The Government of Canada has had independent representation in the United States since 1927. The Embassy of Canada has been in its current location on Pennsylvania Avenue, however, only since 1989. Having outgrown an earlier chancery, the Canadian Crown-in-Council purchased the lot on Pennsylvania Avenue in 1978 from the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation for $4.5 million ($19 million today) with the help of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
The building itself was designed by Canadian architect Arthur Erickson (1924-2009), who was the first Canadian to ever win the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. He imported most of the building’s materials from Canada and noted that he wanted the design to show off Canadian reserve, good manners, and characteristic openness. The Embassy is also meant to fit in with the neighboring buildings, including work by I.M. Pei across the street at the National Gallery.
When then Secretary of State James Baker III formally opened the Embassy with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, he said it was “monumental in its appearance, [the Embassy] also I think conveys the warmth and the openness of the people of Canada.”
As a symbol of the closeness of the bilateral relationship, the Embassy of Canada is the only Embassy on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol.
Today, the Governments of Alberta and Ontario have offices in the Embassy. Canada’s Permanent Mission to the Organization for American States is also located within the building.