Thursday, February 7, 2019

Hidden History: The Eastern End of Wellington West

One of my favourite spots in Kitchissippi is the quiet eastern end of Wellington Street West. It's quiet because it's separated from the rest of Wellington Street by the dead end where Wellington curves into Somerset Street. Well, and it's also separated from the rest of Wellington Street (to the east) ever since the connecting Viaduct was removed in 1969 and replaced by the new Scott-Albert-Bayview bridge (does it have a name anyways?). But more on that below.


Just two short blocks in length, this little segment of Wellington West is probably best known today for SuzyQ Doughnuts...and as a tricky little spot to try to get in to, or get out of. Actually "tricky" is probably too nice a word to describe the frustration of drivers who cut up Hilda or come off Bayview trying to get to Wellington to go west. For an inexperienced driver, you almost feel like there is no escape when you get in to this spot.

This little two block segment is a microcosm of the growth and development of Hintonburg. It's a mix of old houses, trendy shops, garages, and high-density apartments. Houses dating back to the 1890s mix with 21st century construction, where one travelling down the street can feel both like some things never change one moment, and then experience the new, modern Hintonburg the next (which will only be exacerbated next year once construction begins on the new 9-storey condo to replace the Beament Green building, aka the Kardish deli, at the corner of Garland).

Walking through this part of Hintonburg feels like you're in a historical district. Each building, each laneway, each vacant lot has a long and storied history to tell. The oldest houses show the wear and tear of their long lives; that's hard miles on some of these structures. When digging through old newspaper archives looking for interesting stories about this strip (some of which have been sprinkled throughout this article), there were a LOT of tales of arrests, break-ins, assaults, fights, fines and fires. Each Wellington Street address seemed to have about 20 such stories apiece. So as I try to do with most of my "street profile" articles, my goal is to bring some of the stories, the buildings and the characters, whose lives, and multiple generations of lives, were lived within these 200 meters of asphalt.

**

The easiest part to start with is the south side of the street, where few buildings have ever "fronted" on to Wellington Street. (Several have and still do front on to Somerset and Bayswater though). This triangle of land includes Somerset Square, where once a WWI howitzer stood, and a house only briefly in the earliest part of the 20th century.

The WWI howitzer on Somerset Square, looking north in 1924

For more on the howitzer check out the article written by Hintonburg history expert Paulette Dozois at http://newswest.org/easyread/archives/3944.  Or for more on Somerset Square, you can see something I contributed to in the Kitchissippi Times at https://kitchissippi.com/2016/03/31/somerset-square-park/.

On the larger triangle to the east is now a few houses and businesses which face onto Somerset and Bayview, but this was originally the site of Hintonburg's first major industry, the George M. Mason lumber mill and yards. It closed sometime between 1921-1922, but in its day, it employed many men in the Hintonburg village, and supplied most of the lumber which still exists inside the walls of the oldest homes in Hintonburg and Mechanicsville.

1901 newspaper ad for the Mason Mill

1912 fire plan showing the Mason Mill (and also the little
old house on Somerset Square). Mason's built lumber sheds
all along the borders of the property. The shaded lines
indicate piled lumber.  

The office for the Mason company was a small two-storey brick building at the east end of the lot, but was torn down in 1922 after the mill closed. A few years later, in 1927, a Shell service station opened in its place. This is the site of the Autorebex Service Centre today, the skeleton of the building likely the original one. Frank Gladwin operated the Shell station in the early 1940s, and this is notable to me because this was where my grandfather Ted Sauve had his first job as a teenager (he did not attend high school). My grandfather told more than a few stories about his days at Gladwin's. I can only wish I could remember more, or had recorded them somehow. Frank enlisted in the war effort in March of 1943 going overseas with the rank of Sargeant Air Gunner, leaving the Shell station behind (thankfully he returned home at the end of the war). I would love to find a photo of that station! In the interim, I wanted to at least include a photo of Francis Gladwin:

September 24, 1943 Citizen
Photo of Francis Gladwin

Joseph Dumbrell and Clifford Moffett operated the station in the late 40s and early 50s, then Gordon Moorhouse from 1954 to 1962, a Mr. Gilbeault until 1966, Manfred Moll for a year or two, then a Mr. Desjardins. By the mid-1970s, it became a Speedy Auto Glass, which it remained for the next 20 years.

Would you believe that this block for many years actually had two gas stations on it? In 1938, a B.A. station was opened by a Mr. Deacon, but became the long-operated station of Cecil Villeneuve, from 1941 until the 1960s. It is now Dirienzo & Saikaley Automotive in the same building, but ceased being a gas station sometime around 1969.

Beyond Bayview to the east, Wellington Street now continues for just a short block, basically alongside the Tom Brown Arena property. But long-time residents may remember that the original bridge to the east was actually the Wellington Street connection - also known as the Wellington Viaduct. It is now of course the nameless bridge where Albert Street becomes Scott Street, between the Bayview transitway stop and Tom Brown Arena. But from 1909 until 1969, this was the eastern link to downtown Ottawa. Its construction was pushed by the Ottawa-Hull fire in 1900, which saw the Somerset Street bridge burned. Without that bridge, Hintonburg was essentially cut off from the east, so the viaduct was built. It had a total length of 1,150 feet, including 550 feet of steelwork and 600 feet of approaches. It was 38 feet wide, with 30 feet of roadway and 8 feet of sidewalks. It was built at a cost of $75,000 in 1909, opening on December 23rd of that year, until it closed on August 13th, 1969. Below are a few photos of the Viaduct, most of which show the view looking west towards Hintonburg.

