Old Time Stuff, by Earl G. Wilson, was a regular feature of the Ottawa Citizen for many years. This O.T.S. article transcribed here is from the Ottawa Citizen June 16, 1939.
Tells About Conditions In Ottawa South Back in 1909
Some of the people presently residing in that thickly populated section of Ottawa South west of the Bank street, between Sunnyside and Cameron, will hardly credit the statement that thirty years ago a road ran across country from the corner of Sunnyside and Seneca to Billings Bridge. This interesting fact is divulged by Mr. William Kippen, who has resided on Seneca street, near the corner of Sunnyside since 1909.
Mr. Kippen recalls that the area which today comprises the western half of Ottawa South was then little more than garden land and open commons. This section of Ottawa South had been part of the old Fairbairn farm, and had been subdivided and put on the market about 1890. The land had been purchased from the Fairbairns by Mr. C.C. Ray, coal merchant, who turned it over to a Toronto syndicate, who offered lots for sale under the subdivision name of Wyoming Park.
Mr. Kippen informed O.T.S. that he was not aware of the fact that when the section west of Bank street was put on the market the streets bore very different names from what they do now. Undoubtedly many other residents of Ottawa South and readers of this page are also in complete ignorance of that fact.
Nearly all the names were changed when Rideauville (Ottawa South) became annexed to the city. This had to be done because the names conflicted with those of city streets—and that occurred before Mr. Kippen moved to Ottawa South in 1909. The present names of the streets and the original ones are here given:
Bank street — Macadamized road
Aylmer avenue — Dufferin street
Barton avenue — William street
Grosvenor avenue — Mary street
Rosedale avenue — King street
Rosyln avenue — James street
Leonard avenue — Wellington street
Seneca avenue — Sparks street
Woodbine Place — Lisgar street
From the above it will be seen that eight out of the nine original streets were duplicates of city streets.
Mr. Kippen says those people who have taken up their residence in Ottawa South in recent years and who know that portion of the community which now lies between Hopewell avenue and Grove street, would find it hard to believe the difference there was in the condition of that area thirty years ago. There were high places and low places, swamps and high sand hillocks. The low places as the years went by were drained or filled in, and the high places were cut down by the big steam shovels of the V.V. Rogers Realty Company, and the material was used to fill their property south of Cameron street.
When Mr. Kippen moved to Ottawa South, Diamond and Smiley’s wood yard was on part of the property he now owns. From the corner of Seneca and Sunnyside all the way to Bank street there were no more than two or three houses. Just beyond his property on Seneca there was a gravel hill, which had to be cut through to level off the street. There were no sidewalks of any description on Seneca or Sunnyside avenue, and as there were no street cars in Ottawa South in those days, pedestrians always took the middle of the road.
Between Sunnyside avenue and the Rideau canal was a vast commons well strewn with boulders and considerable growth of cedar bushes. In summertime gypsies camped along the canal and sometimes created such a disturbance that the residents were obliged to appeal to the authorities to drive them away.
Immediately behind Mr. Kippen’s property was a big community skating rink well patronized by people from all sections of Ottawa South and Billings Bridge. In spring when the water was high muskrats swarmed all over the place. During spring floods it was a common thing for the water to come right up to Sunnyside avenue.