Champagne Bath turns 100!

Paula Kelsall

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On September 17, a celebration was held to mark the 100th anniversary of the Champagne Bath on King Edward Avenue. Despite being located next door in Lowertown, this fitness centre has long been an important and special space for people in Sandy Hill.

After more than two years of the pool being rarely open, it was lovely to step inside, enjoy a slice of cake from Chef Ric’s, and see the light streaming onto the pool and the sunny deck with its lovely tiles designed by Mimi Cabri and Jill Elder.

The pool complex was named for Napoleon Champagne, who served two terms as mayor of Ottawa in 1908 and 1924, after first being elected as an alderman in 1892. When it first opened 100 years ago, the facility was mainly intended to promote hygiene among the working classes of Ottawa. Early advertisements for Ottawa’s public baths announced that they were the “finest equipped and most sanitary in Canada,” with hot and cold showers and electric hair dryers!

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Nowadays we cherish the Champagne Bath as a place to improve our swimming skills and keep fit, both in the pool and the weight room upstairs. The fitness centre is now open every day, although hours may vary from week to week as the City, like every other employer, deals with post-pandemic staffing issues.

Photo Paula Kelsall