Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Petit Bill's Bistro's 10th Anniversary & their vintage West Wellington building!

I read last week that Petit Bill's Bistro recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of their opening on Wellington Street west, at the corner of Smirle. An impressive anniversary for any restaurant for sure, and for me it was a realization of how fast 10 years has gone by. It still seems like not that long ago that Juniper's was in there, or before that even, John's Quick Lunch when I was a kid. I've always liked the little 2-storey building which has housed a variety of different establishments during even my lifetime, let alone it's 90 total years of existence. This building has popped up in my research a few times over the years, and with Petit Bill's anniversary, I felt the timing was right for a profile of this venerable Wellington Village structure. I also recently tracked down an exciting, rare old photo of the building, which sealed the deal!

Early days of the property

The history of the property dates all the way back to the Smirle family, believe it or not. In 1885, Archibald Smirle was in the midst of a major life change. He had fairly recently received a significant appointment as Public School Inspector for Carleton County, but had also just lost his young wife, the former Harriet Holmes Cowley, during childbirth in December 1884 at age 39. A long-time resident in the City of Ottawa, Smirle was perhaps looking for a fresh start, and the proximity to his in-laws (the Cowleys) on Richmond Road was likely appealing. He purchased a block of land in the "McLeansville" subdivision of the former Stewart farm, and build a pretty stone house fronting Richmond Road. (Much more on Smirles and that stone house can be found in a previous article I wrote at: http://kitchissippimuseum.blogspot.ca/2016/01/the-story-of-archibald-smirle-family.html)

In 1893, just prior to the Stewarts selling their entire farm to the land syndicate Ottawa Land Association, Smirle acquired "lot 7" on Richmond Road (which would of course later be renamed Wellington to as far as Western Avenue), as well as two more lots in behind fronting Grange and Smirle, for $300, giving him a parcel of land 200 feet wide and 216 feet deep off Richmond.

Archibald died in 1897, and his young daughters sold the property in 1904 to a 44-year old British Spinster, Miss Mary French for $2,300. French remained in the home until her death in September of 1920. After she died, her executors sold the whole property (so the eastern 3/4 of the block of Wellington between Grange and Smirle, all the way back to what is now 118 Smirle) to Mrs. Isabelle S. Wallace (wife of Alfred Wallace), in July of 1922 for $5,500.

At some point in time in the mid-1920s, Isabelle Wallace made a family deal to sell the property to her brother, James Henry Russell. I say family deal because the sale was never registered in the land registry records. All transactions remained under Isabelle until she sold in 1944. However, the owner in civic records by the late 1920s was J.H. Russell, and it was he who would make this block of land come alive.

James Henry Russell in 1927 was a 57-year old recently retired tailor. He was born in 1869 in Kars, and had moved to Ottawa in his twenties. He worked for many years for the Ottawa tailoring firm Burwash and MacDonald. He was married, with one child, a teen-aged daughter. He lived on First Avenue in the Glebe, and in his retirement had become actively involved in real estate.

Around 1926, he constructed the brick duplex at 118-120 Smirle Avenue, and in August of 1927, took out a building permit to build another duplex next door, which is now 122 Smirle Avenue. It seems unlikely Russell himself was involved in the physical house building work, but he certainly was responsible for overseeing the construction.

It was his action on Halloween day in 1927 that is most notable, at least for the purposes of this story. On that date, the last building permit in the city of Ottawa for the month of October of 1927 was issued to J.H. Russell, in the amount of $6,000 for the construction of a "brick veneer store and apartment." This was the future Petit Bill's building.

Ottawa Journal - November 7, 1927

The construction of the Petit Bill's building

Here is the first tidbit which may surprise you: to the naked eye, the building which now houses Petit Bill's and Kulu Trading looks like just one big building. But it's an illusion! The building was actually constructed at two separate times! The eastern portion of the building siding on Smirle Avenue was built by Russell using the building permit issued in October 1927, but the western half of the building came later. Minor changes to the exterior features make the building appear to be one building, but interestingly, that is not the case. More on this below.

Russell (through his sister) took out a mortgage for $4,000 on November 7, 1927 towards the construction of the building, and construction would have occurred throughout the winter of 1927-28.

Aerial view of Wellington Street, May 5, 1928.
East is at the left. Visible are Smirle and Grange running
towards the bottom, and Julian and Warren running towards
the top. The new store at the northwest corner of Smirle can
be seen, as well as the old stone house, with a sizable gap
between them. Quite a few trees west of the stone house.

