Prior to 1912, typhoid fever was the leading cause of death in Ontario. Children died like flies from typhoid because our sewage and drinking water were admixed. As towns and cities began filtering and chlorinating its water and typhoid basically vanished.
Walter Reed and his coworkers investigated the cause of the typhoid epidemics in the U.S. Army camps and concluded that, next to human contact, the housefly (Musca domestica) was the most active agent in the spread of the disease. The chain of evidence incriminating the house fly as a disseminator of typhoid fever is at present fairly complete, but many of the links are weak and not thoroughly strengthened by experimentation. The experiments described in the present paper show that flies can ingest typhoid bacilli from natural matter, i.e. human faeces and urine, and carry them for a certain period of time.
There is no evidence to show that the typhoid bacilli multiply in the house fly. On the contrary the evidence goes to show that they are not adapted for prolonged life on or in the fly. It thus follows that the house fly is a purely mechanical carrier of the typhoid bacillus and is not a natural “host” in the strict sense of the term.
Thanks to Bob Simpson for finding the first clipping.
Apparently flies were such a problem in Ottawa in 1912 that a contest was held to see who could catch the most. The dead flies had to be taken to the Board of Health to be counted before a winner could be declared. It must have been a treat to be the person counting them.
Keep the flies away from the sick, especially those ill with contagious diseases. Kill every fly that strays into ithe sickroom. His body is covered with disease germs.
Do not allow decaying material of any sort to accumulate on or near your premises. Screen all food and insist that your grocer, butcher, baker and every one from whom you buy foodstuffs does the same.
Dont buy foodstuffs where flies are tolerated. Dont eat where flies have access to food. Keep all receptacles for garbage carefully covered and the cans cleaned or sprinkled with oil or lime.
Keep all stable manure in vault or pit, screened or sprinkled with lime, oil or other cheap preparations, as 98 per cent of the flies come from stable manure and 2 per cent from garbage and other filth.
Keep the streets and alleys clean. See that your sewage system is in good order; that it does not leak, is up to date and not exposed to fiies. Pour kerosene into the drains.
Burn pyrethrum powder in the house to kill the flies or use a mixture of formaldehyde and water, one spoonful to a quarter pint of water. This exposed in the room will kill all the flies. Burn or bury all table refuse.
Screen all windows and doors, especially in the kitchen and dining room. If you see flies you may be sure that their breeding place is in nearby filth. It may be behind the door, under the table or in the cuspidore. Remove all refuse and filth from house, yard and outhouses and thus prevent flies from breeding bn your premises. If there is no dirt and filth there will be no flies.
IF THERE IS A NUISANCE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD WRITE AT ONCE TO THE BOARD OF HEALTH. Health is wealth, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There is more health in a house well screened than in many a doctors visit. The only safe way is to keep out the flies.
1815 became known in Nova Scotia as “Anno Marium” or “The Year Of The Mice” because the province was overrun by an invasion of the rodents!
“…An army of mice marched over Colchester, Pictou and Antigonish Counties, eating everything before it as it advanced. It was a veritable plague, as serious for a time as that of the frogs sent upon the land of Egypt,” recalled the 1892 booklet ‘Forest, Stream and Seashore.’ The topic was a curious choice to include in that early tourism guide, since rodent invasions aren’t typically known for attracting tourists.
In 1877 Dr. George Patterson went around Nova Scotia interviewing old timers about the strange incident, compiling their tales in his book ‘History of Pictou County.’ He wrote:
“The [mice] were very destructive and actually fierce. If pursued, when hard pressed, they would stand at bay, rising upon their hind legs, setting their teeth and squealing fiercely. A farmer on whom I could rely told me that having, after planting, spread out some barley to dry in the sun before the door, in a little while he saw it covered with them. He let the cat out among them, but they actually turned upon her and fought her.”
Dr. Patterson wrote that the mice appeared without warning; “during the previous season they did not appear in any unusual numbers.” But that Spring “before planting was over, the woods and fields alike swarmed with them.”
