Sugarman & Diamond commission a Toast to Miss Harmon


Apartment, Centretown, Development, Elgin Street, Ottawa, Retail & Commercial / Tuesday, January 6th, 2015
The "Harman Apartments" serve as a tribute to the late Miss Harmon. Source: Christopher Ryan, December 2013.
The “Harman Apartments” serve as a (misspelled) tribute to the late Miss Harmon. Source: Christopher Ryan, December 2013.

About a year ago, when I wrote about the tragic experience of Ottawa’s Miss Harmon, I intended to continue and write about the subsequent development of this busy corner of Centretown. As it would turn out, the use of 171 MacLaren for educational purposes did not end with Miss Harmon’s suicide.

Miss Harmon's School for Girls as it appeared in 1892. Its appearance was quite similar as Miss Smith moved in. Source: Library and Archives Canada, Topley Series E, PA-027278.
Miss Harmon’s School for Girls as it appeared in 1892. Its appearance was quite similar as Miss Smith moved in. Source: Library and Archives Canada, Topley Series E, PA-027278.

Almost without skipping a beat, Miss Claribel Smith established the Carleton School for Girls in the space in 1905, ensuring that Ottawa’s daughters continued their education. Smith, the daughter of Major-General Henry Smith and Charlotte Honey, was admitted to the University of Toronto in 18871University of Toronto (1891). The Calendar of the University of Toronto for the Year 1891-92. Toronto: Roswell & Hutchinson, p. 123. and graduated in 1893. She was long the head teacher at Miss Veal’s School in that city.2Leonard, John W. (ed.)(1914). Woman’s Who’s Who of America. New York: The American Commonwealth Co., p. 755. Note: Who’s Who misidentifies her grandparents as her parents.

Advertisement for the Carleton School for Girls. Ottawa Journal, July 31, 1909, Page 12.
Advertisement for the Carleton School for Girls. Ottawa Journal, July 31, 1909, Page 12.

It is most likely that Claribel arrived in Ottawa with her family. Her father, then Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Smith, came to the city in (or around) 1903 and quickly rose to be Canada’s first Judge Advocate General3Appleton, Ross A. (2013). “Major-General Henry Smith: The Royal Canadian Who Became JAG,” Sword & Scale, May 2013. The overarching family history is quite interesting but is beyond the scope of this story.. Along with her father, mother Charlotte, sister Winnifred, and Edith Wadsworth (a teacher), the school was incorporated as the Carleton School Ltd. in October of 19054”New Ladies’ Seminary,” Ottawa Journal, October 5, 1905, p. 3.. The Carleton School for Girls remained in operation at 171 MacLaren until 1910, when the school was relocated to 152 Argyle, in part of the family home.

1910-07-30-Now-on-Argyle-Page-16
For the 1910-11 school year, the school was relocated to the family home at 152 Argyle. Source: Ottawa Journal, July 30, 1910, Page 16.

From there, the school remained in operation until the early 1930s when Claribel died of Myocarditis at 62 years.5Ontario. Certificate of Registration of Death, Claribel Smith, December 4, 1931. Archives of Ontario; Series: MS935; Reel: 413. Her sister Winnifred remained in the house until 1943, when it was purchased by National Defence for $34,000.6”$34,000 Is Paid For R.C.A.F. Barracks,” Ottawa Journal, February 2, 1943, p. 17. It would later become the site of Beaver Barracks7That is, Beaver Barracks, the barracks, and now the site of the CCOC’s Beaver Barracks development. The home is visible surrounded by them in the aerial shot on slide 9..

O'Connor at Argyle, looking towards the nature museum. Although you cannot see 152 Argyle from this vantage, it does give a feel for the area. Canada. Dept. of Interior / Library and Archives Canada / PA-044770.
O’Connor at Argyle, looking towards the nature museum. Although you cannot see 152 Argyle from this vantage, it does give a feel for the area. Canada. Dept. of Interior / Library and Archives Canada / PA-044770.