Upon completion of the building by the spring of 1928, tenants were found to occupy the space, which was originally given the civic address 1307 Wellington Street (the addresses on Wellington would later all be renumbered in 1946). The upstairs apartment (1309 Wellington) was rented to Edward J. Burroughs and his wife Hawthorne (so says the record books), while the store was rented to Mr. Joseph Nathaniel Harmer. Harmer was a druggist, who had been operating his shop across the street in what is now the Won Ton House building, since 1923. In fact, Harmer was the Postmaster for what was known as the Elmdale neighbourhood, with the first post office for Wellington Village opening in his original store on April 29th, 1927.

Joseph Harmer was born in Thamesville, Ontario in 1885, and had married Emma Nita Bounsall in 1908. The couple had three children within the next 10 years, two sons and a daughter. During WWI, the family moved to Toronto, where Joseph found work as a manager of one of the Louis K. Liggett Co. chain drug stores. However, while in Toronto, 2-year old daughter Eleanor passed away, and a year later the family moved back to Ottawa. It was then that Harmer opened his own shop at Wellington and Warren. I can't say why Harmer moved into the new building across the street in early 1928, but he did. (Note, Harmer was of no relation to Frederick W. Harmer, Clerk for Nepean Township for nearly 40 years (1866-1905), and for whom Harmer Avenue is named. It is only a coincidence that Joseph Harmer opened his store close by).

Joseph and Nita Harmer, circa 1930
(Photo courtesy of Mrs. Joanne Bocking)

Below are two incredible photos which I tracked down through the Harmer family. I cannot thank Mrs. Joanne Bocking enough for digging through the family archive and coming up with the photos below. You may not recognize it at first, but it indeed is the Petit Bill's building, within the first few months, if not the first few weeks after its construction (as always, click on any photo to enlarge it):

Harmer's Drug Store - Spring 1928
(Photo courtesy of Mrs. Joanne Bocking)

The old stone Smirle house which was demolished in the 1960s is seen at left in the photo, and the view down Smirle Avenue at right is really interesting as well - not too much growth there yet. But remember that Smirle Avenue was only about 7-8 years old at the time, and had only a handful of houses built on it. The visible house in the background is what is now 131 Smirle Avenue, then the home of spinster Mrs. Margaret McAdoo. For comparison's sake, here is the building in 2016 below:

May 2016 Google Streetview photo

This view is looking at the corner of the building, taken the same day. I've included a present-day shot from roughly this angle as well. I believe that is an old fire alarm box on the hydro pole.

Harmer's Drug Store - Spring 1928, looking west
(Photo courtesy of Mrs. Joanne Bocking)

May 2016 Google Streetview shot

In August of 1928, Russell took out a new building permit to complete the last of his construction on his block of land, to build a "brick veneer and cinder block, stores (and) apartments, Wellington Street" in the amount of $5,000. This was in essence, the second phase of the Petit Bill's building. Construction began right away, if not even a little before the permit was issued, as the Ottawa City Directory of 1928 includes a listing for the unfinished building, as "Vacant". This fact makes the above photographs all the rarer, as it shows the building during the brief 4-6 month period that it stood alone without its addition. I do not understand why Russell chose to build in two halves, it is odd for sure.

The difference between the first and second 'phase' of the construction can be seen when looking at the building up close. There is a slight coloring difference in the bricks between the two phases, creating a slightly-noticeable line.

Certainly by the fall of 1928, the new building was complete. The final aerial photos of 1928 show the building in a final state:

November 4, 1928 aerial
Same view as the May 1928 photo above, but now the
full building is complete adjacent to the stone house.

The new portion of the building featured two stores on the main floor, and a residence upstairs. The first occupants of the new commercial space were Mrs. Flora Drysdale, who operated a hairdressing establishment in the eastern half (now part of the extension of Petit Bill's), while the western half (now Kulu Trading) was occupied by a butcher shop, William J. Linttell & Sons Ltd. Linttell's held their grand opening on Friday November 9th, 1928.

Ottawa Journal - November 8, 1928

In 1934, Linttell moved to the opposite side of Smirle Avenue, and became the first occupants of what is now the Fresh Air Experience store.

December 19, 1929

For a few years in the early 1930s, it appears part of Harmer's shop was dedicated to the sale of radios, by the Rev Radio Company. Of course televisions were still twenty years away, and radios were beginning to enter their golden period of popularity.

Joseph N. Harmer's Drug Store

Back to Joseph Harmer, he continued to operate his popular and successful drug store at 1307 Wellington Street into the 1940s. His store featured the local post office for Wellington Village (called "Ottawa Sub #19") until April 4th, 1936, when it was moved to George Nichol's drug store closer to Holland Avenue. Harmer later took over the "Ottawa West" post office on March 22nd, 1944, when it moved from 1 Gould Street at the corner of Western (the "Ottawa West" subdivision was the little segment of streets between Western and Island Park Drive, north of Wellington and south of Scott; the post office for Ottawa West had always been located there, and I'm not sure why it was moved out to Wellington and Smirle in 1944. Both Nichol's and Harmer's post office locations would have been operating simultaneously just a few blocks apart.)

