Demolished Ottawa: Broadview Apartments

The Broadview Apartments, 437-439 Wellington St., on August 18, 1938. Image: LAC / Public Works Accession 1966-090 NPC Box 04841.
The Broadview Apartments, 437-439 (or 441-443½) Wellington St., on August 18, 1938. Image: LAC / Public Works Accession 1966-090 NPC Box 04841.

There has always been something a little passive sounding to me about using “lost” to speak of buildings that are no longer standing. In so many cases, a building’s removal was a deliberate act undertaken with clear eyes and a clear purpose. The reasons may vary (no longer adequate, stands in the way of desired vistas, etc.), but the building’s demolition was no accident. To that end, I have begun a new series of much shorter posts that highlight a demolished building. I hope to get one done every two weeks.

The Broadview Apartments, which stood at 441-443 Wellington Street, was demolished because it stood between Jacques Greber and Mackenzie King and their agreed-upon vision for a beautified Capital.1I perhaps shouldn’t lay the decision exclusively at the feet of Greber and King: the roads in the area were also marked for a considerable overhaul in the 1915 Commission.Departmental For a number of reasons, chiefly the beautification of the Parliamentary and Court District and “rationalization” of of the city’s road network and traffic flow, the small wedge of land at Sparks and Wellington was subject to a radical reorganization, meaning that the buildings there had to go.2For more information on the the various plans for Ottawa-the-Capital (as opposed to Ottawa-the-City), see Planning Canada’s Capital. Also see Alain Miguelez. Transforming Ottawa: Canada’s Capital in the Eyes of Jacques Gréber. Ottawa: Old Ottawa Press, 2015. If you would like to see how the entire district, including the former Upper Town, has changed you can’t go wrong with Andrew Elliott’s extensive work.

The view from the junction of Wellington and Sparks streets on July 15, 1938. A lively streetscape in which the Broadview stood proud. Image: Public Works / LAC Accession 1966-090, Box 04841.

Before the the area became best known as the site of the Garden of the Provinces and Territories and as the busy meeting place of Wellington, the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, and the Portage Bridge, it was a small chiefly-industrial-but-still-mixed-use area that was perhaps best known as the location of the Capital  and Brading Breweries and the Perley Home. It was also known as the area where Sparks street split in two: both continuing atop the cliff (where one does today), and alongside it at the bottom.

The junction, as viewed from the upper portion of Sparks street in near Christ Church Cathedral in 1937. Image: Public Works / LAC.

The Broadview Apartment didn’t always have a name. When it was constructed in 1898 as a conversion (or replacement) of the home of David Manchester, a manufacturer of “ready-made clothing, hats, caps, etc.” whose Manchester Hall was next door at 441 Wellington and storefront was located across the street, at 440-444 Wellington.3Might’s Directories Ltd. The Ottawa City Directory, 1893-94 (Ottawa: The Might Directory Company of Toronto): 342.

Advertisement run by David Manchester in the 1893-94 Might's Directory.
Advertisement run by David Manchester in the 1893-94 Might’s Directory.

In October 1898, Manchester ran an ad in the Ottawa Journal for a “new 7 room tenement, stone cellar, good wood shed” priced at $8 a month, clear.4Ottawa Journal, October 29, 1898, p. 6. A perusal of the Might’s Directories in the years betrays that Manchester had difficulties filling the units in his building: in few years, were there more than three units of seven filled.

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Brading Breweries was the Broadview’s most well-known neighbour. Image: Public Works / LAC, Accession 1966-090, Box 04841.

Manchester sold his property on the north side of Wellington in the Spring of 1911. The Journal reported on March 7 that Manchester Hall and the still-unnamed apartment/tenement had been sold to local real estate dealer, John Y. Caldwell. As part of Manchester’s retirement plan,5”Well-Known Citizen Has Passed Away,” Ottawa Journal, August 18, 1925, p. 2. he began liquidating his properties in the area to support a new career in real estate himself. Caldwell paid $16,875 for the properties and he had intended to construct a new factory on the site.6”Manchester Hall Property Sold,” Ottawa Journal, March 7, 1911, p. 2.

Goad / 1912
The Broadview (441 and 443 Wellington) was situated in a mixed neighbourhood in which the balance in favour of commercial and industrial uses. Image: Charles E. Goad. Insurance Plan of the City of Ottawa, 1902 (Revised to 1912), Plate 43.

It does not seem that the economics of the proposal really made a whole lot of sense in the end. Caldwell’s vision remained constant, though his plans changed. Rather than get into any conversions of demolition himself, he began to advertise the site for sale, though as a factory. One such ad run in the Journal on June 15, featured the headline “FACTORY ON MANUFACTURING SITE FOR SALE” when the copy went on to explain that the apartment “can, without much cost, be re-constructed into a manufacturing establishment” and that there was about 70 feet at the rear that could be used for new construction.7Ottawa Journal, June 15, 1911, p. 7. Subsequent advertisements were characterized similarly, though included a photograph of the rear of the property.8Ottawa Journal, June 24, 1911, p. 2; Ottawa Journal, July 5, 1911, p. 5.

This small cottage was located at the rear of the Broadview Apartments. The Broadview can be partially seen through the trees to the right. Image: Public Works / LAC Accession 1966-090, Box RV1-038.

