The El Ropo Restaurant

The corner of Beechwood and Charlevoix wasn’t always one to fuel up on. It was once home to the El Ropo Restaurant. Image: July 2013

Though it may not seem like it today, certain parts of Vanier North and New Edinburgh were at one point a site of industrial activity and the sort of rough living that is often associated with it. Given its location at the corner of Beechwood and Charlevoix in Vanier (then Eastview), close to Betchermann Iron and Steel and the Dominion Bridge Company (to say nothing of the other nearby industrial organizations), it’s probably not a surprise that the El Ropo would attract a tougher clientele.

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The View From Up Here

The Highlands condominiums shortly after construction. Image: Canada Science and Technology Museum, CN Collection. CSTM-O-521-4.

Though an award-winning project, the Highlands condominium on St. Laurent seems unremarkable – at least in style – to most. Indeed, in spite my own enthusiasm for this brown brick beauty, I’ve more often than not found that most seats on the bandwagon go unfilled. The same cannot be said for the people who have lived in the Highlands, however. Be it the case that they are current residents or past residents, all of those I have spoken to have shared fond memories related to it. To be certain, while tastes change, Irving Grossman’s early 1970s design has stood on its own.

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A Major Development in Sandy Hill

The Major Apartments came to Sandy Hill in 1937, but only two of the three were new construction. Image: Google Maps.

With all of the beautiful and interesting heritage properties that stand in Ottawa’s Sandy Hill neighbourhood, it’s somewhat interesting that the apartments above are (a) the first buildings that I really remember loving in the neighbourhood, and (b) still among my favourite. In a setting filled with delightful institutional architecture and numerous Victwardian houses, for some, it would be a wonder that a small handful of 1930s apartments are what have stuck in my mind.

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Thorncrest Shopping Centre, 1955

Thorncrest Shopping Centre (Plaza) from above in 1957, shortly after completion. Image: City of Toronto Archives, Series 12, Item 100.

It all depends on how you slice and dice it, though it would not be unfair to at least entertain Thorncrest Village’s claim to be Canada’s first planned community. At least not Canada’s first post World War II planned community. To be certain, comprehensive community plans existed previous to the war and, honestly, claims to “first” tend to obscure the realities of invention and innovation. We all stand on the shoulders of giants, after all.

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