October 4, 1949 view of the rush hour traffic.
CPR stockyards at right, and St. Francois D'Assise
Church is visible at the top left.

October 3, 1950 view of the traffic coming off the bridge
and onto Bayview Road. (Apologies for the newspaper
quality of the photo, would love to have the original!)

November 6, 1953 view looking west, with some of the
Wellington West houses in view in the background.

February 28, 1967, the viaduct in its final days

August 12, 1969 view, just two days before the Viaduct
was closed and the Scott Street/Bayview bridge in the
background was put in to operation 

**

The north side of Wellington Street has a far more colourful history, and one which was really fun to research, and now share. The history of this area begins with the Armstrong estate, and Judge Christopher Armstrong's Richmond Lodge, which still stands today on, ironically enough, Armstrong Street. The house was built by the Carleton County Judge in 1854, and was rebuilt from a dilapidated state 35 years ago, thankfully preserved as one of Kitchissippi's finest heritage structures. I will be profiling the house in greater detail someday very soon for the Kitchissippi Times, so no need to get deep in the weeds on it yet. But Armstrong acquired the 18 acre piece of land between Scott and Wellington and east of Merton, in 1854 when there were but a handful of houses in the area, and built his mansion on the highest point, with a meadow and large garden between it and Wellington Street (which was actually called Richmond Road at the time).

Richmond Lodge on Armstrong Street

Armstrong died in 1874, but his widow remained in the house, and through agents continued to sell individual building lots on the family's property, which they had begun to subdivide mere months before the Judge's death. The final subdivision came in 1884 when his widow divided up the former meadow and grounds of the mansion towards Wellington Street. The lots began to sell right away, particularly those fronting Wellington Street. So as you'll read in the individual profiles of houses/lots below, houses began popping up on this stretch almost immediately in 1885.

**

925-927 & 929 & 933 Wellington Street West

On the north side of Wellington Street, let's travel from the east end (at Bayview) going west. At the corner of Bayview today is Cooper Equipment Rentals, with a large parking lot and unique curved building with a large analog clock on its side. This was until 2016, an auto service centre (Autopro, and before that Pantuso's).

Streetview July 2018

This lot originally had three structures on it. The best photo I can find of those three houses is below, from the newspaper in November of 1953, mere months before all three were demolished.

November 6, 1953

In what is now the parking area of Cooper Equipment Rentals, a tall 2.5 storey house (929 Wellington Street) stood (the darker-coloured building with the full front porch in the photo above). It was one of the first three houses built on this portion of Wellington, all three constructed between 1885-1886. It was built by 46-year old boilermaker David Lockie, and notably sold in 1893 to a young widow, Mary O'Connell. Mary's husband Michael O'Connell had died a year prior in a horrible train accident at the station in Hull when the train he was Engineer on derailed when a switch was left open, sending the train flying off the track at a high rate of speed. He left behind his young wife, and children aged 4 and 1. Mary was also pregnant at the time. Mary raised her family in this house at 929 Wellington, selling in 1907. Afterwards, the house was largely occupied by tenants for most of its existence, including most notably Peter and Margaret Beaupre from 1935 to 1953.

Sometime in the late-1890s, O'Connell had a small, unique brick-veneered building constructed at the corner of Bayview (where the shrubs now appear in the present-day photo above). The address was 925 & 927 Wellington Street. There was a small grocery/butcher shop on the main floor, and a residence above, where the operators of the store would typically live. The first shopkeeper was Thomas F. Scissons. Few lasted more than a year or two as operator of the store; it must not have been very lucrative. Between 1919-1920, it was operated by Arthur S. Robinson, and a newspaper ad from that period survives:

March 26, 1920 ad

Next to the Lockie-O'Connell house was another house, built in the very late 1890s by builder James Newton (931 Wellington Street, visible third from the right in the 1953 photo above). Newton was a machinist and contractor who eventually purchased up several properties in the vicinity. He was responsible for building four houses on this stretch of Wellington alone (931, 937, 943 and 949).

931 was 2 storeys high, wood-frame, and was very wide (almost twice as wide as most of the houses on the block). It was the long-time home of the Innes family, but theirs is not a happy story. The house was purchased by patriarch Thomas Innes in 1910 so that he could open his own painting business out of part of the home. He ran an ad in the newspaper soon after purchasing the house, but sadly took ill later that summer and died at the young age of 48 in December.

June 8, 1910

His son Robert not long after married and moved into the home with his wife Susan, but he too met with a sad and early demise, as he was killed as a passenger in a car hit by a train on Bayswater Avenue in 1923, at the age of 40. The widow Susan Innes raised their three young children in the home until moving out in 1944.

