Supreme Court of Canada

The dignified Supreme Court of Canada building, located right downtown Ottawa to the west of the Parliament Buildings, is not the first home of Canada’s final court of appeal.

Though established in 1875 by an act of parliament, the Supreme Court of Canada – it’s chief justice and it’s five justices ( at that time ) first convened to hear a case in the Railway Committee Room within the Parliament Buildings in 1876.

For a few years, the Supreme Court was shunted from room to room in parliament until moving into their own building in 1882. This building was located across from the Parliaments Buildings on the corner of Bank Street. This building no longer exists.

Supreme Court of Canada building in downtown OttawaThe current home of the Supreme Court of Canada is the building pictured above, located at 301 Wellington Street, Ottawa.

Perched on a bluff overlooking the beautiful Ottawa River, visitors to the Supreme Court of Canada can both enter the building for a self-guided or guided tour, and wander around the building outside, and enjoye the view from the bluff. One vista is seen in the photo below. A look at the “iceberg” in downtown Ottawa that shields the reconstruction site of the National Gallery on Sussex Drive.

View from behind the Supreme Court of Canada buildingAs a visitor approaches the Supreme Court of Canada building, there is a starkness evident (at least to me), a sense of harshness, of a no-nonsense attitude, unyielding.

On the right of the main grand stairway is the statue IVSTITIA seen in the photo below. IVSTITIA means justice.

IVSTITIA - justice statue in front of the Supreme Court of Canada buildingTo the left of the main staircase is the statue of truth or VERITAS. Truth and justice, attributes important to the Supreme Court. The statues were unveiled here on the grounds in 1970. The Supreme Court building as we see it today was completed in 1941 though it wasn’t until 1946 that the Court took possession, held in abeyance as the facility was used for government offices until the end of the Second World War.

VERITAS - truth statue in front of Supreme Court of Canada building downtown Ottawa

Between the hours of 9-5 daily, including weekends, visitors are welcome to visit the interior of the Supreme Court. During the summer months there are guided tours. From September through until April, tours will be self guided and the building is not open on weekends or holidays during the off season.

Once through the front door, and through the extensive security (much like at the airport) you enter the Grand Entrance Hall, as shown below.

Grand entrance hall of the Supreme Court of Canada building in OttawaOnce inside, visitors are invited to attend the various rooms within the building and, should circumstances and the case being heard permit, oversee proceedings within the actual main courtroom, though there are two others in the building used by the Federal Court of Canada and the Federal Court of Appeal.

The Supreme Court holds three sessions a year – one in spring, in fall and in winter. The Court sits Monday through Friday starting at 9:30 am except in July, August and September.  Though all sessions are open to the public, they caution that “for reasons related to the work of the Court, (it may) be necessary to alter or cancel guided tours.

Inside the Supreme Court building in downtown Ottawa

General Inquiries about the Supreme Court of Canada

E for tours:
T: 613-995-4330


The Supreme Court of Canada
301 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0J1

Staircase to the Supreme Court in downtown Ottawa