Thursday, April 28, 2016

A hidden landmark in Wellington Village

My article in this week's Kitchissippi Times is one that I'm probably more excited about than anything else I've written. For years I'd heard bits and pieces about the possibility that an original 19th century farm house still existed in Wellington Village, south of Wellington. Being a life-long resident of Wellington Village, I took particular interest in the story. But I never believed it to be true. If you've read the stuff I wrote about the history of the Stewart family, and of WV itself, you'll know that I basically wrote off the demolition of the stone house at Wellington and Julian in the 1960s as a huge tragedy, and the last link to the Stewarts of the 1830s-1890s. However, a chance discussion with a fellow board member of the Wellington Village Community Association led to my digging deeper on this. Having the extra stroke of luck of actually being able to spoke to a woman who moved in to the house in 1920 was incredible. Put it all together, it's been a fun six months of research putting this story together, and I'm really proud to share it in the Times this week. Please check it out at the link below!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A farewell to Northwestern United Church

This past Sunday afternoon I attended the closing service of Northwestern United Church in the Champlain Park neighbourhood. I felt it was important to do so, both from the perspective of changing history (to say goodbye to a long-time neighbourhood institution), but also because the Church had been important to my family for many years. My grandparents lived on Western Avenue, just a thirty second walk from the Church, and attended the Church faithfully from its opening until my grandfather’s health in the late 1990s would no longer allow it. Reverend Jenni Leslie's final sermon in the Church on Sunday indeed focused on the very theme of family, and how important the Church had been to so many families in the community for so long. Northwestern was a bit of a unique institution in that it was built intentionally small, constructed to directly serve the local neighbourhood, establishing its own small community, its own family, from day one. I think that was what made it as special as it obviously was to its long-time members - that the congregation was tight-knit, the focal point of many community activities, based within a place of worship that was modern yet still traditional in many ways, but with a forward-thinking blending of style.

We’ve all seen the decline of churches in most cities and communities, and especially in Kitchissippi over the last few years. It’s unfortunate that a neat little community church like Northwestern was no longer able to survive on its own. So I feel privileged to have been able to participate in the final service at the Church this past weekend, and while sitting there on Sunday, I felt it would be interesting to tell the story of the Church. The congregation lives on in the merged Kitchissippi United Church on Island Park Drive (formerly the Kingsway Church), but it’s always sad to leave a building behind, to see it's usage change or worse, to see it demolished. While I believe the building is slated to remain for the foreseeable future (it has been sold to the owners of the Mosque property next door), it will not be the same. Those uniquely recognizable letters spelling out the Church’s name out front will disappear, the tall, thin steeple may come down, even the ornate stone work spanning the front entranceway and the distinctive stained glass windows may disappear, and perhaps even some of the less decorative features but which are so familiar to many, such as the old side door that led to the downstairs hall which has hosted so many community and family events over the years.

While the building itself just is barely fifty years old, the history of Northwestern United Church actually can be traced all the way back to the early 1870s.

Western United Church was founded in 1872, when it began as a Sunday School organized in the old west end public school at the corner of Somerset and Preston Streets. In 1873, Rev. Robert Mark, was appointed by the Methodists to take charge of their work in the western part of Ottawa. Soon after, the Temperance Hall, overtop a store opposite the Pump House by Pooley’s Bridge in Lebreton Flats was acquired, where Sunday School continued, and within four months had grown to 185 students. Steps were then taken towards the erection of a church. The cornerstone was laid in October of 1873, with Mrs. John Rochester performing the ceremony, and Lady Macdonald, wife of Sir John A. in attendance. The Ottawa West Methodist Church (as it was first known until 1925) was a large brick Church built at 545 Wellington Street, just a little west of Bronson Avenue (this spot is now vacant, but if you were driving west down Albert Street with Nannygoat Hill on your left, along where the Transitway now runs, you would see it on your right).

Western United Church - April, 1954
(Source: Ottawa Archives, CA-4022)

The Episcopal Methodist Church at Queen and Bridge Street later united with Western in 1883, while two other churches grew out of the congregation as local suburb neighbourhoods began to grow: Bell Street in 1890 and Rosemount in 1893 (which later became Parkdale United Church). The impressive Western Church survived the Great Ottawa-Hull Fire of 1900 (where the story goes that the minister "paced the sidewalk outside the church in fervent prayer for the safety of the building"), and another major fire in 1903, and continued on through the years until the NCC decided to overhaul central Ottawa in the 1960s.

Equally, if not more important to the birth of Northwestern Church was the establishment of Ottawa West United Church in 1907, on a parcel of land donated by the Cowley family. That church name may not strike a bell for many readers, but I'm certain most would recognize the building. It still exists today, under a completely different name, tucked within the streets of Wellington Village at the corner of Spencer and Carleton.

Ottawa West Church (named directly for the subdivision created by Cowley ten years earlier called "Ottawa West") began life as a Sunday School Mission sponsored by the Bethany Presbyterian Church (then located on Rosemount). It's first Minister was one of the west end's most beloved citizens of the early part of the century the Rev. Robert Eadie.

Ottawa West United Church (circa 1960)
(source: Northwestern Church archives)

It became the Ottawa West United Church after the union of Methodist and Presbyterian Churches in 1925. In 1937 for it's 30th anniversary, a special celebration was held, with the reading of a historical sketch, and most interestingly, the original mortgage was burned, freshly paid off, with Herb Groh “applying the torch”. The event also included a dedication service for the new Sunday School hall, called Eadie Memorial Hall, dedicated to the memory of Rev. Eadie.

