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“Not what I expected”

Supreme Court of Canada
Ranked #24 of 289 things to do in Ottawa
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: This imposing building houses the highest court in Canada and is open to the public for tours.
Reviewed June 22, 2014

The building is beautiful, follows the "Chateau" style of architecture, sits on a large piece of land overlooking the Ottawa River and houses two beautiful statues out front. A "serious" looking building.

You enter and the grand hall welcomes you, as does security. Expect to go through baggage scans and metal detector - I wasn't expecting that.

The building houses the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Canada. For such a large building, I thought the court rooms would be larger. The ceilings are extremely high, as are the window, the actual rooms are on the small side with limited public audience space.

Both rooms have a lot of wood but the rooms lacked atmosphere, there was a coldness and sterile feel to them...then again, maybe that is the point. It is a court room after all. Don't expect to have a "wow" feeling like you do when you enter Parliament or the Library of Parliament. Very different experience. Worth the visit, reading the history of the building and learning about the the judges.

1  Thank Rtistik
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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141 - 145 of 232 reviews

Reviewed June 8, 2014 via mobile

I'm sort of a political geek, so the tour here was very interesting. So rich in history, marble from Italy, wood from Africa. Grand spaces, well detailed. Was not much of a line, all presentations are provided in English and French.

Would say its worth the time to go see.

1  Thank Brian V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 7, 2014

I had to circle the building by working slowly and talking to one police man on the outside before knowing which door to enter. The time spent looking for the door was worth it. I made my visit and took my tour on Saturday on last day of May 2014 in the afternoon Here is another reason for so many tourists to utilize their intellectual capacity in understanding a country. A visit here took place in late May 2014. This is not a visit to the ice cream stand for buying balloons. If you need a reason to utilize your brains for a change I suggest that you take the tour in French and English for two chances to understand something important about this country. I took both tours late one afternoon and was pleased with the work of the personnel there to help me schedule my visit. There is a large common room that describes the history of the court and the building of this earlier building and its more recent location and construction. I suggest that you take time to see the video in this room before you visit the two court rooms that are part of the tour. I fell on the steps coming down from the upper chamber and the personnel rushed to help me. The lower court room is an appellate court where visitors can ask somebody to photograph them wearing judicial robes. It was in the larger full chamber of the Supreme court where I obtained more information about the role of the court and its history. In this larger chamber where decisions are made we were told about procedures and policies as well as the history of the court and its current justices. The time we spent here was most rewarding for me. There is something undeniably solemn and serious about making a visit to his place. I asked the same questions for French and English in the larger chamber for dramatic introduction for me to get a full flavor of the importance of the court. I think that graduate law students gave the tour. My impression was the the tour given in French went along too rapidly and was shorter in content. The young lady giving the tour might have pushed along too rapidly with her discussion of the court's role in both languages but there was little of additional substance to say about this court had you not read about it previously. Many good leaflets and flyers to read. Charts and pictures were seen on the video monitors to help me better understand how things take place. The seating arrangements for reporters and others were explained. There were students of law in the group that accompanied me. I do agree that this tour is not best for small children but is more suitable for older adults and teenagers. If you want you know which architecture is missing from the interior of your house pay close attention to the wood as the interior of these two rooms is stunning and gorgeous. Marble might be form Italy but the design is symmetrical. After making your tour I suggest that you return to the large common chamber that is like a welcome center for learning the history of the court, its location and construction and dedication ceremony involving the King and Queen of England. By the way if you want to see how your bath room at home is different from the bathroom for the men here at the court then please visit the plush and sumptuous room of the welcoming room. Interior design without pinching pennies is at a premium here. It is worth while seeing as the the entire tour is totally educational and taking the tour is fun at the same time as it s free The main hall for the entry the building was designed beautifully. Do not visit the court if your intention for being in Canada is for silly and supercilious reasons. This tour is serious business. This tour is a good lesson in architecture. I did wonder how many ordinary Canadians know about their supreme court and appellate system. So I did ask the question and got different answers. This tour was the intellectual high point of the visit I made to Ottawa in the last few days of May. I do not know about restaurant facilities or wheel chair access but I imagine that the handicapped can get in just to see the court and benefit from being there. As for scenic views - so much of the city along Wellington and along the lake shore is a scenic wonderland and the group of buildings around the court buildings are worth a few photographs. I do recommend it for your visit. Walk along Wellington and come to the building from the north and admire the lake. I wish that I had had a chance to talk with a law student for a better understanding of the court and the Canadian judicial or legal system. But I did benefit from the visit. Worth your tourist dollar.

2  Thank GiudoLocattelli
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 25, 2014

Nice free guided visit. Very interesting. Not recommended for small children, they might find the talking and subject boring but very educational for teens and adult. Very good guided tour.

Thank seyvador
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2014

Although we could not figure out what door to go into to take our tour and circled the whole building, it was great. Tip: wait out front til you see some action if it is a weekend.
We went into chambers and sat and heard about the history of the court and some cases. It was very interesting and informative. Sad that we know more about the U.S. system from T.V. than our own.
People were invited to come down and take photos as if you were the lawyer. You could go up to the judges bench also for photos.
The main hall is beautiful and interesting also from an architectural perspective. I think each Canadian who has time should do this. I would think kids might be a little bored.

Thank waterlooOntario
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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