In 1954, the Canadian Petrofina Company acquired the three houses above, and tore them all down (they were likely in a fairly primitive/dilapidated state), and in October, a Fina gas station had opened on the spot (Fina's seventh station in Ottawa at the time). Built by respected Ottawa contractor C.A. Johannsen, the gas station was one of the finest in Ottawa at its opening. W. Harold Roy was the first manager of the station. It remained a Fina station into the early 1980s (Bory's Fina was its most well-known moniker during the 60s and 70s), was briefly a Petro-Canada, before becoming Pantuso Performance in 1985. Including the two gas stations directly across the street on Wellington, that would make three gas stations operating all at the same time at this spot, from 1954 until 1969!

From the Ottawa Citizen October 14, 1954.
152 Bayview at the corner of Armstrong can be seen in the
background at right, it still stands. I don't believe any portion
of the original gas station is part of the building there now. 

935 & 937 Wellington Street West

Back to Wellington Street, moving west the next two houses at 935 Wellington and 937 Wellington Street West are actually the oldest two in this part of Wellington. Both were built in late 1885 or early 1886 (935 Wellington is likely slightly older, by a matter of weeks at most).

937 and 935 Wellington Street West in July 2018
(935 is on the right)

935 was built by William James Moore, a 31-year old blacksmith, who likely operated his business out of the main floor of the house for most of the 1880s and 1890s. It has had a long and busy life over its 134 years, including several years as the "West End Used Furniture" store operated by a Mr. Monette in the 1950s, and a martial arts equipment store in the 1980s.

March 8 1965 view of 935 Wellington Street
(City of Ottawa Archives, CA-26009)

Over the last 10 years or more it has been home to the St. Jude Mission International, a charity organization that works with the underprivileged, without any government subsidization. Largely it has been a house tenanted by dozens of mostly blue-collar francophone families over the years.

April 16, 1955

937 Wellington was built by James Newton, who briefly resided in the house. This house also has had a colourful history, notably being the long-time home from 1931 into the 1960s, of Anthime and Helen Poulin (Anthime operated a business out of his home, called Sharp-Point Saw Filing).

May 12, 1948 newspaper ad

However my favourite bit of history on this house comes from a fantastic newspaper story from 1954 about a backyard housewives fight!

September 24, 1954
Ottawa Journal

937 Wellington suffered a large fire in 1991 due to an overheated pot of grease in the kitchen, which took 30 firefighters over an hour to extinguish. The fire destroyed the home and sent 13-year old Shelly Eastman to hospital. The house apparently was able to be salvaged and renovated, and still stands today, at 134 years old.

943 Wellington Street West

A beautiful old house which dates back to between 1888-1889 when it was constructed by James Newton (who built 937 next door, as well as 931 and 949 Wellington). It was first occupied by tenant Thomas Kimpton, a 40-year old butcher and father of 9. He was one of Ottawa's top butchers, having run his business out of stalls at both the Byward and Wellington Ward Markets for many years, and a store on Rideau Street. A profile on him many years after his passing noted that "prior to 1903, there were few men better known in Ottawa than Thomas Kimpton, pork butcher, maker of sausages, curer of hams, and expert in putting up delicious combinations of chicken, ham and tongue." Kimpton and his wife and their first daughter had come to Canada in 1870, taking a slow voyage over the Atlantic and arriving in Quebec. The Kimptons had no destination in mind, and at the immigration office asked for advice. "If you want to open a butcher shop, go to Ottawa", the officer told him, "That is going to be a good town some day." Upon arrival the Kimptons had poor impressions of the rough town. "Things were so crude and forlorn here, after old London, that she (Mrs. Kimpton) wanted to go right back, but Mr. Kimpton said no good Englishman ever turned back, and he was going to stay and help make the town what it ought to be." He worked at his business until his death in 1903. He may have thought growing Hintonburg was a great opportunity to expand his business to, while still being able to oversee his business in Ottawa by way of horse (which he stored in a small stable in behind). But the Kimptons only lasted in Hintonburg for about two years.

943 Wellington Street West, July 2018

This home's longest occupants were civil servant George C. Spratt and his wife Winnetta from 1896-1910, and Jean-Baptiste and Elzire Poulin (the parents of Anthime Poulin mentioned above) from 1927-1949. Jean-Baptiste was an esteemed cabinet maker.  After the family sold the home following Jean-Baptiste Poulin's death, it became largely a rental property for the second half of its life.

945 & 949 Wellington Street West

On this spot today is a newer building, a three-storey office building which includes the offices of the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO). It was constructed between 1989-1990, and which replaced the original two houses at 945 and 949 Wellington Street which were demolished in 1989. 



945 Wellington was the older of the two, built in 1888 by William Spearman, a farmer from Stittsville. 945 had a relatively unexciting history, with no occupants longer than 10 years except for Hector and Germaine Lapensee, who resided here from 1953 until about 1976. In the early 1930s, it had the offices of a taxi company, "Ted's Taxi" operated by its tenants Harry and Fanny Perkins. Back in this era, taxi companies were unlicensed and uncontrolled. Anyone could open a taxi company if they wished. And business was booming. Cars had become more affordable, more and more roads were being finished with asphalt, and with the depression, car ownership had become a rare luxury. So Ottawa of the 1930s had a bevy of fly-by-night taxi companies... even operating out of the living room of a small, quiet Hintonburg house.

