Categories
Retail & Commercial

Victoria Restaurant, 321 Bank (1978)

Victoria Restaurant, 321 Bank Street, July 4, 1978. Image: Ted Grant / LAC Series 79-01-1083.
Curtains drawn, topless dancers 6 days a week, and Darth Vader beckons passers-by into the new Discotheque. The Victoria Steak House, 321 Bank Street, January 4, 1978. Image: Ted Grant / LAC Series 78-01-1083.

A little Bank Street ephemera: the Victoria Steak House opened for business in 1977 and closed at some point in 1978. In its short time, it seems to have had a rough ride. What seems to have begun as an attempt at a quality steak house quickly came to cater to the market it was in during those years.

Categories
Retail & Commercial

Elgin Street Loblaws, 1940

It may be Hooley's today, but it was born a Loblaws. Image: July 2016.
It may be Hooley’s and Yuk Yuks today, but it was born a Loblaws. Image: July 2016.

292 Elgin, the building that currently hosts Hooley’s and Yuk Yuk’s, has always caught my eye. Between the buff brick and the smart detail above the door, it has always seemed like a building that has had an interesting past life.

Categories
Apartment

Update! The Governor Metcalfe (1959)

As it looms over Jack Purcell Park1I really don’t care that the racquet art was inspired by the wrong Jack Purcell., the Governor Metcalfe Apartments at 330 Metcalfe has been witness to a considerable number of changes that have taken place in its front yard, including the construction of the park itself in 1967 and its popular dog run in 2011.

Notes   [ + ]

1. I really don’t care that the racquet art was inspired by the wrong Jack Purcell.
Categories
Apartment

Brevity is the Soul of Witt

The Croydon Apartments, as seen from the Museum of Nature's east parking lot. Image: July 2015.
The Croydon Apartments, as seen from the Museum of Nature’s east parking lot. Image: July 2015.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” At least, so the popular saying goes. The market for apartment buildings in the early 1960s was hot. Really hot. It was during this time that such large builders like Mastercraft, Assaly, Minto, and numerous others started looking upwards as much as they were outward into the greenfield development they had been through the 1950s. The action wasn’t limited to the larger players, however.

Categories
Apartment

Ottawa’s Apartments, 1955

J.R. Beach's 1950 apartment at 196 Metcalfe. Image: June 2016.
J.R. Beach’s 1950 Beach Apartments (now Algonquin Annex) at 196 Metcalfe. Image: June 2016.

Back in March, I transcribed the list of apartment buildings from the 1945 Might’s Directory of the City of Ottawa and ran some minor analysis of the proportion of apartment buildings in each of Ottawa’s neighbourhoods. I decided to jump ahead to 1955, as a massive transition in the Canadian housing market was well underway.

Categories
Apartment

A Six Pack of Wolves in Centretown (Wolf Shenkman’s Cluster Development of Apartments, 1929-35)

Wolf Shenkman. Source: Ottawa Jewish Archives.
Wolf Shenkman. Source: Ottawa Jewish Archives.

By the late 1920s, if you were to press an Ottawan to name a builder of apartments, there is a good chance they would name Wolf Shenkman. Shenkman arrived in Ottawa in 1904 and quickly began to buy and sell investment properties as well as construct homes. His first apartment building was completed in 1911.1Well, appears to be have been completed in 1911. The first instance of him being associated with apartment construction in the Contract Record is located in the April 5, 1911 edition. It is at the corner of Stewart and Cumberland in Sandy Hill, but have not verified this. See: “Residences,” Contract Record, Vol. 25, No. 14, p. 56.

Notes   [ + ]

1. Well, appears to be have been completed in 1911. The first instance of him being associated with apartment construction in the Contract Record is located in the April 5, 1911 edition. It is at the corner of Stewart and Cumberland in Sandy Hill, but have not verified this. See: “Residences,” Contract Record, Vol. 25, No. 14, p. 56.
Categories
Apartment

Ottawa’s Apartments, 1945

The Queen Elizabeth Apartments (201 Metcalfe, at Lisgar) was constructed in 1939 for local dairyman Isidore Stone. Image: March 13, 2016.
The Queen Elizabeth Apartments (201 Metcalfe, at Lisgar) was constructed in 1939 for local dairyman Isidore Stone. Image: March 13, 2016.

If you’ve run into me lately, you were doubtlessly entreated to some words about apartment buildings in Ottawa. I can’t help it, the topic has been rolling around in my mind for a decade or so.

Categories
Retail & Commercial

Elgin’s Rainbow

Walking north on Elgin. Image: City of Ottawa Archives, Item CA033357.
Walking north on Elgin. Image: City of Ottawa Archives, Item CA033357, June 26, 1955.
Categories
House

Fitting In(fill) in Centretown

90-96 Flora St. Infill has changed over the years. Image: January 2016.
90-98 Flora St. Infill has changed over the years. Image: January 2016.

I was walking back home from campus the other day and these brightly-coloured homes (90-98 Flora) caught my eye. As is so often the case, beauty results from conflict and limitation, rather than from whole-cloth design.

Categories
Apartment

A (Bel)grave Situation (Belgrave Terrace or the Franconna Apartments, 1925)

The home of John F. Hurdman, Belgrave Terrace, Franconna Apartments. Image: June 2015.
The home of Robert Hurdman, Belgrave Terrace, Franconna Apartments. Image: June 2015.

Centretown’s buildings have a number of stories to tell. Some of those stories are tragic, some are tales of faded business glory, and others still are tales of the night life that once kept Ottawa hopping. Still waters run deep, as the saying goes. As is the case with so many of the apartments that Centretowners call home, the Franconna Apartments began life as large single-family home. After playing host to a number of elites in its first twenty years, it was converted into an apartment (named Belgrave Terrace): a common fate that befell these homes once they hit a certain age. Backing on to Gladstone Avenue, the apartment was then threatened with the potential for demolition when the city sought to widen what was then a 30 foot side-street to a four-lane traffic corridor. While the rear annex bears the scars of the widening, that half of it still stands is a testament to the sorts of pressure faced by planners during the middle of the twentieth century.