That Summer the mice grew worse: “These animals swarmed everywhere, and consumed everything edible, even the potatoes in the ground. In some houses at West River are still reserved books which the leather on the covers has been gnawed by them.”
When Autumn rolled in –that important time when crops were harvested for the winter– the mice ate everything: “They have been known to cut down an acre in three days, so that whole fields were destroyed in a short time … Over acres and acres, they left not a stalk standing, nor a grain of wheat, to reward the labours of the farmer.”
The mice caused a crop failure. The all too real threat of starvation hung over Nova Scotia.
A newspaper report by farmer Nathaniel Symond in Antigonish stated: “upwards of five hundred souls … had nothing to subsist on but the very scanty allowance of milk their cows afforded them.”
A large scale aid effort was launched to provide food to parts of Nova Scotia facing starvation that winter.
Dr. Patterson wrote that when the weather grew colder the mice grew sluggish and began to die by the thousands. Possibly in an effort to eat seaweed washing up on the shore, they made their way towards the coast: “and there died, forming a ridge like seaweed along the edge of the sea, and codfish were caught off the coast with carcasses in their maws.”
Loved this place, I worked their around 79-81. Use to love the meatball sandwiches, yumm. Was always a busy place and then there was Scotland Yard bar next door, a good place to have a brew after work.
Night Out in Lost Ottawa, featuring the menu from the Old Spaghetti Factory on York Street.
The menu doesn’t seem exactly exciting, although many people remember the Spaghetti with the Burnt Butter and Mizithra cheese. The prices are astonishing, even for the era this restaurant lasted, which was 1975 to 1986.
Alas, no drinks menu, so no “Jump Up and Kiss Me!”
(From a book of collected menus I found in the vertical files of the public library.)
In the top left corner it says they accept Mastercard, American Express and CX that would be Chargex….I have not heard that in decades…. LOL Wow, steak and spaghetti for $7.00…. thats unheard of now days. Its move than $7.00 for just the spaghetti alone now never mind the steak. LOL
Used to love going there in the 70’s. A lot younger then, I used to eat the lasanga, warm mini loaf bread with garlic butter and SPUMONI ICECREAM for after. Almost rolled out of there wih my overfilled belly . Could not get that much down now. Such lovely memories
Let’s say you’re sitting around one day fondling your money when three brothers burst in and ask you to invest in their really terrific restaurant idea.
You: OK guys. First brother: We want to start this restaurant chain in old factories and warehouses. We’d like to open near skid row in Vancouver, in Winnipeg’s warehouse district, in an old building on The Esplanade, a dying area near Toronto’s waterfront, and in a warehouse in Ottawa’s farmers’ market.
You: OK, you’re putting restaurants in slum buildings. What the devil is the decor?
Second brother: Used furniture. Lot’s of it. And old drawings, junk, street signs, barber chairs, street cars, stained glass windows, old machinery, and…
You: Sure guys. Sure. And what are you going to serve?
Third brother: Mostly spaghetti.
You: Anyone can make spaghetti. How can you feature spaghetti? And how are you going to make money on a cheap dish like that?
Third brother: Well we have different sauces. One of them tastes a bit like a fish chowder and another features burnt butter.
I wouldn’t have invested in an operation serving spaghetti in warehouses located in run-down districts and filled with second-hand furniture. And I would have made a mistake. Successful chain By doing basically what I’ve outlined, three millionaire Canadians, the Poulas brothers, have built-up one of Canada’s most successful and profitable restaurant chains, the Old Spaghetti Factories.
Hamalainen’s new sign can be seen a long way off –in fact, he hopes people in Britain will notice it. The 34-year-old Finnish-born artist has built what he believes is the largest hand-carved pub sign in existence, and wants to make sure the world, and the Guinness Book of World Records, know about it. The sign, which went up this week in front of the York Street building housing the Old Spaghetti Factory, Brandy’s, and Scotland Yard, measures 2.82 metres high, 2.9S metres wide and weight approximately 1.200 kilograms.