Development pressure on the city had become immense by the eve of the First World War and Elgin street (being along a street car line) was considered a great place for apartments to be constructed. The first fourteen years before the War saw the construction of the Mackenzie, Elgin, Kenniston, Queen Mary, and numerous other apartment buildings along the strip8I acknowledge that I often frame it as something of an apartment boom. And it was. However, I also acknowledge that real estate in general was exceptionally hot in particular between 1910 and 1914. It would take until 1950 for completed units to reach the level that it did in 1912.1491254_376729182484915_1967857500597656072_oSource: Gordon, Michael L.H. (1985). Urban Land Policy and the Provision of Housing in Canada, 1900-1985. Thesis: University of British Columbia, pp. 20, 60.
Of course, for all the completions 1910-1914, speculation nevertheless ran ahead of delivery. A number of suburban neighbourhoods that we think of today as being midcentury were first subdivided during this fever. Manor Park, Brantwood Place, Eastway Gardens, and a few others are examples.
.

A ad for Isidore Sugarman's coal business. Source: Ottawa Journal, March 4, 1910.
A ad for Isidore Sugarman’s coal business. Its interesting to see something sold by the ton in a newspaper ad. Source: Ottawa Journal, March 4, 1910.

On March 25, 1912, the Ottawa Journal reported that the Harmon school had been purchased from coal dealer C.C. Ray by “A. Sugarman and F. Diamond” for $35,000 [approximately $720,000 today]9”Harmon School is Purchased,” Ottawa Journal, March 25, 1912, p. 2. . A later report at the end of the year notes that Sugarman and Diamond (spelled “I. Sugerman” and “F. Diamend” this time) purchased land on Elgin from “C.C. Ray and John Mulhall” for $30,00010”Property Transfers: November was Live Month for Real Estate Dealings,” Ottawa Journal, December 3, 1912, p. 5..

Frederick Diamond was a local entrepreneur and Isidore Sugarman11The 1912 Ottawa City Directory does list an “Abraham Sugerman,” the owner of the Park Hotel at 35 York St. Although it would seem that from the citation he was the purchaser of the lot with Frederick Diamond, nearly all other citations of involvement with the property identify Isidor(e). Although I’ve been incorrect about such a close assumption before (and will correct if I locate more), Isidor(e) appears to be the correct one. was a local coal and wood man, and later the builder of the Princess (Rideau) Theatre. They hired Ben Albert Dore to design a conversion of Miss Harmon’s / Smith’s school building into apartments and for the construction of an addition where the school yard was with four shops on the ground floor and six apartments above.

Dore was born at Manotick in 1890 and had been working as a draughtsman in J. Albert Ewart’s practice12Ottawa City Directory, 1912., where he was taken on as a student around 1909.13Ottawa City Directory, 1909. Dore may have become acquainted with Diamond and Sugarman by simple proximity. Diamond’s groceteria at 275 Sunnyside (now Burrito Shack, 437 Sunnyside) was a few doors down from where Dore was living, at 305 Sunnyside (now 467 Sunnyside), with his father Richard14Richard Dore was a plasterer and contractor by trade. Long a staple of Wyoming Park (Ottawa South, west Sunnyside), he died at 89 on September 4, 1937 after being hit by a car near the corner of Wellington and Fairmont in Hintonburg. His wife Anna had died in 1928 and he had been living with one of his daughters at 71 Spadina. He was buried in a private plot on Long Island Source: “Adjourn Inquest Into the Death of Richard Dore,” Ottawa Journal, September 4, 1937, p. 3.. Both Diamond and Sugarman had been dealing in properties along Sunnyside at the time as well.