Part of a Rexall- Harmer's Drug Store ad from October 1940

Tragedy struck on the morning of November 14th, 1945, when Joseph Nathaniel Harmer took a heart attack while in his store, and died at age 60.

Ottawa Journal
November 15, 1945

Sadly, very little biographical information on Harmer remains today. News accounts on him are sparse, his granddaughter who I spoke with never met him; he died a few years before she was born. His granddaughter Johanne did state that her Mom stated that Joseph was "the sweetest kindest man in the world", and that her Mom adored him. He was a devout Anglican, and was heavily involved in St. Matthias Church. When he passed away, a memorial cross was erected in his memory in the Church, which stood until the closure of the Church.

The base of the memorial cross for Joseph N. Harmer, which
stood inside St. Matthias Church on Parkdale Avenue
since 1945 until all Church artifacts were removed during
the closure of the church last year. Mrs. Joanne Bocking
now displays the cross in the living room of her home,
in honour of her grandfather.

Joseph and Nita Harmer and their two sons, Donald (at left)
and Joseph Jr. (at right), with their wives. Circa early-1940s.
(Photo courtesy of Mrs. Joanne Bocking)

Joseph's family continued to operate the drug store for a few months, before the business was soon sold to Norman D. McMillan. McMillan kept the drug store open until 1963, and over time also purchased the store property and the old stone house next door, which had become a mixed commercial and apartment house. During that same year of 1963, McMillan was ordered by the Housing Standards Board to demolish the stone house. It was deemed to be in poor condition, and likely dangerously so. The Housing Standards Board, via the Urban Renewal Project, had set out to enforce owners of decrepit buildings to either repair them to a certain standard, or force their demolition. Thus sadly, the historic Smirle home was torn down within a few years.

May 23, 1953 ad for McMillan's store

The list of businesses and usages over the building's history

This building has housed a number of businesses over the years. Here is as complete a list as my records show, with dates/years approximate depending on sources available:

1293 Wellington (current Petit Bill's Bistro, next to Smirle)
1928-1946: Harmer's Drug Store
1947-1963: McMillan's Drug Store
1966-1969: Parkway Beauty Salon
1970-1973: Golden Beauty Salon
1974-1975: Karam's Quick Lunch
1976-1989: John's Quick Lunch
1990: The Wellington Station (125-seat jazz nightclub)
1991-1992: Touch of India Restaurant
1993-1994: Taj Palace
1996: La Cucina Ristorante
1996-2006: Juniper Kitchen & Wine Bar
2007-Present: Petit Bill's Bistro

1295 Wellington (the apartments above Petit Bill's Bistro)
Two apartment units until at least 1963. Records do not seem to indicate anyone living there from 1963 to 1987, but they could be incomplete. By 1988 was listed as a single apartment, as I believe it continues to be. The tenants residing here the longest were Mrs. Flora McClelland her family (1941-1955) and Oswald and Annie Hughes (1939-1951).

1297 Wellington (current Petit Bill's Bistro - the 'extension' part next to Kulu's)
1929: Mrs. Flora Drysdale (hairdresser)
1930-1937: Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company Ltd. (A&P)
1940: Emile J. Spencer (novelties)
1941: Ellis Lunch Bar (confectionery)
1943-1946: residential apartment
1948-1950: Mayfair Grill (restaurant)
1951-1957: Eddie's Wonder Bar (restaurant)
1958-1960: Jimmy's Lunch (restaurant)
1961-1990s: combined with 1299 next door to west
1990s-present: time frame is uncertain but at some point, it was renovated, and added as extension to 1307 Wellington next door to the east, as it is now

1299 Wellington (current Kulu's Trading)
1929-1933: William J. Linttell & Sons (butchers)
1939-1942: Frederick Simmonds (baker)
1943-1948: residential apartment
1949-1957: Meyers-Dale & Co (floor sanding) & Dale Construction Co. Ltd (building contractors)
1959: Thomas Shipman Ltd. (real estate)
1960: West End Appliances Repair Depot
1961-1962: King Koin Laundrette (coin-operated laundry)
1962: Parker's Cleaners & Dyers
1966-1972: Kelly-Moore Ltd. (real estate and general insurance)
1973-1979: Titley Inc. (real estate)
1981-1991: combined with 1301 next door to west (St. Vincent de Paul). (I can't 100% confirm this, but the addressing and city directory info seem to indicate this. I vaguely remember St. Vincent de Paul extending to the east from it's old location at 1301 - where Blueprint Home is now located)
1992-2011: Rideau Tailors & Cleaners
2011-present: Kulu Trading

Other tidbits and photos from the history of the building

On January 17th, 1940, two-year-old Jean Lecuyer, who was residing in the upstairs apartment, died at home when one of the beans she had been playing with became caught in her windpipe.

