Old Ottawa South Community Association

  • Ottawa South History Project

Cuthbertson House - 706 Echo Dr

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Title: 706 Echo Drive

Address: 706 Echo Drive (Lot 10 Echo Drive, part of lot K, concession C, Nepean Township)


The house built on lot 10 on the subdivision of part of Lot K, concession C, Nepean Township is a large brick home with a two-story front bay window situated on a large lot with mature trees and a shed. It was built in 1912 at the request of the contractor James Cuthbertson. It has been home to many notable figures in the Ottawa Community.






George Hay bought 4.63 acres next to the Rideau Canal from Lewis Williams

Document 113489 Ontario Land Registry Office, Ottawa-Carleton.


Lots 9 and 10 sold to David Cuthbertson for the purpose of building homes

Lots 9 and 10, plan 105374 Ontario Land Registry Office, Ottawa Carleton, Roll 4AR136.


The home was rented by John Buchanan

The Ottawa City Directory 1915 and The Ottawa City Directory 1916. Ottawa: Might Directories, 1915, 1916.


The home was sold to Howard D. Marshall

Lots 9 and 10, plan 105374 Ontario Land Registry Office, Ottawa Carleton, Roll 4AR136.


The home was sold to Colonel George Hamilton.

Lots 9 and 10, plan 105374 Ontario Land Registry Office, Ottawa Carleton, Roll 4AR136.


Lot 10 on the east side of Echo Drive was developed out of the estate of George Hay. Hay, a president of the bank of Canada and prominent local politician, had bought nearly five acres of land along the Rideau Canal from Lewis Williams, one of the earliest settlers in the Ottawa area, in 1867 on which he built his grand stone home now called “Echo Bank.”1 Perhaps in order to preserve the lifestyle of a country gentleman, Hay kept the 1867 boundaries of his lot intact until his death in 1911. Thus, Hay’s lot escaped the rampant subdivision that other areas of Old Ottawa South that had experienced in the late nineteenth century.2

The preservation of the nineteenth-century character of Hay’s property had a determinative effect on the development of the area. After his death, followed by the death of his son in the same year, the 4.65 acre lot was subdivided into twenty three lots of irregular sizes and shapes by the executors of George Hay’s estate.

Due to development along the Rideau Canal in Old Ottawa South having been suspended throughout the later nineteenth century, Echo drive assumed a quite different character from the rest of Old Ottawa South. Whereas neighbourhoods such as “Rideauville”, “Oakland Heights”, and Wyoming park for the most part consisted of a mix of lower middle class and working class individuals who lived in similar two story frame homes, Echo drive almost immediately developed as an elite neighbourhood made up of prominent civil servants.3 Perhaps because these lots came up for sale in the centre of a real estate boom immediately before the first world war, the property was valued much higher than other areas of the neighbourhood.4 In a similar vein, since the street developed later than other parts of Old Ottawa South5, it was constructed as a part of Ottawa from the very beginning.

From its construction in 1912 by David Cuthbertson, a contractor, to 1930 the 706 Echo housed several prominent individuals including John Buchanan, the president of a company, Harold Marshall, a com. Broker, and George Hamilton an archivist at the public archives.

706 Echo was among the first homes to be built on George Hay’s property situated next door to Echo Bank House. Its location next to the canal and to George Hay’s home, in addition to the lot’s large and irregular size would have made the property quite a prestigious place to live.6 The house changed hands frequently over the course of the twentieth century, unlike many other homes in Old Ottawa South which remained within families for decades.


706 Echo drive is situated on a large lot (1400 square meters). It is a very large home, and in excellent condition. Although the home follows a typical side hall plan, it displays features which mark it as elite housing. It is probable that it was architect-designed and contains custom features such as windows and trim in unusual sizes. The 1902 (1912) Fire Insurance Plan for the city of Ottawa shows a wooden addition on the house’s proper right which was likely a porch. This addition has since been bricked and has been added to the main living space of the home.7 It has a second story balcony over a small front porch, and front gable above the bay windows. The lot is very long and narrow (61 x 7.6 meters) with a shed behind the house.


Apart from 700 Echo Drive (Echo Bank), 706 Echo Drive is among the earliest elite residences in Old Ottawa South. It is a very well preserved example of an architect-designed Edwardian home, and dates from the early period of the development of the neighbourhood (pre-first world war.) In addition it reflects the changing character of Old Ottawa South, and more particularly Echo Drive as it developed from a largely rural context to become an integral part of the city of Ottawa. In particular, this strong connection with the city of Ottawa is reflected in the type of people who chose to live on Echo drive in the early part of the twentieth century, individuals such as John Buchanan, president of the Capital Wire and Cloth Manufacturing Company based on Hamilton Street, George Hamilton, an archivist at the public Archives, and Howard Marshall, a commission broker.

Sources and Suggestions for Future Research


The principal sources available for Echo Drive are City Directories for the City of Ottawa, available at Library and Archives Canada, Fire Insurance Plans for the City of Ottawa, and records such as deeds, plans, and mortgages available at the Land Registry Office, Ottawa Branch. I suspect that there may be more information on the property available from sources on George Hay or Echo Bank. There may also be pictures of 706 Echo Drive taken very early on because it is located quite close to Echo Bank.

In researching this property, there have been several questions that remain unanswered for me and which warrant further inquiry:

  1. Was 706 Echo Drive built before George Hay’s death? The Fire Insurance Plans for the city of Ottawa 1902 (revised 1912) depict a house there in 1912 but no resident is listed in the city directories before that time.

  2. Why is Lot 10 on Echo Drive much larger than the other lots subdivided from George Hay’s property? It is even larger than Lot 11 on which 700 Echo Drive was built. See Figure 5.

  3. Who designed the house and for what purpose?

1 Echo Bank is now designated a heritage structure.

2 Bruce Elliott outlines in The City Beyond that virtually all of the rural farmland of Old Ottawa South was gradually carved up into building lots between the period of 1870 and 1890 based on speculation that the area would develop as a “street car suburb.”

3 See the Ottawa City Directory 1920. Ottawa: Might Directories, 1920.

4 The properties’ selling price ranged from $1000 to $3000 for the lots alone in 1912. Lots 9 and 10, plan 105374 Ontario Land Registry Office, Ottawa Carleton, Roll 4AR136,

5 Most of Old Ottawa South was subdivided around 1890 with the news that a street car line would run down Bank Street. See Bruce Elliot, The City Beyond. Nepean, Ontario: The City of Nepean, 1991. pp. 176-178.

6 By 1912 the Rideau Canal had lost its association with the military, and to a large extent its function as a travel route. Instead it became known for its picturesque beauty for the purposes of cottaging.

7 I am uncertain when this space changed from wood to brick, but it certainly occurred after 1948, as the 1948 Fire Insurance Plan for the City of Ottawa indicates that this area was still wood at that time. Fire Insurance Plan for the City of Ottawa 1925 (rev. 1948) Ottawa: Chas E. Goad Co. 1948. Pp. 156.

Last modified on Tuesday, 20 June 2017 07:40

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