During 1949 to 1957, Ottawa West became associated with Woodroffe United Church, after which Rev. J. Macaskill took charge of the congregation. One funny memory of this Church was that a sound system was installed in 1960, and the sounds of chimes were played off vinyl records, and through the speakers located in the bell tower.

It was in 1963 that significant events began to occur. Early in the year, it was announced that Western United Church, at that time the oldest Methodist building in Ottawa, like most of LeBreton Flats, would be expropriated by the NCC and demolished. Additionally, it appears the congregation began to outgrow the Ottawa West church, which had already been expanded twice. So, in May of 1963, the Ottawa Presbytery of the United Church of Canada approved the merger of Western United Church and Ottawa West United Church as of July 1st.  It was determined that a new church would be needed, and required with little delay, as the church directors were nervous at the risk of losing portions of their congregations to the nearby Parkdale and Kingsway Churches. A large piece of land on Northwestern Avenue was acquired that fall, on which stood a few old wood-framed cottage homes (which were immediately demolished). The new name chosen was simply 'Northwestern United Church'.

The first instance of the Northwestern United Church name being used was in January of 1964, when one of the key groups within the Church was formed, the Northwestern United Church Women, a popular, and well-run organization during it's peak years. Mrs. G. I. Wallace was named the first President of the NUCW.

The amalgamation of Western United Church and Ottawa West United Church officially took place on January 12th, 1964. A building permit was taken out with the City of Ottawa the week of February 8th, 1964 in the amount of $100,000 for the construction of the new Church. Toronto architect Francis G. Reed prepared a drawing sketch, which appeared in the Ottawa Journal:

Ottawa Journal - February 8, 1964

A sod-turning ceremony was held on Sunday April 26th, symbolizing what the Journal called the “marriage” of the two United Church congregations. Long-time Church members were chosen from each Church to represent them in the ceremony: Herb Groh from Ottawa West (member since 1924) and C. F. Towsley from Western (member since 1908) turned the sod at the exact location where the altar would stand on completion.

Ottawa Journal - April 27, 1964

Construction work began on Tuesday April 28th, with the contracting company the Shore and Horwitz Construction Company doing the work. Lead engineer on the project was Stan Dix. On Sunday June 14th, the cornerstone was laid at a ceremony at 3 p.m, by Mrs. C.A. Christie, president of the Ottawa Presbyterial United Church Women. Following the ceremony, those present attended a tea at the home of Douglas Sprott.

June 13, 1964 - the first newspaper ad for the new Church,
inviting residents to attend the cornerstone ceremony.

Ottawa Journal - June 15, 1964

By June 20th, it was reported that the walls were going up on the Church.

Meanwhile, on June 28th, the final service was held at Western United, led by Rev. Harold Watts, who noted that “God’s church is more than brick and mortar…the hearts of faithful men and women made up the church”. Over 300 attended this event. Following the service, three memorial windows (the large stained glass window above the front entranceway and two smaller windows placed in the chancel), the organ and pulpit were salvaged from Western United and incorporated into Northwestern Church. (The rest of the Church was demolished by summer's end). The original cornerstone from Western United Church and a memorial stone for Ottawa West Church were reputedly later built in to the front entrance of Northwestern.

The congregation of Western United jammed the tiny Ottawa West Church on Spencer for July August, prior to the new church on Northwestern being ready.

Towards the end of August, the Church neared completion.

Ottawa Journal - August 29, 1964

Signalling how close completion was, a classified ad appeared in the newspapers, seeking an organist and choir director.

August 21, 1964

The final estimate for construction costs of the new Church was $111,000. Rev. Harold Watts was appointed the first minister of Northwestern, assisted by Rev. John Macaskill from Ottawa West ("Minister Emeritus"). (Rev. Watts later resigned on July 1, 1968 to become Minister of the United Church at McAdam, BC and was succeeded by Rev. Norman E. Johnston.)

The first service at Northwestern was held on September 13th, 1964, with the official opening held a little later. Less than a week after the first service, the first wedding was held in the Church. On September 19th, 1964, Cairine Margaret Campbell married Robert Clarence May at 3 p.m.

Ottawa Journal - September 26, 1964

The official opening and dedication took place at 4 p.m. on Sunday October 18th, 1964. Officiating at the service were Rev. F. R. Harback, chairman of the Ottawa Presbytery of the United Church, and Rev. R. Graham Barr, president of the Montreal and Ottawa conference.

Ottawa Journal - October 17, 1964

By the fall, the Church was in full community use. The Ottawa West hockey registration was held at the Church in November, one of the first community events held there!

Meanwhile the former Ottawa West Church at Spencer was sold to the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and as mentioned above, still exists today as the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

A permit was taken out in May of 1965 to build a Church-owned residence next door, at a cost of $19,500. It was built by J. F. Chieman, and still stands today.

It is also worth noting that from its earliest days, Northwestern Church was welcoming to those groups in need. Not long after construction, the Church began renting the basement hall to the Ottawa Muslim Association for prayer meetings for ninety minutes every Sunday. The association had 500 members by 1965, and were actively raising funds to construct a community mosque. In 1967, they acquired the neighbouring half-acre lot on which at the time featured two old houses. The Association used one for prayer services, and had tenants in the other, while they awaited fundraising to progress further (construction of the Mosque would later begin in September of 1973).

Life at Northwestern continued on through to the end of the century, but by the early 2000s, it became evident that three churches in close proximity in the neighbourhood could no longer survive. Members of the Kingsway, Northwestern and Westboro United Churches began to meet to discuss options. An amalgamation was decided upon, with all three congregations moving to the Kingsway Church on Island Park Drive, just south of the Queensway underpass. On October 5th, 2008, Kitchissippi United Church held its inaugural service.