While researching this address, I did come across a pair of ironic newspaper articles which are pretty funny to read together. What a difference four years made for little Howard Perkins...

Ottawa Citizen
November 22, 1927

Ottawa Citizen
January 8, 1932

Next door, 949 Wellington was built in the mid-late 1890s by James Newton once again. From 1940-1961 this was the home of Antoine and Lucie D'Amour and their six children. Their son Flt. Sgt. Gerald Roch D'Amour, served overseas with the RCAF as an air gunner with a bomber squad, but failed to return after an operational flight over enemy territory on Christmas Eve 1944 and was never found.

949 Wellington Street in abandoned state, shortly before
demolition. June 1st, 1989. Europe Radio & TV sign still
hanging out front. (City of Ottawa Archives CA-26010)

From 1970 to the mid-1980s, 949 Wellington was a Radio/TV sales and service shop, called "Europe Radio & TV Service".

Ottawa Citizen, October 21, 1978

951 & 955 & 959 Wellington Street West

Another site which has changed dramatically over the last 30 years. The three original buildings on this lot were all torn down to make way for the big OCISO apartment building which stands today at the corner of Hilda and Wellington. 951 and 955 were two modest houses which survived just shy of 100 years apiece, while 959 had a much more interesting history, arguably the most interesting of any on the stretch.

959 Wellington Street West in 2018


Alexander Parks built both houses at 951 and 955 Wellington. He was in his early twenties when he moved into 943 Wellington as a tenant in 1891. He was employed as a miller with the Maple Leaf Flour Mills, but also had practical talents as a home builder. He acquired the vacant lot 5 in October of 1893 and built 951 Wellington that fall/winter. 955 Wellington came sometime after, somewhere between 1895-1902 (records during this period are spotty, as Hintonburg had become an independent municipality, and sadly few of their official records, such as tax and assessment rolls, survive). Parks moved into 955 and rented out 951 to tenants for many years.

Parks and his wife and growing family lived in 955 until 1934. His wife Frances died in 1934, and he moved out, perhaps to live with one of his children, until he died in 1939. Their long-time tenants were John and Mabel Hewitt, who lived at 951 from 1915 to 1934, then moved into 955 from 1935 until 1942, when the Parks executors sold the houses their father had built. The new buyer (Guilbeault) converted both houses into rooming houses, where 4 couples/families resided in cramped quarters at 951 and 5 couples resided in similarly deteriorating conditions at 955.

951 Wellington met its end in 1968 when it suffered a major fire on March 6th of that year which left all occupants homeless (four families including 8 adults and 8 children). All but one couple were on welfare. It started when grease for french fries was left briefly on the stove; tenants Gary Legue and his wife had to jump from the upper balcony to escape the quickly-rushing flames. All residents escaped only with what they were wearing. The house apparently was left standing in a boarded-up condition for at least 4 years, until KC Cycles on Somerset took over the lot for storage of stock.

951 Wellington Street West not long before being lost to fire.
Also a bit of a view of 949 Wellington next door.
November 8 1967. (City of Ottawa Archives, CA-26011)

For some reason in 1972, 955 Wellington was emptied of tenants (either through a fire or the city forced it to be boarded up) and it too sat vacant until it was demolished sometime around 1975-1976.

955 Wellington Street in September of 1962. A beautiful old
Hintonburg house that has sadly been lost.
(City of Ottawa Archives CA-26012)

I found one interesting article, from 1952, about 10-year old Dennis Andre, resident of 955 Wellington. The boy and his friends had found a bullet in a garbage can and decided to smash it with a hammer, with scary, but luckily not serious results:

Ottawa Citizen, September 3, 1952

Next to 951 and 955 at the corner, was the old 959 Wellington Street. It started life as a small 1.5 storey wood house. Between 1886-1887 45-year old Patrick Baxter opened one of Hintonburg's first grocery stores here. It was a busy spot, and Baxter enjoyed life as a merchant. In 1899, he decided to expand operations, and opened the "Britannia Hotel", constructing a new, large 3-storey building (it's possible that the original grocery store building was part of the hotel, and just expanded, but I don't believe so, based on comparisons of fire insurance plan drawings). The Britannia Hotel featured a billiards room and tavern (which was actually Baxter's main focus).

Baxter was initially refused a liquor license when he first applied in April 1900 (back in this era, anyone could open a hotel or restaurant, but in order to be allowed to serve alcohol, one had to apply through the board of license commissioners for Carleton County. The board aided in controlling the number and location of taverns in eastern Ontario, but also the men (and occasionally women) who were operating them. Each spring, all new and existing taverns had to apply for a license. Failure to obtain approval by the board would be disastrous for an applicant; at the time, taverns and saloons were popular places for both local and travelling men to congregate. Alcohol-free venues had very little chance to survive, as dining out was very uncommon, particularly in working class neighbourhoods like Hintonburg.

Though Baxter was refused in April 1900, he must have been successful in lobbying for reconsideration at some point later in 1900, as he was eventually granted a license.

