Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A map of Kitchissippi...from 1879

One of the greatest series of books ever published has got to be the Belden Atlas series of the 1870's. And I am very thankful for it. I'm not exactly sure why this series was made, but commencing in the mid-1870's a series of approximately 40 county atlases were produces for many of the counties in Ontario, Quebec and out east. Belden was the largest producer of these atlases, including the one for Carleton County, which it produced in 1879. This mammoth sized hard-cover book included various maps of North America, Canada, Ontario, Carleton County, and most importantly, the various townships and populated villages and cities within it. Also included were some very cool detailed drawings of the homesteads of some key residents of the county. The book also included written histories of the townships, and biographical information on some key figures.

The borders of Carleton County very interestingly mirror almost exactly what the City of Ottawa boundaries are today (thanks to the various amalgamations), except for an added bit of the original County of Russell, Cumberland Township. Nepean Township was one of 10 townships within it, and had boundaries of rougly Ottawa River on the north, the Rideau River on the east, approximately along where Bankfield Road and Brophy Drive are today on the south, and approximately where Eagleson Road, March Road, and Hertzberg Road are today through to Shirleys Bay on the west (thanks to Wikipedia for all of that). So now that you have the geography set up, my focus for today is on the Kitchissippi area.

The map is below (for best results, you may want to right-click on it, select "save image as" and save it to your computer so that you can view it in better detail).

To situate you, at top of the map is "Johnston's Mills", which was located just about where Sherbourne Road would run if it continued to the River beyond Byron. At the bottom of the map is the old suburb of "Rochesterville", which is now the Chinatown neighbourhood between Bronson and Preston, and LeBreton Flats can be seen to it's right. The double-line down the left edge represents the concession line, which is Carling Avenue. The pair of double-lines down the centre of the picture represent Richmond Road on the left, and the concession line (which is now Scott Street) on the right. The visible rail line is the old Central Canada Railway (later the Canadian Pacific), which of course is now the Transitway.

Each rectangular square represents one original lot. All the lots between the concession lines (Carling and Scott) were in "Concession 1" and all the lots between Scott and the Ottawa River were in "Concession A". The lots then are numbered from west to east (most lot numbers appear near the concession line on the left edge; from 31 up to 39). The lot-owners in 1879 are identified by name, and below or to the right of their name is the total number of acres owned. Parcels of land which had been already subdivided appear shaded (and those subdivisions had their own smaller maps published in the atlas). Finally, the black squares indicate built structures, and some are labelled as being a post office, mill, or toll house, but for the most part, they are the original farm houses of each lot.

A few landmarks to help locate streets and areas of 2015: Skead's Saw Mill at the river's edge near the top of the map is where Westboro Beach and Kitchissippi Lookout are located today (in fact some of the original ruins of the mill can still be seen at the lookout). The "Skead's Mills P.O." (post office) would be located at the corner of Churchill and Richmond (Skead's Mills being the original name of Westboro). The borders of lot 33 (Daniel Keyworth Cowley's property) are Patricia Avenue at the top and Western/Granville at the bottom (that's the Soeurs de la Visitation Convent represented in the little square of land within lot 33 marked "G.W.E. Est", for George W. Eaton, the owner of the Convent when it was known by it's original name 'The Elms'). The lot line between lots 35 and 36 would be Parkdale Avenue, and the layout of many of the streets of Mechanicsville, Hintonburg and Bayswater remain unchanged 135 years later.

Hope you've enjoyed checking out this map!


  1. Thanks for posting this. I'd really like to find out about the history of "McLeansville" and whether there were ever any original buildings erected here before the current neighbourhood went up- probably sometime in the 40's. I live on Smirle which appears to be exactly where it was when this map was drawn. Interestingly, the Wikipedia article on Ottawa neighbourhoods erroneously states: "McLeansville - today part of Tunney's Pasture". This map clearly shows the area to be located west of Tunney's and to be bordered by what is now Holland ave to the East, Grange ave to the west and Richmond Road to the south.

    1. hi Connor - oh yes, I promise there to be an extensive article about "McLeansville" and the history of this part of Wellington Village. It's always been of particular interest to me as a Gilchrist Ave resident! I've just been saving it, but it will be coming soon! Cheers.