Like in many homes in Ottawa and throughout Canada, the call to war took young men from their families during the 1940s. The residents of 1293-1299 Wellington were no different. G. W. Ellis, a young soldier who lived in the upstairs apartment, appeared in the newspaper upon graduation from the No. 9 Bombing and Gunnery School in Mont Joli, Quebec.

Ottawa Journal, June 19, 1944

Three other soldiers in WWII lived upstairs at a time during the 1940s as well. Pte G. McLelland, son of Flora McClelland (the longest resident of the upstairs apartment), had been overseas for five years, and returned home in April of 1945 after fighting in the Battle of Germany. Meanwhile, Pte. V. J. Lebeau returned home in September of 1945, while his brother Rene returned home a month later. In April of 1946, Rene's war bride and child arrived in Canada. The Lebeaus resided in the upstairs apartment upon their return.

It is interesting to note that during WWII and just after, there was a major housing shortage in Ottawa. All available space was encouraged to be used for housing. As a result two of the storefronts were converted into residences for several years in the mid-late 1940s! (This would encompass the Kulu Trading portion and the western extension of Petit Bill's).

Here is an ad for Meyers-Dale & Co, "floor covering specialists" who occupied the Kulu space in the 1950s:
April 21, 1954

In 1959, the owner of Jimmy's Lunch and a neighbour were attacked by two youths late at night in the restaurant:

November 24, 1959

Here are two photos showing the exterior of the Petit Bill's building in the early 1960s:

Smirle stone house, with the future Kulu Trading
shop in view at right, then a laundromat. 1960.
(Source: Ottawa Archives CA-20755)

The former McMillan's Drug Store and King Koin Laundrette,
both vacant in February, 1965
(Source: Ottawa Archives CA-24761)

This is my attempt to combine the two photos (taken five years apart and in different seasons) to try to show a streetscape view of the block from that era:

Photoshop mashup of the two photos to try to give a good idea
of what the Wellington Street block looked like in the early
1960s, before the stone house was demolished.

Real estate agents occupied the west half of the building from approximately 1966 to 1979.

June 13, 1973

John's Quick Lunch opened on Wellington Street in the future Petit Bill's Bistro in early 1976, taking over for what was "Karam's Quick Lunch". This was one of, if not the first restaurant review for John's:

February 6, 1976

Here are two views of John's Quick Lunch in the 1980s:

John's Quick Lunch, circa mid-1980s
(Source: John's Quick Lunch)

Interior of John's Quick Lunch, mid-1980s
(Source: John's Quick Lunch)

John's moved further west up Wellington to its current home in 1989, and was replaced at 1293 Wellington by a jazz nightclub, and later a series of short-lived restaurants.

Junipers opened just after labour day in 1996, operated by chefs Michael Sobcov (formerly of the Maple Lawn Cafe and Domus Cafe) and Richard Nigro (also of Domus). The restaurant moved to 245 Richmond Road around Christmas 2006, where they remained until closing in November of 2014.

Petit Bill's was opened by Randy Fitzpatrick, Sharon Garvey and Terry Fitzpatrick in April of 2007. The restaurant was named for "Little Bill" Fitzpatrick, father of the three owners. Sadly, "Little Bill" passed away a little over a year later.

April 2009 view of Petit Bill's and Rideau Tailors.
Note the original red sign, and no patio yet!
(Source; Google Streetview)

Petit Bill's has been a great success story for the neighbourhood and is well appreciated not only for it's great food and eclectic menu, but also for its friendly owners and staff, who go out of their way to make this great old building a little extra special. They accomplish this in little ways, such as their annual Christmas window display, water bowls for dogs walking by, small treats for kids, or just a cheerful hello to anyone happening by, perusing the menu, or perhaps looking up at the building and reminiscing about a particular memory they might have from this building's interesting 90 years of history!

Painting by Barbara Ursel

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The history of Movie Theatres in Kitchissippi

In this week's new issue of the Kitchissippi Times, my column covers a topic that was hard to keep to roughly 1,000 words: the history of movie theatres in Kitchissippi! This is possibly my favourite topic of local history, and also the most frustrating. It saddens me that we no longer have a movie house in the area. Local single/double screen theatres were such a significant part of every neighbourhood throughout the 20th century, but are extremely rare now. It takes a special kind of investor, the availability of a large building and low rent to make it happen. Seems like all three are an impossibility these days.