Northwestern United Church was an important part of many local residents lives for so long, and the process of the Church closing I'm sure has been a sad one for many. Best wishes to all who have been involved for so many years, in particular the Sprott and Reid families who have invested so much of themselves into the Church, and Rev. Brian Cornelius who attended with great care to my grandparents Aubrey and Ina Allston, during my grandfather's illness and passing, and later my grandmother's as well.

Northwestern United Church, following the Decommissioning
Ceremony on April 24th, 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016

Richmond Road at Island Park Drive circa 1900

I stumbled across this photograph a couple of months ago and it has become one of my favorite photos of the early days of Kitchissippi. (Click on it to expand it)

It was in the Library and Archives Canada database essentially untitled, and after nearly flipping right past it, my eye was caught by the structure on the left. Could it be the convent building on Richmond Road? Looking for other landmarks, I see the three houses in the far background at right. Hey that looks like the O'Neil house (aka Bella's restaurant today). Could it be? Comparing against a recent photo, no mistaking it, that's the house! Which means, the house to the left of it is the old toll house, the very one I had tried with all my might to find a photo of last fall ( (and see more on the O'Neil house at

What this means is this is a photo of the convent building (now sadly hidden behind Condo Canyon on Richmond Road just west of Island Park of course) before it had even become the Convent in 1910. Since the toll house was built in 1895, Bella's in 1896, and the other house in view on the northwest corner of Carleton built in 1897, we can deduce it was after 1897. The Convent property (in the 19th century, known as "The Elms") was owned by George and Allison Holland until 1910, when it was sold to Les Soeurs de la Visitation. So the photo must pre-date 1910. Therefore it is somewhere in the range of 1897-1910. Not bad!

That farmhouse would have been demolished when the Soeurs moved in, as they completed the large addition of three wings by 1913.

Here is a close-up of the three houses, and below it, a view of the Bella's today (the features of the architecture of the home still the same today - The windows match up, and the very distinctive lower roof of the rear portion of the house, behind the chimney).

I feel particularly compelled to share this photo on the blog, as I know the O'Neil house's days are numbered. Mizrahi I believe is planning to demolish it sometime this summer in order to make way for the new condo building going on the lot. It will be a sad day when the wrecking balls and bulldozers pull this 120-year old building down in a matter of a minutes. Enjoy this landmark while you still can.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Street Profiles: The History of Sherbrooke Avenue

Current street name: Sherbrooke Avenue
Former street names: Division Street (1874-1894), Ninth Avenue (1894-1908), Dunbar Street (1908)
First established: 1874 on the original Fraser-Abbott plan

Sir John Coape Sherbrooke
(Source: LAC MIKAN 2909401)
Name meaning: Sherbrooke Avenue is named for Sir John Coape Sherbrooke (1764-1830), who was a soldier, administrator, and governor-in-chief of British North America from 1816 to 1818, and was best known as the fiery Governor-General of Nova Scotia during the War of 1812. Of course, the large Quebec city, and major street in Montreal are named for him as well. His lengthy biography can be found here:

How named: The street obtained it's original name, Division Street, on the original 1874 plan filed by Capt. Allan Fraser and Francis Abbott. I cannot say for sure what the significance of "Division" was in 1874, what it was 'dividing'. When the plan was first subdivided, the area (which was not even called Hintonburg yet) still barely had any streets laid out. In fact Division Street was the most easterly street that ran south off Wellington. My best guess is that since it was basically the first street running south off Wellington, that "Division" may have simply meant that the street was divided in to two sides. When Hintonburg became independent from Nepean Township in 1893, they decided to rename their streets running south off Wellington in a New York-style of street numbering. Thus, commencing at Champagne (which was First), and running west through Loretta, Breezehill, etc., the street numbers counted upwards as far as Rosemount, which was the final numbered street (Tenth Avenue). Division, thus became Ninth. This worked for independent Hintonburg, but in 1907 when it was annexed to the City of Ottawa (along with suburbs Bayswaster, Ottawa East, Ottawa South and Rideauville), an issue was created with duplicate street names within Ottawa. Ottawa's Board of Control decided street names needed to be changed in the new suburb areas, and recommended that former Ottawa mayors and prominent citizens be honoured in the new street names. The communities were not consulted, and in March of 1908, the new name assigned to Ninth Avenue was Dunbar Street (though I can't figure out who that would have been named for). The residents opposed this name, and a petition led to a different name being selected by them: Sherbrooke Avenue. I have no clue why the residents chose this name, but the change became official in June of 1908.

Early Days: The name that comes up in many of these street histories in Hintonburg is Janet Anderson. John Anderson married Janet Gilmour, and their family were one of the pioneer families of Hintonburg, acquiring the prime north 100 acres of lot 36 in Hintonburg (from Melrose west to Parkdale) in 1831, and later moved onto the lot after arriving from Paisley, Scotland sometime in the 1850s. In 1861, the widowed Janet Anderson split her property into 8 blocks, providing one to each of her children. Her daughter Jane (married name Hale) received "Block 4", which was about 7 acres in size, essentially made up of both sides of Sherbrooke from Wellington south to about 130 feet north of where the street ends now at the Queensway.

A year later, Hale sold the property to John Heney (who resided out Richmond Road on his large lot 32 property, by where Kirkwood now runs). Heney then split it in two halves (a west and east half) and sold the west half to Francis Abbott in 1863, and Captain Allan Fraser in 1867. Francis Abbott was a prominent citizen in Ottawa's early days, and constructed many of it's earliest wooden houses. He was also later Paymaster of the Rideau Canal. His interest in Hintonburg was legitimate, though he never resided there; his son William married George Bayne's youngest daughter in 1857 (George Bayne being one of the area's earliest residents; his farmhouse still stands on Fuller Avenue).

