Ottawa’s Apartments, 1950

Continuing with my use of Might’s Directories to collect data on apartment buildings, above is a map with all of the apartment buildings listed in the 1950 edition. For each of the points on the map, I have given the apartment building’s name (if it has one), its address, and if it has been demolished or replaced, date or date range for when that happened.

If you’ve seen my lists of apartments from 1945 and 1955, most of these will be familiar in name, as will the general conclusions about the general distribution of apartment buildings in the city. For 1950, I decided that mapping them would be more interesting.

There are a few things to caution with this information, of course. The first is that, in spite of their efforts, Might’s never did develop a solid definition for just what constitutes an “apartment”. To that end, some of the buildings identified are better understood to be a rooming house or hostel and not an apartment. Some three-unit apartments are listed, while others are not. I have even seen cases in which a home with one separate unit is counted. At least, so long as it is named. While all of this does not appear to be particularly critical in 1950, once you move past that into the accelerated growth period, many apartments are left off the list.

There are two more elements that compound the possibility for error. While I’ve made all efforts to keep things accurate and while I’ve added enough fudge with some dates, I won’t always have (a) the specific location of the apartment, (b) the date it was demolished and replaced, or (c) both, correct.

With regards to the location, there are at least three areas in Ottawa that have changed considerably since the publication of the 1950 Might’s Directory. Lebreton Flats was demolished, Lowertown East received its urban renewal treatment, and the University of Ottawa expanded considerably, to name a few examples. To aid in placing the buildings, I triangulated between the street directory pages of Might’s, the 1956 edition of the Goad’s fire insurance plans, and aerial photographs found on geoOttawa and Sarah Simpkin’s map of aerials from 1930-1945.

For the date of demolition, as I have been largely left with the Ottawa Journal since Google decided to disable the search database for its news archives, coverage of local demolitions and fires is decidedly more spotty than I would otherwise prefer. To complicate that further, Ottawa’s landscape (especially in Centretown West / Downtown) changed a whole lot in the early 1980s, between the Journal‘s abrupt 1980 end and the Canadian News Stand‘s beginning of the Citizen‘s run in 1985. While it’s fortunate that one may still browse issues of the Citizen on Google News Archives, it’s much more time consuming. Fortunately, the coverage at URBSite of such histories is both fantastic and extensive.

This map only represents a start and will remain a work in progress. As I find errors and inaccuracies, I will correct them.

Finally, a note on how I have chosen to identify the apartments on the map. One of the most interesting things to me about apartments, for reasons unclear to me, is the naming of the buildings. It’s a curious mix of marketing and identity, and it appears to be a crap-shoot as to whether the building actually keeps the name as time goes on. I will be doing more with the names as time goes on. There is something worth consideration and, while not completely ignored, there appear to be few studies on the topic.1Some examples are Arthur Minton, “Apartment House Names,” American Speech 20, no. 3 (1945): 168-77; Arthur Minton, “A Form of Class Epigraphy,” Social Forces 28, no. 3 (March 1950): 250-262; Arthur Minton, “Names of Real-Estate Developments I,” Names 7, no. 3 (1959): 129-153; Arthur Minton, “Names of Real-Estate Developments II,” Names 7, no. 4 (1959): 233-255; Arthur Minton, “Names of Real-Estate Developments III,” Names 9, no. 1 (1961): 8-36; William R. Linneman and Harriet Fether, “Miami Beach Hotel Names,” American Speech, 39, no. 3 (October 1964): 196-200; Max K. Adler, Naming and Addressing: A Sociolinguistic Study (Hamburg: Buske, 1978); Karen Koegler, “A Farewell to Arms: the ‘Greening’ of American Apartment Names,” Names 34 (1986): 61; Vincent Ortells Chabrera and Robert B. Kent, “Residential Toponyms and Urban Change (1890-2000) in Seaside Resort Town, Benicàssim, Spain,” Names 57, no. 2 (June 2009): 92-119. I have not found any dealing with Canadian apartments, developments, or hotels, however.

 

Notes   [ + ]

1. Some examples are Arthur Minton, “Apartment House Names,” American Speech 20, no. 3 (1945): 168-77; Arthur Minton, “A Form of Class Epigraphy,” Social Forces 28, no. 3 (March 1950): 250-262; Arthur Minton, “Names of Real-Estate Developments I,” Names 7, no. 3 (1959): 129-153; Arthur Minton, “Names of Real-Estate Developments II,” Names 7, no. 4 (1959): 233-255; Arthur Minton, “Names of Real-Estate Developments III,” Names 9, no. 1 (1961): 8-36; William R. Linneman and Harriet Fether, “Miami Beach Hotel Names,” American Speech, 39, no. 3 (October 1964): 196-200; Max K. Adler, Naming and Addressing: A Sociolinguistic Study (Hamburg: Buske, 1978); Karen Koegler, “A Farewell to Arms: the ‘Greening’ of American Apartment Names,” Names 34 (1986): 61; Vincent Ortells Chabrera and Robert B. Kent, “Residential Toponyms and Urban Change (1890-2000) in Seaside Resort Town, Benicàssim, Spain,” Names 57, no. 2 (June 2009): 92-119.