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Old Ottawa South Community Association

  • Ottawa South History Project

Heritage Properties Map

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  • blue pin = designated heritage property
  • red pin = significant heritage property
  • green pin = Heritage Survey 2009 property

Sunnyside and Seneca Four Corners

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Property

Title: The Corner of Sunnyside Avenue and Seneca Street

Address: 431, 435, 437 Sunnyside Avenue and 41, 43, and 44 Seneca Street, Ottawa, Ontario.

Introduction

The corner of Sunnyside Avenue and Seneca Street currently comprises four buildings which combine commercial and domestic spaces. In the early period of Old Ottawa South’s development (pre-1950) this corner had particular importance as one on which Ottawa’s streetcars turned. It has continuously included commercial spaces since 1907.

Chronology1

 

435 Sunnyside

431 Sunnyside

43 Seneca

44 Seneca

41 Seneca

437 Sunnyside

1891

Lot Subdivided by Nicholas Garland

Lot Subdivided by Nicholas Garland

Lot Subdivided by Nicholas Garland

Lot Subdivided by Nicholas Garland

Lot Subdivided by Nicholas Garland

Lot Subdivided by Nicholas Garland

1900

Lot sold to Ellenor Chambers

Lot sold to Ellenor Chambers

 

 

 

 

1904

 

 

 

 

Lot Sold to Willis Loucks

 

1907

 

 

 

 

 

Frederick Diamond Grocery

1909

 

 

 

Andrew Clothier Grocery

 

 

1913

 

 

 

 

 

Leon Daly Grocery

1916

Demetrie Tofonik shoemaker

 

 

 

 

 

1919

George Trudel Butcher

 

 

 

 

 

1920

JW Lapworth Butcher

 

 

 

 

 

1921

Albert Smith Butcher

 

 

 

 

 

1923

George Elias fruits

Victor A Pollock Barber

 

 

 

Bartlett and Faith Butchers

1925

Edith M. Smith confectionary

 

Alex Daprato Grocery

 

 

 

1926

 

William T. Faith Butcher

 

 

 

Dunn’s Meat Market

1927

Dominion Stores Ltd

 

 

 

 

Smith’s Reliable Meat Market

1928

The Cosy Corner Fruit Store

Sunnyside Meat Market

 

 

 

 

1929

H Parker Confectionary

 

 

 

 

Alex Daprato Fruit

1930

Edward C. Callahan Confectionary

 

 

 

 

Alex Daprato Fruit and John Wilweeksy, Shoemaker.

1931

 

Smith's Meat Market

 

 

 

Service Shop Grocery and the Sunnyside Meat Market

1932

Harry Parker Confectionary

Service Shop and Grocery

Vacant

 

 

 

1933

 

Service Shop Grocery

John R. Giles Druggist

 

 

 

1934

 

Service Shop Stores

 

 

 

 

1936

 

Service Shop Meat and Grocery Stores

 

 

Angus McDonnell Barber

Sunnyside Meat Market and Sunnyside Shoe Repairs

1937

 

 

Davidson the Druggist

 

 

 

1940

Service Shop Fruit Store

Service Shop Meat and Grocery Store

Aikin's Drug Store

 

 

Rayner's Meat Market

1946

Conley Frank E.

 

 

 

Leonard S. Scott Barber

 

1947

Frank E. Conley Magazines and Novelties

 

 

 

 

 

1948

 

 

McLean's Pharmacy

 

 

Elias Meat and Food Market

1950

 

 

 

Mrs. E.H. Wright Fruit and Confectionary

 

 

1955

 

 

 

Seneca Shoe Repair

 

Len's Meat and Grocery

1960

 

Parkway IGA Food Market

 

Thomas McDonald Upholsterer

 

Unity Endless Belt Works

1966

Seneca Cone Snack Bar Confectionary

 

McDonald Upholstery

Vacant

 

 

1970

 

 

Sunnyside Up Arts and Crafts

Sunnyside Cleaners Drycleaners

Mike's Barber Shop

McDonald Upholstery

1975

Seneca CNE Snack Bar

Parkway M&M Food Market

Sunnyside Book Shop

No return

 

