A Double Rainbow during rush hour at Elgin and Queen


Elgin Street, Midcentury, Ottawa, Restaurant, Retail & Commercial / Monday, June 30th, 2014
I've receive that same look. It's truly timeless. Photo taken on June 17, 1957 by the Gilbert A. Milne Company for Thompson Petersen Advertising. Source: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1653, Series 975, File 2424, Item 34551-3.
I’ve received that same look. It’s truly timeless. Photo taken at the corner of Elgin and Queen streets in June of 1957 by the Gilbert A. Milne Company for Thompson Petersen Advertising. Source: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1653, Series 975, File 2424, Item 34551-3.

I can say that I always appreciate some street photography. While I can personally shoot buildings well enough, others, such as Ottawa’s own Mink Williams can catch some city action in ways that I can only dream of. This captured action, in turn, can certainly get a number of wheels turning. When photographers from Toronto advertising agency Gilbert A. Milne Co. were unleashed on to the streets of Ottawa on June 17, 1957 for an unknown campaign, they left us with ten of such images. As the Midcentury Modernist has already taken us through the ten (in the quality way we’ve come to expect), I’m content to focus on one of the images, shown above.

What I love about an image like this is that there are literally dozens of short histories that can be written based on what was captured. For my own part, it’s the neon of the Rainbow Restaurant that catches my attention. The Rainbow was the venture of Bill Saikaly and was opened as the second location of his popular Rainbow Restaurant at 283 Elgin Street. This second outlet at 39 Queen Street was opened in June of 1955.

The modern Rainbow opened in June of 1955. Source: Ottawa Journal, June 19, 1955.
Saikaly’s second Rainbow Restaurant (the “Uptown Rainbow”) opened in June of 1955 to better serve the “Uptown” crowd. The Sparks Street BIA has recently made attempts to reintroduce the Uptown moniker for the area. Source: Ottawa Journal, June 19, 1955.

The “Uptown Rainbow” would later become “Queen’s Restaurant”, then the “Old Vic” and finally “Victor’s Restaurant”. The building was subsequently demolished as part of the NCC’s Central Chambers project.

This slightly more contemporary view of the corner shows that the Rainbow had quickly become Queen's.
This slightly more contemporary view of the corner shows that the Rainbow had quickly become Queen’s. The wavy arrow beckoning the hungry into the restaurant became part of the Rainbow’s advertising.

Saikaly’s first Rainbow on Elgin opened around 1945 and it was dramatically modernized in 1952. 283 Elgin, by-the-by, is the current location of the Fox & Feather and is the site of the Harmon Apartments (c. 1912-13).

Today's Fox and Feather was yesterday's Rainbow Restaurant. If you look at the space between the two bay windows, you can see where the Rainbow's neon sigh was anchored to the wall. Source: Ottawa Journal, June 3, 1952.
Today’s Fox and Feather was yesterday’s Rainbow Restaurant. If you look at the space between the two bay windows, you can see where the Rainbow’s neon sign was anchored to the wall. Source: Ottawa Journal, June 3, 1952.

The restaurant (not the building, which remained with the Saikaly family) was subsequently sold to Eddie Malouf. On June 4, 1965, the restaurant went up in smoke. Following a brief stint as a book store (Don White & Sons) after the renovation, Elgin Street’s establishment as a restaurant destination was just too much to ignore. It then became My Cousin’s Restaurant, then Swagman Jack’s, and now the Fox & Feather.

The Fox and Feather today. Image: June 2014.
The Fox and Feather today. Image: June 2014.

 

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