Ottawa’s Building Permits, 1948

Archibald, David, and Jacob Bennett, better known by their company Principal Investments, were already active in Ottawa before they became Canada's shopping mall kings. Image: Maclean's Magazine, February 4, 1956, p. 9.
Archibald, David, and Jacob Bennett, better known by their company Principal Investments, were already active in Ottawa before they became Canada’s shopping mall kings. As the developer behind both Billings Bridge Plaza and the Carlingwood Shopping Centre, Principal Investments would bring Ottawa retailing into the modern era. Image: Maclean’s Magazine, February 4, 1956, p. 9.

Continuing to work back on the building permits issued by the City of Ottawa, what really stands out about 1948 is that there were comparatively few large-scale or expensive projects that year. At $1,188,000, the construction of Fisher Park (Collegiate) High was the most expensive project and Ottawa’s first Comprehensive high school.1Janet Keith. The Collegiate Institute Board of Ottawa: A Short History, 1843-1969 (Ottawa: Kent Reproduction, 1970): 37.

The building permit for Fisher Park High School was the largest for 1948. Image: City of Ottawa Archives, CA004342 (May 21, 1954).
The building permit for Fisher Park High School was the largest for 1948. Image: City of Ottawa Archives, CA004342 (May 21, 1954).

 

The Coca-Cola bottling plant on Bronson Avenue was the largest private sector project, with a permit value of $850,000. Image: City of Ottawa Archives, CA034241.
The Coca-Cola bottling plant on Bronson Avenue was the largest private sector project, with a permit value of $850,000. Image: City of Ottawa Archives, CA034241.

The single largest private sector2Although for some, Coca-Cola is every bit as much of an institution as any state enterprise. project permitted in 1948 was construction of the Coca-Cola bottling plant on Bronson Avenue for $850,000. The neat-as-a-pin Mathers and Haldenby designed plant didn’t spend much time filling the company’s distinctive glass bottles, however. It was expropriated in 1962 to make room for the Queensway.3Robert Smythe. “Queensway Remembered,” Urbsite (June 23, 2010). Although its fate was sealed, it was not until 2015 that it would be demolished.

Among all of the permits issued in 1948 it was those in the name of Principal Investments that stood out most to me. One of their permits was for a $30,000 renovation to an office building on Sparks Street and the other for the construction of a $225,000 store on Rideau Street at Mosgrove, better known as the Rideau Street Metropolitan.4Robert Smythe. “Metropolitan Stores,” Urbsite (May 14, 2015). Principal Investments, and the three Bennett brothers behind it, is one of those stories of Canadian business that appears to have been long forgotten.5I’ve found that business history is another one of those fields that was long ago ceded to other disciplines, which is a pity, given how much these interests have shaped things. In short, Principal Investments was a developer of stores that got into the construction of suburban shopping malls in the mid-1950s and soon became the largest mall developer in the country.6Peter C. Newman. “These three men are Canada’s biggest landlords,” Maclean’s, February 4, 1956, pp. 7-9; 52-56. Also see John Leaning. “The Canadian Shopping Centre” (MA Thesis: McGill, 1957).

In Ottawa, they were only narrowly beaten to the punch by Steinberg’s Ivanhoe and its Westgate Shopping Centre.7Dave Allston. “Did you know that Ottawa’s first mall was built in Kitchissippi?Kitchissippi Times (May 20, 2015). The Bennett brothers and their Principal Investments followed quickly and brought the city both  Billings Bridge Plaza and the Carlingwood Shopping Centre. With perhaps a little more ambition than their Montreal-based competitors, Bennett and Principal also set out to fight against Ottawa’s early closing bylaw.8The short version is that in the face of a conservative business culture and a determined Charlotte Whitton, they lost. I plan to explore the issue more thoroughly at a later date. See “Proceeding Through Injunction,” Ottawa Journal, November 23, 1955, p. 1.

Below is a table with the 1948 permits outlined in that year’s Annual Report.