In April of 1901, two petitions were presented to the Board asking for Baxter's license to be revoked. One was organized by a group of men associated with the local churches of Hintonburg and was signed by 45 ratepayers of the village; the second petition was signed many of the women of Hintonburg, "the wives of those living in the vicinity of the hotel" reported the newspaper. It was argued that "men had come out of Mr. Baxter's hotel intoxicated and had been acting improperly on the public street", and that "the hotel was proving a curse to the young men of the village." They also argued that Baxter was not even renting out rooms, as was required of a hotel business, and that he was operating a saloon only. Baxter defended himself arguing that the only intoxicated men to leave his establishment had arrived there in that condition.

For years there had already been a licensed tavern in Hintonburg operated by James Byers (across from St. Francois D'Assise Church). Byers was very well regarded, and heavily involved in local affairs (he oversaw the formation of the first Hintonburg fire brigade and was its first Chief, for instance). What may have (at least in part) been driving the opposition to Baxter's license had possibly less to do with what it was doing to the "young men of the village", but more so the effect it was having on business for the popular Byers hotel/tavern. Regardless, the Board did not uphold the petitions, and approved Baxter's license for the year.

By 1908, the Baxter-Byers battle was still waging. And opposition was heated at the Commission board that Spring. At the hearing, the Commissioner questioned witnesses on both sides, and it was stated by Thomas Cummings, Baxter's son-in-law who ran the hotel, defended the popularity (and ethics) of the Britannia Hotel, stating that he often served 12 to 14 dinners a night, up to as many as 26. Witness Robert Foster offered the most funny answers: "Do you think two hotels too many in Hintonburg" asked the Chairman. "No. Two have always been able to pay the license. Both are necessary. If there was only one there a fellow could not get as good a drink or as good a meal.", stated Foster. "How far apart are Baxter's and Byers's places?" asked the Commission. "Oh quite a bit", replied Foster. "But how far? a mile or what?", asked the Commission. "Well, a couple of good long blocks. A fellow would have time to get sober walking from one to another", stated Foster, to the laughter of all in the room.

Baxter's application was refused in March 1908 and again in 1909, leading him to give up on the tavern business. In 1909, he closed the Britannia Hotel, and instead opened a 24 hour restaurant beginning in May of 1909. He operated the restaurant until his death in May 1914 at age 82. His widow Elizabeth continued to reside in the house until 1920, but seemingly did not operate the restaurant, nor rent out rooms.

May 20, 1909 Ottawa Citizen

In 1920, James A. Fielding paid $12,800 to purchase the former hotel. He renovated it into an apartment house of 7 units, and named it the "Hinton Apartments". He dabbled in local real estate but was seemingly not a big player in the business. The headaches and financial risks associated with operating the rental property (city directories seem to indicate there was almost always 1 or 2 units vacant, with most of the units having turnover almost every year) may have been too much for Fielding. He had it up for sale in 1925, and in 1927, traded it to real estate investor George Glastonbury for a 300-acre farm in his former hometown of Russell.

Glastonbury kept the "Hinton Apartments" name for a while (it disappears around 1939) and seemed to have a little more luck in keeping more reliable tenants (such as Edmund and Malvina Tapp, who resided in the building from 1932 to 1949). But like most of the properties in the vicinity, by the 1970s, the building had become neglected and decrepit, and developers became interested in the potential of the larger lot with the vacant lots next door.

Ottawa Citizen, March 17, 1949, celebrating Edmund Tapp

The building was finally ordered closed by the City in April of 1982 (along with the building at 20 Armstrong), as the neglected properties no longer met property standards. Tenants of the 10 apartments were evicted with one month's notice, though tenants fought this and received a few extra months. The old Britannia Hotel/Hinton Apartments/959 Wellington slum apartments was left standing vacant, for what was thought to be only a short time, but it turned into anything but.

959 Wellington Street on March 19 1982. What was once
Patrick Baxter's Britannia Hotel and tavern, and later the
"Hinton Apartments", seen here during its final month as a
home. (City of Ottawa Archives, CA-26013)

By the time the City shut the building down, the City had already begun to hear zoning and redevelopment applications. A series of these applications would come and go throughout the 1980s. In 1982, Brookhill Estates Ltd. had an application approved to build an apartment building consisting of 96 one-bedroom apartments, and ground floor commercial. It fell through, and by 1984, a new developer, Stel Realty Corp, had new plans to build a 9-storey building with 80 apartments.

By the fall of 1984, the vacant buildings on this lot became a political issue, with Ottawa Centre Liberal candidate Lowell Green hosting the media for a tour of the site of decaying abandoned buildings on the lot, citing the need for better control over demolition, and the maintenance of abandoned buildings.

The Stel development fell through, and in 1988, Walter Wainman Realty and Real Properties Investment Ltd. had an approved plan for what they called the "Wellington Centre for Seniors", a 103-unit, orange and brown brick seniors building, with 8 storeys facing Wellington and 3 storeys facing Armstrong. It was to be run as a "club" with a dining room, chapel, bar and craft room, but would also offer services to local seniors who did not live in the building. That plan also fell through.

It seems the building was finally torn down in the fall of 1991, and the new 10-storey building finally completed in 1994 at a cost of $7.8M, with the grand opening held May 1994. This was the new headquarters of the Ottawa-Carleton Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO) and included 62 residential units geared towards new citizens. The HQ also provides ESL classes, helps clients find housing, schools and health care, and assists them in adjusting to life in their new country, a role they continue to this day.