 

1980

None Listed

Ottawa South Groceteria Food Market

Fida's Pizza

None Listed

 

Enright's

1985

Ottawa South Groceteria

Ottawa South Groceteria and Food Market

 

Residence

 

Calabria Pizza

1990

Ottawa South Groceteria

Ottawa South Groceteria Additional Space

Mr. Handyman Home and Building Maintenance

Fida’s Pizza

 

 

2009

 

 

Haven Books

Fida’s Pizza

 

None

History

Lots 1 block J, 23 block E, 45 block F, and lot 1 block I, plan 115 were laid out as part of Nicholas Garland’s Wyoming Park subdivision. According to Bruce Elliott, Garland and his cousin Alexander Mutchmor, who had previously subdivided the area surrounding Lansdowne Park, created the subdivision by dividing up his own farm in 1891 in hopes of profiting from the expansion of the street car line along Bank Street which was announced that year.2

There are currently four properties on the corner which combine domestic and commercial spaces: A pizza restaurant called Fida’s pizza, a small convenience store called the Ottawa South Groceteria, Haven books, a book store directed toward students at Carleton University, and a recently closed Italian restaurant.

Although the neighbourhood of Wyoming Park was first subdivided in the 1891, it only began to be developed much later. None of the four lots at the corner of Sunnyside and Seneca Streets were built upon until after 1900. Nevertheless, the corner became an important commercial area for the local neighbourhood early in its development. As early as 1907 Frederick Diamond had established a grocery store at 437 Sunnyside Avenue.3 Across the street at 44 Seneca Street, Andrew Clothier established a grocery store in 1909 which he continued to manage until 1948.4 By 1933 all four corners at the intersection had been developed as commercial space.5

There are two categories of businesses that have occupied the intersection of Sunnyside and Seneca: Those that have managed to survive over multiple decades by fulfilling the needs of the community, and those that have adapted to changing fashions and requirements over time. The first category of business at this intersection has shown remarkable longevity by filling a required niche for the Old Ottawa South community. For example, Andrew Clothier’s grocery served the community for nearly thirty years between 1909 and 1948. Similarly, what is currently the Al Vivante barber shop at 41 Seneca, has continuously operated as a barber shop since 1936. Likewise, the Ottawa South Groceria, although changing names, owners, and architecture, has filled the role of a grocery store in the community since 1932 in the same location. It seems as though these businesses successfully identified needs in the community, and therefore, have been able to remain relevant over many decades.

Other businesses at the intersection have remained relevant by changing to suit the needs of the neighbourhood as it evolved over the course of the twentieth, and now the twenty-first, centuries. For example, 43 Seneca Avenue, where Haven Books is now located, has previously gone through many incarnations a grocery store in the 1920s, a pharmacy in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, an upholstery store in the 1960s, a crafts shop and then a book shop in the 1970s, it was the location of Fida’s pizza in the 1980s, a handyman and builder’s office in the 1990s, and currently is a student book store. Many of these businesses remained open for ten or more years, suggesting that they were relatively successful. However, the property has undergone significant changes in order to adjust to the changing needs of the neighbourhood.

For the most part, the businesses of the Seneca and Sunnyside intersection have been owned or rented by private individuals. The only chain stores to have existed on the corner were brief stints by M & M and IGA, otherwise all of the businesses have been run by individuals. These businesses have also been owned and managed by members of the community who either lived in or above their shops, or nearby.