In spite of Diamond’s involvement, it appears that Sugarman was the captain of the ship, so to speak. As Diamond found his way into trouble as a bookie151914 was a particularly bad year for Diamond. In January of that year he had the misfortune of being held up in his Grand Central Hotel (553 Sussex). By the end of the year, he had been brought up on charges for illegal “bookmaking” and was described by the Journal as “the big mogul of the handbook business.” Sources: “Prisoner Proves to be Gunman,” Ottawa Journal, January 15, 1914,p. 1; “Another Arrest in Bookmaking Charge,” Ottawa Journal, November 30, 1914, p. 2; “Saved From Jail Term By Little Children And Lawyer’s Plea,” Ottawa Journal, December 2, 1914, p. 2., he seems to have sold his share of the venture to Sugarman in 191316”Property Transfers of the Month Show Much Activity in Real Estate,” Ottawa Journal, April 3, 1913, p. 11. Of course, many of these real estate moguls were continually selling properties between themselves as their business needs dictated.. Sugarman made Unit 1 his home some time between 1916 and 1923 and remained there until his death in 1946171946-12-02-Citizen-Isidore-Sugarman-Death-Page-2The Citizen’s rundown of his career was somewhat lacking in accuracy when it came to his career movements. It also failed to mention his ownership of the Princess / Rideau Theatre, among other notable things..

Ben Albert Dore’s career in Ottawa did not last particularly long. Aside from the Harman Apartments, a number of homes, and a small commercial building, and after a short time with Public Works (Chief Architect’s Branch), he relocated the United States. There he enjoyed a highly successful career designing buildings there and in Europe as an associate of Charles Howard Crane and Edward Keihler.

Some of his highlights in Canada and abroad include the Calgary Public Building18Designed in 1919 and constructed in 1931. Parks Canada (n.d.) “Calgary Public Building,” Canada’s Historic Places. , the Film Exchange Building (Detroit)19While an associate of C. Howard Crane and Edward Keihler., the American Insurance Union Citadel (now LeVeque Tower)(Columbus, OH)201927. While an associate of C. Howard Crane and Edward Keihler. Source: RAIC Journal, October 1927, p. xxiv., and Earls Court Exhibition Centre in London21While and associate of C. Howard Crane and Edward Keihler.22It is here that I also acknowledge that there may be a measure of misattribution here. As with any firm, the Senior tends to loom large and often receives much of the credit. These are examples, then, where he was involved in some way, but I cannot demonstrate definitively as I have not seen the plans.. He practiced with the firm until he went into a semi-retirement and relocated to Camarillo Heights, CA. He designed a few homes in the area and died on March 6, 196423”Famed Architect Ben Albert Dore Dies at 73,” [unknown paper], March 7, 1964. A newspaper clipping from a family tree on Ancestry.ca, the individual who shared it did not note what newspaper it was from. Newspapers.com does not have it in its collection either..

His alterations and addition to Miss Harmon’s school remain largely unmolested to this day – a testament to his ability to respect King Arnoldi’s originating architecture with an acknowledgement that time does indeed pass and new uses become necessary.

The apartments above – the “Harman” Apartments – were a near immediate success. Filled from beginning to end, and vacancies were rare. The commercial storefronts, on the other hand, took longer to find stable tenants. 277, the location of The Wine Rack today, was first out the gate, securing a millinery business. Though passing through a number of owners, it remained a millinery until 1957. It was subsequently occupied by Elgin Cycle & Sports, Elgin Camera Centre, Elgin Art, and a number of others.

279 Elgin – the Ministry of Coffee today – first played host to Hyman’s tailors, Adelstein’s (jeweller), Comtesse Beauty Parlor, Parker’s Cleaners, a Dominion Store, the Elgin Fruit Fair, and numerous others. By the 1940s, the two neighbouring shops were joined up as the Rainbow Restaurant, and is now the Fox & Feather.

Notes   [ + ]