On October 9th, 1874, Abbott and Fraser very interestingly got together on a subdivision plan, laying out Division Street, the former "Block 4", registered as Plan 72 with Carleton County. It is very unique that two property owners would co-register a subdivision plan.

Original Plan 72 filed with the Carleton County Registry Office

There had still been no construction on the street yet, and before a lot had even been sold, Capt. Fraser sold off his entire holding, selling the east half of the block to Hector McLean in January of 1875. McLean was a hide merchant in Ottawa, who also owned quite a bit of other land in Hintonburg. He was a very early land prospector and agent. Abbott meanwhile surrendered his half of the street due to mortgage foreclosure, and the land went through various hands (Hamnett Hill, butcher George White, and eventually back to John Heney), before David Manchester purchased the west half in 1887, and laid out a new plan in 1887.

The story of Sherbrooke's early development really was unique for each of the two sides of the street. The west side, as mentioned above, sat undeveloped until 1887. Then, in the space of about two years, it was almost completely built up.

The east side of the street had a much more interesting and early history. The first lots were sold on November 29th, 1875 (lots 19, 20 and 21 at the north end of the street at Wellington) for the sale price of $1,050 total. These lots were purchased by Duncan Ferguson, a 58-year old former resident of the hamlet of Hawthorne in Osgoode Township, who immediately built the first structure on Sherbrooke: a grocery and animal feed store which fronted onto Wellington Street (about where the Hintonburger and particularly it's parking lot now exists). Ferguson operated this store until moving back to Hawthorne around 1883.

In December of 1875, William McEachern purchased eight lots at the south end of the street (lots 1 through 8, now the location of 119 Sherbrooke all the way north to the other side of Gladstone). But McEachern did nothing with them, and no houses would be built on these lots until the 1890s.

Generally, the real estate market at the time was slower than probably the original land-owners would have liked. Lots sold for the most part at a trickle pace. The vast majority were purchased by real estate agents and investors, who would buy lots in bulk, and sit on them for a few years, waiting for things like streetcars, water service and schools to arrive, when demand would increase. Those fortunate to have the spare cash to do this would do exceptionally well during this era. Lots in this subdivision for instance, would sell around $250 (that was for a full lot, most houses are on half-lots), and the municipal taxes were next to nothing until WWI. Manchester and McLean were two such individuals who constantly had a large portfolio of land in Hintonburg, and profited well once the lots were put up for sale.

First Development:

Between 1877 and 1878, the first house fronting onto Sherbrooke was built. This house is 39 Sherbrooke, which still stands today.

39 Sherbrooke Avenue in May 2015, the first and
oldest house on Sherbrooke, now nearly 140 years old.
Originally wood-framed, the brick was added
between 1912-1922. It even survived a moderate-
sized fire in August of 1978.

39 Sherbrooke was constructed by 30-year old Johnston Graham, who had acquired lot 14 on November 21st, 1877, and likely began to build the house immediately. Johnston was born in Cavan, Ireland, but had come to America as an infant. He married his wife Catherine McEachern, a Scot, in 1872, and the couple had three young children at the time they moved in. They added four more children after arriving on Sherbrooke (the first baby born on Sherbrooke was their daughter Amelia in 1880). Sadly, Johnston passed away at the young age of 41 in 1888.  

This would actually remain the only home on Sherbrooke for about four years, until June of 1881, when John Martin Fuller, a 26-year-old professional gardener purchased lot 16 and built a house which I believe is the same which exists today at 23 Sherbrooke Avenue. Fuller had recently immigrated from England and had been renting land a little east off Wellington closer to Merton, before building his own home. Fuller would later move to Aylmer, and spent the final nine years of his life as superintendent of the Federal District Commission, during its key years of 1924 to 1933 when it was constructing Island Park Drive and the Champlain Bridge.

23 Sherbrooke in May 2015

The next house to come was built in-between the Graham and Fuller houses, on lot 15, at 29 Sherbrooke. It had a bit more of a "famous" tie-in, as it was built in 1884 by Jonas Bullman, then a 32-year-old oil foreman with the Petrolia Oil Company. This is the same Bullman for whom "Bullman Street" is named, and this house was his first home in Hintonburg. He was one of the leaders involved in obtaining the public school for Hintonburg, and was later elected Councillor, and twice as Reeve of Hintonburg, and was one of the founders of the Rosemount Methodist Church. Bullman remained in 29 Sherbrooke until the summer of 1901, when he moved into his new home at the corner of Wellington and Holland.

By the end of 1887, four more houses were completed on the east side of the street, at what are now #73 (built by Joseph Ives, freight porter), #55 (built by James Campbell, farm labourer), #17 (built by carpenter James Cook), and #53 (built by William Broad, general labourer). Broad is noteworthy from the bunch, as this house would remain in the Broad family for 77 years, sold in 1964 by William's son William Jr's widowed wife.

Meanwhile, the west side of the street began to see it's first activity. In June of 1887, Ottawa real estate investor David Manchester, who was very drawn to land in the growing Hintonburg suburb and had acquired several pockets of property during the era, acquired the entirety of the west side of the street. Within weeks, he had laid out new plan 95, which kept the lots more or less the same as they had been on Plan 72, but reversed the numbering. Manchester was quick to begin selling lots, which led to a construction explosion on Sherbrooke (then still called Division) during the winter of 1887-88. The first houses on the west side of the street were all constructed during that winter, a total of 12 all being built at the same time. 8 of these houses still stand today.

It appears the first house completed and inhabited (by the assessor's visit on March 15th, 1888) was 74 Sherbrooke, built by Maxime Richer, a 35-year old labourer. This would become the long-time home of Calixte and Philomene Lafrance and their family (who resided in the home from 1888 until at least the 1960s. Calixte and his wife were married over 60 years until he passed away in 1947).

