Posted by: Kathy Krywicki
A hundred years ago, Mr. V.V. Rogers bought over 200 acres of land in Ottawa South and divided it up into building lots. His enthusiasm to attract people to the outskirts of town into the “new” neighbourhood of Ottawa South is shown in his ad from the Ottawa Citizen May 31, 1910 transcribed below:
The Spell of Ottawa South
by Gorden Rogers
(With Lots of Apologies to Robert W. Service)
I wanted a house, and I sought it.
I had paid out five thousand for rent.
I wanted my own, and I got it,
In the “heart of the city” content.
I wanted a house, and I bought it.
Right here in the city, one fall.
Yet it didn’t spell “home” as I thought it,
For somehow the house is not all.
No. There’s the land! And I found it;
And it goes good as gold to the pan;
For a house must have land all around it
If it’s going to be home for a man.
Yes, I sold my place “right in the city,”
And I bought in the south-land a lot,
And the meaning of this little ditty
Is to put you right next to the spot.
Don’t wait till you’re “rich”. That is treason
To all that “home” has ever meant
In truth, it’s the rankest old reason
You could offer for still paying rent.
Buy a lot; build a home in its centre,
Green lawn girdled, with flowers and trees;
All your own, where no landlord shall enter,
And your children may play as they please.
The summer! You thrive in it never
Who dwell in “the heart” of the town.
But here, by the rapid and river,
We are sun-kissed and wind-kissed and brown.
For from April to gusty November,
Through spring-time and summer and fall,
We are near ones with Nature, remember,
And health is her gift to us all.
The winter! There’s nothing to beat it
For health, if you buffet it back.
Yet you in your houses o’er-heated
Hope for health from quinine or a quack.
While you’re “in” with your colds all a-shiver,
And plying your plasters and pills,
We are out on a rink on a river,
Or tramping in health o’er the hills!
There’s a land to the south. Have you seen it?
It’s the finest round here that I know;
From the Sunnyside houses that screen it
To the river that ripples below.
Some say that God smiled when he made it,
So that is the reason it smiles;
And those who’ve a stake there would trade it
For no land around here for miles.
There’s a land in the south of the city
That is “country” yet not all that far;
And the meaning of this little ditty
Is to get you to hike on a car;
Take a short cut through pasture and clover,
And look at this chance to invest
In the land for a home; think it over;
And your wisdom won’t question your quest.
Oh, this “life” in the city’s a thin game,
Giving little for all that it takes;
And the cost of it all is a skin game
For the man that needs all that he makes.
So before you are “skinned to a finish,”
And they’ve sold out the gold in your mouth,
Do as I did, get wise and “diminish”
Right out Bank Street for Ottawa South.
I have some of the choicest lots for sale in Ottawa South that it is possible to secure and the prices are reasonable. Ottawa South property is rapidly increasing in value and if you ever intend to invest “Do it now”.
V.V. Rogers 136 Bank St. Phone 1851 170 Sparks St. Phone 1800
The anticipated extension of the streetcar railway line into the neighbourhood was fuelling interest and Mr. Rogers thought the time was right for the lands of Rideauville and Wyoming Park, both part of Ottawa South, to become valuable for building purposes. He even went as far as to take out a full page ad on August 27, 1910 to discourage people from investing in other areas such as Billings Heights and warned investors not to get carried away in a real estate boom. He explained:
I could, if I wished, place on the market large tracts of land and sell it, but I have never wished to do so, and have only placed small tracts, as required for actual building purposes, as the trustees of the “Glebe Property” has wisely done and are doing. I have never ceased to advise the public to invest their money in Ottawa real estate, but keep your money within the limits of the city.
His competitor however didn’t like the insinuations and warned folks to avoid the land bordering the Rideau River and to invest in the highlands beyond Billings Bridge. From St. Germain and Fraas, selling agents for Ridgemont lots, an advertisement on October 8, 1910 counsels:
Invest your money in a bulrush swamp and it will produce “bags” of small golden fruit with a bitter and acid taste. To compare the low lying lands of Ottawa South with the Glebe lots is as misleading as the phosphorescent Will-o-the-Wisp that hovers over bogs and swamps.
And then asks rhetorically:
Where would YOU prefer living? Three or four feet BELOW the level of the Rideau River and twenty-five feet BELOW the level of Dow’s Lake, or would you rather have a house a hundred and twenty feet ABOVE the Rideau River.
So there is land to the south for the taking, watch for the signs sprouting on lawns close to you!
Originally published in the July/August OSCAR 2010.