Posted by: Kathy Krywicki
From the Ottawa Citizen November 5, 1960, Ottawa South resident Claude Bennett enters the civic election.
Claude B. Bennett has announced his candidature in the December civic elections. He will contest the aldermanic seat in Capital Ward where he was born. He was third in the field of seven in the last civic elections. Unmarried, he lives with his parents at 88 Bellwood Avenue. An active member of the Kinsmen Club of Ottawa, he represents that club on the Ottawa Central Council of Service Clubs. As Secretary-Treasurer of the Lansdowne Babe Ruth Baseball organization, he played a major role in the successful Polio Clinics in Ottawa South and at Lansdowne Park. Mr. Bennett is emloyed in a supervisory capacity with the International Harvester Company.
Upon his retirement from politics, some reflections on his career in this November 15, 1986 Ottawa Citizen story: Claude Bennett managed to stay afloat even in hot water.
An interview with Claude Bennett as he reflects on life in Ottawa South.
Ottawa South Then and Now Claude Bennett Remembers
By David Bouse
Originally published in the May 2001 OSCAR.
Over the past year, former Old Ottawa South resident and long-time politician, Claude Bennett, headed the special Transition Board during the amalgamation of 12 municipal bodies into our new mega-city. Before stepping down, Mr. Bennett agreed to a short interview – speaking as a former resident of Old Ottawa South.
Nothing like this transition has happened before in Ottawa. Previous expansions of city boundaries grew by annexation. In 1907, the city doubled its size when Old Ottawa South and several other outlying communities were added. Later, in 1950, the city’s size increased by 4 times and our community became its geographic centre. Since January, 2001, the City of Ottawa has become much, much bigger and undoubtedly more complicated for elected officials to continue close links with each community and its problem.
Claude Bennett’s connections to our community go back many years. In the 1940s, he lived as a young boy on Bellwood Avenue opposite St. Margaret Mary School. Some of his family still live here and many old-timers have stories to tell about his earlier years in Old Ottawa South.
One of Mr. Bennett’s first comments was on the infill behind St. Margaret Mary Church. In his day, children tobogganed down the hill from Fairbairn starting between the church building and the manse, not the much steeper portion where the three townhouses are to be located. He also recalled, the horses and blocks of ice kept behind what was then Cowan’s General Store on the northeast corner of Bank & Cameron.
“It was a close-knit community,” Mr. Bennett remembers, “and a great community.” While reflecting on this thought, he then mentioned a dozen or more names of families from the area.
“The Ottawa South Recreation & Community Association used to meet at Hopewell Avenue School,” he continued. “At that time, it functioned four nights a week offering adult and youth programs. It was a tremendous, tremendous success.”
While glancing through the 1984-85 Hopewell anniversary yearbook, Mr. Bennett spotted a picture of himself as a student and declared, “There I am in the corner … with Charlie Sylvester and my sister … I know them all.” The old photo, showing a half-dozen students preparing packages for European refugee children after World War II, is part of display currently on view at Hopewell Avenue School’s old Sunnyside entrance.
When asked about his opinion about the Old Firehall as our community centre, Mr. Bennett declared, “it’s always important, it’s a focal point.”
Mr. Bennett then talked about Olive Casey and the former Brighton Beach Aquatic Club Inc. That active organization, with hundreds of local members during its prime, was managed during the middle half of the 20th century on a scale which rivals that of OSCA today.
Mrs. Casey, who came to Canada in 1908, had made a donation of historical material several days before the interview with Mr. Bennett’s to the City of Ottawa Archives. It included a history, original documents and other memorabilia from the Aquatic Club, including a letter from Mr. Bennett in 1967. It thanked her for donating a trophy in memory of her late husband Peter Casey, who had been extremely active over the years “helping to effect a happy, carefree play area for the City of Ottawa” at the former Brighton Beach.
At this point in the interview, Mr. Bennett jumped up from his desk, shook hands and dashed off to a meeting which had already started—undoubtedly something to do with fine-tuning the new City of Ottawa.
Claude Bennett passed away March 20, 2020.