I recommend a trip to the O'Brien Theatre in Arnprior (http://www.obrientheatre.com/site/) for that old-time movie experience. My biggest dream has always been to re-open a theatre in the Westboro-Wellington area. I truly think it has great potential to do well in our area. Though the movie industry has struggled due to new forms of media distribution, piracy, affordable high-end technology for your home, etc., the experience of going out to a movie will always live on. Theatre chains have had to glitz it up in recent years with plush reclining chairs, 3D glasses, arcade games, dozens of new food options, and intriguingly, the sale of alcohol all adding to the movie-going adventure.

If only commercial real estate and land values weren't so exorbitant, I feel a local cinema in Kitchissippi could be a huge success. I've had an eye for years on the old Elmdale Theatre building (now a Church) on the off-chance it might be put up for sale, but that lot is worth millions now, a likely spot for a condo development sometime in the next 10-20 years I'm sure.

So in all likelihood, all we'll have going forward are the memories of these great old theatres. The experience of seeing a movie now left to driving to a suburban megaplex; fun and traditional entertainment for kids, teens and young adults now only achievable by leaving Kitchissippi and driving a fair distance. It's a shame really. Though I was only old enough to catch the tail-end of theatres in the area (the Elmdale closed just as I was starting high school), I have great childhood memories of seeing movies there, at Westgate, at the Somerset (which closed in 2000), and as an adult I've seeked out vintage theatres when I travel to cities and towns in the States. Like I mentioned above, the O'Brien in Arnprior is a great place to visit; the restoration of the 100-year-old theatre the labour of love for Kevin, a passionate movie-loving guy fulfilling his dream. I hold out hope that I'll be able to do the same someday!

For the nostalgic look back at the many theatres of Kitchissippi, please view the column here:

Thanks for reading! Cheers!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Kitchissippi Museum on CBC Radio

This morning, I appeared on CBC Radio's "Ottawa Morning" to discuss the required renaming of some streets in Kitchissippi. Appearing alongside me was David Jeanes, President of Heritage Ottawa. You can listen to the segment at: http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/917750851524


Hintonburg Builder: David Manchester

The name Manchester has suddenly become significant in the west end over the last two weeks. The name, which of course is most closely associated with the name of a major city in England, actually has a significant tie-in to the Hintonburg neighbourhood in west Ottawa. Manchester Avenue may well be the smallest street in Ottawa at 150 feet from start to finish, but it is also one of its most unique. It's name has nothing to do with the UK, and actually has a close local history association dating back over 130 years

This article today will explore the little-known story of David Manchester, his contributions to Ottawa, and in particular, to Hintonburg.


David Manchester was born on September 19th, 1840 in Rawdon, Quebec, a small town about 60 kilometers north of Montreal, on the Ouareau River. It is mostly known as a tourist resort town today. The Manchester family is prominent in the town's history. David's grandfather William J. Manchester had emigrated to Philadelphia from England, then relocated to Quebec where he developed significant interests as a lumberman. The Manchesters operated a mill at Rawdon, and many locations in the town still bear the name Manchester (the falls in the town, a main street, a hotel, a bar, and more.)

Manchester moved as a young adult to Manitoulin Island, Ontario, becoming one of the first white men to reside there. He acquired a large amount of government land in the district and was engaged in lumbering, employing several ships. There he learned to speak fluent Ojibway.

By 1861, Manchester had relocated to the LeBreton Flats area, where he opened a merchant tailor shop (at 62 Queen West, the south-east corner of Cathcart; today that would be located at the corner of Fleet and Lett respectively, exactly where the Claridge Fusion building now stands). He married Mary Ann Tayler, whose father, Richard Taylor was for many years an Irish justice of the peace before their family had moved to Nepean. The couple had three children, William Albert (b. 1863), David Levi (b. 1865), and George Herbert (b. 1872) before Mary Ann passed away at the young age of 32 or 33 in 1872 or 1873.

David remarried in 1874 to Helen Caldwell, and the couple would go on to have 9 children between 1876 and 1889, 7 of whom survived infancy: Samuel Jacob, Wilber Maxwell, Clifford, Helen, Mary, William S., and D. Elwood. Mary would pass away in childhood, leaving Helen as the only Manchester daughter.

David Manchester in his younger years

Helen Manchester, wife of David

David was also described as a wealthy and progressive man. He was a Methodist, and a strict one. He and his family were members of the Wesleyan Church and later of the Dominion Methodist Church.

In 1883, David constructed a large building at 440-442-444 Wellington Street, where he ran his successful and prosperous merchant tailoring business out of. The family resided above the business, the residence portion accessed via a rear entrance on Sparks Street (the residence was officially 447 Sparks). In October of 1894, Samuel J. McArthur was hired by Manchester to construct a large extension to the store (40x30 feet, 2 stories tall, adjoining the existing premises). McArthur would later acquire a series of Hintonburg lots from Manchester and build quite a few houses and shops in the neighbourhood.