Made of British Columbian cedar, it is elaborately carved on both sides with the logos of the three establishments. As Spaghetti Factory employee Ryan Memory put it, “From a distance, it looks like a big engraved piece of chocolate.” “1 Hamalainen, a graphic artist who sculpts as a hobby, first got the idea from a newspaper article about pub signs, a popular form of art in England. He had previously sold a smaller sculpture to the Spaghetti Factory and when the restaurant owners asked him to build a sign, “this was my opportunity.”
Hamalainen started working on the sign in February it took 511 hours to build. He took slides of the logos, then projected the images onto the wood before beginning to carve. “I didn’t want to make any spelling mistakes,” he said Wednesday. Although the Guinness Book doesn’t yet have a category for pub signs, Hamalainen said he hopes his entry will be accepted, adding that the book does list the world’s largest neon sign. And while he’s not completely sure his sign is the world’s largest, he’s optimistic.
Ottawa Found – check your own facts. Skyline was built by Campeau Corporation and designed by Campeau’s chief architect, Peter Dobbing. Ian, you’re right about the bowl on height limits, but Campeau still had to get permission to exceed the height permitted for that location. It was quite a fuss at the time and once this exemption was granted, the others followed.
My old boss, Harry Koffman, also said it was Campeau who was responsible for the height restriction easing. Harry owned the Belle Claire on Queen St. and he and his brother Sammy held out until 1974 before selling to Cadillac Fairvee. By then, it was worth a small fortune.
The Rotating Restaurant was at the “Holiday Inn”….now the Mariott Hotel, I worked at this hotel, which was built by Campeau as part of the Place de Ville complex, this hotel was originally built as an apartment complex, before opening as the Holiday Inn, with the rotating restaurant (room still rotates today) as La Ronde,….Dan D
It was built by Campeau and very controversial because it broke the city height bylaws that protected the view of the Parliament Buildings. All those anonymous glass and steel blocks have followed. It really was the beginning of “Lost Ottawa”, along with the demolition of the Flats of course.
Had my wedding reception there! 1972. They put together a package deal—- I got married at 7:00 pm. The deal was for 40 people— hors d’ourves, wine for the toasts, the wedding cake, bridal suite for the night and breakfast in the morning for 6 people. My Dad paid for the open bar. All that for the princely sum of—- wait for it———$131.75. I still have the bill. Soft spot for the old Skyline!
A lot of newbies, including myself, would make the error of putting their briefcase or purse on the window ledge. When the meal was finished. the latter would have “magically” disappeared. You would then have to walk around the entire loop of the restaurant, to find your missing item. This was particularly interesting, if the person involved had consumed a few beverages during the meal.
My husband Denis and I stayed at the hotel the first night we were married and the following night we had a wonderful dinner at the restaurant. The rotation was so slow that you did not feel it moving the only reason you knew it was rotating is because the scenery was changing.
I own a vibraphone (mallet percussion instrument) that came from LaRonde originally, and apparently lived there for years. I guess any serious dinner restaurant had to have their own vibraphone to go with the lounge music of that era….?
Blind Pig brings back memories… I used to live downtown in the late 70’s and drank there all the time. The bands that played there were great. I ate at La Ronde once with the family and that was enough for me. The movement, although slow, made me so sick.
It was certainly a novelty, and a great place to dine and enjoy the bright lights and landmarks of down town Ottawa at night, as the La Ronde restaurant rotated at a slow pace. Had a few company celebration dinners there.The most difficult part of an evening was trying to find your table location after a washroom visit. The ride up and down in the high speed elevator also added a thrill !
Gazing out over the Parliament Buildings and the Ottawa River in June of 1971. Wouldn’t this be quite the Ottawa coffee break — or possibly he’s having a smoke?.
