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Ottawa East: Who Built What When
by Don Fugler - Mainstreeter - June 1988

"Then look at any map of Ottawa and try to find - if you can - any section in the city which can possibly offer the advantages in distance from the city's centre, - natural scenic beauty and general desirability of this charming spot. There is no other - this is the last and best." - Brantwood Place brochure, circa 1912

Speaking as a relatively new home-owner to this" last, and best" residential area, I had often wondered what was the progression of house building in Ottawa East. Did it develop uniformly, as one can see the suburbs of Orleans and Kanata grow now? There are some areas of Ottawa East where this seemed possible, as there is an ob-vious regularity of styles of construc-tion. Yet there are also older farm-type houses that sit unique among their neighbours, and sections of the commu-nity that are non-uniform.

Local residents were a big help in sort-ing out the details. The City of Ottawa also opened their computerized database to me, and created a listing of the age of houses on each block. The results are shown on the maps.

The first map gives the construction dates of various parts of the area, marked for those sections that are largely built in the same decade. This is generally the south and east edges of Ottawa East. The central area, north of Clegg Street to just north of the Queensway, is much harder to typify, as each block contains buildings of many different eras. Consider the one-block-square section at the junction of Clegg and Main Streets boxed at the right of the first map. The city computer lists all 16 houses on this block by the decade of their construction. In 10 of the last 12 decades, since 1870, someone has built a house here. If anyone would like to see this printout, please contact me care of the Mainstreeter.

Essentially, the area was settled by farmers and small landowners, as well as various religious orders. The names of the original landowners live on in the street names - Brown, Lees, Graham, Bower and others. Some of the houses of these settlers are still promi-nently standing, overshadowing their next-door neighbours.

The Village of Archville, once located in the area of the present site of the Ottawa East sector of the Queensway, became the Village of Ottawa East, then was annexed to Ottawa early in the 1900s. It had its commercial section on Main Street near the Old Town Hall.

Let. us look at more specific areas, such as shown in the hand-drawn map. "The Pines" was the family home of the Browns, and before its demolition in 1974, it was located where the Cuban Embassy now squats. "The Pines" was built before there were any other houses
to the south; the Browns had a clear view of the Rideau River. Down at the Canal end of their property was a boat factory, making small craft for those using the canal. On some days the Browns found the smell from the Slat-terys' smokehouse quite strong.

Editor's Note: The original hand-drawn map was scanned at the original size and can be seen here.

Slattery, Ottawa's largest meat supplier in the early 1900s, kept sheep on the fields which lay to the south of Present day Clegg Street. Slattery's house still sits between Riverdale and Mount Pleasant Avenues, and was a noted landmark even at the turn of the century.

As each landowner sold off his hold-ings, the blocks were developed, much the same as rural Ottawa is now being absorbed. One part of Ottawa East that took some time to grow was the Brantwood Park vicinity. The great stone gates at Beckwith and Main were built to welcome the influx of investors searching for "exclusiveness, proximity, and desirability guaranteed for all time", as the promotional brochure ex-tolled. Stringent regulations regarding the minimum building costs, exterior finish and distance from the stable would make this area "a new high class residential section". Unfortunately the initial development did not attract sufficient numbers of far-sighted buyers, and the area was not developed until several decades later.

The pleasure of doing this brief synopsis of local history was in talking to people, some of whom could easily recall sufficient historical material to merit a book. My thanks to Susan and Betty Hill, Bill Smith, Laine Wyman of the City of Ottawa, and others. If any readers would like more detail on any of the points raised, let me know and I can elaborate in a future article.

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