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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.
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
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.
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