Embassy of Canada, Washington, D.C.

Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C.

Arthur Erickson's combination of modernism and neoclassicism evokes I.M. Pei's design for the National Gallery of Art's East Building across Pennsylvania Avenue.
Coordinates 38°53′35″N 77°1′6″W / 38.89306°N 77.01833°W / 38.89306; -77.01833Coordinates: 38°53′35″N 77°1′6″W / 38.89306°N 77.01833°W / 38.89306; -77.01833
Location Washington, D.C. 20001
Address 501 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Ambassador David MacNaughton
Website Official website

The Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C. (French: Ambassade du Canada à Washington) is Canada's main diplomatic mission to the United States. The embassy building is located at 501 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest, Washington, D.C. between the Capitol and the White House, just north of the National Gallery of Art.[1] In addition to its diplomatic role, the Embassy handles consular services and assists with international business development for the surrounding states of Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland.


The Embassy of Canada was previously located at 1746 Massachusetts Avenue on Embassy Row, in a house that had been purchased in 1927 from the widow of Clarence Moore, a financier who was killed in the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Today, the house is the Embassy of Uzbekistan.

By 1969, the existing chancery had spread out across three buildings and could not accommodate additional staff. At the same time, the federally chartered Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation was looking to revitalize the avenue. In 1978, the Canadian Crown-in-Council purchased a vacant lot on Pennsylvania for $5 million. The site had previously been a Ford dealership (built in 1916 by Irwin and Leighton as Ford Service Building) and a public library.[2] The six floor building was demolished before it was purchased by Canada.

The Embassy was officially opened by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney on May 3, 1989. The building currently houses approximately 265 Canadian diplomatic and locally engaged staff. The Embassy houses representatives from two provinces (Ontario and Alberta) and 13 Canadian federal government agencies including Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Development Canada, Industry Canada, Transport Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada, the Department of National Defence, the Permanent Mission of Canada to the Organization of American States, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, amongst others.

Canada has the embassy closest to the Capitol and is the only country to have its embassy along the Presidential inaugural route between the Capitol and the White House. The Washington bureau of the Fox News Channel is located a short distance away - its studio is positioned such that the Canadian flag of the embassy is usually visible out the window during broadcasts.

The Embassy of Canada hosts numerous events throughout the year for visiting ministers as well as for a wide range of diplomatic, military, and public functions.


The new building was designed by British Columbia's Arthur Erickson, recognized as one of Canada’s most decorated architects. Erickson tried to evoke a sense of Canada in the architecture of the building, using long horizontals, wide open spaces and water features. The large airy courtyard includes the sculpture Spirit of Haida Gwaii by Bill Reid, featured on Canada’s twenty-dollar bill from 2004-2012, which sits in a pool of water representative of Canada’s ocean limits.

The 'Rotunda of the Provinces' on the courtyard's southeast corner has a domed roof that is supported by 12 pillars, each featuring one of the crests of the ten provinces and two territories in existence at the time of the Embassy’s construction. The seal above the Rotunda’s entranceway represents the territory of Nunavut, which was established in April 1999. The Rotunda is also an echo chamber; noise is reflected and focused back, though this magnified volume is only appreciated by the person at the Rotunda’s centre. Surrounding the rotunda is a waterfall, incorporated by the architect to represent Niagara Falls, the most famous site along the Canada–U.S. border.

In the words of former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, “I think just as diplomats represent their country, people and interest to the world, so too an embassy chancery displays its country’s face to the world…This bold and dramatic building, the new Chancery of Canada does that. Monumental in its appearance, it also I think conveys the warmth and the openness of the people of Canada. Your new home here in the centre of our new capital [is] along an avenue which is steeped in the history of American democracy between the White House and the Congress.”


The Embassy of Canada has four collections on display: the Foreign Affairs Fine Art Collection (a permanent collection at the Embassy), the Canada Council Art Bank, the Imperial Oil - ExxonMobile collection and the Scotiabank Corporate Art collection. The Embassy also currently has several arctic-themed works that are on loan from TD Bank, in honour of Canada’s 2013-2015 chairship of the Arctic Council. The Foreign Affairs Fine Art Collection contains Canadian art for use in Embassies and Official Residences abroad. By displaying Canadian art in this manner, the collection assists in the promotion of Canadian culture abroad.

The Canada Council Art Bank is a collection of Canadian art that is loaned to Canadian government departments, agencies and private sector corporations.

Imperial Oil has lent the Embassy 10 works from their corporate collection, providing a regional perspective of Canadian art. Of particular note are the works “Heart of the Forest” by Emily Carr and the Group of Seven’s, A.J. Casson’s piece “Morning near Whitefish Falls.”

The Scotiabank Corporate art collection is one of the leading corporate art collections in Canada, consisting of significant works of art by renowned Canadian contemporary artists. This includes photography by Edward Burtynsky and Geoffrey James and a silkscreen on paper by Christopher Pratt.

The Embassy also has a small gallery set just off of the main foyer that showcases Canadian artists or Canada-themed exhibits. In September 2014, the gallery hosted a special exhibit honouring the Embassy’s 25th anniversary.

Current ambassador

Canada’s 24th and current Ambassador to the United States of America is David MacNaughton, who presented his credentials to President Obama on March 3, 2016. MacNaughton previously served as Canadian and North American president of Hill and Knowlton,[3] and president of Public Affairs International, which purchased Decima Research to create Public Affairs Resource Group.[4]

Consulates General

The ambassador is also ultimately responsible for the 12 regional consulates: [5]

  1. Consulate General of Canada in Atlanta, representing the states of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee
  2. Consulate General of Canada in Boston, representing the states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island
  3. Consulate General of Canada in Chicago, representing the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Northwest Indiana and Kansas City Metro
  4. Consulate General of Canada in Dallas, representing the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
  5. Consulate General of Canada in Denver, representing the states of Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Wyoming, Utah
  6. Consulate General of Canada in Detroit, representing the states of Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio
  7. Consulate General of Canada in Los Angeles, representing the states of California (southern area), Nevada (Clark County/Las Vegas), Arizona
  8. Consulate General of Canada in Miami, representing the U.S. state of Florida, and U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
  9. Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis, representing the states of Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa (except the Quad-Cities portion which is covered by the Chicago Consulate General)
  10. Consulate General of Canada in New York City, representing the states of Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and the country of Bermuda
  11. Consulate General of Canada in San Francisco/Silicon Valley, representing the states of Hawaii, Nevada (except Clark County/Las Vegas), and California (northern)
  12. Consulate General of Canada in Seattle representing the states of Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Oregon

Trade Offices

  1. Canadian Consulate in Houston
  2. Palo Alto
  3. San Diego

See also


  1. http://www.embassy.org/embassies/ca.html
  2. http://dc.curbed.com/2013/9/27/10193144/awesome-old-photos-of-ford-dealership-in-1916-and-1932
  3. Richard, Mackie (1 October 2003). "Candidates for McGuinty inner circle If Liberals win, former Peterson confidant expected to play principal role as adviser; If Liberals win, former Peterson confidant expected to play principal role as adviser". The Globe and Mail. p. A10.
  4. McIntosh, Gord (8 February 1989). "Approval is granted for takeover of Decima". Toronto Star. Canadian Press. p. F3.
  5. "Canadian Government offices in the U.S". can-am.gc.ca. 2015-09-04. Retrieved 2016-05-26.
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