Abbotsford House’s 150th anniversary next year!

About to celebrate 150 years, Abbotsford House is being refurbished as a heritage building. It has gingerbread gables and other interesting architectural features.
Photo: Karen Anne Blakely

By Karen Anne Blakely

Celebrations will be held next year to mark 150 years since the construction of Abbotsford House on Bank Street. With planning underway to recognize this major milestone, we want to tell members, clients and our Glebe neighbours about the work that has taken place and will be done in the coming months on our heritage-designated home.

In March, all the old shingles on the roof were removed and, to our delight, exposed an interesting design feature. Instead of the sheets of plywood that would usually be found under shingles, the roof was instead layered with barn boards. These long pieces of wood were two inches thick and mostly in very good shape. We were advised to keep these board in place and add plywood over top so roofing nails would hold. New soffits are coming soon. Funding for this very significant project was fortunately partially covered by a government grant.

Over the past five years, 25 new windows have been installed and the heritage wood windows facing Bank Street have been refurbished with the aid of grants.

Next on the list are the front porch and the intricate wood gabling adorning the roofline of the house. Due to the building’s heritage designation, we have had to follow a series of steps to comply with City of Ottawa rules and regulations.

Working with Tim Davis Design, an architectural plan was developed for the porch. Once approved by the city, we can the move forward with the renovation in June. Thankfully, we had initiated conversations with an experienced heritage property contractor in 2020, so they were able to commit to this work.

This contractor has made a commitment to try and reuse wood from the original porch, but how much will only be decided once the old porch is dismantled and each piece is examined. Given the pandemic and a significant increase in cost of materials and renovations, this project will be more expensive than originally planned.

The final project for this year is refurbishment of the roofline gables. The next time you walk by Abbotsford House, cast your gaze to the roof. Attached to it are intricate circular wood gables (also called gingerbread). Unique in style, these gables are different in look at the front and back of our home.

Quotes for the gable work are expected in the coming weeks, and work is expected to start in the fall. Come December, you will see the same historic house on Bank Street, only better.

Specific tax-deductible donations for the porch and gable work have come from many committed Abbotsford members and friends in the neighbourhood, including a nice gift from Amica Mature Lifestyles. Should you wish to make a gift, please call Bruce Hill at 613-238-2727 ext. 316 or email him at

Abbotsford House provides community programs and services. The building is currently closed to the public due to the pandemic, but community support services and recreation programs for seniors aged 55+ and adults with disabilities living in the community are offered virtually on Zoom, on the Seniors Centre Without Walls telephone conferencing platform and by telephone.

Call us at 613-230-5730 for more information or visit our website at

Karen Anne Blakely is director of community programming and services at Abbotsford.

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