Old Ottawa South Community Association

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Photo by Abraham Plunkett-Latimer.
Photo by Abraham Plunkett-Latimer.

Poaps House - 66 Barton St

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Title: 66 Barton Street

Address: 66 Barton Street (Lot 2, West Side Barton Avenue)


The home at 66 Barton Street is a large, two-story, brick, cross-gable home built in 1897 By Jacob Vincent Poaps, an aspiring Ottawa merchant. It remained in the Poaps family throughout almost the entire twentieth century until 1987.






George and James McLean subdivided their property into 24 building lots.

Ontario Land Registry Office, Ottawa-Carleton. plan 1581


Jennet Anne Poaps (nee Mclean) bought lot 2 of the McLean’s subdivision

Ontario Land Registry Office, Ottawa-Carleton, Plan 158, Lot 2, roll 4AR43.


The home at 66 Barton was constructed.

The Ottawa City Directory 1897. Ottawa: Might Directories Ltd. (1897).


66 Barton became a rental property.

The Ottawa City Directory 1926. Ottawa: Might Directories Ltd. (1926). pp. 61.


John Douglas and Florence Poaps moved into 66 Barton.



An apartment was added to 66 Barton and rented out.

The Ottawa City Directory 1933. Ottawa: Might Directories Ltd. (1933). pp. 60.

Pre- 1961

Poaps founded a work clothes store with JB Goodhue, it replaced the rental apartment.

The Ottawa City Directory 1961. Ottawa: Might Directories Ltd. (1961).


Poaps’s men’s clothing store closed.

The Ottawa City Directory 1973. Ottawa: Might Directories Ltd. (1973).


Florence Poaps (Nee Johnston) died and the property was sold to Alan McKinley.

The Ottawa City Directory 1987. Ottawa: Might Directories Ltd. (1987).


The home currently located at 66 Barton Street in Ottawa, Ontario was built on lot 2 of an 1895 subdivision in Old Ottawa South. The property was owned by George and James McLean, who lived in Old Ottawa South. James reportedly owned a sand pit at the corner of Bank and Euclid Streets. George, his brother, is referred to as a “merchant” in nineteenth-century city directories.2 In 1895, they subdivided their land into 24 lots ranging from 6000 to 7000 square feet.3 The subdivision was unusually modest in size for Old Ottawa South. Nearly the entire area of the modern neighbourhood had been subdivided in large swaths by major industrialists in 1891. This large scale development was, according to Bruce Elliott, based on speculation that a streetcar running down Bank Street would quickly raise property values and help to develop economically the then rural area.4 5

Lot 2 was first bought by Jennet (Jennie) Anne Poaps (nee McLean) in 1896, the first year the lots became available. Jennet Poaps was a younger sister of James and George McLean, suggesting that the subdivision was largely a family enterprise rather than big business.6 It is likely that a home was built at 66 Barton Street as early as 1897, as the Ottawa City Directory for that year lists the Poaps family as living there. 7 Jennet Poaps used the property to provide a mortgage to Louisa C Biggar for $1500 in.8

Jennie Poaps’s husband was Jacob Vincent Poaps, who originated in Onasbruck Township. It is uncertain when he moved to Ottawa exactly, though as early as 1895 he owned a wholesale boot and shoe store on Wellington Street along with William Lamb and Donald McDonald. By 1899, Jacob Poaps had formed the JV Poaps and Son, which is described as a Manufacturers Agents company in the 1899 City Directory.9

It appears as though the Poaps’ company became quite profitable, as in 1915 they were granted a patent to incorporate their company. A letter from Thomas Mulvey, the Under-Secretary of State in 1915 stated that JV Poaps and Co. Ltd. would be worth $40,000 in capital stock divided into 400 shares.10 Despite their seeming optimism, however, the company went bankrupt in 1921 and was sold at a loss to a Detroit company called International Feldspar Co. In 1922, Jacob Vincent Poaps died, his wife Jennet dying shortly afterwards in 1924. 11

After Jacob and Jennet Poaps’s deaths 66 Barton was rented for several years to a Martin S. Grace, yet title remained in the hands of the Poaps family. In 1929 John Douglas, Jacob and Jennet’s youngest child, and his wife Florence moved into the home. John Douglas and Florence Poaps remained in the home until Florence’s death in 1987 after which it was sold to Alan Duncan McKinley.

The city directories do not indicate what profession John Poaps held. In 1933, however, perhaps as a result of the great depression, Poaps began to rent out an apartment at 66 Barton while continuing to live there. By 1961 this apartment was converted into a “work clothing” shop which Poaps ran with a man called JB Goodhue. This shop continued to run until 1973 after which Poaps seemingly retired.


