Views: Bell’s Corners (1980)

Robertson Road in 1980. Image: City of Ottawa Archives, CA025336.
Robertson Road in 1980. Image: City of Ottawa Archives, CA025336.

I first encountered the above image of Bell’s Corners1I categorically refuse to leave the apostrophe out. in Bruce Elliott’s The City Beyond (1991). Although I don’t count many on my team of consummate fans of crass commercialism in the public realm, I’m willing to stand out and say that I’ve always been a fan of this sort of suburban view. In my mind’s eye, this sort of “messy” collection of signage is the suburban visual-equivalent of the ideal dense and walkable neighbourhoods that I cherish most deeply.

Not quite as exciting today. Image: Google Maps, July 2016.
Not quite as exciting today. Image: Google Maps, July 2016.

The view today? Though is may be much less distracting to those driving down Robertson Road, it’s much less visually interesting to me. Outside of the visual differences, the 1980 photograph contains a number of businesses that have also disappeared from the landscape. For example, Consumer’s Distributing and Loeb’s Pinto convenience stores. The Bel Air Motel, Midas, and McDonald’s remain, however.

Notes   [ + ]

1. I categorically refuse to leave the apostrophe out.

2 Comments

  1. I can’t tell whether you think this part of Bells* Corners was walkable or not in the ’80s. I can tell you it certainly wasn’t.

    I worked on Credit Union Way (now Fitzgerald something or other) in the mid to late ’80s and would go for walks at noon to decompress from software development. There were no sidewalks anywhere along or near this strip. Walking on the grass was OK, sort of, in the summer, but navigating the sides of Robertson Rd in the winter was suicidal.

    The blocks were so long (and still are), trying to cross the street was equally suicidal. It was and is one of the ugliest and least pedestrian-friendly parts of Ottawa.

    1. *Definitely* not walkable! That’s partially why BC hasn’t been much covered on my Instagram account. More a comment on the visual appeal (at least to me – a huge fan of the visual equivalent to people jumping over one another for attention. Same as all the neon signs that used to fill downtowns).

      Funny enough, it was that strip along Robertson that was my introduction to Ottawa. When I moved here, I had never seen the city before so didn’t know where I was going and wound up staying in a room in a hotel there the night I arrived!

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