Rideau Street Chapel

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Rideau Street Chapel of the Convent of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Ottawa, Ontario
Denomination Roman Catholic
Presbytery Ottawa
Synod Quebec & Eastern Ontario

The Rideau Street Chapel at Waller Street at Besserer Street as part of the Convent of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart on Rideau Street in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

The chapel for the Convent was designed by Rev. Georges Bouillon 1887-88. The chapel was dismantled in 1972, and was rebuilt inside the National Gallery of Canada in 1987-88.[1]


Although the Convent was demolished in May 1972, the Chapel`s interior was salvaged, due to a public appeal to preserve the architectural beauty it displays.[2] This interior is now on permanent display at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. Its careful preservation gives visitors the impression that they are actually entering the Chapel as it was before it was demolished. Its stained-glass windows are illuminated with artificial lighting, giving the illusion of outside sunlight, even though the Chapel is actually located in the middle of the Gallery, without any direct access to outdoor light.[3]

The Rideau Street Chapel often showcases Janet Cardiff's exhibit Forty-Part Motet (2001), which features the melody "Spem in alium" by Thomas Tallis. Each of the forty speakers set around the Chapel plays the sound of a single voice of the forty-part choir, allowing for a highly enhanced appreciation of the musical piece.[4]

In 2004, a Carleton University research centre, Carleton Immersive Media Studio (CIMS) undertook the project of digitizing the exterior and interior of the Rideau Chapel. Supported by a Canadian Heritage New Media Research Network Fund grant,[5] the digitization process began with the documentation gathered before the demolition of the Convent. Architectural drawings were used as the base asset for the modeling process and were cross-referenced with dimensions recorded at the chapel itself. Students used the 3D modeling software, Maya, to construct the interior space of the chapel. Since the Convent exterior was not saved, archival photographs of its exterior were used to photogrametrically re-build the geometry of the building. Photogrammetry is a digitization process that is able to generate highly accurate 3D geometry from measurements made in two or more photographs of the same object taken from different angles. Laser scanning was done on the intricate woodwork of the chapel’s altarpieces and carvings and produced a level of highly accurate and detailed documentation of the chapel never before gathered. Concurrent to the digitization process, historical assets were gathered and assessed and used in the development of the narrative in which the final digital artifacts were given life. Since it was determined that there was no single point of view that could tell the story, the theme of intertwining threads was used to weave together the various perspectives and issues that were important in re-presenting the story of the chapel. The various digital artifacts produced by each process and method were integrated and used in the crafting of high-resolution animations, interactive environments, rich media DVD and the web.[6]


  1. ^ Rev. Georges Bouillon
  2. ^ "Convent Alumni raise fundes for chapel". Ottawa Citizen. January 12, 1987. p. 34. Retrieved July 26, 2012. 
  3. ^ Duhamel, Marc (March 1998). "The Problem of the Sacred in Postmodem Museum Practice" (PDF). National Library of Canada. Retrieved July 26, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Janet Cardiff: Forty-Part Motet". National Gallery of Canada. Retrieved July 26, 2012. 
  5. ^ "New technology contributes to architectural heritage". Carleton Now. Carleton University. Retrieved July 26, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Rideau Chapel". Digital Architecture Reconstruction Program. Carleton Immersive Media Studio. Retrieved July 26, 2012.