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Old Ottawa South Community Association

  • Ottawa South History Project

Charles Hopewell

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Charles Hopewell - Ottawa ArchivesDid you know that Hopewell Avenue was named after Ottawa's mayor from 1909 to 1912 Charles Hopewell?  After the suburb of Old Ottawa South was annexed into the city of Ottawa in 1907, Hopewell was instrumental in getting the streetcar line extended over the Bank Street bridge into the rapidly expanding neighbourhood. The streetcar ran along a route roughly the equivalent as today's #7 bus route. The school was built in 1910 but there had been a school on the site since the 1830s. Here's a bit more about his life and death and role in the nation's captial.

Charles Hopewell, born in 1861 and died in 1931, was a well-respected and prominent citizen in Ottawa.

He served as Ottawa’s mayor from 1909-1912, a period of remarkable activity and growth for the city in part attributed to the annexation of the outlying suburbs of Hintonburg, Ottawa East and Ottawa South in 1907. In recognition of his civic accomplishments, Park Avenue in Ottawa South was renamed in his honour.

As mayor, Charles Hopewell championed the efforts to expand transportation into Ottawa South. The construction of the new Bank Street Bridge in 1910 and the expansion of the streetcar line help fuel population expansion of the neighbourhood.

As a young man, Hopewell left his March Township Carleton County farm family home and went to Western Canada on the first CPR train to cross the continent. He lived many years out west working in the lumber industry. He moved to Ottawa in the 1890s and operated a contracting business before entering civic politics. He was elected alderman for Wellington Ward in 1900, 1901, 1903 & 1906 and subsequently was elected as a controller, a city-wide position, then as mayor.

During his tenure as mayor, health issues figured prominently in civic debates. The 1911-1912 typhoid epidemic sparked calls for cleaner drinking water. Hopewell favoured a scheme to pipe fresh water to the city from McGregor Lake in Quebec but the Lemieux Island intake of Ottawa River water was eventually established. Contagious diseases concerned the citizens of the capital and many smallpox and diphtheria sufferers were sent to an isolation unit built in 1912 on Porter Island called the Hopewell Hospital.

As the civil service grew, Hopewell negotiated grants from the federal government establishing the pay-in-lieu of yearly taxes principle.

Hopewell was active in the temperance movement, a supporter of the Union Mission and a devoted member of Chalmers United Church. He was appointed police magistrate after his term in politics and was seen by his critics as often too lenient while recognized by his supporters as dispensing justice tempered with mercy.

In 1931 he took his own life by drowning in the Ottawa River at Rockcliffe after a long period of ill-health, overwork and financial troubles. He had carried out his intentions as expressed in a letter to Mr. Hal Burns, one of the city’s prominent lawyers and legal advisor to Mr. Hopewell.

The Evening Citizen of May 16, 1931 reported that on receiving the news of magistrate Hopewell’s untimely death, the Allied Trade and Labour Association of Ottawa passed a resolution citing “We may all agree, as many delegates had personal friendship, that what he lacked in knowledge of the law was made up by his common sense application of same. Any errors he committed were of the head and not the heart”.

Last modified on Sunday, 11 October 2020 13:51

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