About

The Author

The Margins of History is written by me, Christopher Ryan. Like so many others, I came from Northern Ontario (South Porcupine) to Ottawa in order to attend university. Although I have convocated a few times, I’ve never really quite finished with school, and by the time I retire I should have some of the world’s most expensive wallpaper.

Connaught Hull
Shot of Connaught Hill, South Porcupine. This is the neighbourhood that I grew up in. The surrounding woods were my playground. Source: Glen Seymour (Facebook Group; All Things South Porcupine).

The Site

I decided to begin developing Margins for a few reasons. Primarily, I am exceedingly interested in things that most people consider either (a) a complete bore, or (b) thoroughly irrelevant. Instead of using what I’m interested in to lose friends and put loved ones to sleep, those stories will be here. Another reason is that I’ve got virtual mountains of research – partially and fully realized – collected about numerous topics and feel that I should actually do something with it. I mean, aside from filling Dropbox with thousands of PDFs.

Nevertheless, while it’s somewhat cliché, Ottawa is always changing. Sometimes we don’t notice at all. Other times, we do notice and sometimes we even oppose it. For my own part, I’m not much of a preservationist. I don’t believe that my arrival in a given neighbourhood is the cherry on the sundae and I’ve no bridge to draw. Some of the changes are for the better and some are for the worse. What I do think is important is that people are operating as sort of a track changes function for the city. Whether they’re tracking the changes today or whether they’re looking to the past in order to recreate the steps, it’s all important. For my own part, I have a heck of a lot more fun in the past, so that’s where I tend to roam.

Finally, much of why I’m so interested in the changes and histories that I focus on is tied up in my preferred mode of transportation: walking. I’ve never had any interest whatsoever in driving, never learned, and haven’t ever felt limited by not doing so. Even if in something of a hurry, I appreciate that I’m able to take a look around me and really get the details of the day-to-day. With those details come a rather large number of questions and there are few things sadder than an unanswered question. So I dig.

Detail of William Coffin’s Plan of Gloucester Township (1825). Click for full-sized PDF. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

When I began the site in 2013, it was my intention to keep a narrower focus on the part of Ottawa formerly known as Junction Gore (two rivers, Walkley, St. Laurent). It was where I lived (Vanier) afterall and I felt that it didn’t necessarily receive the same thorough treatment that other parts of town have. As it would turn out, I am much more flighty and less focused when it comes to blogging and the stories that captivate me tend to be from all over the city. Moreover, as it is my plan to relocate to Toronto in 2017, I have added a number of stories from that city.

This is what I’m normally up to during the day.

15 Replies to “About”

  1. Hi Chris! Thought I would check up on what you’ve been up to and I am very pleasantly surprised at what I have uncovered. I enjoy your writing and will be checking up on your historical research discoveries from time to time. I promise not to fall asleep 🙂

  2. Hi, Chris. Fascinating site! I wonder if you could be cajoled into finding some photos and other background information about some of the buildings used by Canada’s radio spies over the years. You’re probably familiar with the Rideau Annex, the former Grey Nuns’ Novitiate, which I wrote a bit about here (http://luxexumbra.blogspot.ca/2011/06/cse-facilities-rideau-annex.html), but there are many other even lesser known spots that you might find interesting. For example, 345 Laurier Avenue East, the house that used to stand just east of Laurier House, hosted Canada’s first code-breaking agency, the Examination Unit, from 1942 to 1945. An apartment building was built on the site long ago, and I keep hoping someone such as yourself will at least find a photo of the original house somewhere.
    Cheers,
    Bill Robinson.

    1. Hi Bill,

      That’s really interesting and thank-you for sharing your work on these sites too! I’m a little slammed at the moment, but will definitely poke around this weekend and see what I turn up – either as evidence of photos or even some photos themselves.

      Cheers!
      -Chris

  3. Hi Chris, came upon your site I am creating a story map on football in Ottawa and was wondering if I can use some of your images in my story map. I will credit you and source you. Please let me know much appreciated.

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