In the meantime, while Caldwell was trying to sell the apartment and lot as a potential factory (ostensibly to keep capital coming in) he also advertised the units for rent. It was also the first time that the apartment was given a name in print: the “Broad View Apartments”. The available units were advertised at $15 per month and, as was normal practice, potential tenants were to apply to the janitor on site.9Ottawa Journal, September 6, 1911, p. 15. By 1914, the Broad View became officially The Broadview, and Caldwell continued to rent rooms out in the centre of the “factory district”.10Ottawa Journal, August 17, 1914, p. 10. Advertisements run in the Journal seem to betray that the apartments were difficult to rent out, with numerous units being commonly available at any given time.11Ottawa Journal, June 28, 1916, p. 12.

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Some of the 1928 aerial photos were taken during the spring before the snow had finished melting. The Broadview is difficult to make out, but it is directly to the left of “Y-shaped” roadway. Image: NAPL / uOttawa, Flight A1, Image 70.

In 1918, the apartment was advertised as being for sale by tender. The property in question was comprised of the 7-unit Broadview Apartments, a janitor’s house, and a small three-roomed detached cottage on the lot.12Ottawa Journal, September 25, 1918, p. 11. The purchaser was Frank Murtagh, a furniture merchant.

1933-05-05-A4571-58
The Broadview remained in 1933 overlooking the junction of Wellington and Sparks streets. Before long, not only would it be demolished, but so would the remainder of the buildings and the junction itself. Image: NAPL / uOttawa Alight A4571, Image 58.

In July of 1924, the Broadview experienced a fire that started in the basement and spread upward through a dumbwaiter. The reported in the Journal identified the apartment as being one of the oldest in the city. Fortunately, damage was kept to a minimum – largely smoke and water damage – through quick action on the part of the fire department. When the fire broke out, a passer-by alerted residents to the smoke and all occupants were able to escape the fire safely. Two of the widows who lived in the building reported that through the ordeal, money had been stolen from their apartments.13”Families Escape From Apartment House,” Ottawa Journal, July 26, 1924, p. 1.

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Tip Top Garage sat at the junction of Wellington and Sparks. Image: Public Works / LAC.

On September 29, 1940, the Journal reported that the Dominion had made an offer of $12,000 to H.J. Murtagh for the Broadview Property (in addition to dozens of others in the district).14”Gov’t. Acquires Uptown Land,” Ottawa Journal, September 30, 1940, p. 15. The Exchequer Court felt that this was a fair deal and in the following Spring, it made the settlement final.15”Make Settlement For Properties,” Ottawa Journal, May 21, 1941, p. 18. Interestingly, an action was brought against Claude Anderson, a city tax collector, by H.J. Murtagh in 1944 “for an accounting of rents collected by Anderson to apply on arrears of taxes and for damages against both defendants for negligence for collecting rents from tenants of the apartments.” Apparently, the apartments had been purchased by the City in 1936 in a tax sale.16”Ask Damages of $184,760 In 8 Suits Over Almonte Wreck,” Ottawa Journal, April 19, 1944, p. 22. Murtagh’s case was dismissed that December.17”Justice Dismisses Suit Against City,” Ottawa Journal, December 13, 1944, p. 21.

It's much greener today. Image: Google Maps.
It’s much greener today. Image: Google Maps.

A number of buildings along Wellington were sold by the Dominion to J. A. Cronier & Company in June of 1944 for demolition and the sale of scrap material. The buildings included 298 Wellington, 412 Wellington, the Perley Residence, the Broadview Apartments, and 436-438 Wellington. Mr. Cronier expected the demolitions to be completed in three months.18”Are Tearing Down Ottawa Landmarks,” Ottawa Journal, June 19, 1944, p. 10.

Notes   [ + ]

1. I perhaps shouldn’t lay the decision exclusively at the feet of Greber and King: the roads in the area were also marked for a considerable overhaul in the 1915 Commission.Departmental
2. For more information on the the various plans for Ottawa-the-Capital (as opposed to Ottawa-the-City), see Planning Canada’s Capital. Also see Alain Miguelez. Transforming Ottawa: Canada’s Capital in the Eyes of Jacques Gréber. Ottawa: Old Ottawa Press, 2015.
3. Might’s Directories Ltd. The Ottawa City Directory, 1893-94 (Ottawa: The Might Directory Company of Toronto): 342.
4. Ottawa Journal, October 29, 1898, p. 6.
5. ”Well-Known Citizen Has Passed Away,” Ottawa Journal, August 18, 1925, p. 2.
6. ”Manchester Hall Property Sold,” Ottawa Journal, March 7, 1911, p. 2.
7. Ottawa Journal, June 15, 1911, p. 7.
8. Ottawa Journal, June 24, 1911, p. 2; Ottawa Journal, July 5, 1911, p. 5.
9. Ottawa Journal, September 6, 1911, p. 15.
10. Ottawa Journal, August 17, 1914, p. 10.
11. Ottawa Journal, June 28, 1916, p. 12.
12. Ottawa Journal, September 25, 1918, p. 11.
13. ”Families Escape From Apartment House,” Ottawa Journal, July 26, 1924, p. 1.
14. ”Gov’t. Acquires Uptown Land,” Ottawa Journal, September 30, 1940, p. 15.
15. ”Make Settlement For Properties,” Ottawa Journal, May 21, 1941, p. 18.
16. ”Ask Damages of $184,760 In 8 Suits Over Almonte Wreck,” Ottawa Journal, April 19, 1944, p. 22.
17. ”Justice Dismisses Suit Against City,” Ottawa Journal, December 13, 1944, p. 21.
18. ”Are Tearing Down Ottawa Landmarks,” Ottawa Journal, June 19, 1944, p. 10.

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