Unitarian House of Ottawa creates close-knit community in Westboro

A group of seniors sit outside of Unitarian House on a sunny day in Ottawa
Unitarian House is a five-storey Retirement Residence & Senior Apartment building at the edge of Westboro. Photo courtesy of Unitarian House.

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We’ve all heard the phrase “home is where the heart is”— and for the residents of the Unitarian House of Ottawa, the saying holds true. 

With its tree-lined, red-brick exterior, Unitarian House is a five-storey Retirement Residence & Senior Apartment building at the edge of Westboro, overlooking the picturesque Ottawa River. Boasting a courtyard, many gardens and elegant interior design — including two libraries and a large-screen movie room — the non-profit is home to a spirited community of residents, volunteers and staff. 

Susan Faith, Unitarian House’s Admin and Marketing Manager, shared more about what makes the residence unique. 

What sets the Unitarian House apart from other retirement residences? 

Susan: We are quite small — we never grow to more than 130-ish residents at any given time, so we get to know everybody on a first-name basis. 

Many of the members of our community are also our main volunteers. They’re running activities, driving their neighbours to appointments, running our front desk. It really gives that sense of home to the people who live here, because you’re not just another face in the crowd.

And, of course, our location: we are truly blessed to have such a beautiful area that we live in. Very soon, we’ll have the light rail right on our doorstep, so it’ll be extra convenient for the members of our community! 

Why do folks choose Unitarian House?

Susan: It’s the fact that you still have [your] freedom and independence. You have the caring and supportive community to back you, not just amongst your neighbours, but [also] our wonderful nursing, administrative and maintenance staff. 

You have lots of programs available, including some for financial assistance. 

Susan: We have a Rent-Geared-to-Income program, and our Retirement Living Unit Assistance funds. We never want anyone to feel like they have to leave their home because maybe their bank account isn’t what it used to be. 

Residents can renovate their own spaces, too. 

Susan: Members of our community — should they have the financial resources to do so — have the ability to really make their apartments or their units their own. [That’s] not just paint color — if they wish to install new kitchen cupboards, new flooring, or even remove walls — if it can be done [while keeping their] unit structurally sound — they have the freedom to do that. 

It really [gives] a sense of pride and ownership, because it’s their space. It’s also a wonderful contribution to our community, because they’re helping us maintain and beautify our building for future generations.

Unitarian House hosts lots of events! What’s coming up next? 

Susan: We’ve teamed up with a wonderful not-for-profit, Blue Sea Foundation, [for] the Grand Parade: a walk-a-thon in support of senior charities. It’s been taking place Canada-wide for a few years, and Unitarian House is going to be one of Ottawa’s first locations for this event on Saturday, September 18. We’re hoping to raise $20,000 for the Retirement Living Unit Assistance Fund and would love the communities support!

To learn more about the Unitarian House of Ottawa, visit their website or reach out to Susan Faith at retire@unitarianhouse.ca.

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