74 Sherbrooke in 2015 (Google Streetview)

The other houses on the west side built in the winter of 1887-88 were: #12 Sherbrooke (built by Thomas Matthews, 21 years old, mason), a house were #14 exists now, demolished or lost to fire within a few years of construction (Thomas Brown, 22, labourer), #20 (Moses Gadon, 30, labourer), old #26, demolished prior to 1912 (George Allan, 40, labourer), #32 (Albert Rowebottom, 30, labourer), #34 (Albert Halliwell, 26, labourer), #36, likely the same house that still stands now (William Lafleur, 42, farmer), old #44 demolished in 2014 (Joseph Soulier, 30, labourer), #50 (Frederick Mison, 25, labourer), #56 (Stephen Howe, 25, labourer), and a house where #60 now exists, demolished or lost to fire early (Thomas David Collins, 25, labourer).

Most of these early houses started life as very simple. They were were all one-and-a-half stories, built entirely in wood, two or three rooms total, with no plumbing. They were small shacks essentially, with minimal insulation, and many without electricity even. As you may have noticed as well, these builders were young, largely in their 20s, who were mill or rail workers. Many home-owners also built sheds and barns on their property to house their horse, chickens, pigs or other animals. The assessed value of these homes could be as low as $75, very few over $200. Even accounting for inflation, it's still a minuscule amount, reflecting the primitive condition of these homes.

These early houses can first be seen with detail on the 1895 fire insurance plan for Ottawa. Hintonburg appears for the first time on one sheet on Goad's plan, with the north part of Sherbrooke (Division) shown below:

1895 Fire Insurance Plan of the north end of Sherbrooke.
Wellington is at the top. A very early structure for École Sacré-Cœur
can be seen at the right, pre-dating Melrose Avenue itself. Yellow
indicates wood, pink brick, grey sheds/barns. Note the address
numbers are not the same as they are now.

Water service was first installed in the summer of 1899. The street was literally dug up in June of 1899, and the pipe was laid throughout July (at the same time that Fairmont and Stirling Avenue had their pipes laid). A team of eighty men were employed in the excavation work, which took place at about two or three streets at a time. During that summer, the pumphouse by the River was also constructed, with the water beginning to flow in late November.

Ottawa Journal - September 2, 1899

In August, a culvert was built to cross Cave Creek. The Creek ran through Sherbrooke in the center of lot 13 on the west side of the street, and lot 8 on the east side (as seen in the map clip below, with the bottom of the photo being at the north, closest to Wellington). This would now be the gap between the houses at 74 and 82 Sherbrooke, and underneath the back half of the new builds at 1111, 1113 and 1115 Gladstone Avenue. This creek was the cause of much flooding in the area, and also acted as the neighbourhood's unofficial sewer until well into the 20th century (You can read more about Cave Creek in my recent article in the Kitchissippi Times at

1894 plan of Hintonburg, showing with great detail the location
of Cave Creek as it crosses Sherbrooke running east-west.

The Cave Creek problem was solved in 1911 when underground collector sewers were installed in the area. The main trunk coming through the area was placed on this very route, and in fact Gladstone Avenue was created for this very reason. The properties on this route were expropriated, and the sewer installed underneath Gladstone, and then the street created overtop. Prior to 1911, Gladstone only existed in portions of what it does now. It ran for just a hundred feet east from Parkdale (and was called "Hatherell"), and then the portion from Irving east to the train tracks before Preston (which was called "Oliver"), where it then became "Pine Street". The true, original Gladstone did not run west of Bell Street. After the sewers were installed, Gladstone became one continuous street all the way through (the portion west of Irving was called "Bethany Road"). In 1923, the full strip was renamed Gladstone Avenue from one end to the other.

This expropriation through Sherbrooke created the 50 foot wide Gladstone, and so two houses were removed on the west side (old #80 and 82), and one the east side, (old #83).

Also notable in 1911 was that part of the Reid farm was made for sale. Plan 107254 extended Sherbrooke Avenue (and several streets to the east and west) to the south all the way to the Grand Trunk Railway tracks (now the Queensway). The street inched southward over the next few years, with an additional house or two built every year or so (the previous limit had been #115 and #122, everything south of these houses are on the old Reid Farm).

Journal - October 7, 1911

Below is an advertisement for 73 Sherbrooke Avenue, newly built in 1912.

May 3, 1912

Below is an ad for two lots for sale in 1912 from the Reid property, which I believe are now the sites of 126 and 128 Sherbrooke.

June 4, 1912

Below is an aerial view of the north end of Sherbrooke where it meets Wellington Street, from 1933:
Aerial photo of the north end of Sherbrooke
May 1933. Wellington Street is the main
street at the bottom.

Notable incidents/stories:

Sherbrooke Avenue (then Ninth Avenue) was graded in 1897, perhaps for the first time.

Ottawa Journal - July 13, 1897

31 Sherbrooke was built between 1909-1911, but prior to that, the lot was one half of the property owned by Jonas Bullman. Bullman's house (#29) as discussed above was built in 1884, and during the 1890s, Bullman would operate a neighbourhood skating rink on his property, which was noted in several newspapers of the era. On Valentine's Day in 1899, he even held a carnival on this rink. I'm not sure exactly where the rink would have been. The lot next door (now #33, which was built in 1913) was empty, which would have allowed for about 66 feet wide of vacant lot. Also the land in behind, now Melrose Avenue didn't get built on until after 1902, so Bullman's rink could have been behind his home too.

