Posted by: Kathy Krywicki
In this excerpt from the March 1990 OSCAR, June Kelly O’Byrne recounts memories of life on Sunnyside Avenue from the 1920s and beyond, with recollections of family and friends, and recalls the many local stores and businesses in the neighbourhood.
Ottawa South Memories by June Kelly O’Byrne
In 1920 my parents bought a little house on Sunnyside Ave. on a big lot which extended to Woodbine Place. Dad had just returned from the First World War and was fortunate to obtain employment as a Letter Carrier. His “route”, as he called it, encompassed Echo Drive at the Precious Blood Convent to Cameron Ave. (Cowan’s Ice House and Wilson’s Lumber Yard), east to the Rideau River, including what is now known as Rideau Gardens. Some senior citizens may remember him, as he received many a “tip” at Christmas time from the residents of those streets.
But to get to the little Sunnyside house—the city street had not yet been connected, so that meant a few months of chamber pots and outhouse use. However, Dad being a “jack of all trades” soon had that line connected—had divided bedroom and installed a 3 piece bathroom. Luxury! Two beautiful oak trees still stand at the gate entrance to our house, which of course provide acorns for the squirrels—we often heard them scurrying around our attic. Warmth from the front rooms of our house was generated by a Quebec heater and a Findlay Range heated the kitchen. How cozy it was to gather round those stoves, cup of hot cocoa in hand, after an evening of skating at Lansdowne Park!
In the later years when my husband was courtin’ me, we sat on our large front porch verandah and enjoyed the cool summer breezed. But sometimes those breezed brought other scents as the dump was located on present site of Carleton College. Our garage, with access on Woodbine Place, sheltered many a car during its existence. First there was a Hupmobile Roadster; an overland; an Essex; a Studebaker, and later my Nash Coupe. Good times in winter and summer were enjoyed in those vehicles—ski trips, picnics, and swimming excursions.
Speaking of swimming—Tom Dunleavy wrote a very well-researched article for OSCAR recently regarding Brewer Park and mentioned Bathing Island and the wooden bridge we had to cross. The bridge was rather scary—so narrow—some dare-devils balanced on the railings! My sister and I learned how to swim there (Ed Lidington, now a doctor, was a lifeguard at that time).
We had many good neighbours on our block, who were always there to help if we needed them. The Paynters were next door—they owned a boat which plied the Canal each week-end and we were invited to join them on several Sundays. Fun! Along the street to Seneca lived the Graces; the Sloans; Macrows; Grahams; (later Moran-Grimes); Scollans, and across the street was the Glaspers; Craigs; McGees; Lancasters, and Rudds.
The corner of Sunnyside and Seneca was a hub for small business—there was a Clouthier’s Grocery and Post Office (where Fida’s Pizza is now) [currently Milanos, 44 Seneca]. We could buy “honeymoon” chocolate candies there, two for one cent. Along Pansy Ave. was Boyd’s Grocery. Faith’s Meat Market occupied another corner; Conley’s Variety Shop and DaPrato’s Grocery were on Sunnyside and Macdonell’s Barber Shop was close. Later, McLean’s Drug Store had a successful business there, so we were well looked after. The street cars came down Sunnyside then turned left at Seneca and back to Bank and uptown via Grove Ave.
On Bank Street—at Euclid Ave corner Chuck LaGrave had a shop (present location of Patty’s Pub) [now Quinns, 1070 Bank St]; a big row house occupied the site of the Mayfair Theatre. Around on Sunnyside where the Medical Centre is, Dr. Graham had his office and home [formerly 297 Sunnyside]. We children like to go to his house at Hallow’een, as each person had to sing, tell a story or joke before receiving a “treat”. Along side his house extending from Sunnyside to Bank was a beautiful lawn and a border of flowers. The west side of Bank had Tallmire’s Dress Shop—they sold ribbon, lace, and wool as well as clothes then; Sager’s Shoe Store; Spark’s Hardware and Bicycle Repair; Hill’s Books; Hickman’s Grocery; Fairbairn’s. Also, Ritchie & Nunn had a decorator business east of Bank on Sunnyside and there was a Chinese Laundry; a shoemaker and Harmony Barber & Hairdresser. Later the big “chains” came—Dominion Stores at Sunnyside and Loblaws where Hopewell merges. Do you remember when Ottawa South Library occupied a store location between Ossington and Cameron?
Schools and Churches
We attended Hopewell School–no third storey then but a beautiful Domestic Science room in the basement taught by a popular teacher—the brown sugar jar in the supply cupboard was popular too, as we youngsters each had a “sweet tooth”.
I have a photo of Mr. Coulthart’s grade 6 class (circa 1926) taken at our class picnic in Rockcliffe Park—our treat for the year. Mr. Coulthart was a fine man and a great teacher. Our grandchildren are presently pupils at Hopewell, in French immersion. My husband thinks I must be the oldest member (compliment?) of St. Margaret Mary’s Church, as I attended the Sunday School there when it was Calvin Presbyterian Church. Ottawa South Methodist Church, then at Aylmer and Bank, joined with Calvin, became Southminster Church and built the beautiful building on the Aylmer Ave. property. After our marriage we moved from Ottawa South for a whole but soon returned to reside on the next street to my original home—it seems ounce you live in Ottawa South, you eventually return.
Consequently, our seven children received their basic education in St. Margaret Mary’s School from Sisters and teachers, which must have proven advantageous, as they are all gainfully employed.
This account seems somewhat rambling but it contains some of my memories. Would enjoy learning some of yours!
Originally published in the March 1990 OSCAR.