961 & 963 Wellington Street West

On the west side of the intersection of Hilda is a corner lot on which an old brick double now stands. In June of 1898, Edouard Fournier acquired this lot and constructed a small wood duplex. He was a shoemaker, and he occupied half the building as his home, and half as his business. He sold in 1905 to florist Patrick J. Lacey and his wife Mary, who sold in 1920 to Thomas Dey who owned the building until 1969.

961-963 Wellington Street in 2018


In the early years it appears the western half was typically the commercial portion, though there were periods where both sides had commercial on the ground floor, and seemingly times where it was the eastern half.

The commercial half had a wide variety of functions over the years including Lacey's flower shop (1905),  Denis Richard's cigar shop (1906), Oscar Trottier's gentleman's furnishings (1909), George H. Meredith jeweller (1915-1916), and Roland Huard barber shop (1926-1929). There was a shortage of housing in the 1930s, and the economic depression limited the viability of any business, so the house turned exclusively residential by 1930.

Here is a great shot that was shared to Facebook by Richard Hamilton of the Huard barber shop from 1929 (just before Huard moved his barber shop to his longer-term location at 1035 Wellington):

posted by Richard Hamilton on Facebook
(Front row: Roland Huard and Noella Huard.
Back row: Ernest Huard, Jean-Paul Huard and
Gaston Huard)

The conditions in the house (like many in the area) were poor. Rent was cheap, and the inclusions minimal. Apartments were being advertised as unheated still by 1959. The building seems to have had more lives than a cat, with significant fires occurring in 1945, 1988, 1991 and 2005 (not to mention other smaller fires).

963 Wellington Street West on July 15th, 1968.
(City of Ottawa Archives, CA-26014)

The rear view of 963 Wellington Street West
on the same day, July 15th, 1968.
(City of Ottawa Archives, CA-26015)

In 1949, Thomas Dey renovated the duplex, creating one address with 5 separate apartments. Dey himself lived in the building for most of the 50 years he owned it. He was single without children. He died in March of 1969. From all accounts, he didn't seem to invest too heavily into the building.

After his passing, the new owner renovated the building, and converted some of the ground floor space into commercial again, and an art gallery "L'Atelier - Art Studio" opened. By July 1991, there was still commercial space on the main floor and three apartments upstairs when a midnight explosion in a t-shirt store (T-Shirt Media) left everyone homeless and all possessions lost. The fire was deemed arson, and potentially linked to a car break-in that occurred that same night to the owner of the t-shirt store, at his home on Baseline.

In 2000 the Hintonburg Community Association applied for rezoning of the lot to allow for the construction of a larger apartment building "to attract a reputable owner in light of social problems associated with the building." At the time, it was reported that "half of the ground floor of the two storey mixed-use building is occupied by two dwelling units and the remaining half consists of a
boarded-up retail space." Arson also threatened the house in another fire in September 2005, while the house was vacant. $100,000 damage was done in that fire. Somehow the house continues on, though it has (at least from the outside) been nicely renovated and a third storey added at some point in the last 10-15 years.

967 Wellington Street West

967 Wellington is unique in this neighbourhood in that it was one of the last of the original houses to be built, but also that it remained in one family for exactly 100 years!

May 2015

967 Wellington was the long-time home of the Tapp family. 32-year old Hubert Tapp and his wife Sarah acquired the lot in June of 1898 and immediately constructed this solid and spacious house. Hubert was a carpenter by trade, and he worked with top builder David Cuthbertson as his construction foreman. The Tapps raised 10 children in the home, and at the time of their passing had 21 grandchildren and a growing number of great-grandchildren (20 and counting), an impressive family tree legacy. When the couple celebrated their 60th anniversary in 1947, the newspapers reported that they were the last of the original parishioners of St. Francois D'Assise parish, from when it was first established in 1890. The couple died just months apart in 1948. Their daughter Margaret Tapp continued to live in the house until 1960. Tenants resided in it briefly during the early 60s, but soon after a third generation moved in, Martin Tapp and his wife Joy. Somehow the house was sold in 1998 in a tax sale (for $23,000!), and a zoning change approved in 2000 allowed it to be modified to a duplex.

967 Wellington Street West, January 24th, 1966.
(City of Ottawa Archives CA-26016)

969 Wellington Street West

Now arguably the most well-known spot along this stretch of Wellington, 969 Wellington is the home of much-loved SuzyQ Doughnuts. But this location has about as wide-ranging a past as you could imagine. It all began back in 1901 when 28-year old plate printer William H. Kent and his wife Ethyl acquired half of lot 8 fronting Wellington Street for $225 from Ethyl's father William J. Moore (who was also the builder of 935 Wellington, and the old long-gone house next door at 973 Wellington, where the Moores lived for many years). Kent had been working in New York with the American Bank Note Company, but was transferred to Ottawa to work with the Canadian Bank Note Company, with whom he would work the next 50 years. To be a "plate printer" was difficult and very skilled work. From a bit of digging, it appears to be a profession where the printer uses a printing technique of engraving or incising an image into a surface, and the engraved line or sunken area holds the ink in (also known as 'intaglio' printing). Later in his life, in 1939, Kent was honoured at a dinner held by the International Plate Printers, Die Stampers and Engravers' Union, for his 50 years in the plate printing trade. Kent died in January of 1958 while living his retirement years in the Britannia area.

