Mayor Lewis on Housing, 1945

Ottawa Mayor, J.E. Stanley Lewis on December 15, 1946. Image: City of Ottawa Archives MG393-AN-P-000242-003.

Keeping up with the theme of mayors and their thoughts on housing, I thought it would be fun to reach back a little further. In 1945, the Second World War was coming to a close and Ottawa’s longest serving mayor, J.E. Stanley Lewis, faced with a critical housing shortage.

Here is what Mayor Lewis had to say about housing in his inaugural address, given before Council on January 2.


At this first meeting of 1945 – the Inaugural Meeting of a new term of office for the members of City Council – I extend the Season’s Greetings to all of you. I welcome our three new members; Alderman Ellis of Victoria Ward, Alderman Donaldson of St. George’s Ward, and Alderman Morin of By Ward – and, though he is a veteran here, I welcome Alderman Walsh after and absence of two years.

In the matter of low rental housing, about which a great deal has been said and probably a great deal more will be said, as a municipal government we have no authority beyond that granted by the Provincial Government, or the Federal Government through the province.

Naturally, as a Municipal Government, we feel a deep concern over the real need for this type of home. I cannot help a feeling of regret that it does not seem as if our central government intends to contribute a substantial amount for such housing but, instead, has simply signified it will loan money under certain conditions to limited-divident housing corporations, or will permit life insurance companies to invest a percentage of their funds for this purpose provided they receive rentals to assure a return of 5% on the cost of the entire proposal. I should like to see the Federal Government look on housing of this character as part of its rehabilitation work.

For the clearance of slums the Federal Government will pay a proportion of the cost and our ratepayers have approved of our taking advantage of this legislation, but our slum clearance project will have to receive the approval of the Minister of Finance and the Provincial Government and is subject to other restrictions.

For the most part we shall be dealing with routine problems of municipal administration. But whether our business be routine or the planning and carrying out of new works, we shall deal with it as honestly and efficiently as we are able, always remembering we are here to serve the people of Ottawa. With co-operation between Council and the Board of Control, and between the administrative body and our very fine staff of civic officials and employees, we can give Ottawa citizens the progressive and prudent government they have every right to expect.

(Sgd.) J.E. LEWIS, Mayor.1Minutes of the Council of the Corporation of the City of Ottawa for the year 1945 (Ottawa: City of Ottawa, 1946): 19-21.


1 Minutes of the Council of the Corporation of the City of Ottawa for the year 1945 (Ottawa: City of Ottawa, 1946): 19-21.