div#slideshow{left:20;position:absolute;top:0px;margin-left:0px;}?>Skip Navigation

The Baha'is of Ottawa Header

Devotional GatheringsStudy Circles
Children's Classes
Junior Youth Groups
Community Photo Tab
On January 18th, 2016 approximately one quarter of the Bahá'í Community of Ottawa gathered for the Feast of Sultán (Sovereignty) and this group photograph was taken. Click here to see photo!
Community Photo
Upcoming Event left tab
Friday February 5th, 7:30 PM
This months presenter is Wendy James.

Gentle Yoga and Devotions
Monday Feb 1, 8, 15 & 22,
7:00 - 8:00 PM

Book Club
Tuesday February 16,
1:00 until 3:00 PM

Study group
Every Wednesday
11:00 AM until 1:00 PM

Creative Writers’ Group
Thursday February 18, 7:30 PM

Art LogoPhotographs by Louis Brunet on display this month in the Fireside Gallery downstairs.

Bahá'í Holy Days
There are eleven holy days on the Bahá'í calendar  more..

Ottawa Bahá'í Centre tab
Ottawa Bahá’í Centre
211 McArthur Ave. K1L 6P6
Facebook Logo
TEL: 613-742-8250   Map 

Official Baha'i Websites

Bahá'í Perspectives Tab
"Bahá'í Perspectives" is the Bahá'í response to the "Ask the Religion Experts" column series that formerly ran in the Sunday edition of the Ottawa Citizen newspaper. Read here...

Subscribe to Community News Tab
RSS Feed LogoSubscribe to Community News Feed using your web browser.

Email IconSubscribe to receive Community News Updates  via email:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Share this page with a friend,
enter their email address here:


Welcome Tab
The Bahá'ís of Ottawa come from a variety of backgrounds, brought together by a common belief in the oneness of humanity and the unity of religion. We work alongside others to become a force of positive change, applying insights from the Bahá'í teachings to bring about a more just, peaceful and unified community.

Community News Current
January 14, 2016

Siamak Hariri and the architecture of “Embodied Light”
The Bahá'í Temple in Santiago, Chile.

The Bahá'í Temple in Santiago, ChileOttawa, November 16, 2015 ­ Canadian architect Siamak Hariri spoke to a packed lecture theatre at the National Gallery of Canada about the creative process behind the nearly completed Bahá'í Temple of South America. After a brief introduction to the evolving philosophy of his Toronto firm, Hariri Pontarini Architects, he shared some of the fascinating design challenges of this project. Hariri's accessible presentation style captured the imagination of both the professional architectural community and the members of the general public who were present that night.  

The Bahá'í Temple in Santiago, ChileWorldwide, the Bahá'í community has constructed a House of Worship ­ or mašriqu­l­'aḏkār ­ on every continent except South America. The Santiago temple will be the eighth and final continental “mother temple.” The competitive process included some unusual building specifications, such as a four hundred year building mandate. The temple also needed to withstand considerable seismic activity, since it sits on a major fault line running down the Andes. Hariri's winning bid boldly proposed a temple of glass.

From the beginning, their guiding vision for the project was a “temple of light.” Hariri narrated the winding journey to the final design. A recurring theme in his talk was Bahá’u’llah’s parable of the mystic seeker and his troubled quest for his beloved Layli. Hariri described many design dead­ends and failed experiments with materials. As with the story of Layli, intractable problems gave way to unexpected breakthroughs. Consistently, they maintained their focus on a vision of a sacred building of “embodied light."

The Bahá'í Temple in Santiago, ChileBeyond its translucent nature, the other characteristic of the temple is its dynamic motion. It appears to be twisting around a central oculus in the centre of the ceiling. Hariri spoke of their desire to create a sense of "movement and stillness coexisting." 

The design team asked questions like “what would this building feel like?” They imagined the irregular passage of light that one experiences sitting under a canopy of trees. They strove to create a sensation resembling the organic warmth of illuminated alabaster. Discussing the textures and forms that inspired their design, Hariri rarely mentioned other buildings. He referred to organic natural shapes such as eggs, shells and wings. He studied non-architectural cultural objects: Japanese baskets, billowing sails, canvas tents and the whirling robes of Sufi dancers.

The Bahá'í Temple in Santiago, ChileThe innovative building techniques required traditional physical models and cutting­edge 3D rendering software. Their ideal building materials had to be invented and factories were constructed to produce them for construction. A steel lattice system of connector rods and irregular nodes frame the nine wings. These rest on concrete seismic isolation pads equipped with pendulums that permit each wing to move two feet during an earthquake. The steel skeleton is clad with a translucent skin made of three thousand square feet of custom shaped cast­glass panels. Portuguese marble provided a warmer texture on the interior, "like a jacket liner." The interior tracery, made of nickel­plated stainless steel and oak, was inspired by the abstract expressionist “white writing” paintings of Mark Tobey.

The Bahá'í Temple in Santiago, ChileHariri explained some fixed design elements found in all Bahá'í Houses of Worship. They should be welcoming to all, even those with no faith. Thus, Bahá'í temples have nine doors rather than one. They are  circular and don't resemble churches, mosques or other forms of religious architecture. 

