Old Ottawa South Community Association

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Sunnyside and Seneca Four Corners

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Title: The Corner of Sunnyside Avenue and Seneca Street

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


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.



435 Sunnyside

431 Sunnyside

43 Seneca

44 Seneca

41 Seneca

437 Sunnyside


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


Lot sold to Ellenor Chambers

Lot sold to Ellenor Chambers










Lot Sold to Willis Loucks








Frederick Diamond Grocery





Andrew Clothier Grocery









Leon Daly Grocery


Demetrie Tofonik shoemaker







George Trudel Butcher







JW Lapworth Butcher







Albert Smith Butcher







George Elias fruits

Victor A Pollock Barber




Bartlett and Faith Butchers


Edith M. Smith confectionary


Alex Daprato Grocery






William T. Faith Butcher




Dunn’s Meat Market


Dominion Stores Ltd





Smith’s Reliable Meat Market


The Cosy Corner Fruit Store

Sunnyside Meat Market






H Parker Confectionary





Alex Daprato Fruit


Edward C. Callahan Confectionary





Alex Daprato Fruit and John Wilweeksy, Shoemaker.



Smith's Meat Market




Service Shop Grocery and the Sunnyside Meat Market


Harry Parker Confectionary

Service Shop and Grocery







Service Shop Grocery

John R. Giles Druggist






Service Shop Stores







Service Shop Meat and Grocery Stores



Angus McDonnell Barber

Sunnyside Meat Market and Sunnyside Shoe Repairs




Davidson the Druggist





Service Shop Fruit Store

Service Shop Meat and Grocery Store

Aikin's Drug Store



Rayner's Meat Market


Conley Frank E.




Leonard S. Scott Barber



Frank E. Conley Magazines and Novelties









McLean's Pharmacy



Elias Meat and Food Market





Mrs. E.H. Wright Fruit and Confectionary







Seneca Shoe Repair


Len's Meat and Grocery



Parkway IGA Food Market


Thomas McDonald Upholsterer


Unity Endless Belt Works


Seneca Cone Snack Bar Confectionary


McDonald Upholstery







Sunnyside Up Arts and Crafts

Sunnyside Cleaners Drycleaners

Mike's Barber Shop

McDonald Upholstery


Seneca CNE Snack Bar

Parkway M&M Food Market

Sunnyside Book Shop

No return




None Listed

Ottawa South Groceteria Food Market

Fida's Pizza

None Listed




Ottawa South Groceteria

Ottawa South Groceteria and Food Market




Calabria Pizza


Ottawa South Groceteria

Ottawa South Groceteria Additional Space

Mr. Handyman Home and Building Maintenance

Fida’s Pizza






Haven Books

Fida’s Pizza




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.


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.


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.


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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