Nestled on 9.5 wooded hectares in the west end of Ottawa, Aquatopia Conservatory is a gorgeous facility unlike any other venue in Canada, providing year-round public access to a tropical retail garden centre oasis. Lush foliage and aquatic features, a unique contemporary architectural design, and natural stone floors make Aquatopia an ideal, venue for weddings, private bistro-style culinary events, parties, and celebrations. Our building capacity is 150 guests, and we have ample parking for up to 90 vehicles.
Fun Features & Facts
When excavating the site during construction, our crew dug into a sand bar and detected a distinct smell of the ocean. Upon closer examination, we noticed the sand fill was laden with thousands of tiny white sea shells. With a little research, we discovered that the land we were building on was the actual bed of the Champlain Sea left behind in the glacial till following the last ice age. The smell we detected was the aerobic bacteria cultures coming back to life and digesting phytoplankton that had been laying dormant for 10,000 years! The green sea turtle in our logo celebrates this geographic history.
Aquatopia is constantly flooded. You read correctly. The ground water table is so high on our property that we had to install 23 million kgs of crushed stone to create a 2-1/2 metre thick base for our building foundation. Our building is essentially 'floating' on water. In fact, there are two underground rivers that flow right under our building! We don't mind a bit though because they help to recharge the aquifers and supply water to our gorgeous feature lily pond on the property.
The 975 sq.m. Aquatopia superstructure was manufactured in Northglenn, Colorado by Nexus Greenhouse Corporation, and shipped to Ottawa on a dozen 40' transport flatbed trucks. The 0.25m thick foundation is built using insulated concrete forms, 500 cubic metres of concrete, and over 3km of rebar. The structure is so strong it can withstand gale force winds and a magnitude 6 earthquake!
We love clean stormwater! The grading of parking areas and landscape is designed in such a way that all of the stormwater runoff from our property and the roof of our building is captured and diverted into our 1,000 square metre, 4 million litre feature pond, where a natural constructed wetland filtration system is capable of purifying up to 2 million litres of water each day. The water is so clean we can even go swimming, and sometimes it's even potable! Captured rainwater and runoff is used for irrigation, cleaning equipment & vehicles, and a water source for fire protection.
The Precambrian granite ledger stone on our foundation was quarried in the Muskoka region in Ontario, the Banas natural floor stone was imported from India, and the natural pine siding on the building was supplied by a mill in Killaloe, ON and cut using a bandsaw ripping method as settlers in the area would have done 150 years ago. There are 1,046 panes of glass in the building, and let's just say, we go through a lot of Windex!
The interior uplifting was completed by Superior Construction from Montreal, QC, and all of the finishing work inside the building was designed and installed by our talented staff including: painting, trim work, custom decorative lighting, flooring, shelving, bistro tables, and of course, our lovely water features & gardens. During peak gardening season there are the equivalent of 8 transport trucks stuffed full of plants in our collection and available for sale, all of which have a combined value of over a quarter of a million dollars.
The 1.6 hectares of landscaping surrounding our lovely facility was completed by our water garden construction team. Our feature pond was built using over 2,500 tonnes of fractured Precambrian granite harvested from the Gatineau Hills, and 275 tonnes of Renfrew river wash gravel. Over 1,200 cubic metres of garden soils, 200 cubic metres of composted pine mulch, 8,000 square metres of golf course quality sod, and over 1,000 trees, shrubs and perennials were used to install the surrounding landscape.
Aquatopia Conservatory is the creation of water garden specialists, Nicholas Bott and Catherine Neville.
This creative husband and wife team are the founders of The Pond Clinic Water Garden Centre, now operating from Aquatopia. With nearly twenty years of experience creating natural swimming pools, spas & water gardens in people’s backyards all across the National Capital Region, they were the perfect pair to create the tropical water garden spa-like oasis that is Aquatopia Conservatory.
The inspiration to produce weddings came during the planning phase of Aquatopia. Nicholas had recently completed the installation of a small water feature for the renovation of the historical ceremonial greenhouse at Rideau Hall. He worked alongside another contractor named Shane Pliska, president of Planterra Conservatory in West Bloomfield, MI. Learning of Nicholas & Catherine's plans for Aquatopia, Shane invited the couple & their team to visit Planterra, whose staff had begun producing world-class wedding events shortly after Planterra completed construction of their new facility in 2010. The Aquatopia team witnessed the production of a couple of gorgeous conservatory wedding events during their visit to Planterra, and the dream of Aquatopia Weddings was born.
It's worth noting that the founders of Aquatopia Conservatory were married in 1997 at their home in the Gatineau Hills, and they produced their own Medieval wedding day complete with authentic period costumes, music and food. Catherine even wrote a script for the ceremony in Shakespearian English, and Nicholas rode up to the event on horseback in full battle dress chain maille armour! Perhaps their wedding day was foreshadowing the future that lay ahead for them.
After two years of hard work, planning & construction, Aquatopia Water Garden Conservatory finally opened its garden centre to the public, and the events team produced their first wedding in May 2015. While we now produce dozens of weddings and social events each year, and our creative team designs and builds some of the most gorgeous aquatic landscapes in Canada, the Aquatopia story continues to unfold! Future plans include eco-friendly accommodations, a Scandinavian nature spa, and urban agriculture dining, all on a pristine lakefront setting within the Ottawa city limits.