Journal - February 11, 1899

A rink on Ninth Avenue (Sherbrooke) was the site of competitive hockey games played by the Hintonburg Victorias hockey team in 1901 and 1902. Bullman had moved, so it is uncertain whether the new owner kept the rink up, or if a different rink was established somewhere else on the street. Other than a series of mentions in the newspapers, I can't find any other details to show where it was, unfortunately. But there were definitely some good calibre, well-organized games played on this rink.

December 11, 1901

One of the victims of the typhoid epidemic of 1911 was Lily Robertson, 17-year old daughter of Richard Robertson of 59 Sherbrooke Avenue, who died on February 28th, 1911. She'd had the fever for three weeks, but the family apparently waited to long to get her to the hospital, only taking her at noon on the day she later died.

World War I saw many young men of Hintonburg go overseas for battle. Many did not return home. Sherbrooke Avenue lost a couple of its residents. Private Lester Charles Neuman of 39 Sherbrooke died on December 4th, 1915 from a gunshot wound to the head sustained on November 6th. He was just 17 years old, and had enlisted with the 38th (Ottawa) Battalion, going overseas with the 2nd Battalion. He died in the Canadian General Hospital at Etaples, France. His older brother Leo Herbert Neuman, also with the 2nd Battalion, died later in the war, on May 3rd, 1917. He was 19, and died in action. Private Peter Fraser Roy, 30 years old, and member of the 52nd Battalion in the Canadian Infantry, of 94 Sherbrooke died on December 20, 1916 in France. Gunner Samuel Fletcher Bradley, 18 years old of 29 Sherbrooke, a member of Queen's 72nd Battery died in June 1917 after taking ill in Kingston not long after enlisting.

13-year old Cecil Matthew O'Connor of 123 Sherbrooke drowned at the beach at the foot of Carleton Avenue (then called Riverside Park, now Champlain Park) at 7:30 p.m. of the evening of June 26th, 1934. He had been swimming with three friends from Edgar Street and Melrose, who had swam out to a log boom not too distant from the shore. They had left Cecil behind as he could not swim. They had only gone out a short distance but when they came back in, there was no sign of them. They initially believed he had gone into the thick woods by the river, and waited nearly half an hour before searching for him, and a further two hours until they went to get help.

Well-known Ottawa Valley violinist and orchestra leader Frank Henry Tippins resided at 56 Sherbrooke for many years, before passing away in 1940.

World War II also hit Sherbrooke Avenue. Lance Corporal Edward Joseph Moore, 24-years old from 72 Sherbrooke Avenue, was killed in action in Italy on May 31st, 1944. He had enlisted in April of 1941 with the Royal Canadian Dragoons, and had arrived overseas in November in Britain with a Canadian armored brigade. His two brothers and one sister had also enlisted in the war effort. The leader of his regiment, Capt. H. D. Cleverdon wrote to his parents after his death to tell them that he had died heroically: "Your son was doing a very difficult job when he met his death. His troop was proceeding along the road to Frosinone when they came to a mined area. Cpl. Moore noticed it, stopped the troop, and himself got out of his vehicle and started removing the mines. He had removed several, then unfortunately he found another, which unknown to him was booby-trapped, and as he was removing it, it exploded. I must say your son's action was courageous, and in doing what he did he helped save the others of his troop. His death was instantaneous, he did not suffer at all." Capt. Cleverdon had also sent along photos and negatives of Edward's grave to his parents.

Ottawa Journal, June 8, 1944

Sgt. Earl Rheaume, an air gunner, who resided at 121 Sherbrooke back home, lost his life in Holland in June of 1944.

Several residents survived the war to make it home. They included L.L. Stranger, daughter of Mrs. M. Lynch, of 22 Sherbrooke Avenue, who was a "Leading Wren" with the Royal Canadian Navy serving overseas in 1945. D.A. Forward of 60 Sherbrooke was an Artillery Lieutenant, while Sergeant J.M. "Tate" Fahey of 30 Sherbrooke spent 5 years overseas with the same company (the 32nd Canadian Corps Composite Company), which had some hard labour work, including being responsible for unloading the Corps vehicles when they first landed in the Mediterranean area, hauling bridging material to the Tiber river while the Germans were still in Rome, hauling supplies for British units of the 8th Army north of Rome, and later moving a railroad construction company, complete with equipment, to a point 80 miles north of Rome.

On September 4th, 1952 there was a fire at 89 Sherbrooke (where the car shop at 1112 Gladstone now exists), and the two-storey home was heavily damaged. Leonard Moore and his wife resided in the home, along with their three children. Leonard was a brother to Edward Moore, mentioned above, who died in the war. It was a flash fire that swept the entire house quickly, luckily no one was home at the time. A photo from the fire appears below (unfortunately poor quality from the newspaper).

89 Sherbrooke Avenue fire in 1952

On October 15th, 1953, at 2 in the morning, a huge fire raced through the house and store at the north-west corner of Gladstone. Dead were Harold A. Murray, 40 and his wife Margaret, 38, as well as Katherine Griffin, 50, daughter of Tom Smyth the then-mayor of Carleton Place. The Murrays had died in the ground floor bedroom where fire had sealed off their only escape. Griffin died trying to save her 16-year old daughter Maureen, who she thought was still in the upstairs apartment, but had plunged through a window onto a verandah roof. Eugene Lanctot and his wife were the owners of the building and resided on the main floor. They escaped uninjured, through Eugene suffered a mild heart attack. The ground floor barber shop and small grocery store which Eugene operated were heavily damaged. The building had been converted from just a single dwelling just a year previous. The cause of the fire was poor wiring of the baseboards in the Murray's apartment. Making things worse was that the doorway leading from their bedroom to the hall of the building was blocked by a heavy cedar chest, and the door itself was nailed shut. A photo from the fire is below, and a second photo of the building can be seen lower in this article.