I don’t have access to the Ottawa Journal, but I think this chap is working on the Holiday Inn (the one with the spinning restaurant on top) — which is now the Marriott (with the rarely spinning and not usually-open restaurant on top).
I wonder if the would spin it up if we held a Lost Ottawa dinner in there!
Holiday Inn, then a Radisson, now a Marriott. Stayed there for the first time in the late 70s. Benito Migliorati, now GM of the Chateau Vaudreuil outside of Montreal, was F&B Manager. Was a franchise operated by Commonwealth Holiday Inns of Canada Ltd of London,ON…”the most accommodating people in the world”. Had a Sunday Brunch in La Ronde (the name of the revolving restaurant at the time), during a fam trip weekend hosted during Winterlude 1988 by Kensel Tracy, then with Ottawa CVB. Stayed there again in Oct/2011 when Markus Fisher was DOSM.
As a reporter with The Ottawa Citizen, I was assigned to write a story about the revolving restaurant — a marvel coming to Ottawa. Went up to the roof with photographer and site manager on the construction elevator and had the magnificent view of the city , the river and the Gatineau Hills. I think this experience gave me the fear of heights which I still have all these years later. In its day, it was a wonderful place to go for a meal on a special occasion.
Fine dining justifies trip to the top of the Marriott It was a masterpiece night for dining 29 floors high: the evening sky was clear, the sun blazed over the Gatineau Hills, a squadron of kayaks pirouetted down the Ottawa River. It would have been the perfect evening to haul tourists to the top of the Marriott Hotel to see the panoramic splendour that is Ottawa on a late August night. As it was, I dined in the excellent company of two local friends along with my husband and brother, for whom such beauty should have been familiar. Still, 29 floors up and going ’round and ’round, it can all look new. The view alone was a tonic for us jaded Ottawa old-timers. We do live in a good-looking city. And we ate in a restaurant that’s been part of the city for more than 29 years … though, in different incarnations.
The Ottawa Marriott is what became of the Radisson Hotel, and Merlot is what happened to La Ronde. The only part of the former La Ronde restaurant that remains at Merlot is the revolving part. The restaurant spins .;. slowly. (Still, I take no chances and face forward. My dinner always stays ahead of me in rotating eateries.) In a 1995 review, I wrote, “La Ronde is a restaurant that has a big view, a big menu and big prices. What you are paying for is being up high and going around in circles. That may be worth the price, but the food is not. Nor is the service.” In 1995, I would not have brought a tourist to show off the city from the 29th floor of the Radisson Hotel. (At least, not to eat.) But, based on my dinner experience at Merlot, I would grab a dozen.
The meal was not flawless. Mistakes were made. But not many. And they were mostly forgivable, given the obvious efforts made and pains taken to get things right. There was much that was right with the bread basket offerings (although they could lose the flavoured butter balls, they scream “hotel”) and with the appetizers we sampled. My weakness in restaurants, generally, is for the starters. I could happily eat an entire meal from The only part of the former La Ronde restaurant that remains at Merlot is the revolving part. that portion of the menu alone. And here, it was indeed the starters that caught our attention. A potato leek and Stilton soup, enriched with Port, was memorable for its intense flavour, perfect seasoning, rich chicken broth and its dappled oil surface. A second soup boasted perfect seafood in a delightful tomato broth, spiked with chili-heat, perfumed with fennel and cilantro and floating “purses” of grated vegetables and herbs encased in crisp wonton wrappers.
Medallions of sashimi-grade tuna were quiveringly-good: the outside crusted with cracked pepper and flash- seared but, inside, a glorious purple-flesh, utterly rare, prettily settled on a won-tcfli “crisp” treated with black sesame seed and coarse salt. Surrounding the rare tuna and its crisp bed were braised baby bok choy and black-eyed peas in a pool of subtle curry-spiced sauce. Blueberries and jus de cassis provided the sweet touch in the dark rosemary-scented sauce for the sweetbreads, the nuggets tender and perfectly paired with wild mushrooms and strips of crisp pancetta. If I had a quibble with this one it would be the salt, which was too much for my taste. We had three completely delightful main dishes and two that were less so. My salmon (“fresh from the icy waters of Alaska”) was sadly, nastily overcooked. Had I not been on the job I would have sent it back.