Google Streetview of the location of where Manchester's
impressive building was. This is Wellington as it transitions
from the Parkway, going east. The road going to the right is
the old Wellington Street, which used to connect through to
the western portion of Wellington. Where that odd sculpture
stands is just about exactly where Manchester's shop was.
That entire block which is now green space and the weird
elevated concrete area at Bay was all busy industry and
commercial space well into the 1930s.

1937 view of 440-444 Wellington which Manchester had
built in 1883. This is the old triangle where Sparks and
Wellington met (Sparks in foreground, Wellington  in back).
444 is immediately behind the 1-storey gas station, and
440-442 is the building labelled "Coffee".
(Source: LAC MIKAN 4169820)

Slightly older (1920s?) view of the same spot, but with more
of a view down Wellington (at left), which would have been
the front of the 440-444 Wellington stores.
(Source: LAC MIKAN 4170166)

Between 1888-1889, immediately across the street from his shop, at 443 Wellington Street, Manchester erected a thin, but mammothly tall six-storey brick house for he and his family. The six stories were intentional; he wanted a house that would stand out. The building had two distinct parts - a residence on the south, and a hall for rentals on the north, which he called "Manchester Hall".

Ottawa Journal - November 29, 1889
Ad for a lodge meeting at Manchester Hall

An ad renting out the Hall from September 8, 1897

Manchester's mansion was described later: "Dominating the entire neighborhood was the six-storey mansion of Mr. David Manchester; a brick house that belonged in the sky-scraper class at the time. Six stories were remarkable enough for an office building, but for a residence!... The home was set in spacious grounds sloping down towards the stables. Both house and stables were built of brick as were sheds for tools of various kinds." The stables were later converted in to a duplex which existed off of Wellington for many years.

The bedrooms in his mansion were on the ground floor. A hired man looked after the furnace and the lamps until the advent of gas.

The fire insurance plans of the eras confirm the six-storey height of the house. Below is a great view of the area from the 1888 fire insurance plan, which depicts the house and business.

1888 fire insurance plan, with Wellington at left, Sparks at
right. The blue building at right is Manchester's tailor shop,
the pink house across the street is his house.

A surviving photo of the house from 1938 below shows the building as it was then. Clearly it is not 6 storeys tall, and through my research, I am unable to tell why/how this had changed. Obviously it must have been altered/reduced at some point in time.

August 1938 view of 441 and 443 Wellington Street; the
former Manchester home and Manchester Hall.
(Source: LAC MIKAN 4160747)

Chris Ryan in his impressive blog "Margins of History" has written extensively about demolished/lost apartment buildings in Ottawa. He did a great column on the Manchester house (later known as the Broadview Apartments), which you can read at this link: http://www.historynerd.ca/2016/07/11/demolished-ottawa-broadview-apartments/#more-3391

His article doesn't help with my confusion on what happened to the six storeys, so its a mystery in research that may be altogether lost, as hunting through newspapers and other documents of the period doesn't clear it up. And truly, this article is more about the man than his home, so I've given up trying! The house/apartments were demolished in the summer of 1944

1890 ad for Manchester's business and his Hall
(from the 1890 Might's City Directory)

For a period in the 1890s, David's son David Levi Manchester was in the tailoring business as well. They co-operated the shop for a while, before David Jr. opened a store of his own at 290 Wellington.

David Levi Manchester
(Source: Ancestry, jemaner family tree)

On the 1891 Census, Manchester and his family were listed, but some of the additional details explain how successful business was for Manchester at the time. He was listed as the employer of 60 people at the time, and his family had a live-in children's nurse (a 17-year old girl) and a "family cook", who was 25. The Censuses of 1901 and 1911 also listed the family as having live-in servants.

An early ad Manchester ran. He either held this
"retirement sale" as he genuinely felt he was going
to retire, or perhaps more likely as a sales gimmick.
By January of 1894, he was running the same ads
but had quietly stopped running it as a "retirement
sale" From the Ottawa Journal, October 11, 1893.

In 1897, Manchester opened a 'woollen mill' at his shop, which he called the Ottawa Woollen Mill. The Mill was a factory where wool was processed into cloth for production of clothing. This was a significant step for Manchester in his business. Below are a few ads promoting his new service:

February 12, 1897 Journal

June 12, 1897

December 17, 1898

February 15, 1900

Manchester was a believer in temperance, and was staunchly anti-liquor. A news report from 1960 noted that his daughter Helen as a child was friends with the Brading children who lived next door (Brading's Brewery was on the same block), but David Manchester "would not speak to Mr. Brading whom he considered an inferior person. A brewer, indeed!" There is also evidence that he would speak a prohibition meetings held in the area:

September 29, 1898

Manchester was also notably very charitable, with the newspapers recounting regularly a donation or contribution he had made to an organization or cause. For some quick examples, at Christmas 1899, he donated 6 boys' cardigan jackets to the St. Patrick's Asylum, and in May of 1900, following the great fire of Ottawa-Hull, he donated clothing to the victims totaling in value $305.

