Back You are here: Home Community History Ottawa South History Project


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: No Bylaw Forbidding Frogs from Singing in Lily Ponds

Think you have noisy neighbours? What if you live next door to a garden pond full of hundreds of frogs? This noise complaint was reported not on April Fool’s Day but rather Ground Hog Day, February 2, 1944 in the Ottawa Citizen.

No Bylaw Forbidding Frogs from Singing in Lily Ponds

Framing of the “bullfrog bylaw” under present city ordinances is practically impossible, city solicitor Gordon Medcalf K.C., had to admit this morning.

“Unless the pond in the garden on Leonard Avenue is a health menace, we’re stuck and residents who complain of the singing of 200 frogs in the pond will have to put up with it,” said Mr. Medcalf.

“Under the municipal act we can regulate horses, cows, goats, swine and prohibit the keeping of all animals except horses or mules” he said “but bullfrogs – no. There’s nothing to prevent them from coming up to your door and singing”.

Mr. Medcalf said “he imagined” the pond-possessing property owner would “very quickly deny the keeping of frogs in his private lake” and that “no doubt” the frogs were attracted there themselves by the “luscious” quality of the water.


From the Archives: Lansdowne Heights for Sale

lansdowne-heights-1911-smallAfter George Hay passed away in 1910, his property along Echo Drive east of Bank Street was sub-divided and offered for sale in this ad from the Ottawa Citizen May 10, 1911. The sales agents, St. Germain & Fraas of 69 Bank Street, proclaim the many fine features of these new lots. For would-be buyers, the distance to Bank Street is compared favourably to the distance between Bryson-Graham’s corners (Sparks and O’Connor) and the Post Office (then at Confederation Square). George Hay’s homestead, known as Echo-Bank House at 700 Echo Drive, is a heritage-designated property.

From the Archives: An Introduction to the Williams Family

Another installment from the Ottawa Citizen Old Time Stuff – Reminiscences of the Ottawa Early Days. Personages, Scenes and Incidents for Evening Citizen Readers – this time from August 11, 1923.

Who was the first on the site of Ottawa?

Among people who have not studied the subject there is a general impression that Nicolas Sparks was the first to occupy any part of the present site of metropolitan Ottawa. But such is not the case, as the evidence seems to show that several families ante-date Mr. Sparks. The Williams, Billings and Fairbairn families all apparently located between the Glebe and the Rideau River before Mr. Sparks starting farming on the Ottawa River front. According to Mr. Frank Williams, of Rideau Gardens, his grandfather, Lewis Williams, came to the site of Ottawa from Cardiff, Wales, in 1817, and actually “squatted” for a while in Upper Town on the site afterwards bought by Mr. Sparks.


From the Archives: Removing the Old Ice House on the Rideau River

A sign of the times from the 1940s, ice houses were no longer needed as home and business refrigeration units became commonplace. This news item is from the Ottawa Citizen December 27, 1949.

Bowesville Road ran from Billings Bridge to the village of Bowesville located at the site of the present-day Ottawa Airport. An observant eye will note the marker "Cowan 1922" on the building face at Bank and Cameron (1227 Bank Street), former site of the Cowan's general store.

Removing Old Ice House

A landmark on the Bowesville Road, a half a mile west of Billings Bridge, is shortly to disappear in the removal of the ice house as part of the National Capital development.


Our Community 100 Years Ago: A Sketch of Old Ottawa South in 1911

Originally published in the January 2011 OSCAR

by Cornelius von Baeyer & Kathy Krywicki

LAC_Woodside_PA-016818_smallWhat was happening in our part of the City around 1911? Who lived here? What were they concerned about? What local institutions were active?

As we celebrate the start of 2011, a look back at people, places and events of a century ago will give us a broader view of our progress.

Let’s start with “who”. The 1911 Census says 1,485 people were living in Ottawa South. There were 314 households, consisting of 280 married couples, 40 widows, and 20 widowers (but no divorcees). By comparison, Ottawa as a whole had a population of 90,520.


A Profile of Architect Cecil Burgess

Originally published in the December 2010 OSCAR.

by Jean-Claude Dubé

Old Ottawa South has the privilege of having been the neighbourhood of choice of a most prolific architect of Ottawa during the 20th century. While the designer of the Old Fire Hall No.10 Werner Edgar Noffke (1878-1964) may be better known, his contemporary Cecil Burgess (1888-1956) left behind a legacy just as bountiful and diverse as his fellow professional and rival.


Windsor Park: An Enduring Greenspace

Originally published in the November 2010 OSCAR.

Aerial photo, 30 April 1974.  CA9776. City of Ottawa Archives.  (click to enlarge image)Officially established in 1945, Windsor Park was a relative latecomer on the Ottawa park scene. Yes, we enjoyed swimming at the Brighton Beach Aquatic Club by 1919. And yes, Old Ottawa South's first official park, Brewer Park, opened in August 1930. However, for the part of the community living on the east side of Bank Street, there was no official park or playground space until after the Second World War.