In my daily walks around Brewer Pond, I’ve noticed old signs of beaver activity from the beaver that used to live there in 2014. I figured it was only a matter of time before they returned, and happily, they are back.
Longing for a cool place in these dog days of summer? A nearby swimming hole would be an ideal place to spend some time. In the past, the residents of Ottawa South had a wonderful spot, a beach at the end of Brighton Avenue, now a park with grass and trees, but formerly a haven for aquatic activities on the Rideau River.
Recently on March 1st, as a Saint David's Day tribute, the Bytown Museum posted an historic photo of the Lewis Williams family. Lewis Williams came from Wales in 1817 and settled along the Rideau River in then Nepean Township; the heritage-designated Williams house still stands at 96 Southern Drive, in Old Ottawa South.
Following the dramatic flooding in the spring of 1928, (see last month’s column “Years of the Great Floods”, OSCAR, April 2008, pgs 22-23), Ottawa City Council decided to take action to mitigate against the annual Rideau River inundations. One of the flooding “hot spots” was in Ottawa South at the islands in the river just upstream from Billings Bridge where the ice would often jam causing the river to back up and flood both Ottawa South all the way to present day Carleton University and Billings Bridge (Nordic Circle) west of Bank Street.
Today the Rideau River looks quite different along this stretch, due in part to the flooding abatement project undertaken in 1930-31.
In 1946, Evening Citizen Staff Writer Cameron James relates the “mostly incidental” story of the Brighton Beach Aquatic Club of Ottawa South. From the Ottawa Citizen August 10, 1946:
When members of the Ottawa South Community Association decided to develop Brighton Beach about 25 years ago, it was intended to have it principally as a bathing spot for the younger people of that section of Ottawa South, east of Bank street. Now it is the most popular bathing rendezvous in Ottawa for people from all parts of the city. On a recent Sunday, as many as 3000 persons visited the beach.