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The History of Ottawa East - Part Two
By Sue Hill, Bruce Ballantyne and Rick Wallace
The geography of any community involves not only involves the physical characteristics of the land but also the people. In this second part of the History of Ottawa East three important families who contributed to the evolution of the community are detailed.
The very first family in the area was that of Lewis Williams who established a farm near Main and Riverdale in 1818. Originally from England via Wales, Williams and his descendents continuously occupied the original homestead into the 1950's.
As the area transformed from agricultural to industrial/residential functions, Ottawa East attracted people who saw the potential of inexpensive and undeveloped land in close proximity to the city. One of the first to arrive during this time was Robert Lees (Lees Ave.). Born in Scotland in 1814, Lees eventually settled in Ottawa East in the 1850's where he became a successful lawyer, developer and gentleman farmer. His shrewd political savvy was critical in the establishment of Ottawa East Village in 1888 and was a community leader for decades.
Another Scottish family, the Ballantynes (Ballantyne Park), arrived in the Ottawa area in the 1860's to establish a barrel-making business. By the 1870's the business was moved to Ottawa East and eventually converted to selling coal. The presence of James and Thomas Ballantyne had a profound effect on the community both as industrialists and leaders on the village council.
Williams, Lees and the Ballantynes are notable because it was their effort
and vision that, along with many others, helped shape the community that
we know today!
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