Saturday, May 11, 2019

Postcards from Juno

In the news this week is the very cool initiative of the Juno Beach Centre, where they will be sending out postcards to 400 households in Canada, the last home of fallen soldiers before they went off to war. The postcards will contain information about the soldier and about their death.

For those receiving the card, I would think it would help hit home the reality of the war and how so many young men and women from our neighbourhood went away and never came back. It is impossible for our present-day era to understand any of the emotions felt back in WWI or WWII - by the soldiers themselves, or the families they left behind. But a project like this helps bring a little of it to life, and helps connect the present day to our past, an increasingly difficult challenge as fewer veterans from WWII remain.

The Juno Beach Centre released the locations of the 400 households through a mapping tool, and I was impressed to see that 2 of them are in Kitchissippi. The article above shows the map from which geolocates the two addresses.

Unfortunately, both cards are going to hit dead ends...

* * *

My first concern came when I saw that one of the two addresses is pointed to "Alonzo Street", which is the Hintonburg 'ghost street' I wrote about a couple of years ago ( This street only existed in actuality from 1875 to 1910. I don't even think it still exists on paper, though somewhat impressively, the Juno Beach Centre located soldier Oscar Joseph Beaudoin to it on their map. Alonzo was lost when the CPR roundhouse was built on that spot, just to the east of Bayview.

I was curious how it could be possible, that Beaudoin could be listed at an address on that street, in the early 1940s when he enlisted, when the street hadn't existed since 1910. And then I realized... Alonzo Avenue is what Byron Avenue was called west of Island Park Drive until 1949 (it was renamed to give Byron a single, continuous name from Holland to out past Woodroffe).

A quick search in an old newspaper confirmed it, the Beaudoin family lived at 152 Alonzo Avenue in Laurentian View (aka Hampton-Iona).

And to better place the house, since there were so many re-namings and re-numberings in the 1940s, a quick look at a fire insurance plan from the era would confirm exactly what house it was:

1948 fire insurance plan showing the south side of Byron
(Alonzo) between Kirkwood and Hilson. #152 is the all-
yellow house (indicating wood construction) in the center.

And then GeoOttawa for 2019:

GeoOttawa confirms it as the present-day 302 Byron, and even shows the outline of the Beaudoin house there... but unfortunately it's just an illusion. The original 302 Byron was demolished in 2012, and replaced by a huge double.

Oscar Joseph Beaudoin's home at 302 Byron - in 2009

Two semis in 2015 at 302-304 Byron

When I read they'd only sent out 400 postcards, I assumed it was because they'd been selected at least in part because of the addresses being still current. But I see now the challenges the Juno Beach Centre faces in trying to use addresses from 1939 today. Ottawa/Nepean went through a lot of address changes between 1940-1950 so I'm sure a lot of the addresses they are mailing to will no longer be valid. It will be unfortunate for them to receive back a lot of "return to sender" cards.

The Oscar Beaudoin one will most definitely be returned to them, though I plan on contacting the Juno Beach Centre to let them know. I'm not sure if they'll mail it back out to the new house or not. In a way, it seems a touch sadder that the postcard would arrive at the geographic location where the Beaudoin family resided, but not their actual home. Just one more reminder of how far away WWII, Juno Beach, and the sacrifices made by brave soldiers like Oscar Beaudoin are sadly quickly becoming.

For more information on Oscar Beaudoin, this is a great link:

Private Oscar Joseph Beaudoin
(source; Fallen Heroes of Normandy)

* * *

The second soldier from Kitchissippi that is part of the postcard project is Orphila Beauchamp on Merton Street. His profile ( sadly has far less detail.

An old newspaper lookup shows the Beauchamp family lived at 7 Merton Street, and the first newspaper notice I could find about Orphila noted that he was survived only by his Mom Mrs. Armanda Beauchamp, indicating that she had lost her husband at some point as well.

Citizen June 29, 1944

A little bit of extra digging revealed almost nothing in the usual places on the Beauchamp family. I could find practically nothing on Ancestry, in the newspapers, and in a few other places. The family originated in Rockland, and may have only been in Ottawa a brief time.

Though addressing in Hintonburg has been a little more consistent over time, and Merton Street has retained its name, the Orphila Beauchamp card won't be getting through either. 7 Merton Street was destroyed by a fire on June 15th, 2004. Somewhat eerily, the concrete front steps and stoop still remain 15 years later, a ghost entrance to nowhere....

Google Streetview of what is left of 7 Merton Street

The 'Postcards from Juno' project is a wonderful program, but I worry about how many of the 400 postcards will actually get through. Hopefully in the next phase (if they do pursue it, and I hope they do!), a few more Kitchissippi addresses will make it on the list again. It's certainly a great concept, and I look forward to reading the follow-up articles on how this first run of cards were received across Canada. Though the two Kitchissippi postcards may not reach their destination, I think a part of the goal has been reached by the Juno Beach Centre, in that 75 years later, Oscar Beaudoin and Orphila Beauchamp haven't been forgotten about, and by writing about them today on this website, it keeps their memory and sacrifice alive, at least in a small way.

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