1. University of Toronto (1891). The Calendar of the University of Toronto for the Year 1891-92. Toronto: Roswell & Hutchinson, p. 123.
2. Leonard, John W. (ed.)(1914). Woman’s Who’s Who of America. New York: The American Commonwealth Co., p. 755. Note: Who’s Who misidentifies her grandparents as her parents.
3. Appleton, Ross A. (2013). “Major-General Henry Smith: The Royal Canadian Who Became JAG,” Sword & Scale, May 2013. The overarching family history is quite interesting but is beyond the scope of this story.
4. ”New Ladies’ Seminary,” Ottawa Journal, October 5, 1905, p. 3.
5. Ontario. Certificate of Registration of Death, Claribel Smith, December 4, 1931. Archives of Ontario; Series: MS935; Reel: 413.
6. ”$34,000 Is Paid For R.C.A.F. Barracks,” Ottawa Journal, February 2, 1943, p. 17.
7. That is, Beaver Barracks, the barracks, and now the site of the CCOC’s Beaver Barracks development. The home is visible surrounded by them in the aerial shot on slide 9.
8. I acknowledge that I often frame it as something of an apartment boom. And it was. However, I also acknowledge that real estate in general was exceptionally hot in particular between 1910 and 1914. It would take until 1950 for completed units to reach the level that it did in 1912.1491254_376729182484915_1967857500597656072_oSource: Gordon, Michael L.H. (1985). Urban Land Policy and the Provision of Housing in Canada, 1900-1985. Thesis: University of British Columbia, pp. 20, 60.
Of course, for all the completions 1910-1914, speculation nevertheless ran ahead of delivery. A number of suburban neighbourhoods that we think of today as being midcentury were first subdivided during this fever. Manor Park, Brantwood Place, Eastway Gardens, and a few others are examples.
9. ”Harmon School is Purchased,” Ottawa Journal, March 25, 1912, p. 2.
10. ”Property Transfers: November was Live Month for Real Estate Dealings,” Ottawa Journal, December 3, 1912, p. 5.
11. The 1912 Ottawa City Directory does list an “Abraham Sugerman,” the owner of the Park Hotel at 35 York St. Although it would seem that from the citation he was the purchaser of the lot with Frederick Diamond, nearly all other citations of involvement with the property identify Isidor(e). Although I’ve been incorrect about such a close assumption before (and will correct if I locate more), Isidor(e) appears to be the correct one.
12. Ottawa City Directory, 1912.
13. Ottawa City Directory, 1909.
14. Richard Dore was a plasterer and contractor by trade. Long a staple of Wyoming Park (Ottawa South, west Sunnyside), he died at 89 on September 4, 1937 after being hit by a car near the corner of Wellington and Fairmont in Hintonburg. His wife Anna had died in 1928 and he had been living with one of his daughters at 71 Spadina. He was buried in a private plot on Long Island Source: “Adjourn Inquest Into the Death of Richard Dore,” Ottawa Journal, September 4, 1937, p. 3.
15. 1914 was a particularly bad year for Diamond. In January of that year he had the misfortune of being held up in his Grand Central Hotel (553 Sussex). By the end of the year, he had been brought up on charges for illegal “bookmaking” and was described by the Journal as “the big mogul of the handbook business.” Sources: “Prisoner Proves to be Gunman,” Ottawa Journal, January 15, 1914,p. 1; “Another Arrest in Bookmaking Charge,” Ottawa Journal, November 30, 1914, p. 2; “Saved From Jail Term By Little Children And Lawyer’s Plea,” Ottawa Journal, December 2, 1914, p. 2.
16. ”Property Transfers of the Month Show Much Activity in Real Estate,” Ottawa Journal, April 3, 1913, p. 11. Of course, many of these real estate moguls were continually selling properties between themselves as their business needs dictated.
17. 1946-12-02-Citizen-Isidore-Sugarman-Death-Page-2The Citizen’s rundown of his career was somewhat lacking in accuracy when it came to his career movements. It also failed to mention his ownership of the Princess / Rideau Theatre, among other notable things.
18. Designed in 1919 and constructed in 1931. Parks Canada (n.d.) “Calgary Public Building,” Canada’s Historic Places. 
19. While an associate of C. Howard Crane and Edward Keihler.
20. 1927. While an associate of C. Howard Crane and Edward Keihler. Source: RAIC Journal, October 1927, p. xxiv.
21. While and associate of C. Howard Crane and Edward Keihler.
22. It is here that I also acknowledge that there may be a measure of misattribution here. As with any firm, the Senior tends to loom large and often receives much of the credit. These are examples, then, where he was involved in some way, but I cannot demonstrate definitively as I have not seen the plans.
23. ”Famed Architect Ben Albert Dore Dies at 73,” [unknown paper], March 7, 1964. A newspaper clipping from a family tree on Ancestry.ca, the individual who shared it did not note what newspaper it was from. Newspapers.com does not have it in its collection either.

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