Brevity is the Soul of Witt

The Croydon Apartments, as seen from the Museum of Nature's east parking lot. Image: July 2015.
The Croydon Apartments, as seen from the Museum of Nature’s east parking lot. Image: July 2015.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” At least, so the popular saying goes. The market for apartment buildings in the early 1960s was hot. Really hot. It was during this time that such large builders like Mastercraft, Assaly, Minto, and numerous others started looking upwards as much as they were outward into the greenfield development they had been through the 1950s. The action wasn’t limited to the larger players, however.

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Ottawa’s Apartments, 1955

J.R. Beach's 1950 apartment at 196 Metcalfe. Image: June 2016.
J.R. Beach’s 1950 Beach Apartments (now Algonquin Annex) at 196 Metcalfe. Image: June 2016.

Back in March, I transcribed the list of apartment buildings from the 1945 Might’s Directory of the City of Ottawa and ran some minor analysis of the proportion of apartment buildings in each of Ottawa’s neighbourhoods. I decided to jump ahead to 1955, as a massive transition in the Canadian housing market was well underway.

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A Six Pack of Wolves in Centretown

Wolf Shenkman. Source: Ottawa Jewish Archives.
Wolf Shenkman. Source: Ottawa Jewish Archives.

By the late 1920s, if you were to press an Ottawan to name a builder of apartments, there is a good chance they would name Wolf Shenkman. Shenkman arrived in Ottawa in 1904 and quickly began to buy and sell investment properties as well as construct homes. His first apartment building was completed in 1911.1Well, appears to be have been completed in 1911. The first instance of him being associated with apartment construction in the Contract Record is located in the April 5, 1911 edition. It is at the corner of Stewart and Cumberland in Sandy Hill, but have not verified this. See: “Residences,” Contract Record, Vol. 25, No. 14, p. 56.

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Notes   [ + ]

1. Well, appears to be have been completed in 1911. The first instance of him being associated with apartment construction in the Contract Record is located in the April 5, 1911 edition. It is at the corner of Stewart and Cumberland in Sandy Hill, but have not verified this. See: “Residences,” Contract Record, Vol. 25, No. 14, p. 56.

Ottawa’s Apartments, 1945

The Queen Elizabeth Apartments (201 Metcalfe, at Lisgar) was constructed in 1939 for local dairyman Isidore Stone. Image: March 13, 2016.
The Queen Elizabeth Apartments (201 Metcalfe, at Lisgar) was constructed in 1939 for local dairyman Isidore Stone. Image: March 13, 2016.

If you’ve run into me lately, you were doubtlessly entreated to some words about apartment buildings in Ottawa. I can’t help it, the topic has been rolling around in my mind for a decade or so.

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Lancaster’s Merivale Night Move

CA004606-W.jpg
The Lancaster Shopping Centre, just after opening. Image: Archives of Ottawa, Item CA004606, June 13, 1954.
On April 28, 1954, residents of the rapidly developing part of Nepean Township known as City View were welcomed to the grand opening of the Lancaster Shopping Centre. Constructed by subdivider and homebuilder William Lancaster and designed by architect Norman Sherriff, the small plaza opened with Hyde’s IGA Foodliner, Tom Reith’s Hardware, the Elm Grove Pharmacy, and a post office.1Ottawa Journal, April 28, 1954, p. 12.

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Notes   [ + ]

1. Ottawa Journal, April 28, 1954, p. 12.

Insulting Infrastructure

The Royal, with the much-hated water tower, c. 1955. Source: Archives of Ottawa, Item CA0043036.
Part of the Royal, with the much-hated water tower, April 26, 1955. Source: Archives of Ottawa, Item CA0043036.

Another shot of the Royal Ottawa Sanitorium, including the “insulting” water tower on the grounds, overlooking Island Park.

From the other side, on Island Park. Image: Archives of Ottawa, Item 031662, March 17, 1955.
From the other side, on Island Park. Image: Archives of Ottawa, Item 031662, March 17, 1955.