of helping Canadians and youth connect with their past. The commemoration process is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2,150 designations have been made.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am pleased to commemorate the national historic significance of Hart Massey House. Designed and built with sensitivity to its natural environment, the house is beautifully integrated into a landscape of mature trees, harmonizing indoor and outdoor space. Historic designations, like Hart Massey House, reflect the rich and varied history of Canada and provide an opportunity for Canadians to discover and connect with our diverse heritage.”

Mona Fortier,

Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Vanier

“We have lived in and carefully cared for this house for over 40 years. We have created gardens to complement it. It has earned many accolades, but the one that we most prize came many years ago from our neighbour across the road, the distinguished landscape architect Humphrey Carver. He said simply, the Hart Massey House is “an architectural treasure … beautiful and very cerebral.” We say thank you to Hart Massey. We have had the great good fortune of living in, and sharing with so many others, the work of art he so meticulously and magically created. We say thank you to the Government of Canada for recognizing its significance to the heritage of Canada.”

Thomas d’Aquino and Susan Peterson d’Aquino

Home owners

Quick facts

  • Hart Massey House is a single-family residence built in 1959, on a shallow sloping lot at the side of McKay Lake in Ottawa’s Rockcliffe Park Village.

  • The prestigious house reflects the personal tastes and modernist ideals of its architect, Hart Massey.

  • Three quarters height interior partition walls on the ground floor contribute to an open plan, and a beige and black colour scheme extends throughout the house to integrate quietly with the exterior landscape.

  • Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change on the historic importance of the sites, persons and events that have marked Canada’s history.

  • This year marks the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. National historic designations are of profound importance as they illustrate our country’s defining moments. Each of these designations contributes its own unique story to the greater story of Canada and helps us better understand our country and our identity.

  • Together with Parks Canada, the Board ensures that subjects of national historic significance are recognized through designations and that these important stories are shared with Canadians.

  • More than 2,150 national historic sites, persons and events have been designated in Canada.

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