Anyhow, his father-in-law being more of the contractor/home builder type likely was the one who built the house, though I am just guessing at that. It was originally a 2.5 storey wood house with a 2 storey rear segment, all of which was finished in brick right away (a rarity in the neighbourhood). It was set well back from the sidewalk, at exactly the same depth as the Tapp house at 967, and the Moore house at 973.

The Kent's son Willis fought in WWI and came home in 1919 after spending ten months in hospital.

June 24, 1919
Ottawa Citizen

The Kents only stayed in the house until that same summer of 1919, selling to Dr. Thomas Jones Scobie. For the next 26 years, the house became both the Scobie family home, and the medical office for many of Hintonburg's residents.

October 18, 1919 ad just after Scobie opened
his new office at 969 Wellington Street

Dr. Scobie's wife was the former Lillian Manchester, daughter of Hintonburg real estate investor David Manchester. Manchester resided in the house with this daughter and son-in-law during his final years.

Dr. Scobie had gone into practice in Hazeldean just a few years prior, but his plans changed with the outbreak of WWI. He enlisted with the Canadian Army Medical Corps and was one of seven brothers posted overseas. He married Lillian just before leaving in 1915 (she was a nurse at the hospital he was interning at). He returned home in 1919, and they selected 969 Wellington for their home and practice, and to accommodate their growing family. Lillian gave birth to their first child, daughter Muriel, in August of that year. They had three children altogether, and both sons went on to become physicians.

Lillian and Dr. Thomas J. Scobie (source: Ancestry)

Scobie would go on to practice for 40 years, retiring in 1959. In July of 1924 he was appointed the Coroner for Carleton County, and he also spent years on the anaesthetic staff of the Civic Hospital. In 1945, their son Keith came home from WWII, and the happy event was covered in the Citizen along with a photo:

Ottawa Citizen April 17, 1945 showing Dr. Scobie in a photo
celebrating his son's return from overseas during WWII

After the Scobie's moved out, the house reverted back to residential only, and in the early 1950s was owned for 6 years by a Helen Foster, who gave the house a neat chapter in its history by operating a bootlegging operation out of it!

October 14, 1952 Ottawa Citizen

Sometime around 1956, it appears the original house was torn down, and replaced by a commercial building with concrete block walls. In 1957, Hy's Radiator Company, operated by Hy Hershorn opened in the new building. The small business serviced cars, truck and tractor radiators, offering "radiators cleaned, repaired and renewed." I could not find a photo of this shop, unfortunately.

December 22, 1962

Hy's stayed in business at 969 Wellington until August of 1974. For a couple of years in the late 1970s it became a tombstone store called Robert Brown Memorials and Sandblasting (the company had been in operation dating back three generations to 1877, and was one of the last independent, family-owned businesses on Sparks Street).

By 1980, 969 Wellington had changed to Tomas Auto Body. Tomas appears to have been in operation until the mid-1990s, before another auto body business came in.

It was around 1986 that a significant addition was put on the front of the building, bringing it closer to the sidewalk along Wellington, and allowing for more businesses to occupy the space, including Bytown Seafood, selling fresh and frozen seafood (1986); J2 Agencies, selling office furniture (1987-1992); and Xception Design (1990). The photo below from 2009 shows other businesses at that time, there were definitely a variety of them during the last 20+ years.

969 Wellington in April 2009

All this lead up to the major renovation done to 969 Wellington throughout 2014 by the investors into the West End Well, which opened in the fall of 2014. A unique and fantastic concept for the area, the co-op grocery store and cafe had great initial support with over 230 members before it even opened. However, the store did not last, and by the fall of 2015, sadly the West End Well was forced to close its doors.

The West End Well in 2016

After a few minor renovations, the doors re-opened on January 2nd, 2016 with the launch of SuzyQ Doughnuts in their new location, and three years later, they continue to thrive.

SuzyQ Doughnuts in 2018

973 Wellington Street West

William J. Moore built 973 Wellington (as he had 935 Wellington and likely 969 Wellington next door) around 1898. He was a blacksmith, and operated his shop from the house. He died 1913-1914. Widow remained until 1921. Bought by Achille Proulx in 1923.

February 28, 1925

Proulx rented to tenants afterwards. The former blacksmith shop (the commercial portion) was rented to various tenants over the years, notably it became the site of the "Baby Health Station No. 2" from 1928-1930. Baby Health Stations were offices set up around the City for mothers to bring their babies in for a check-up, and receive milk (or later milk tickets, when it was discovered some mothers were taking advantage of the program and taking milk for their entire family) and other supplies for their newborn. It was a highly successful program that helped lower the infant mortality rate significantly.

