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sod turning 1987.jpg

Until the 1980s, the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle had a really big parking lot. Half of it was unpaved—and instead of paving it, some parishioners had a really big idea. Affordable housing wasn’t even a catch-phrase then, but nonetheless it was an issue for some seniors in the community.

After years of planning, negotiating, discussing, and designing, Ellwood House had its grand opening in July 1989—although it already had a full tenant community. Thirty years later, the award-winning building by Colizza Bruni Architecture has stood the test of time. And the idea of affordable housing is even more timely.

The image is from the June 1987 sod turning: From left, Rev. Allen Meakin, John Webster, Keith Preston, Vic Inman, Gerry Wharton, Lillian Stinson, Darrell Small

The vice-chair of the original Ellwood House planning committee wrote a booklet about the process. The Early Years is an interesting piece of St. Thomas history.


Providing a safe and affordable permanent home to independent seniors in the community since 1988.

The decisions of the St. Thomas parishioners of the 1980s set Ellwood House up for success:

  • The facility was incorporated as Ellwood House (Ottawa) Inc., to establish an independent housing project in the community and to protect the church and the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa from financial liability.

  • The legislation governing the Ellwood House corporation is the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (2010), which took effect in 2021.

  • It is a registered charity with the Canada Revenue Agency.

  • Ellwood House is governed by its elected Board of Directors, responsible for ensuring its mandate to provide affordable housing for seniors in the Ottawa community.

  • The land on which Ellwood House sits is owned by the church and leased to Ellwood House; the duration of the lease is 35 years (end date June 30, 2023).

  • Ellwood House is responsible for repairs and maintenance of the building and grounds, payment of property taxes, insurance of the building and equipment, and payment of the mortgage (which matures in 2024).

  • Ellwood House receives a subsidy from the City of Ottawa for management of rent-geared-to income (RGI) tenancies, as well as reduced property taxes.

  • The Ellwood House corporate status and governance differs from other diocesan residential facilities, but it reflects the official mission of the diocese and the outreach mission of the parish.

Our History
Our Philosophy & Legal Status
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