Front page of the Ottawa Journal - October 15, 1953

In 1959-1960, the NCC began expropriating some of the land alongside the Grand Trunk Railway, for the purposes of building the Queensway. To make room, Sherbrooke Avenue was shrunk by three houses on the east side of the street, and one house on the west.

Aerial photo from May 1933, showing the south end of
Sherbrooke next to the railway track - as well as the south end
of both Melrose (at left) and Rosemount (at right). The three
houses on the east side of Sherbrooke were expropriated in 1959.

The NCC put up for sale those houses which had to be moved. These included 131, 132, 133 and 135 Sherbrooke. Buyers had the option to try to move the houses (which many were) or to demolish them for materials, but had a limited time-frame to do so. I tried hard to find photos or stories related to these four houses, but had a difficult time doing so. The home at the end (#135) was the long-time home to the Vickers family. Thompson Vickers was a life-long railway man, and he raised his family in this home. His grandson Richard Vickers very kindly provided the photograph below of 135 Sherbrooke (which includes his father Claude Vickers standing in front). This winter photograph at least helps to show the openness that existed at the time, as the area on the other side of the tracks would not be built up largely until after WWII. This house would be located just about where the middle lane of the west-bound Queensway now runs, approximately where the Parkdale off-ramp begins.

Claude Vickers in front of 135 Sherbooke
Avenue, mid-1930s.
(Source: Richard Vickers family album)

Here are a few other old photos of houses on Sherbrooke in the old days. I particularly enjoy the first photo below of 9A Sherbrooke, which appears to actually have been an inhabited dwelling for someone in 1958. I see by recent aerial photos that this shed still stands behind 9 Sherbrooke (directly behind the Hintonburger), but it can't possibly still have someone living in it, right?

9A Sherbrooke Avenue in July 1958
(Source: Ottawa Archives, CA-25227)

32 Sherbrooke Avenue in 1960 (and a bit of #30 next door).
Demolished soon after the photo was taken.
(Source: Ottawa Archives, CA-20387)

102 & 100 Sherbrooke Avenue in October of 1955
(Source: Ottawa Archives, CA-25228)

Two sad incidents hit Sherbrooke Avenue in the 1960s. Shirley Levesque, 29, and her 3-year-old son Charles, of 61 Sherbrooke Avenue, died November 4th, 1964, at the CPR level crossing at Northwestern Avenue at Scott Street in a train-car crash. Mrs. Levesque was driving south on Northwestern across the tracks when she was hit broadside by the westbound passenger train No. 263 outbound to Brockville, travelling about 38 mph, at 4:45 p.m. The car was totalled, and dragged 114 feet down the track. Four-year-old Adele Leblanc who lived at 45 Sherbrooke and was being watched by Shirley Levesque while her mother was in the hospital, had also been inside the car and survived, with just minor head injuries.

Five-year-old Carol Ouellette of 9 Sherbrooke died on May 1st, 1967, when she ran out onto Gladstone Avenue near the corner of Sherbrooke, and was sadly hit by a motorcycle. The 17-year-old driver was cleared of all blame.

The Queensway was completed in 1964, but noise barriers were not installed for years.
In the spring of 1979, a $250,000 barrier was finally installed by the ministry of transportation, a 13-foot high wall between Sherbrooke to Island Park Drive. Residents actually complained at the time that the wall might actually amplify sound rather than stifle it. The argument was that the noise would deflect off the top of the barrier up to the second floor windows. I'm sure no one would oppose these sound barriers today.

History of businesses on Sherbrooke:

Ferguson's grocery and animal feed store at the northeast end of Sherbrooke was (as mentioned above) the first commercial business on the street. He opened in 1876, and ran it until 1883, when he moved back to Osgoode. He leased the store to a tenant for a couple of years, before selling. This building remained in this location until it was demolished in 1935. It later had a few unique uses over the years, including as a second-hand goods shop operated by Bernard Lifshitz (1908 or before-1911, and notably the father of Abraham Lieff, known as the "father of modern Canadian family law"), a restaurant (1912-1914), a Salvation Army Hall (1919-1920), and a vulcanizer and tire shop (1925-1935). Unfortunately I have been unable to locate a photo of this store from ground-level, but would love to find one!

After the old store was pulled down, later in 1935 a smaller gas and service station was opened here by Isidore Arron (who owned several prime lots on Wellington), known as the Paramount Service Station. It remained a gas station until the late 60s, most notably run by Gordie Pantalone in the 50s.

Ottawa Journal - December 6, 1935

Scott's Chicken Villa (a.k.a. Kentucky Fried Chicken) later opened in this spot in the fall of 1969, which cost $30,000 to build, the building still standing today as the Hintonburger.

On the west corner at Wellington, where the large block that includes Carben and Wellington Cleaners now stands, aside from being one of Ottawa's most distinctively-shaped buildings, is a parcel of land which possibly might hold Ottawa's record for most fires. The first construction here occurred between 1885-1886, when butcher George White constructed a small brick house (including butcher shop) fronting Wellington about where the Wellington Cleaners and post office now exists. James McCrea, a carriage maker, purchased the Wellington-fronting lots in 1893, moved in to the house and built a wood 2-storey carriage shop at the corner of Sherbrooke (where Carben now exists). McCrea remained here until about 1910, when a large commercial property was built by William Joynt (replacing the carriage shop), featuring Anber & Selloum dry goods shop and Joseph Golt's second hand furniture shop. Joynt expanded this in 1913, connecting the original 1885 White house to the 1910-built shops with a small commercial space in between, creating one large block of commercial (similar to what exists there now). Shoemaker Hermos Chamberlain operated in the connector space, while Norman Anton's fruit shop was in the converted old house.