May 5, 1900

Around 1905, Manchester retired from business. He remained active however in real estate, and put more focus on this area. In his retirement, the family took annual trips to Old Orchard, Maine in the summertime.

David Manchester later in life (circa 1900).
(Source: Ancestry, jemaner family tree)

As mentioned in Chris Ryan's post, Manchester Hall was sold in 1911, and Manchester began to sell off the pieces of his Wellington Street home and business. He moved to a house on Bronson Avenue.

March 7, 1911

On June 12, 1911, David Manchester's daughter Helen, his only surviving daughter, married James MacKenzie Skead, son of Senator Hon. James Skead, who also has a lot of history to the Kitchissippi area of course.

In June of 1914, David's second wife Helen Manchester passed away at age 66. In April of 1919, the 78-year-old Manchester married for a third time, marrying Annie Hogan, who I believe had been his housekeeper. She was 13 years his junior.

David Manchester passed away on August 17th, 1925 in Ottawa, just shy of his 85th birthday, at his home on Bronson Avenue. His funeral was held in the home of his son Elwood at 101 Stanley Avenue, where he had been living the final months of his life. A large funeral was held with many top names in Ottawa politics and society, and his many friends and business associates. He was buried at St. James cemetery on the Aylmer road on the Quebec side.

By 1941, Manchester's estate continued to own assets. Between 1941-42, the federal government paid out over $1.1M for various properties in order to prepare for the realization of the plan to beautify Ottawa, aka the Greber Plan. Part of that bulk acquisition was land the Manchester estate (led by son Samuel J. Manchester) still owned on the north side of Wellington.

Manchester's presence (and importance) in Hintonburg

Manchester's holdings in the Hintonburg area, in one word, were vast. It is difficult to come up with a complete list. Real estate ownership records are scattered, and from that era are very few organized listings of full property ownership of an individual. I can only attest to Manchester's Hintonburg acquisitions as his name comes up just about every time I have researched a house, street or business. He clearly was infatuated with real estate prospecting in Hintonburg, and bought and sold land in the area for over a 40 year period. Below are a few highlights of the purchases I know about. There are likely several more I haven't come across yet, or neglected include.

His earliest Hintonburg purchase appears to be in February of 1882, when he purchased lots at the north-east corner of Bayview at Wellington Street, where a storied old commercial and apartment building would be built a few years later (more on that building and the general area at: http://kitchissippimuseum.blogspot.ca/2015/03/long-lost-hintonburg-alonzo-section.html)

On October 9th, 1883, Manchester acquired a total of 25 lots from Plan 57: all of the lots on the north and south sides of Ladouceur (then known as Centre Street), and all of the lots on the south side of Lowrey (then known as West Street) from Mary Ann Armstrong, widow of Judge Chris Armstrong (he had died in September 1874). Manchester paid $1,250 for the land ($50 per lot). Armstrong had laid out Plan 57 just before he died in 1874, and the land sat essentially unsold for nearly 10 years until Manchester acquired it.

On May 14th, 1884, Manchester acquired an additional large block of land from the Armstrong estate, the north side of Lowrey (West Street) and the lots on the south side of Scott Street, giving him half of the lots on Plan 57. He soon after even re-subdivided these lots to create slightly smaller builder lots, ideal for the potential working class buyers and house builders (particularly railroaders). There were no developers in this era; men would purchase a lot and build for their family a small house, adding to it as they could afford to. Manchester was keenly aware of this, and would take a lot of risks to help these men; Manchester allowed individuals to purchase lots, loan them money to build homes on them, delaying the need for repayment for lot and loans for several years. The purchases were often not even registered at the land registry office for years, likely a part of the deal Manchester made with the men (i.e. you'll get ownership once you've paid X% back of what I've loaned you).

Below is part of an interview with longtime Ottawa resident 'Lanty' Johnston, who spoke of his positive experience working for David Manchester, and which re-confirms Manchester's generous nature for the workers in Hintonburg (incorrectly noted as Mechanicsville):

Ottawa Citizen, Feb 28 1931.

As part of Manchester's re-subdividing in 1887, which was Plan 97, he created a new small street (Manchester Street) running off of Scott Street. He also named his little subdivision (Ladouceur, Lowrey and Manchester) as "Manchesterville", the name beginning to appear in various directories, news articles and on some documents. The name did not stick and eventually, Manchesterville simply became part of Hintonburg.

