Friday, May 12, 2017

Westboro's first ever business - and the building still exists!

This week's Kitchissippi Times includes my column on a neat story that I have always been meaning to write about and share. The article is the result of my research to find what was the first ever business, the first ever retail store, to exist in the Westboro area. 25+ years before Westboro even became "Westboro", when the first sparks of a new community were beginning to form, a small store was opened in the front of the home of one of the early pioneers. Along with being the story of the first business, this is also the story of Jane Birch and the Birch family who settled in Westboro in the 1830s; and also of her husband Pierre Paysant, who escaped war and imprisonment in France in the 1870s to somehow find his way to rural Nepean Township.

Making this story even more impressive - Jane Birch's place, the home where she opened the store in 1873 still exists today. It's a nondescript little house you likely have walked by or driven by a hundred times or more, and have likely never noticed. This article will now give you a reason to really stop and think - about what has happened to its surroundings over the last 144 years.

I hope this article also gives some consideration to heritage protection. The house hits on all the points of a checklist - first retail store, the early settler Birch family, 144 years of age, tied to Westboro's first era, unique architectural highlights... and on.

Read all about 379 Churchill Avenue at:

379 Churchill in 1952
(Source: City of Ottawa Archives, CA-25505)

379 Churchill in 2016
(Source: Google Streetview)

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