OwnerDescriptionLocationValue
Mrs. LepineHotel AlterationsYork Street15000
D. YounghusbandFour new single residences with attached garagesBarrie and Ruskin Avenues50000
R.C. Archdiocese of OttawaAlerations and Repairs to Store and Office BuildingSussex Street20000
Bell Telephone Co.New one storey Garage and Office BuildingLoretta Avenue300000
British American Oil Co.Service StationWellington Street15000
Bell Telephone Co.Addition to Telephone Exchange BuildingEccles Street35000
Murgam RealtyAlterations to Department StoreSparks Street200000
People's Gas Supply Co.One Storey Storage BuildingMill Street16000
G.P. BeerNew double residence with attached garagesRideau Terrace18000
Coca-Cola Ltd.New three storey Manufacturing Plant (Coca-Cola)Bronson Avenue825000
E.V. Doge & SonsTwo storey apartment building - four suitesLaurier Avenue West20000
Grey Sisters of the Immaculate ConceptionTwo storey School AdditionLisgar Street100000
A.W. Kritsch Ltd.Two storey Store and Office BuildingRideau Street75000
R. LandriaultTwo storey and basement Apartment Building (11 suites)Russell Avenue70000
M. ZagermanOne storey and Basement A. & P. StoreBank Street55000
Mrs. A.C. HardyOne storey Store BuildingO'Connor Street25000
Corporation of OttawaOne storey Health CentreWellington Street55000
Principal Investments Ltd.Alterations to six storey Office buildingSparks Street30000
Capital Storage Ltd.Addition to Furniture Storage BuildingDriveway20000
P. ErskineOne storey Warehouse BuildingPreston Street30000
L. SloneOne storey StoreGladstone Avenue15000
West End SynagogueChurch AlterationsRosemount Avenue30000
H.K. PhillipsOne storey Warehouse BuildingCatherine Street40000
C. Caplan, Ltd.Department Store AlterationsRideau Street75000
A. TessierTwo storey and basement Apartment Building (6 suites)Desjarsins Street30000
British American Oil Co.Service StationRideau Street19500
E.K. EmersonAltering Night Club to Bowling AlleySlater Street20000
Patterson Motors, Ltd.One storey Garage and Show RoomElgin and Catherine Street90000
Wm. SparksOne storey Warehouse BuildingLaurel Street42000
Kingsway United ChurchTwo storey ChurchDiana Street125000
H. Dagenais, Sr.Two storey and basement Apartment Building (6 suites)Crichton Street24000
Collegiate Institute BoardAlterations to School BuildingLisgar Street17000
Tip Top TailorsStore AlterationsSparks Street15000
J. PanasuikTwo storey and basement Apartment Building (6 suites)Blackburn Avenue37000
R. LatreilleOne storey StoreWellington Street30000
Waverley Motors, Ltd.One storey Garage and Show RoomElgin and Isabella Streets45000
St. Elijah's Syrian Orthodox ChurchTwo storey addition to ChurchMacLaren and Lyon Streets47000
J.W. MobleyTwo storey and basement Apartment Building (6 suites)Metcalfe Street24000
Mrs. A. FreelTwo storey Office BuildingLaurier Avenue West37000
First Pentecostal Holiness ChurchOne storey Church and BasementParkdale Avenue35000
Principal Investments Ltd.Two storey store building (Metropolitan Store)Rideau and Mosgrove Street225000
Norway RealtyStore AlterationsSparks Street15000
Grey Nuns of the CrossTwo storey addition to six storey HospitalParent Avenue450000
B.H.S. BeachTwo storey single residence with attached garageIsland Park Drive15000
Champlain Oil Co.Service StationElgin and Gloucester Streets17000
Mrs. C. RossmanTwo storey single residence with attached garageIsland Park Drive18000
Royal Bank of CanadaAlterations to BankSomerset Street West20000
Provincial Bank of CanadaAltering Store to BankRideau Street30000
M.A. SwerdfagerTwo storey single residence with double garageEcho Drive15000
J.R. BeachThree additional suites to Apartment Bldg.Metcalfe Street15000
B. FlesherDuplex ResidenceHamilton Avenue22000
Ottawa Artificial Ice Co.Addition to Ice PlantNicholas Street20000
J.R. GouletTwo storey Apartment Building (6 suites)Electric Street30000
H.L. KeenleysideTwo storey single residenceOpenogo Road20000
H. RossTwo storey single residenceMadawaska Drive18000
H.K. PhillipsTwo storey single residenceIsland Park Drive20000
T.F. AhearnNew triplex, with three-car garageMcKay Street30000
T.L. HumRepairs to store and Apartment BuildingBank Street16000
Dominion Stores, Ltd.One storey StoreWellington Street60000
B. MilksTwo storey Apartment Building (6 suites)Russell Avenue30000
Corporation of OttawaRepairs to Grand StandLansdowne Park15000
St. Paul's Lutheran ChurchAddition to ChurchWilbrod Street50000
Hulse & Playfair, Ltd.Addition to Funeral ParlourMcLeod Street49500
Collegiate Institute BoardThree storey High SchoolHarmer Avenue1188000
Loblaw GroceteriaTwo storey and Basement Store and Office BuildingRideau Street225000
L. TetuAltering three-door residence to six apartmentsDalhousie Street16000
St. Matthias ChurchOne storey ChurchParkdale Avenue193000
R. McClelland, Ltd.Five storey Apartment Building (twenty-four suites)Chapel Street160000
D.L. Campbell2½ storey Apartment Building (6 suites)Sweetland Avenue28000
H. LazarusAltering double residence to six apartmentsCarling Avenue15000
Bulwark EnterprisesOne storey Garage and Show RoomSparks Street80000
Dominion GovernmentOne storey Laboratory Building - Wood TestingPretoria Avenue50000
Imperial Oil, Ltd.Service StationSparks Street17000
G.S. ShaneTwo storey and basement Apartment Building (6 suites)Holland Avenue26000
L. PetergorskyAddition to Apartment Building (four suites)Daly Avenue16000

Notes   [ + ]

1. Janet Keith. The Collegiate Institute Board of Ottawa: A Short History, 1843-1969 (Ottawa: Kent Reproduction, 1970): 37.
2. Although for some, Coca-Cola is every bit as much of an institution as any state enterprise.
3. Robert Smythe. “Queensway Remembered,” Urbsite (June 23, 2010).
4. Robert Smythe. “Metropolitan Stores,” Urbsite (May 14, 2015).
5. I’ve found that business history is another one of those fields that was long ago ceded to other disciplines, which is a pity, given how much these interests have shaped things.
6. Peter C. Newman. “These three men are Canada’s biggest landlords,” Maclean’s, February 4, 1956, pp. 7-9; 52-56. Also see John Leaning. “The Canadian Shopping Centre” (MA Thesis: McGill, 1957).
7. Dave Allston. “Did you know that Ottawa’s first mall was built in Kitchissippi?Kitchissippi Times (May 20, 2015).
8. The short version is that in the face of a conservative business culture and a determined Charlotte Whitton, they lost. I plan to explore the issue more thoroughly at a later date. See “Proceeding Through Injunction,” Ottawa Journal, November 23, 1955, p. 1.

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