Mayor Whitton on Housing, 1951

Charlotte Whitton with Robert Campeau, a developer she would frequently do battle with. Image: Dominion Wide / LAC Acc. 1979-203 NPC, Box 04438.

After having shared excerpts from Mayor Charlotte Whitton’s 1953 inaugural address about housing on Saturday, I thought it might be somewhat interesting to share them from 1951, when she took over as mayor from Grenville Goodwin who passed away suddenly that August 28.1”Seven Hour Seizure; Mayor Stricken When Shopping on Mann Avenue,” Ottawa Journal, August 28, 1951, 1, 17.

The loss of Grenville Goodwin was unexpected. Source: Ottawa Journal, August 28, 1951, p. 1.

Here is what Mayor Whitton said about housing during her inaugural address, given to Council on October 15. I have included more of her preamble this time, in order to include her words about the sudden death of Mayor Grenville Goodwin.

Mr. Controllers and Aldermen:

It would be unseemly not to preface this inaugural with a humble expression of our gratitude to Almighty God that His Majesty the Kind makes steady progress to health again, and that, under Divine grace, this City has been vouchsafed the happiness and honour of the visit of her daughter, our future Queen, Her Royal Highness, Elizabeth, Princess of the Commonwealth and Duchess of Edinburgh, and His Royal Highness, her Consort, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Ottawa has another golden entry in the short but colorful story of the City on the Grand River of the Outawis.


Grenville Goodwin

The debonair, vital, buoyant man, who was so robustly happy, as you placed this same chain of office upon him a few short months ago, has passed beyond our knowing.

We do not take up his unfinished task for, in the divine order of things, there is nothing incomplete. That which was vouched as Grenville Goodwin’s service to his City, he had done. What was left undone when his life closed was ours to do from the beginning.

He had wrought his city real and enduring good in his years as a Controller. he had begun and furthered yet other plans in his few months as Mayor. His inaugural address projected his hopes for his community, which he had loved. A noteworthy measure of what he outlined he had already realized when death came.

The redivision of the Wards, under his affable persuasion, was effected with dignity and harmony.

The settlements with Gloucester and Nepean were advanced, the latter to completion; the former well on its way to what is hoped will be a satisfactory conclusion.

The complicated problem of re-assessment he had so taken in hand as to have expedited the matter for us who follow on.

The subject of his early and close concern – the development and servicing of the Greater Ottawa of the Capital area – was also carried forward in the too brief months of his office.

To this end, negotiations had been re-opened with the federal power on specific phases of our common problems – the Dominion grant, sharing of the cost of utilities, co-operation in such projects as underground wiring.

From what Grenville Goodwin had done, and what he had begun, this Council and I, as his successor in this office are all his beneficiaries as we now turn to our labor together in building the Greater Ottawa, about which so much of his lively imagination centered.

His name will not be forgotten in the Ottawa to whose service he gave so much and as gaily and recklessly as he gave of himself in the day of his country’s need for valiant men in the line of battle.

Requiescat in Peace2Minutes of the Council of the Corporation of the City of Ottawa (Ottawa: City of Ottawa, 1952): 996-7.


15. No community can endure unless it is firm grounded in wholesome family homes. And no home life can endure in poor and inadequate shelter. Ottawa’s housing needs have been seriously under-served for years, and the extensive new developments make little impact upon the need of low-cost houses, some for purchase but more for rental, and particularly in the old City.

Ottawa many[sic] think it has avoided subsidizing housing by the financial report of the operations of the Emergency Shelters over the last five years will reveal that the City has been engaged in considerable subsidizing of below-cost shelter with little to show for it but depreciated rented buildings, now returning to the Crown, and seriously deteriorated family and child life over a gravely large sector of the population.

Your Board has a special Technical Committee working intensively on this subject and some of its proposals will shortly come before you.

Low-cost housing must be put in hand in 1952 for low income groups and the aged.

And so, let us go onward together to the end.

Faithfully yours,
CHARLOTTE WHITTON, Mayor.3Minutes of the Council of the Corporation of the City of Ottawa (Ottawa: City of Ottawa, 1952): 1004, 1008.

Mayor Grenville Goodwin passed away suddenly on July 31, 1951, only months into his term. As senior Controller, Charlotte Whitton was raised to the position. Image: City of Ottawa Archives MG393-AN-P-000659-011.

Here is what Grenville Goodwin had to say about housing during his inaugural address, given to Council on January 2 that year. I have also included his remarks welcoming Charlotte Whitton.

Members of the Council of the City of Ottawa:

May I at the outset express to you my pleasure at being amongst you once again as a member of this Council, after an absence of two years. It seems very much like old times, although as I look around me I cannot help but be aware that some changes have taken place.

But as we regret the passing from this chamber of those I have mentioned, we rejoice in welcoming those who have been chosen to take their places. First and foremost among these, we greet Dr. Charlotte Whitton, one of the foremost authorities on social problems in all Canada and whose great and recognized talents should be of exceptional value to this Council in dealing with all such matters.

We greet her warmly as a talented colleague but also as an outstanding woman. And in doing so, we would like Dr. Whitton and all the women to Ottawa to know that we are happy that the wholly masculine nature of this Council has at last come to an end. Dr. Whitton’s presence among us is a real indication of the awakening interest in civic affairs by the women of Ottawa and I am sure her election is a tribute to the good judgment and soundness of the electors as well as Dr. Whitton herself.

During the past year, approval was given to a housing project in Gloucester Ward [Riverview Park]. Property has been acquired by the Dominion and the Provincial partners on this project. As yet, the layout of the subdivision has not been fully agreed upon and, of course, the actual survey and installation of services to be supplied by the City has not yet begun.

I believe we can take it for granted that Council looks upon this project as accepted civic policy and will desire to have all the work expedited as far as possible. You may also, at a later date, wish to give consideration to further housing projects to meet the needs of those in the lower wage groups, if this should be found feasible.

I need not emphasize to this Council that our City is now passing through a development stage that will last for many years. We have, and I think quite properly, assumed great responsibilities in connection with the extension of services into the new areas.

We have not yet begun to profit by the new industries which are expected ultimately to pay a substantial share of the cost of this development. I mention this matter now because I am convinced that great care must be exercised in the initiation of new works and projects.

There is almost no limit to what can be done, but there is a definite limit to what the city can afford to do all at once. It will be our duty to see that first things come first – to make sure that first emphasis is placed upon the development of those services which are most vital to the health and welfare of the community, deferring those projects which can be deemed as having lesser importance.

Care must be observed that all installations be of such size, location and character as to conform to the master plans for the areas. Only in this way will be be able to avoid costly duplication and waste. In other words, let us try to work towards the realization of the ultimate plans for this City.

Let us ever pray to God for health and strength and wisdom that we may be able to discharge the trust that has been placed in us.

GRENVILLE GOODWIN, Mayor.4Minutes of the Council of the Corporation of the City of Ottawa (Ottawa: City of Ottawa, 1952): 31-35.


1 ”Seven Hour Seizure; Mayor Stricken When Shopping on Mann Avenue,” Ottawa Journal, August 28, 1951, 1, 17.
2 Minutes of the Council of the Corporation of the City of Ottawa (Ottawa: City of Ottawa, 1952): 996-7.
3 Minutes of the Council of the Corporation of the City of Ottawa (Ottawa: City of Ottawa, 1952): 1004, 1008.
4 Minutes of the Council of the Corporation of the City of Ottawa (Ottawa: City of Ottawa, 1952): 31-35.