Old Ottawa South Community Association

  • Ottawa South History Project

Bronson Avenue Bridge House

Print Email

Bronson Avenue Bridge House

The following research notes about the Toilet Facilities at the Bronson Avenue Bridge House are derived from the following Library and Archives (LAC) material: 

LAC description:    Buildings — Construction and Maintenance — Toilet Rooms and Facilities — Ottawa —  Bronson Avenue Bridge House — Toilet Facilities

File part of:               Canal Division

Access:                     textual records

Finding aid no.          12-6

Reference numbers:      former archival reference no.:  RG12-B-13

                                    Volume:        3686

                                    File part:        1

                                    File no.:          4118-85-3


            On July 24th, 1945 , Mr. E. Ethier, of 1030 Echo Drive and bridgeman of the Bronson Avenue Bridge , addressed a letter to A.R. Whittier, superintending engineer of the Rideau Canal.

            In his letter, Mr. Ethier asked that the running water system of his house, the bridge house, be improved with a toilet, a bath tub, a wash basin, and a sink. The neighbours were complaining about the bad odours coming from the outside toilet. Moreover, Mr. Ethier said that it is pretty cold, during the winter months, to go to the toilet in his sleeping togs, in the middle of the night. Also, he did not consider having a pail in the bedroom, as he and his wife were doing, as being very sanitary.  The complaining neighbours were:    

                                                Mrs  L. Potvin            1060 Bronson

                                                Mrs G. Hale               1062 Bronson

                                                Mrs Thos. Miller         1064 Bronson

                                                Mrs J.W. Dearing       1068 Bronson

            On August 25, 1945, the superintending engineer,  A.R. Whittier, addressed a letter to E.B. Jost, general superintendant of Canals.  In this letter, Mr Whittier confirms that water to Bridge House no.4 is supplied by piping a well adjacent to the house with a cistern pump in the kitchen and that an outside toilet was provided. The Bridge House was outside the city limits but two houses adjoining on Bronson Ave were also outside the city limits and had city water and sewer connections. 

            Mr Whittier had obtained cost estimates from Band and Cole, 749 Bank St. for two different installations: one using city water and sewer installation and another using an electric pump and septic tank arrangement (the bridge house was said to have an electric connection sufficient for a pump). The estimate for the city water and sewer connection arrangement was $1,050 and for the electric pump and septic tank (including weeping tiles) was $800. Both estimates included an enamel bath on feet, a cast iron basin with chain and plug, a white china closet (toilet) with seat, and an enamel sink with Telsa faucets.

            Mr Whittier favoured the septic tank and pump installation. The cost of such plus carrying charges at 4% per annum would be recuperated by increasing Mr Ethier's rent from $4 a month to $10 a month, and would be paid for in about 15 years.

            The following year, on May 8, 1946 , Mr Ethier iterated his request once more and asked for quick action. Mr Whittier forwarded that request to the General Superintendent of Canals on May 16, 1946 . The reply on May 17th was that the General Superintendent favoured the city water and sewer connection and that Mr Ethier would have to assume frontage taxes and water rates.

            A letter to that effect was sent to Mr Ethier on June 15th. Mr Ethier replied on June 18th, accepting the increase in rent to $10 a month and to pay frontage taxes and city water rates. Mr Ethier's title had now become bridgemotorman . On Sept 12th, Mr Whittier sent a warrant (authorization to receive money) to J.H. Ramsay, acting General Superintendent of Canada. This warrant was returned the following day with a request of catalogue numbers for the equipment as requested by the Purchasing Branch.  This information was forwarded back to the acting General Superintendent on Sept 18, 1946.

            On Feb 6, 1947, Mr Whittier advised Mr Ramsay that the plumbing installations at the Bronson Bridge house had not yet been done because Band & Cole had not been able to secure the necessary materials and that the rent could not be increased until such time that the installation is completed.

            On March 28, 1947 , Band & Cole submitted revised estimates which now included a galvanized boiler (hot water tank) that would be connected to the stove.

            On June 30, 1947, W.E. MacDonald, City of Ottawa Water Works Engineer, advised Mr Whttier that the installation and the water rates should be paid for by the owner of the property i.e. The Department of Transport, and not by the bridgemaster. This was reiterated on July 8, 1947, by the assistant City Clerk of the City of Ottawa when he advised that the City of Ottawa Council approved of extending water services to the bridgemaster's house provided that the Department of Transport pay for the installations and pay for all water consumed at the government's rate of 13 cents per 100 cubic feet.

            On Sept 9, 1947, Mr Ethier, the bridgemaster signed a formal letter agreeing to pay a monthly rent of $15 instead of $4 to compensate for the Department of Transport having to pay sewer and water charges.

            On Sept 13, Mr Whittier wrote to C.W.West, Director of Canal Services, Department of Transport, stating that the installation of water and sewerage had been started by the plumbing contractor and that Mr Ethier, the bridgemaster, had agreed to a new rent of $15 a month to compensate the Department of Transport having to pay the City of Ottawa $6.16 annually for sewer connection and $36 a year for water charges.

            The City of Ottawa , through Mr Askwith, the City Engineer, then asked the Ministry of Transport to sign an agreement.  There followed more correspondence on whether an agreement was necessary since there already was an arrangement between the City of Ottawa and the Township of Nepean for water services.

            The Minister of Transport, Mr Lionel Chevrier, approved a Certificate of Encumbrance no. 7603 dated Nov 18, 1947, on Dec 2, 1947. The Clerk of the Privy Council signed a PC 4986 certificate on Dec 8, 1947.

            The bridgemaster's house was demolished in December 1959 and Agreement no.41800 between the City of Ottawa and the Department of Transport was terminated.

It is not known if Mr and Mrs Ethier made much use of their closet (toilet).

Jean-Claude Dubé
July 15, 2008

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 May 2020 09:09

Contact us