Friday, December 11, 2020

Westgate: Memories of a Mall - to air Saturday night 10 p.m. on WPBS!

I'm happy to share that tomorrow night (Saturday night) at 10 p.m. on WPBS, the documentary "Westgate: Memories of a Mall" will air. Local filmmakers Rachel Vrecic and Carter Johnston included me in the making of their documentary, and filmed an interview with me a few weeks ago for it. Apparently WPBS will air an abridged version of the full-length documentary, but still exciting to see for local residents. 

The documentary will air on WPBS locally (I have no clue what channel numbers exist anymore, probably differs based on your cable service provider!) but apparently the broadcast will be live-streamed on WPBS through Facebook at

Enjoy the show, and once the full-length version is available, I'll share a link to it. Cheers!

Friday, December 4, 2020

A rare, almost unbelievable glimpse from Carling Avenue and Merivale Road - 1933!

Though technically just outside the borders of Kitchissippi, I came across this photo and couldn't help but share it! This is as rare a photo as you'll find of the then-suburbs of the City. 

In the early 1930s, some of the roads in the suburbs of Ottawa were widened and/or paved for the first time. Merivale Road was one of these streets, and once the job was finished, a photograph was taken. 

What makes this photo particularly special is that includes not only a rare glimpse down old Merivale Road, but it shows the vast lumber piles of J.R. Booth, that famously occupied the site of what is now the vet homes of Carlington east of Merivale. 

Merivale Road at Carling Avenue, 1933
(City of Ottawa Archives, CA-26316)

To situate yourself, it's as if the photographer was standing directly in front of the old Hydro Substation on Carling, looking south down Merivale, at the most easterly point of what the intersection is now (to the east of the little grass triangular median). 

Here is the comparative present-day view:

Google Streetview

You'll see just 20 feet or so ahead of Carling Avenue is an old railway crossing, which was the siding for J.R. Booth's yard, so that the lumber could easily be shipped in and out along the old GTR/CN line that ran on the path now used by the Queensway. That old siding line is why there is now the little lane that turns from Merivale to Carling, opposite Island Park Drive, creating the triangular grassy area where Merivale meets Carling.

An aerial photo from 1945 shows the whole area, and the vastness of the Booth lumber yards. That's Holland/Fisher at the far left, Carling running left to right along the bottom, and that's Merivale running in a diagonal line away from Carling. The big 2-storey shed/barn visible in the 1933 photo can be seen in the 1945 photo as well:

1945 aerial photograph

The 1933 street-level photo was buried essentially un-labelled and loose inside an old folder deep in a collection at the City Archives. Unearthing it is a rare prize I'd say!

Stay tuned in December for a ton more photos/info on this intersection, as I will be sharing an in-depth photo-heavy history of the landmark Macies Hotel (now the Best Western Plus) on the southwest corner of this intersection, courtesy of the Macies family collection! 

Home for the Holidays in 1880s Hintonburg

This month's new edition of the Kitchissippi Times is out, and within its pages you'll find my newest article, "Home for the Holidays in 1880s Hintonburg". 

This was a very fun one to write, and I did my best to try to capture what living in Hintonburg in 1880 would have been like. 

If 1880 sounds like a bit of a random year, it isn't. I considered it a major turning point year in the history of Hintonburg (and Ottawa), when electricity was just about to arrive, the global depression the 1870s just ended, new-found patriotism was being established, consumerism just starting off, and a new round of industrial revolution began changing how cities would grow.

It's a fun article to show how different, yet similar, Christmastime would have been 140 years ago in the community. A few vintage illustrations/newspaper clippings added in to help bring it alive as well. 

Find out who the merchants of Hintonburg were in 1880, how people were decorating their houses, what they were doing for wintertime entertainment, what the weather was like... lots of local, 1880-specific detail to enjoy!

(The illustration below is an actual drawing circa 1870 of the Stewart family stone farmhouse on Wellington Street - then Richmond Road - on what is now the southeast corner of Julian Avenue, but then was in the middle of the vast wilderness of Nepean Township. Hard to imagine that in the background today would be the streets and houses of Wellington Village and Hintonburg!)