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.
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.
Here is another short one from Vanier.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday, being the beautiful day that it was, I went out for a walk. Oh sure, there were book sales and a fantastic brunch at the Rochester Pub, but there was sunshine and a million things to shoot. To say the least, the case was successfully made for me to spring for a Juicepack. Here are three homes that I took shots of while on my walk, ordered from the Confederation era to today.
Nineteenth Century (c. 1867)
Although there has been some disagreement as to the actual date this handsome stone home at 92 Stanley (at Union) in New Edinburgh, there is none that it’s a great representation of the earlier stone homes that were constructed in the community. As MacLeod purchased the lot from the McKay Estate in 1867, that date appears to be the accepted one now. Some sources have suggested c. 1850, however. According to the city directories available for the time, Dougal McLeod (also sometimes spelt “McCloud” and in later sources, “MacLeod”) was a miller and one time foreman in McKay’s New Edinburgh mills.
As much as it may have been a solid middle-class existence, working in the mills was not without its own set of risks. McLeod passed away at 53 on April 25, 1883 due to the all-too-common occupational hazard of Stonecutters’ Disease of the Lungs (Silicosis). He was buried at the nearby Beechwood Cemetery.
Following the death of her husband, Jane McLeod moved into the smaller home behind. The house was then occupied by another McKay foreman named G.A. French.
As New Edinburgh was in the early days of its sort of renaissance as the leafy and generally well-heeled neighbourhood that it is today (with the demolition of most non-residential elements being rapidly completed), the restoration and preservation of the MacLeod House was worthy of celebration. This piece from the March 21, 1970 edition of the Ottawa Journal gives a run down of the subsequent owners/occupants. It appears that it received its plaque in 1992.
Twentieth Century (c. 1935)
Later on during the day, as I was making my way to the book sale at First Avenue Public School, I happened across this beautiful double on First Avenue.
Admittedly, I haven’t been able readily locate a specific date of construction or an architect/builder. The west end of The Glebe (along Bronson) underwent a construction boom beginning in the early-mid-1930s and a number of builders were present. What I was able to locate, however, was its first resident: the ever-popular Dominion Church organist, Allanson G.Y. Brown. Brown was born in York, UK in 1902 and arrived in Canada in 1932. As a young man in England, it was patently clear that he had a knack for ecclesiastical music, replacing his parish organist in York during the First World War.
It appears that Brown was quite a frequent traveller back to to the United Kingdom. A number of records documenting his entries and exits are available at Ancestry.ca. If I were less frugal, I’d have sprung for the global access package, rather than the Canada-only one that I have.
Shortly after his arrival in 1932, he set down to work as the organist at Dominion United Church.
Of course, that was not going to pay all the bills, nor was it going to challenge him musically. The following year, he also began to offer lessons “keen students.”
After nearly eight years of service, he was elected as the chairman of the Ottawa Centre branch of the Canadian College of Organists.
Brown remained in Ottawa until the mid-1950s when he departed for Leamington, ON. His arrangements would actually go on to be used in services all over the continent.
He also won a number of prizes and accolades for his work.
Twenty-first Century (2010)
In the spirit of acknowledging that the privacy standards we operate on today are significantly different than they were in the past, I will refrain from the sort of discussion above. I will say that this modern home, constructed about four years ago is a real beauty and I appreciate it greatly every time I happen to walk past. In this case, it was on Saturday morning on my way to the Rockcliffe Park Library’s annual spring book sale. Always a real treat.
This is where a little bit of the historical fun comes in. Building Permit No. 907454 was issued in 2009 for the construction of a home at 203 North River Road. The contractor on the file was the award-winning G.M. (Guy) French Construction. If you’ll remember from above, following the death of Dougal McLeod, one G.A. French took up residence in the home at 92 Stanley. Before the Vanier Parkway was completed, North River used to be joined with Charlevoix and Mackay and was the road into New Edinburgh from Hurdman’s.