The block became known as the "Joynt Building", and soon after featured Joynt's own '5, 10 and 15 Cent Store'. The whole building burned in a major fire on January 8th, 1916. Though news reports said the building was essentially a write-off with over $10,000 in damages, it was rebuilt, and business continued. Five years later, on February 19th, 1921, the block again was destroyed by fire, this time to the tune of $30,000. At the time, the building featured a J.W. Newton's hardware store, Joseph Hanna's dry goods store, the vacant cobbler shop, and Norman Anton's fruit shop, as well as two residences (one of the occupants had to jump from the second story window). Again, Joynt rebuilt. At midnight on October 8th, 1924, a $2,000 fire again struck the building, in the dry good store operated by F. N. Anber and H.H. Hardy's electrical store. Again it was rebuilt.

In 1927, Rickey's Frozen Food Lockers (aka Rickey's Meat Market) would land in main corner of this building, where they would remain until December of 1954.

Significant fires had already affected Rickey's neighbour the Genesove Press in January of 1947 and July of 1954, when in December of 1954, another huge fire hit the building.

December 24, 1954 showing the building at the west corner of
Wellington and Sherbrooke. Note the streetcar tracks on Wellington.
(Source: Ottawa Archives, CA-6957) 

On April 10th, 1999, the building would be destroyed once and for all with another big fire, which the Fire Chief called one of the worst area fires he had seen in years. The blaze took down Lt. Pooley's Pub, Wellington Market, Chakar Tailoring, N Suck Collectibles, Weekenders of Westboro and Nu 2 U. A new larger building was built in it's place, though resembling in many ways the original Joynt building that had miraculously survived the many fires over it's 90 year history.

In April of 1949, a permit was issued to Ross Meagher to construct for L.A. Rickey a one-storey 90x24 foot refrigerated storage building on the west side of Sherbrooke, just a little in from Wellington. This building opened that September. It later became Deland Meat Market, and exists today as a residential home, at 10 Sherbrooke.

Completed Rickey's Plant, September 1949. #10 Sherbrooke.

The corner of Gladstone also saw several businesses operate over the years.

84 Sherbrooke Avenue was for many years a meat market, and later a confectionery. It opened just after WWI under Fabien Sayer Jr., and soon after acquired by William Chinkwisky, who operated a grocery store. The shop became better known as the Sherbrooke Meat Market, a name which remained until the 1980s. It finished life as the Sherbrooke Grocery corner store until just a few years ago, and is now a residential home.

Sherbrooke Grocery in May of 2009 (closed soon after)
(Source: Images of Centretown blog)

The opposite corner (the south-east corner), where Max Auto Sales and Service now exists, was for many years also a grocery store at 85 Sherbrooke, interestingly opened at the same time as the one mentioned above, by Fabien Sayer Sr. It later became Sloan's Grocery until the 1950s, when it was demolished to make way for the auto station (originally the Corriveau Brothers BP Station).

On the north side of Gladstone, the east corner was never commercial, but the west side certainly was. You read above about the big fire that hit this building in 1953. Here is a photo of it below in 1953 just after the fire, and another shot of it from 2015 - hardly changed (even despite the fatal blaze).

82 Sherbrooke at the corner of Gladstone after fire.
Citizen, October 15, 1953

Same building in 2015 (Source: Google Streetview)

The building had originally been built as a house (dating back to approx 1911) but within a couple of years the owner Richard Shepherd converted the main floor into a grocery store. The addition was added sometime in the late 1920s, a barber shop run by Eugene Lanctot who later bought the building and owned it at the time of the fire in 1953.

Otherwise, there have been a handful of oddball businesses running on the street. 93 Sherbrooke was a confectionery store during the 1940s for a few years (Fortin Confectionery). Robertson's Refrigeration Services operated out of 59 Sherbrooke from the 1940s through the early 1960s:

December 23, 1961

Frank Sawers was a commercial decorator operating his business out of 115 Sherbrooke in the 20s:

Dec 6, 1926

While the Carleton Insulating Company operated out of 114 Sherbrooke in the 50s and 60s.

February 18, 1961

Newspaper articles of interest:

Below are a few additional articles of interest about incidents on Sherbrooke Avenue during it's very early days which I thought were interesting enough to include.

Talk about a bad luck day. Three fires! The Lacroix houses were the two houses located on the west side of the street, around the north-west corner of Gladstone (one, old #80, was one of the houses torn down to make way for Gladstone Avenue to run through).

Journal - November 27, 1897

It is sometimes easy to forget that Sherbrooke pre-dates cars. The street was originally used by horses, and most home-owners would have had a small barn or stable in which to keep their horse.

December 12, 1898

This horse chase ended up at the corner of Sherbrooke and Wellington in 1899:

February 18, 1899

So of course before there was a fire department, there was a volunteer brigade that answered the call when fire broke out. This article gives a sampling of how the brigade in Hintonburg worked. The Dudley house still exists today, as 90 Sherbrooke:

May 14, 1901. 

Hintonburg was still mid-transition from farmland/open space, and many properties still featured orchards of fruit trees. This included James Wade, who resided at 20 Sherbrooke (which still stands). The orchard was likely on his then-empty property where the double 22-24 Sherbrooke stands today:

August 15, 1901. 

Below is a sad case for sure, but a bit humorous in how the Doc is making extra sure to cover his tracks. The Allens resided at 26 Sherbrooke, though the original house appears to have been replaced around 1910:

October 30, 1901.

One last article, about the "corner loafers" of Hintonburg:

October 10, 1904