Le Versailles in Sandy Hill (1964)

Le Versailles Apartments, Henderson Avenue. Image: July 2016.
Le Versailles Apartments, Henderson Avenue. Image: July 2016.

Since moving to Ottawa in 2000, I have spent more time exploring the city on foot than I can recount and Sandy Hill has always been one of my favourites. As you can probably expect from me on this blog, it’s less so the grand homes that define the neighbourhood (though they are lovely), but rather the most interesting mix of apartment styles that grace the area. The midcentury apartment designs, to my eye, have often been just slightly a cut above the remainder of the city, including in my own home turf of Centretown. Among them are Pat Gillin’s Chanteclair and Sans Souci, the Bachelor, the Summit, and my favourite, Réal St-Amour’s own Le Versailles (pictured above).

Continue reading “Le Versailles in Sandy Hill (1964)”

“A ‘Little Mexico’ on Lake Ontario”

Rippin' up Beech Avenue too. The El Pueblo apartments are there in all of their splendour.
The El Pueblo townhouses in all of their splendour. Image: Littlest Hobo, Season 2, Episode 2 “Duddleman and the Diamond Ring.” (1980)

Recently, I read a post by historian Richard White on his blog Historical Perspectives on Toronto Planning called “Rejected Development.” Perhaps best known for his his recent publication, Planning Toronto: The Planners, The Plans, Their Legacies, 1940-80I read it with interest. In making an argument that planners in the postwar era did not always want to “‘bulldoze’ everything old and replace it with some lifeless, modern, tower-in-the-park sort of structure,” White offers the example of the rejected River Oaks tower development on Beech Avenue in the Beaches neighbourhood. The El Pueblo townhouse complex, which was constructed in its stead, has always stood out to me. Not only have I walked past it on a few occasions, but as a regular watcher of The Littlest Hobo, it was familiar.

Continue reading ““A ‘Little Mexico’ on Lake Ontario””

Visual: Victoria Restaurant, 321 Bank (1978)

Victoria Restaurant, 321 Bank Street, July 4, 1978. Image: Ted Grant / LAC Series 79-01-1083.
Curtains drawn, topless dancers 6 days a week, and Darth Vader beckons passers-by into the new Discotheque. The Victoria Steak House, 321 Bank Street, January 4, 1978. Image: Ted Grant / LAC Series 78-01-1083.

A little Bank Street ephemera: the Victoria Steak House opened for business in 1977 and closed at some point in 1978. In its short time, it seems to have had a rough ride. What seems to have begun as an attempt at a quality steak house quickly came to cater to the market it was in during those years.

Continue reading “Visual: Victoria Restaurant, 321 Bank (1978)”

Demolished Ottawa: Toronto-Dominion Bank, Sparks Street

Nearing last call. The Toronto-Dominion Sparks branch served as a sales centre for the development that is poised to replace it. Image: September 2015.
Nearing last call. The Toronto-Dominion Sparks branch served as a sales centre for the development that is poised to replace it. Image: September 2015.

Earlier this spring, the Toronto-Dominion Bank branch on Sparks street was demolished to make way for Ashcroft’s much-delayed reResidences project.1Also known as the Canlands ‘A’ development. See Contentworks Inc. 111-113 Queen St. & 106-116 Sparks St., Cultural Heritage Impact Statement. June 2013; Patrick Langston. “Cosmopolitan Mr. Choo,” Ottawa Citizen, December 12, 2009, p. 19; Mark Brownlee. “Still waiting for a spark,” Ottawa Business Journal, October 30, 2012; NCC Watch, Canlands ‘A’ Archive; “Ashcroft to start over on facade of long-delayed Sparks street project,” Ottawa Business Journal, February 13, 2014; David Reevely. “Decrepit Sparks Street building to be demolished for Ashcroft project,” Ottawa Citizen, February 13, 2014; Ashcroft Homes / CNW. “For the first time in 150 years; 108-116 Sparks St. heritage façade work underway.” May 11, 2016. While the heritage façade of the former Centre Theatre seems to have garnered most of the attention, for one reason or another, it is the demolition of the midcentury modern Toronto-Dominion Bank branch that has captivated me.

Continue reading “Demolished Ottawa: Toronto-Dominion Bank, Sparks Street”

Notes   [ + ]

1. Also known as the Canlands ‘A’ development. See Contentworks Inc. 111-113 Queen St. & 106-116 Sparks St., Cultural Heritage Impact Statement. June 2013; Patrick Langston. “Cosmopolitan Mr. Choo,” Ottawa Citizen, December 12, 2009, p. 19; Mark Brownlee. “Still waiting for a spark,” Ottawa Business Journal, October 30, 2012; NCC Watch, Canlands ‘A’ Archive; “Ashcroft to start over on facade of long-delayed Sparks street project,” Ottawa Business Journal, February 13, 2014; David Reevely. “Decrepit Sparks Street building to be demolished for Ashcroft project,” Ottawa Citizen, February 13, 2014; Ashcroft Homes / CNW. “For the first time in 150 years; 108-116 Sparks St. heritage façade work underway.” May 11, 2016.

