Inspector Lemoine’s Elgin Residence

Nestled between the Mackenzie and Holbrook Apartments is this home at 408 Elgin.
Nestled between the Mackenzie and Holbrook Apartments is this home at 408 Elgin.

As you continue south down Elgin, the commercial feel begins to dissipate and the residential character the neighbourhood once had is able to show through: if only a little. With both the east and west sides of the street lined with 3 and 4-storey apartments (common along the city’s former streetcar routes), it would be easy to miss this comparatively small home between the Mackenzie and the Holbrook apartments on the street’s west side.

Although it is now part of the collection of buildings that comprise 388 Elgin (namely the Holbrook, Mac’s/Parkdale Apartments, and the detached home at the rear on Gladstone), this wasn’t always the case.  408 Elgin’s first owner was Humane Society Inspector James Lemoine. A lifelong resident of Ottawa, Lemoine began his working career with the Bronson Lumber Company, making his way up to foreman. A career with Bronson was not enough, however. In 1899, Lemoine partnered up with James Currell and formed the Electric Transfer Company. Lemoine and Currell operated in the city’s highly-competitive baggage transfer market for some years before selling the business to Roy Brownlee.

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Lemoine’s image as published in a profile of the Ottawa Humane Society. Source: Ottawa Journal, August 1, 1914.

Lemoine was appointed to the position of Inspector in 1908. He seemed to approach the job with some gusto and was often the face of the Ottawa Humane Society when it came to the enforcement of early animal cruelty laws.

His tenure in that position did not last a long time. On December 17, 1915, Lemoine died of pneumonia at 55 years old and was interred at Beechwood Cemetery. His widow Elmira (“Minnie”) and children Ethel, Florence, Harold, and Isabella then moved to a home at 102 Argyle. Harold, the only son, died from wounds he received during World War 1 in 1917.

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