One such listing, from the 1892 City Directory, shows Manchesterville and a few of its residents:

1892 Might's City of Ottawa Directory
Part of Manchesterville listing.

Unfortunately, the Manchesterville subdivision name never caught on, and within a few years, it had disappeared. In fact, in searching the old Ottawa Journal newspapers, the name comes up with just one single hit - a gruesome tale of a train accident from 1894:

August 10, 1894

1894 Hintonburg overview plan, showing the Plan 97 and the new Manchester Avenue

In June 1887, Manchester acquired the entire west half of Sherbrooke Avenue, and laid out a new plan, Plan 95. 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.

Development on West Street (Lowrey Street) began in the mid-1880s after Manchester purchased the lots. Between 1884 and 1886, there were six houses completed on Lowrey (five on the south side, and one on the north side), several of which still exist today.

By the late 1880s, Manchester was listed as owning several lots on the west half of Stirling Avenue as well.

More on Manchester Street itself, below is a fire insurance plan map of part of Hintonburg from 1895. It shows all houses at the time (yellow is wood frame, grey is outhouses/sheds, etc. brick would be pink, but there is no brick in this area yet). Scott along the top, Merton is at left (along with the old Cave Creek in blue), Lowrey (as West) and Garland is at right.

The same area, largely unchanged, in the 1912 fire plan:

It appears Manchester did not own much Hintonburg land in the mid to late 1890s, perhaps as he was focusing and expanding his tailor/woollen mill business.

On the eve of the new century, December 26, 1899, he acquired a few lots on Carruthers near Wellington, and then in April of 1901, acquired the whole north end of Carruthers (the Hintonburg portion of the street), from Ladouceur to Scott. He acquired these 10 lots for $1,000. Owning about half of the Hintonburg Carruthers section, Manchester would gradually sell the lots one by one, and helped lot-buyers build their homes by providing extensive credit with easy terms.

In June of 1903, Manchester acquired lots on Pinhey Street plus 4 acres of property at the north end of Pinhey (the un-subdivided area from plan 155) for $1,900 from the Charles Hamnett Pinhey estate.
Manchester even opened a branch clothing store in Hintonburg. In August of 1903, Manchester opened a shop in the "Jones block" on the south side of Wellington, just a little east of Irving. A year later, in September 1904, Manchester moved the store across the street, just a little west of Garland (next to Garland's Drug Store).

October 5, 1904

In June 1904, Manchester filed subdivision plan 226, subdividing the 4-acre parcel at the north end of Pinhey and Merton Street. 33 building lots in total, 11 on each side of Pinhey, and 11 on the west side of Merton. The lots ran from Scott to approximately where Ladouceur now runs.

In September of 1905, Manchester addressed Hintonburg council regarding the need for the Waterworks Committee to add water service down Pinhey Street. He circulated a petition and provided it to council, who agreed to install a 4" water service on Pinhey "as far as the pipe on hand would allow."

Manchester would spend years slowly selling these lots. By 1924, some were still available:

July 5, 1924

After his passing, the Manchester estate continued to hold two final lots on Pinhey until 1942, when they were surrendered to the City of Ottawa due to unpaid taxes. With the real estate marked dead due to the depression and WWII, it was not uncommon that small lot owners were turning over their lots to the City, rather than attempt to make costly tax installment payments. North half of 16 and south half of 17 from plan 226 were transferred on April 23rd, 1942, ending Manchester land ownership in Hintonburg after 60 years. The lots were sold two years later, and 21 and 25 Pinhey Street were soon after built.

The future of the name Manchester Avenue

Manchester Avenue residents have been informed that their name will have to change, the name being I suppose too similar to a longer Manchester Street which runs off of Stittsville Main Street. Residents will be asked for ideas on what name they would like to change to. Interestingly, David Manchester Street is not even a possibility, as there is already a street in Ottawa with that name, running parallel to the 417 out in Kanata, from Hazeldean to McGee Side Road. That street is named for another David Manchester, unrelated, who lived during the same era, in the Huntley area.

My personal vote (not that I have one) would be to rename Manchester Avenue to Manchesterville (Avenue or Street), as a nod to local history, and to David Manchester, who evidently wished for a subdivision in his name, but was never successful. David Manchester was a significant land owner in Hintonburg, but more than that, he was caring and generous, giving the hardworking labourers an opportunity they likely would never have obtained elsewhere, an opportunity to own their own land, and build their own house. He was indeed running under the radar, giving land and money for the house out of his own pocket, not registering it at the Land Registry, all on the promise that he would be paid back for it. It would be a shame that the last vestige of the Manchester name in Hintonburg threatens to be lost, over a bureaucratic requirement nearly 100 years after his passing.