Reginald A. Berry, one of Ottawa's most well-known music teachers of the first half of the 20th century opened a small school and music centre from 1931-1935. J. Arthur Labelle's physician office operated from 1936-1940. In 1945, Rosario Vaillancourt and his wife Albina moved in, and in late 1948 tore down the old 1-storey back room, and built a large 2-storey concrete block addition to the back of their house. In this addition, they were able to move their business Vaillancourt Agencies (a company dealing in the sales and service of venetian blinds and window shades) from their location at Queen and Elgin. This addition is what is still there now at the back of the lot, as "Autostrada" car shop, the house long gone, as it was demolished sometime in the 1980s.

May 5, 1951

Vaillancourt Agencies stayed in business until the late 1980s, and then the business at the rear of the lot switched to Simply Wood Furnishings in 1988, and then various automotive businesses, both sales and repairs, including Jensen Imports in the early 1990s.

977 & 979 Wellington Street West

Built between 1907-1908, this building was originally a hardware store operated by Desire Gosselin. From 1920 until the late 1970s, the building was actually two separate halves, 977 and 979 Wellington. 979 has always been commercial, whereas 977 was occasionally residential on the main floor. It seems for the majority of the life of the building, the upstairs of both units has been apartments.



Gosselin operated his shop out of both sides until 1920, when he downsized to occupying just the 979 Wellington side. Into the east half (977 Wellington) moved H. Segel's furniture store, which lasted only a few months, before Rizk Assa opened a dry good store (1920), David Morrison's grocery store (1921), Louis Progosh's fruit store (1922-1924), and Oliver Lacelle's butcher shop (1926).

March 19, 1920

From 1927-1960, 977 Wellington was home to Burton's Meat Market, operated by John and Archie Burton. This was replaced by Orbit Sales in 1960, which sold fishing, hunting and camping supplies for a couple of years, before 977 sat vacant briefly, and then in the mid-60s Kardish Deli next door expanded and took over both sides of the building.

September 16, 1960

On the west half was Gosselin's hardware store until 1931 (Desire Gosselin died in 1921 and his widow continued operation of the store another 10 years), then Menard's Hardware operated by Maurice Menard from 1932 until 1955. After a brief vacancy, the Kardish Deli opened in 1956, which became a local landmark until it closed in 1999. I can't find a photo of it either, but I have a lot of memories of it! Kardish was a once-a-month special take-out spot for our family on a Friday night, would go in with my Dad and get a big takeout order at the counter. Miss the food for sure, as I know many in Hintonburg do. It was opened by Israel Kardish, who as a child in 1927 had escaped Russia with his family to escape religious persecution. He was one of nine children, and his Dad ended up running Rideau Bakery. Kardish sold in 1977 to John Marks, who was president of the Slack Shack chain of clothing stores. Marks kept most things the same, and even opened a second restaurant on Queen Street. A review from 1977 notes that Marks had made sure to keep waitress Nancy Latsona, one of Ottawa's best-known waitresses, who had worked at Kardish for 15 years at the time, and that "she's so popular that customers write her poems, invite her to family parties, and have sent her more than 600 postcards from all over the world."



After Kardish closed, the building became briefly the Budapest Deli and then the T-Rex Smokehouse (a live blues club) in 2000-2001, before being renovated and re-purposed as the law offices of Beament Green.

The building is slated for development soon, with a 9-storey, 54-unit condo building (with main floor retail) to take its place soon.

rear view of the planned new 979 Wellington

**

To finish off, just including a few bonus photos showing this historic stretch of Wellington West. Every block of Wellington has a history like this, and even though this ended up being an exhaustively long article, I don't think it even fully begins to scratch the surface of telling the full story of each of these houses. Hintonburg just has such a rich and interesting history, it's impossible to ever run out of articles to write.

Below is an early view of this part of Wellington Street, a very cool fire insurance map updated to about 1898. Yellow represents wood, grey is sheds/outbuildings, pink is brick.

1898 fire plan

Here is an oblique aerial view looking northeast in June of 1927. The old roundhouse (now the site of Tom Brown Arena) can be seen at the top, and the Wellington Viaduct going off to the top right.

June 1927

Another oblique aerial view, this one from April of 1966, looking west down Wellington and Armstrong:

April 1966

6 comments:

  1. thanks for all the work put into this -

    ReplyDelete
  2. Excellent read. Just for the record, 979 was actually owned by an IT firm between 2000 and the sale to BeamentGreen, and a large renovation was undertaken when the building was purchased. (Including installation of the saltwater fish tank). I have many fond memories of the building, and will miss it if it is torn down. (For clarification, the IT firm is owned by my family, hence I have many fond memories, including those of riding my bike around inside - the open plan meant it was possible to do that!).

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi there! I'm actually the grand daughter of Francis Gladwin and was surprised to see his picture on your blog. What a small world!

    I'm sure I could get you a photo of the gas station and I'm sure my mother would love to get in touch with you.

    Feel free to email me at Ariana.fortier@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I grew up in this neighbourhood in the 1950s and 60s, went to Holy Rosary nearby and was back there in 2019 while visiting family in Kanata! I recognize the names and building fronts in the old pix. Thank you for a journey down memory lane.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Regarding the 1952 arrest of Helen Fraser for bootlegging out of 969 Wellington, arresting officer Ernie Longpre who began his career at RCAF Rockcliffe would by the 1970s become chief of detectives for Ottawa Police.

    ReplyDelete
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