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Ottawa East Town Hall
100 Hundred Years Old This Year
by Nancy Mitchell - Mainstreeter - Summer 1995

In December 1888, after much petitioning the Carleton County Council by local residents, the Village of Archville was officially incorporated as Ottawa East. Residents argued that Archville was a separate and isolated corner of the huge Township of Nepean which then stretched from Bell's Corners to Hurdman's Bridge. The population of Archville had reached 800 residents, and with incorporation, the $600 then paid in taxes to the Township could be better used to improve local sidewalks, drains, streets and provide fire protection.

One of the first tasks of the new Ottawa East Council, headed by Reeve James Ballantyne local coal merchant and amateur photographer, was to build its own Town Hall. Council purchased land from the Robert Lee's estate at the corner of Main Street and Hawthorne Avenue and contracted student architect Henry F. Ballantyne, son of Thomas Ballantyne and nephew to James to design the building.

The first official Council meeting took place in the new premises on October 2, 1895 with Reeve Ballantyne presiding.

According to the Ottawa Evening Journal:
"No business of any importance was transacted, the attention of the council being chiefly engaged on the settling of small accounts. The question of furnishing the new building which includes the fitting up the public hall on the second flat with a platform and curtain, etc. and a supply of the secretary, council and committee. rooms with their proper fittings was brought up and it was decided to do so as soon as possible. It was also decided to have a crossing built from the new town hall to the sidewalk on the opposite side of the road and to have a new drain laid. "

The Hall was formally opened on December 2, 1895 by an "At Home" with speeches, songs, recitations and musical selections reported at great length in the Evening Journal.

Since its inauguration, the Town Hall has been a key component in the life and times of Ottawa East, housing everything from the Police Commission to the Well Baby Clinic. Immediately after its opening, the Hall was available for all kinds of soirees at the following rates:

Dancing and Smoking Concerts $7.00
Other Concerts $2.00
Churches & charitable purposes $1.50

In July 1899, the Ottawa East Brass Band was granted an application for the use of a room every Thursday for the purposes of practicing at a cost of $.35 per night - a practice that continued on into the 1990' s for those of you who happened to be at the Main Street Community Centre on Thursday nights. The Ottawa East Water Company, organized by James Ballantyne, Ira Bower, Ber-nard Slattery, Charles Francis Winter and William Andrew Dickenson Lees, was granted use of room in the south corner of the Hall for the year 1904 provided that the Town Hall property be exempted from water rates.

In 1907, the Village of Ottawa East was annexed by the City of Ottawa so that its official function as a Town Hall was over. The Baptist Mission used the hall in 1908 and later that year so did the Ottawa Police Commission and the Pub-lic School Board to house a kindergar-ten class room.

From 1921 to 1923, the Town Hall was leased to the Separate School Board to ease the space situation for French lan-guage students of the community. The Separate School Board had been stalled in their search for additional classrooms as a result of the infamous Regulation XVII which limited the extent of French language instruction in provincial schools.

In 1925, Ottawa City Council briefly re-named the Old Town Hall, the "Rosedale Community Hall" at the request of the Ottawa East Municipal Association who had proposed that the community of Ottawa East, in its entirety, be named Rosedale. The concept of "Rosedale" only lasted a short while, however, and by 1933, it was back to the "Ottawa East Town Hall".

The building housed the Ottawa East Well Baby Clinic in the early 1950's and continued to serve the community as a recreation centre for the next 30 years. In 1982, City Council designated the Old Town Hall a heritage building and in 1986 ap-proved a budget for its renovation which was completed and officially re-opened in September, 1988.

In December 1988, the residents of Ottawa East held another "At Home" at the Town Hall to celebrate 100 years of the incorporation of Ottawa East. Watch for the next "At Home" this summer to pay homage to a grand old building and a symbol of Ottawa East.

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