Visual: Canadian Tire, Kent & Laurier

Canadian Tire at Kent and Laurier in May 1960. Image: Ted Grant / LAC Accession 1981-181 NPC, Series 60-0759.
Canadian Tire at Kent and Laurier in May 1960. Image: Ted Grant / LAC Accession 1981-181 NPC, Series 60-0759.

Two years ago, when I wrote about the Canadian Tire outlet at Kent and Laurier, I did not have a picture of the store at the ready and chose to upload a copy of the opening day advertisement instead. Knowing that there must have been something available, that did not sit well. Fortunately, as part of an assignment, Ted Grant was dispatched to the store in May of 1960 in order to take promotional photographs of the exterior and of its owner Ed Leroy in celebration of his 25th year in business.

Continue reading “Visual: Canadian Tire, Kent & Laurier”

Visual: The Regent and Stephen(s) Block

The Tulip Festival Parade, May 15, 1965. Image: Ted Grant / LAC Accession 1981-181 NPC Series 65-0151 Image 92.
The Tulip Festival Parade, May 15, 1965. Image: Ted Grant / LAC Accession 1981-181 NPC Series 65-0151 Image 92.

Recently, while I was researching the Stephen(s) Block facade at Bank and Sparks, I had noticed that among the photographs taken in the area, it did not figure prominently in the various available collections. Photographers appear to have found the Sun Life building across the street to be much more attractive on the whole. While searching through some of the shots taken by the great Ted Grant that I have collected over the years, I rediscovered this one taken during the 1965 Tulip Festival parade. I think it gives a bit of a better idea about the nature of the streetscape at Bank and Sparks during the 1960s.

The view in 2015. Image: Google Maps, May 2015.
An approximation of the view in 2015. Image: Google Maps, May 2015.

Elgin Street Loblaws (1940)

It may be Hooley's today, but it was born a Loblaws. Image: July 2016.
It may be Hooley’s and Yuk Yuks today, but it was born a Loblaws. Image: July 2016.

292 Elgin, the building that currently hosts Hooley’s and Yuk Yuk’s, has always caught my eye. Between the buff brick and the smart detail above the door, it has always seemed like a building that has had an interesting past life.

Continue reading “Elgin Street Loblaws (1940)”

Captured Moment: Wellington Street (1957)

A busy afternoon on Wellington street, June 17, 1957. Image: City of Toronto Archives Gilbert A. Milne & Co. Ltd. Fonds (1653), Series 975, Box 149960.
A busy afternoon on Wellington street, June 17, 1957. Image: City of Toronto Archives Gilbert A. Milne & Co. Ltd. Fonds (1653), Series 975, Box 149960.

I’ve always been a fan of this picture. One of the busy Ottawa street scenes captured by Gilbert A. Milne & Co. on June 17, 1957. I wrote a bit about one of the shots previously, and Robert Smythe has taken the whole series in turn.

Continue reading “Captured Moment: Wellington Street (1957)”

It’s All Looking Up For Bill Teron

The building formerly known as Teron, 251 Laurier Avenue West. Image: July 2016.
The building formerly known as Teron, 251 Laurier Avenue West. Image: July 2016.

In the same way that Ottawa grew out during the 1950s and 1960s, it also grew up. The names were even the same: Robert Campeau, Garfield Weston, Ken Greene, and of course, Bill “Mr. Kanata” Teron. The Teron Building, located on the northeast corner of Laurier and O’Connor was Teron’s second office building in Ottawa and, at the time of construction, his tallest.

Continue reading “It’s All Looking Up For Bill Teron”

It’s a Library and it’s an Archive and it’s My Favourite

In all its glory. Image: July 2016.
In all its glory. Image: July 2016.

Maligned by some, I have never hidden my love for the Library and Archives building at 395 Wellington. I’ve always found Alvan Mathers’ design for the building to be both monumental and welcoming at the same time. To my eye it is certainly a “building befitting, in design and size, the dignity of the Dominion and the importance of the undertaking” of a National Library (and Archive).1F. Dolores Donnelly. The National Library of Canada (Ottawa: Canadian Library Association, 1973): 41.

Continue reading “It’s a Library and it’s an Archive and it’s My Favourite”

Notes   [ + ]

1. F. Dolores Donnelly. The National Library of Canada (Ottawa: Canadian Library Association, 1973): 41.