Signatures Restaurant and Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa occupy the Munross Mansion, a heritage property built in 1874 by Scottish lumberman James Mather, one of the first members of the Canadian National Railway Board of Directors.
In its original form, the mansion could have served as a textbook example of Second Empire architecture, as it embraced many of its distinguishing elements. Mather lived at Munross until his death in 1907, after which it was sold to Clarissa Ami and her family who resided here until 1922. The rear wing was enlarged and extended to two full floors, and the mansard roof of the tower was replaced with a castellated parapet. Sometime before 1912 the stable was converted to a garage. John Ambrose O'Brien was the next owner, and he enlarged the house once again. The tower was raised to a full three storeys, with windows on the top floor. The front entrance was extended and enclosed. A verandah was projected beyond the entrance and opened to a square terrace on the east side (today the terrace runs nearly the full length of the building, instead of stopping just short of the living room windows).
In the early 1940s , with all five sons in the service, O'Brien leased the house to the Department of National Defense, who used it as a residence for the Women's Royal Canadian Navy Service (WRENS). The house's 13 bedrooms, seven full bathrooms, and seven fireplaces made it ideal for housing the WRENS. It was equally useful as a student dormitory when the University of Ottawa purchased the property in 1948. It became part of St. Paul's University in 1955. The building was sold again in 1975 to Le Cercle Universitaire, which since its founding on 9 January 1958 had been leasing the premises from St. Paul's. Le Cercle was a bilingual gourmet club founded by a group of deans, faculty members, and professional staff from the University of Ottawa. Their aim was to create a place where fine food would be served in an atmosphere of sophistication and elegance. Le Cercle Universitaire d'Ottawa was in operation for 42 years and was recognized as one of the finest tables in the region.
In 1999, M. André J. Cointreau, President of Le Cordon Bleu, was impressed by the building’s elegant spaces. With its history of gastronomy, the Munross Mansion was the perfect site in which to relocate the growing Ottawa branch of Le Cordon Bleu. In June 2000, Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa relocated to its new home, which was renovated to include an addition to the rear of the building that accommodates the Institute’s teaching kitchens. The original building has been carefully restored to its original grandeur and is home to Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute and Signatures Restaurant by Le Cordon Bleu.
The restaurant carries on the proud tradition of Le Cordon Bleu with origins in Paris, which has spanned over a century of culinary excellence. With over 30 campuses worldwide, Le Cordon Bleu is widely recognized as the gold standard in training for professional French cuisine. Signatures Restaurant values our connection to the culinary arts institute at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa, and while our kitchen is not run by students, we hire graduates as well as give current students a chance to observe.
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