The home at 55 Barton Avenue is situated on a flat moderate sized, landscaped, city lot covering 6765 square feet. 12 It displays several important features which pinpoint its construction date to the late nineteenth century, including the juxtaposition of red brick with fish scale shingles, multileveled roofs, an irregular floor plan, irregular, narrow windows, and complex brickwork. At the proper right of the home, there is a large single story bay window. The current building features a large classical styled entrance and adjoining room constructed in wood, featuring many windows. This wooden section of the home is one and a half stories, with Classical portico supported by stylized columns. The 1915 Fire Insurance Map for the City of Ottawa appears to show a veranda adjoining the home.13 By 1948, however, the veranda had been glassed in creating the wooden section of the home that is now present.14


The home at 66 Barton Street was built at the end of the nineteenth century at a time when individuals in Ontario, like the United Kingdom and United States, were highly status conscious. Therefore, it was necessary for an individual’s behaviour, clothing, and home to reflect his or her particular social standing within the community.15 66 Barton’s construction seems to be tied strongly to the aspirations of its owners. It was built at a particularly prosperous time for the Poaps family at virtually the same time Jacob Poaps started his own business with his sons.16 To a large extent the home would have been symbolic of the family’s prosperity, and perhaps even necessary for them to be taken seriously within Ottawa’s business community. Therefore, Jacob Poaps invested in features which marked the home not only as fashionable, but also of high quality and cost. It would have likely been architect designed, and incorporates features that would not have been standard, such as complex brickwork, irregular windows, and fish scale shingles. The character of the home would have indicated to the community that its inhabitants were successful merchants, and this outward manifestation of success would have been a prerequisite for that success to be realized.

The house also demonstrates a strong local presence in the early development of Old Ottawa South. While much of the neighbourhood was developed by wealthy Ottawans who did not live in Old Ottawa South, there was also a strong desire to develop the neighbourhood economically by locals living there. This is demonstrated not only by George and James McLean subdividing their land, but also by the fact that several lots in the subdivision were developed by the McLeans themselves.


1 See figure 7.

2 For example, The Ottawa City Directory 1895. Ottawa: Might Directories, 1895. pp. 345.

3 Alderman Alex Rogers Reminiscences in T.M. Laeson Ed. Hopewell’s 40th Anniversary. Ottawa: Hopewell School, 1950.

4 The modern neighbourhood of Old Ottawa South stretches roughly from Main Street West to the Rideau Canal, and South from the Rideau Canal to the Rideau River in Ottawa. Bruce Elliott’s argument concerning Ottawa’s Street Car Suburbs is contained in Chapter 6 of The City Beyond. Bruce Elliott. The City Beyond. Nepean, Ontario: The City of Nepean, 1991. Pp. 176-178. An example of this large scale development can be seen in comparing C.C. Ray’s “Oakland Heights” to the McLean’s subdivision.

5 Ontario Land Registry Office, Ottawa-Carleton, Plan 158.

6 Although the author is not listed, the genealogical relationship between George, James, and Jennet McLean is outlined at McLean Family Roots. < http://donaldjanetmclean.com/pages/tree/john.html> (Last accessed August 20th, 2009.) I verified that the names provided were correct by comparing them to those found in the 1911 census.

7The Ottawa City Directory 1897. Ottawa: Might Directories. pp.

8Ottawa City Directory 1898-99. Ottawa: Might Directories. pp 488.

9The Ottawa City Directory 1899. Ottawa: Might Directories. pp. 396.

10 The bank of Canada estimates that $40,000 in 1915 would be roughly equivalent to $750,000 if inflation is calculated. Bank of Canada Inflation Calculator, http://bankofcanada.ca/en/rates/inflation_calc.html (last accessed August 11, 2009. )

11 Documents concerning the JV Poaps and Son Company can be found at Library and Archives Canada. Poaps, J.V. and Co., Limited, Library and Archives Canada. RG95-1, inventory no. 95-1, 1915-1924.

12 City of Ottawa, property information indicates that its frontage is 55 feet while its depth is 123 feet.

13 See figure 6.

14 See Figure 7, Chas. E. Goad Co. Fire Insurance Map of the City of Ottawa 1925 (rev. 1948).

15 John Fletcher Clews Harrison discusses this “striving for respectability” well in his book “Late Victorian Britain 1875-1901. In particular, he highlights the difficulties of the lower middle class whom he suggests were “caught between the upper and nether millstones of the British class system. While sharing the aspirations and values of the class above them, the lower middle class were under constant pressure to differentiate themselves from the working class whose way of life they rejected. There was an unresolved tension between the need to maintain the symbols of status and the constraints of economic reality.” Pp. 59.

16 The home was built in 1897, while JV Poaps and Sons was founded in 1899.

Last modified on Sunday, 24 May 2020 08:33

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