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Welcome to the Home of the Ottawa South History Project

We are a group of local amateur historians whose interest is to research, document, and present facts and information about the history of Old Ottawa South in a fun and informative way.

To find out more about our activities, read this overview article.

From the Archives: Railway Tracks Going Under Canal

Now used by the Ottawa O-Train,  the decision fifty years ago to eliminate level crossings along the rail line, thereby constructing a tunnel under Dow’s Lake to replace the level railway bridge, changed the face of the western part of town. Here from the Ottawa Citizen article 13 June 1961, the announcement of the planned work.

Railway Tracks Going Under Canal; Begin Work in Fall; Finish 2 Years

The government has approved the depression of the CPR Prescott railway line across the city’s West End.

Expected to start in the fall, the $3,600,000 project will see the line go under the Rideau Canal by tunnel and by open cut from the canal to near Gladstone Avenue.

Not a level railway crossing will be left in the section concerned.


From the Archives: The Striking Tale of the Fairbairn Farm

Another passage from the Ottawa Citizen Old Time Stuff column of the 1930s, this time the Fairbairn story, printed March 7, 1931, transcribed below.

Another Epic South End History
About Period When Belmont Avenue Was Lane of a Farm

How Peter Fairbairn Broke from Parental Roof and Built First Residence Other Than Homesteads of the Pioneers. C.C. Ray Was Once Large Holder of Ottawa South Property. Worthwhile Story.

This is a story which dates back to the time when Belmont avenue from Bank street to Riverdale was a farm lane, and further back to about the year 1816 when Thomas Fairbairn of Glasgow settled on the north banks of the Rideau river.


From the Archives: Precious Blood Sisters Observe Golden Jubilee

The following article from page 5 of the Ottawa Citizen July 8, 1952 describes the way of the life for the Sisters of the Precious Blood. You may be able to visit the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons at 774 Echo Drive during Open Doors Ottawa. In 2010 the RCPS was open for tours and the college presented a documentary showing historical film footage of the daily life of the sisters.

Two cloistered nuns – one whom has never seen the City of Ottawa although she has been living here for over 50 years – were feted yesterday on the occasion of their golden jubilee in the orders.


The Years of the Great Floods

Original Published in the April 2008 OSCAR.

billings-1900-ide-smallNot so long ago spring flooding of the Rideau River was taken for granted in Old Ottawa South. While this year’s near-record snow fall might cause some to worry about the Rideau River’s plans, it is not like past years before the Brewer and Windsor dykes and pumping station were constructed. As the early photographic record shows, the spring of 1900 gave rise to a major flood, but the vehicles of the day were perhaps a little better able to cope with a foot or more of water on the roadway.


Bronson Street Canal Bridge

Originally published in the July 2009 OSCAR.

a009969_smallOn March 6, 1894, John G. Haggart, the Minister of Railways and Canals, received a petition from the citizens of Ottawa and residents of the Township of Nepean, Carleton County, requesting the erection of a bridge across the Rideau Canal near its outlet into Dow’s Lake, on a line with Concession Street (Bronson Avenue) in Ottawa.


Digging up the Dirt on “Old” Ottawa South

Originally published in the January 2008 OSCAR.

pa008805_smallAsk anyone who lives in Old Ottawa South and they are sure to say we live in the best darn neighborhood in Ottawa. Our unique homes, shops, school, community and recreation facilities, and natural features, all make our community a very attractive place to live. But, if you could travel back in time 100 years, what would you see? A charming, quiet rural community of farms, dirt roads, and a few shops and homes. Incredible changes have taken pace within a very short time. How did all these changes come about? What traces of the “old” Ottawa South can still be seen today?


Marking the 100th Anniversary of Annexation (OOS)

Originally published in the December 2007 OSCAR.

December 16, 2007 marks the 100th anniversary of Ottawa's South's annexation to the City of Ottawa. Today, as we find ourselves once again in a heated debate over municipal budgets, it is timely to reflect upon the decision residents of our community took 100 years ago, when they chose to join Ottawa. Then, as now, citizens had cause to consider the merits of Ottawa and its services. They weighed the costs and the benefits of being a part of Ottawa. It was a debate that featured soothing promises from local politicians, and fear and suspicion on the part of some residents.