This critically appraised design has been under construction for several years and is scheduled to open in 2016. For more information and links to the official photo and video logs of the construction process, click here.

Community News Current

December 11, 2015

Ottawa Bahá'í Community Celebrates the Life of Bahá’u’lláh

On November 13, over 700 Ottawa Bahá'ís and their friends gathered at the Hellenic Centre on Prince of Wales Road to celebrate the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh. Bahá'í Holy Days are special occasions for the community to join together with music, food, prayers and friends.

“I love the atmosphere at Bahá'í events – creativity, joy, laughter,” said Tamara Wong. “Everyone is welcome. Everyone is a new friend.”

The evening began with a musical meditation on cello and piano. A program of prayers, readings and music, including a songs led by the community choir, all helped those gathered to reflect on the significance of the life of Bahá’u’lláh.

“It happens once a year, and you meet new people and old friends. That’s the beautiful thing,” explained Noel Hollandais. “And it’s the first time these anniversaries have been celebrated together,” referring to the commemoration of the “twin holy birthdays” of Bahá’u’lláh and the Bab. As the Ottawa community and their friends gathered together, it was with the knowledge that communities all around the globe were celebrating this special event with them.

“The most important thing for everyone is to feel part of a community, ” emphasized Amin Rashidi. Looking around the room, he noted both a diversity and commonality that bound everyone together like a “glue,” in his words. “We often lack this, not only a physical but a spiritual community.” It was always nice to get together with friends, he said, “but at these holy days there is such an immense amount of unity and diversity.”

Of course, the peaceful unification of all the peoples of the world is a central Bahá'í teaching. Perhaps translating this ideal into reality is the most fitting way for the community to commemorate the life of Bahá’u’lláh.

Community News Current
November 28, 2015

Remembering Winnifred Harvey
The 75th anniversary of the Ottawa Bahá'í Community

Winnifred HarveyIn June of 1940, twenty-nine year old Winnifred Harvey arrived at the old Ottawa train station after a long journey from Winnipeg, excited to join the Canadian public service, which was growing quickly in response to the needs of the Second World War. She carried with her a B.A. degree from Brandon College, where she had graduated first in her class, and a resume which included several years of teaching in rural schools and at Winnipeg’s Dominion Business College. More importantly, she carried a small book of writings of the Bahá'í Faith, which had been given to her by Winnipeg’s first Bahá'í, Rowland Estall.  

Winnifred had belonged to an adult education group called the “Phoenix Club,” which included Rowland Estall, one of the earliest Canadian Bahá'ís. As a voracious reader, Winnifred was soon discussing Bahá'í ideas with Rowland, and reading her way through his Bahá'í library. She was very attracted to the Bahá'í Faith which to her was a beacon of hope in the dark days of the Depression that ravaged the Prairies.  It also seemed to her to be absolutely sensible.  After reading all of Rowland’s books on the topic, she then went to the library and tried to find evidence to refute it.  She could not.  But before she could investigate much further, she was hired by the federal public service, and left Winnipeg for Ottawa with Rowland’s book and the contact information for a group of Bahá'ís in Montreal.

One summer Sunday, not long after her arrival in Ottawa, she took the train to Montreal and had tea with a group of ladies she had never met before. At first she saw them as just a group of older middle class women, but then she realized they had something more and that their belief was genuine. Winnifred felt that she had stumbled upon a jewel.  Impelled to act, she returned to Ottawa and wrote a letter to the Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, at its world headquarters in Haifa, Israel. In the years that followed, she would always claim that she had been the hundredth Bahá'í in Canada. 

Winnifred HarveyShe may have been the first and only Bahá'í in Ottawa, but she did not keep this jewel to herself. Within a year, she would be holding regular discussion groups, called “firesides,” in her Ottawa home to tell others of the Bahá'í Faith. Through her love for the Bahá'í Faith, she attracted others to join her, and from those initial efforts today’s Ottawa Bahá'í Community emerged. For the rest of her life, WInnifred worked to support the development of the Bahá'í community at the local, national and international levels.  In 1970, she left the Ottawa area to serve at the Bahá'í world headquarters in Haifa, Israel. She died there In September 1990 was buried in the Bahá'í Cemetery in Haifa.

Seventy five years after Winnifred Harvey brought the Bahá'í Faith to Ottawa, there are now about 1200 Bahá'ís in Ottawa who further the principles of their Faith by promoting the social and spiritual advancement of their neighbourhoods and communities. “Back in 1940, when she first arrived in Ottawa, Winnifred knew that she was at the beginning of a great adventure, and wanted to make a difference in a world that had been devastated war and economic depression “ said her niece Heather Harvey, a member of the Ottawa Bahá'í Community. “Winnifred never married and had no children, but everywhere I go, I meet people that she inspired and encouraged.  She never doubted that the Bahá'í Faith was the answer to the ills of the world, and therefore worked tirelessly to ensure its growth.  She loved young people and would be so happy to see the work of Bahá'í youth to transform their neighbourhoods into beacons of unity and service.”

Home     Contact   Site Map    Web Support

© The Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Ottawa, Canada