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Second City, Second Metro: Eastview to Maintain Local Autonomy

Eastview Council wanted to maintain its local autonomy. Image: Muséoparc Vanier.

Members of Eastview (Vanier) Council informed the Jones Commission that most residents were prepared to accept a lower standard of services relative to Ottawa if it meant remaining independent.

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Second City, Second Metro: Eastview Planning Board – “[Eastview] feels more like a family”

The Eastview Planning Board wanted to keep it this way. Image: Muséoparc Vanier.

When it came to discussions about what a Metropolitan or Regional Government would mean for the Ottawa region, the small municipalities that came to be surrounded by Ottawa were just as reluctant to enter into civic matrimony as many of the township municipalities at the city’s edge. 

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Retail & Commercial

Dixie Lee Nut Shop Gets Cracked

This view didn’t make it into the day’s paper. Image: City of Ottawa Archives CA004757.

Here is another short one from Vanier.

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Second City, Second Metro: The Eastview Public School Board Supports Regional Government

The Eastview (Vanier) Public School Board declined to send a representative for the in-person hearing portion of the Jones Commission, but did submit its views in writing. The written submission indicated that it was supportive of some form of regional government.

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Development

Vanier’s Dangerous “Lac” Lafontaine, 1954

In 1954, the apartment developments along Blake Boulevard were quite new. Land in what was then known as Eastview was available for a song and builders like Sam Blake (for whom the street was named) and Marius Vachon were all too happy take advantage of the opportunity. Although the municipality’s red hot real estate market after the Second World War rendered the humiliation of being put under provincial management during the Depression a distant memory, its effect on Eastview’s infrastructure remained. This is aside from the fact that paved streets and storm sewer systems were still considered to be, in most municipalities, an optional “nice to have” in new developments, and could wait.

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Retail & Commercial

The El Ropo Restaurant

The corner of Beechwood and Charlevoix wasn’t always one to fuel up on. It was once home to the El Ropo Restaurant. Image: July 2013

Though it may not seem like it today, certain parts of Vanier North and New Edinburgh were at one point a site of industrial activity and the sort of rough living that is often associated with it. Given its location at the corner of Beechwood and Charlevoix in Vanier (then Eastview), close to Betchermann Iron and Steel and the Dominion Bridge Company (to say nothing of the other nearby industrial organizations), it’s probably not a surprise that the El Ropo would attract a tougher clientele.

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Apartment

From East(wood) Park to West(wood) Park

Westwood Park (now Byron West) Apartments, 950-980 Byron Avenue.
Westwood Park (now Byron West) Apartments, 950-980 Byron Avenue.

If you will remember my “Ottawa’s Apartments, 1955” piece a few days ago, you’ll probably remember that Doug O’Connell was a busy man during the 1950s and 1960s. Whether it be alone, or with his brother in law Allan Witt, O’Connell had his fingers in a tremendous number of pies through those years. As part of my own efforts to untangle the seemingly anonymous development the apartment clusters in Laurentian View, I was able to put a name to the cluster of 7 ten-unit apartments along Byron that lies between Sherbourne Road and the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral.

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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.

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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.

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House

I ♥ Midcentury Vanier

Michel Circle. Image: November 2, 2014.
Michel Circle. Image: November 2, 2014.

I haven’t really formally editorialized much here on Margins, but I thought I’d take that opportunity to do so today. 

Most anybody who fell in love with midcentury architecture can probably pinpoint a moment at which they did. Whether it’s what they grew up with or whether it was a particular building that stuck out, we’ve all got it. Being from an area with very little of it constructed1Like many resource towns, construction tends to be done with a certain level of reluctance. The markets could be hotter than hot, but builders tend to take a somewhat longer-term approach., I wasn’t much exposed.

275-Michel

Then it happened. Although I’ve always been interested in buildings, cities, and architecture (the Charles M. Shields Library in South Porcupine can attest), I had never given it too much thought. As I’m apt to do, I was out for a walk during the spring of 2006. Living in Vanier at the time, I was meandering about the part of it north of Montreal Road2Ask me in person, I’ll tell you in person. Living on Deschamps was an adventure that year and made my way down St. Denis, past the recently closed École Cadieux.

I may as well have been walking through this aerial. At least it felt that way. Source: geoOttawa (1965 Aerials)
I may as well have been walking through this aerial. At least it felt that way. Source: geoOttawa (1965 Aerials)

Then it hit. I walked past 364 St. Denis. Stopped. Lingered. Took pictures. Then continued. 367. A gem! From there, I continued to explore Vanier north of Montreal road over the weeks. The level of care many of these properties receive is stupendous and I very much felt like I was walking through time.

367 St-Denis. Source: Google Maps (Street View).
367 St-Denis. Source: Google Maps (Street View).

It was like I was walking through the glistening, new, clean images of midcentury suburban bliss. The ones that I saw in those ubiquitous Popular Mechanics encyclopedias. The ones I saw in the all-too-common depictions of those halcyon days past that infected movies of the 1980s as their directors were feeling those twinges of nostalgia.

It was there that I understood what they were after during that period. No, I am not one of those who actually believes in that ideal. I’m decidedly urban, compact, and foot-based in my preferences and what’s more is that I know that those still waters of the modern suburban idyll ran (and continue to run) deep. The idea is that on a quiet sunny Sunday morning, the light came through and I (at least feel) that my understanding of the ideal came to meet it.

Although it shouldn’t have been, the fact that it was Vanier was the pleasant surprise. With the recent attention paid to midcentury modern neighbourhoods like Briarcliffe, I’d love to see more light shone on others – Vanier’s first and foremost.

Over the next little while, I’d love to start the ball rolling.

Notes   [ + ]

1. Like many resource towns, construction tends to be done with a certain level of reluctance. The markets could be hotter than hot, but builders tend to take a somewhat longer-term approach.
2. Ask me in person, I’ll tell you in person. Living on Deschamps was an adventure that year