AT THE METCALFE, WE’RE PROUD OF OUR RICH HISTORY AND LONG-STANDING CONNECTION TO THE COMMUNITY.
Our hotel stands on the former site of a home once owned by Father of Confederation Sir George-Etienne Cartier, the powerful Quebec lieutenant and long-time political protégé of Sir John A. Macdonald (Canada’s first Prime Minister). Cartier also composed a patriotic song – O Canada, mon pays, mes amours – that may have inspired the country’s present anthem, O Canada.
During the Confederation era, the building was the place to be on a Saturday night, a place where politicians of all stripes — as well as writers, musicians and other artists — gathered to dine, drink champagne, sing and dance. The welcoming spirit associated with the property has endured ever since.
In 1906, Cartier’s former home, along with three adjoining properties, were purchased for the future home of the YMCA. A fundraising campaign was held to raise the $200,000 needed for construction, an incredible money-raising event that engaged the entire city. This building will forever be a testament to the generous gifts of Ottawa citizens, establishing the YMCA as a fixture of the Ottawa experience.
The YMCA was an impressive venue: it housed 97 dormitories, the best-equipped gymnasium in Canada, a billiards room and even a shooting gallery. The upstairs dorms served as inexpensive accommodations for servicemen in transit during World War I, young scholars conducting research, traveling salesman and newcomers to Canada. Two of these newcomers were Malak and Yousuf Karsh, who later became noted photographers. Yousuf Karsh is particularly famous for being one of the world’s greatest portrait photographers, capturing luminaries such as Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and Queen Elizabeth. You can see some of his photographs lining the walls of The Metcalfe.
The YMCA was later turned into a hotel, and functioned as the Hotel Indigo since 2007. In 2017, we became The Metcalfe, a locally owned Ottawa boutique hotel, as a way of honouring our roots and culture. At the same time, we’re meeting the changing needs of travelers through innovative technology and offerings, creating a hotel like no other in Ottawa. In the spirit of our predecessors, we continue to serve as a resting point for travelers, and a gathering place for the community.