Architecture

Although the four structures at the corner of Seneca and Sunnyside are quite different from one another, they all exhibit common features which mark their function as commercial architecture; their flat roofs, and large frontal display windows. The structures themselves are all brick veneer and show remarkably simple floor plans maximizing the size of the interiors, and emphasizing the intentional functionality of the buildings over aesthetics. With the exception of 44 Seneca Street, all of the structures integrate living spaces with commercial space. These living spaces have at times been inhabited by the owners of the buildings, but more frequently have been rented out to tenants.6 Apart from the large display windows, the other windows of the buildings are much smaller, and are capped by plain grey brick lintels. In all four cases, the city lots have been almost entirely filled with the structures, leaving little space for a yard.7 Over time the structures have changed considerably. A comparison of fire insurance maps from 1915, 1948, and an aerial map from the present, shows that the use of the lots has intensified considerably over time. In 1915, for example, the structures built at 32 Seneca and 431 Sunnyside were two small independent wooden structures. By 1948, the two distinct buildings had joined to cover the entire two lots. At present, the structure has expanded northward to include 429 Sunnyside as well. Each structure has adapted to its particular function. i.e. The Ottawa South Groceteria incorporates a large square floor plan for displaying foodstuffs, while Fida’s Pizza is a smaller structure with a large central counter and no seating space, typical of its function as a take-out pizza building.

Significance

The intersection at Seneca and Sunnyside is an important cultural centre for the community of Old Ottawa South and is worthy of preservation. It represents local and personal business, as well as an older form of twentieth-century community-based consumerism. This corner may be at risk of being incorporated into the surrounding residential area. Its commercial character should, however, be maintained as it represents the importance of the street car line to the development of Old Ottawa South; it represents community-based commercial identity through the integration of residential spaces and commercial spaces, through individual ownership of the businesses, and through the businesses’ remarkable ability to remain relevant to the neighbourhood over nearly a century. It continues to blur the boundaries between commercial and domestic space, and between individual and community identity.

Sources and Recommendations for further study

The majority of information on the businesses of Old Ottawa South comes from the City Directories covering the period of 1907 to 1990. In most cases, the directories identify what kind of business was located on individual lots. Having checked through several years of city directories (1909, 1923), however, I did not find any advertisements for these businesses to give further indication of their nature.

Records available at the land registry office have, for the most part, not been helpful. While they do indicate who owned the properties at the intersection, they do not indicate who was renting these properties, or for what purpose they were used.

It may be helpful to consult Assessment or Collector’s rolls to further flesh out the value of the buildings located at Seneca and Sunnyside Avenue, and perhaps to determine exactly when each building was built and when each changed architecturally. As of yet, I have not been able to consult these sources at the City of Ottawa Archives.

Sources

Land Titles have very little relevance for this project since they do not identify how a building is used, but rather simply who owned it at a particular time.

City of Ottawa Directories: 1907-1990

Beasley, Ellen, The Corner Store: An American Tradition, Galveston Style, Washington: National Building

Museum, 1999 (I have not found this book yet, but it seems to be one of the only ones about this kind of vernacular architecture.)

Elliott, Bruce. The City Beyond. Nepean, Ontario: The City of Nepean, 1991.


1 I obtained data for this chronology from a sampling of street indexes in Ottawa City Directories from the years 1907 to 1990. All were published in Ottawa by Might's Directories Ltd. and are available for consultation at Library and Archives Canada. Unless indicated otherwise, blank cells represent continual occupation of a property by the same business.

2 Bruce Elliott. The City Beyond. Nepean, Ontario: City of Nepean (1991). pp. 176-178.

3 The Ottawa City Directory, 1907. Ottawa: Might's Directories Ltd. (1907). pp. 577.

4 The Ottawa City Directory, 1909. Ottawa: Might's Directories Ltd. (1909). pp. 247. The Mrs. E.H. Wright Fruit and Confectionary store replaced Clothier's store in 1950, yet Clothier continued to own the building until 1958. Ottawa-Carleton Land Registry Office, Plan 115, Block J, Lot 1, Roll 4A49.

5 The Ottawa City Directory, 1933. Ottawa: Might's Directories Ltd. (1933).

6 City directories for many years between 1920 and 1990 indicate that tenants lived at these addresses. For example The Ottawa City Directory, 1940. Ottawa: Might Directories, 1940. Pp. 548

7 This expansion of the structures to fill their lots has been gradual. See figures 5 and 6 which indicate the growth of these structures between 1915 and 1948.

Last modified on Monday, 21 December 2020 09:13

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