Adventures in transforming a church…

A big dig—sewer-related—happened on the Laurier Ave. East lawn at allsaints in early September. Photo Christine Aubry

Leanne Moussa

You may have noticed the 14-foot gaping hole on the front lawn of allsaints this summer. Don’t worry, this is not our effort to build a new Diefenbunker or an epic escape room in Sandy Hill… rather, it was a necessary evil to deal with century-old plumbing, install some brand new washroom facilities, and get our kitchen and bars up and running.

With any luck, by the time you are reading this, allsaints will have opened its newly renovated café… appropriately named Working Title. This is a big step for allsaints and all our investors who purchased the heritage building nearly three years ago. The name signifies a work-in-progress, as allsaints continues to evolve and reshape Laurier Avenue along with it.

Come check us out through our new entrance at the corner of Laurier and Chapel under the Bell Tower, where we will offer great coffee, food with locally sourced ingredients, and house-made take-out meals.

With a state of the art commercial kitchen, and some serious culinary talent thanks to Sandy Hill’s own Chef Kyle Mortimer-Proulx, we are now able to provide exclusive in-house catering for all of our events, while also opening what is sure to be one of Ottawa’s hippest new cafés.

If all goes according to plan, by next summer we will be able to landscape and add a patio along Laurier Avenue to our amenities. Personally, I cannot wait to sit outside, surrounded by the historic stonewalls, enjoying a latté or craft beer and some house-made treats as my children play on the lawn. I have kept this image in my mind’s eye as the challenges of managing a century-old building have unfolded. And there have been many challenges ….

From basic heating and cooling, to running gas lines and repairing water lines, to repairing the roof and repointing some of the old stone, to manually bleeding the steam boiler every couple of days, and figuring out what to do with a baptismal font, it seems there is no end to learning for me on this project. But bit by bit, we are bringing modern systems to an old structure. The result is a beautiful facility to host conferences, meetings, parties, or just enjoy. We couldn’t have done any of this without the talented building trades and carpenters who have worked on this project over the last few months.

After two and a half years of work, this renovation finally has some systems in place that will allow us to start to shape our vision. We hope the new Working Title – Kitchen and Café will become an important part of the fabric of Sandy Hill.