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HISTORY AND TOUR OF THE EMBASSY
The Embassy of the Republic of Poland at 443 Daly Avenue is situated in a neighbourhood of Sandy Hill east of Ottawa's downtown core. Until 1857, when Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the capital of United Canadas, Sandy Hill remained a barren, desolate hill with sandy soil that was stripped of trees after 30 years of logging activity. Then approximately 400 mostly white-collar people flocked to the area attracted by government jobs. The largest landowner in Sandy Hill Louis Besserer played a large part in planning a community on the basis of a Georgian lay-out with straight, orthogonal streets. After Confederation in 1867 more people, including middle- and upper-level civil servants from the Maritimes, chose to settle in Sandy Hill.
A large infusion of well-to-do individuals, coming from various religious and cultural backgrounds since 1870s fuelled a building boom that lasted half a century. An architectural mosaic visible in Sandy Hill with Spanish Colonial Revival, Georgian, Neo-gothic and Victorian styles attests to diverse influences brought by new residents. By the end of the 19th century the neighbourhood gained a reputation as the wealthiest residential area in Ottawa.
One of the individuals who made Sandy Hill his home was John James Codville (1851-1915). Born originally in Quebec City, Codville moved to Ottawa at the turn of the century with his wife Edith and family from Winnipeg. He ran a successful wholesale grocery business - the Thompson, Codville Co. - with branches operating across the country. He entrusted the design of his residence to Werner Ernst Noffke (1878-1964), one of Ottawa's most influential and prolific architects. The J.J. Codville Residence at 443 Daly, built at the start of the 20th century, would eventually become one of 200 buildings designed by Noffke in and around Canada's capital.
The J.J. Codville Residence was sold to Dorothy Hardy in 1922. After the outbreak of World War II, in 1942, the Crown expropriated it for billeting members of the armed forces. The military ran a five-week Officer's Training Course at the Hardy House for the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS). Many of the WRENS later served overseas, including in the British Isles.
After the war the building was divided into ten apartments and lessees had to pay a rent to the City of Ottawa as occupants of „ emergency shelter". In 1949 the War Assets Corporation put up the house for sale as war "surplus". A newspaper at the time noted that the interior of the former Hardy family mansion, along with two other buildings also being sold by the Crown, showed " the effect of hard use during the war" and presented " little of the sumptuousness that was theirs in their heyday."
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, St. Peter's (English) Province - the largest Catholic Religious Congregation of men in Canada - bought the mansion which they called St. Leo's House. It became Office of the Provincial, Vocational Director and the seat of the Provincial Administration, which had been based at St. Joseph's Rectory also in Sandy Hill. Five successive O.M.I. Provincials supervised work of the Congregation from St. Leo's House. They were Joseph R. Birch (1947-1953), Fergus O'Grady (1953-1956), Lawrence K. Poupore (1956-1962), Gerald E. Cousineau (1962-1968) and J. Lorne MacDonald (1968-1973).
From left to right: Rev. Anthony Hall, OMI, Treasurer; Rev. James Mulvihill, OMI, Councillor; Rev. Allan MacInnes, OMI Councillor; Very Rev. Lawrence K. Poupore, OMI, Provincial; Rev. Gerald E. Cousineau, OMI, Councillor, Rev. John Hennessy, OMI Councillor.
In 1965 the Oblates sought a market value appraisal with the intention of putting the house on sale. St. Leo's Provincial House was bought on 1 May 1969 by the Polish People's Republic, represented by Ambassador M. Stradowski, and converted into the Embassy. According to O.M.I. historian Fr. Thomas M. Cassidy, " it was not an easy decision to sell to a Communist government, but after years of negotiations, they were the only ones who were seriously interested."
Since Poland regained independence and democracy in 1989-1990 the building at 443 Daly Avenue in beautiful Sandy Hill serves as the Embassy of the Republic of Poland.
Embassy of the Republic of Poland at 443 Daly Avenue today
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