Monday, April 10, 2017

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:

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:

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.


  1. Thank you for bringing the history of my humble street to life! If it wasn't for his vision of a working class neighbourhood with affordable housing, I wouldn't be able to live here today. David Manchester's example is still relevant, 130 years later.

  2. I think this is a really good article. You make this information interesting and engaging. You give readers a lot to think about and I appreciate that kind of writing.

  3. This is a great inspiring article. I am pretty much pleased with your good work. You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging. Looking to reading your next post.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. What a phenomenal article you have written on David Manchester who was my Great Grandfather. My father William Broadbent Manchester used to tell me stories about his trips as a child with his father William Smiley Manchester (son of David born April19, 1886) collecting rental payments at various properties he held in the Aylmer and Mechanicsville areas, as well as maintaining the gravesite at St. James cemetery in Aylmer. Your research is spot on and so many things of course I did not know, such as his properties, his generosity, his compassion his desire to build upon Hintonburg. It would be wonderful to think is legacy could be remembered in some way.

  6. I really enjoyed reading your blog post on the Kitchissippi Museum. I was really impressed with how well you managed to present the article. It was very interesting and informative, and I really liked how you shared some of the history of the museum. The only thing I didn't like was that I was really hoping that I was going to find out more about their plans to expand.
    Builders South Manchester

  7. Daniel Parkinson uptorawdon.comSeptember 6, 2023 at 8:26 PM

    Name of grandfather was not William J. Manchester " David Smiley Manchester was the son of David Jacob Manchester, son of David Manchester who was a miller at Terrebonne, St-Supice and Rawdon. I have not seen evidence of his father's name or origin and would need to see evidence. The name of David Manchester, the correct grandfather, is omitted by R. E. (R. Edward) Gosnell, of Victoria, BC, 1860-1931, who was the author of An Illustrated History of British Columbia compiled by the Lewis Publishing Co. and published by the Hill Binding, Co., 1906. Pages 366 -369 which seems to be your source.