The pork tenderloin was surrounded with terrific, tasty things: nuggets of roasted potato, onion, peppers and a compote of softened apples and sweet, dried cranberries all treated with a whisky-doused sauce. But the pork itself was grey and had a stewed taste and texture that were disappointing. Much better was my husband’s rack of lamb, perfectly roasted to medium-rare, coated with coarse mustard and served with a classic mint-infused lamb jus reduction. A colourful salsa, of corn and tomatoes and “calypso” beans cuddled up with buddy Jane’s terrific, slow-roasted, juicy chicken. Also on that plate were roasted portobello mushrooms and surprisingly light gnocchi, perfumed with lemon and sage. It all worked. And finally, the loin of deer, intensely gamey, dark and rich, with a full-bodied wine sauce that balanced.
Ottawa Marriott Hotel 100 Kent St., 783-4212 Food: Good to excellent. Accessible: Elevator to the penthouse level. Access from there is up a flight of stairs. Wheelchair access possible through service elevator. Price: Appetizers, $12 to $14; main dishes, $20 to $34. Hours: Dinner service only, Tuesday through Sunday. came with hardy roasted root vegetables and a touch of fragility too, in the form of ag-nolotti (like a big ravioli) lightly stuffed with mushrooms and herbs. Yum. For dessert, we enjoyed a maple mousse cake of glorious maple flavour and a delightful concoction of oh-so-dark chocolate, which had been moulded into an espresso cup, complete with handle, and filled with impossibly rich chocolate ganache. Both desserts were gloriously presented with all the spun sugar flourishes and ripe fruit garnishes you would expect from a pastry chef artist. At $7 and $9 respectively, they were a steal. A round of cappucinos, that arrived piping hot, despite the 29-floor elevator ride they endured (because of a defunct machine en haut) completed our evening. We splurged on a bottle (two, actually) of Berringer Merlot (from a lengthy list that held some treasures) and, with those and with all of the above, our bill for dinner for five came, with taxes and tip, to $460. Like we did, you will pay. But this time round, for more than the view and the ride.
DINNER. BY Elizabeth Elmsley View great, You’ve got to admit that after you’ve zipped up 25or so storeys in an elevator then huffed up the last flight of stairs, the view from the Radisson Hotel’s La Ronde is awesome. Spectacular. Enough to take your breath away. And if your breath isn’t taken away by the view, it will surely be sucked out of you when you try to find the washrooms. It’s rather like a game of round and round the mulberry bush as you try to relocate the entrance of this slowly revolving restaurant Once there, you must descend the stairs, turn left and walk a goodly distance. Then, of course, there’s the return journey. In short, dinner at La Ronde is not for the short of breath, the elderly, the incontinent and those with no sense of direction. It can be, however, an enjoyable experience if you adore watching the beauty of Ottawa and the Gatineau Hills roll by and if you enjoy eyeball-ing birds and hot air balloons. It’s been years since I last reviewed La Ronde. I remember saying then that the food had improved immeasurably that it was finally worth the view. Yes there were problems a dish whose flavors warred with each other, an inattentive waiter and a mariachi band whose music drove one to distraction. But generally, I enjoyed the evening. I enjoyed my evening this time as well. But the pleasure had more to do with the view, the attentive service and my companion than, unfortunately, the food.
We got off to a brilliant start. My companion ordered a feuillete filled with oyster, morel and shiitake mushrooms in a chantilly herb sauce ($7.75). It was utterly delicious the pastry flaky and tender, the mushrooms and herb sauce beautifully matched. The same could be said for the es-cargots which had been gently sauteed more like poached in garlic-herb sauce accented with slivers of tart sun-dried tomatoes ($8.25). Excellent Delightful. I wish they’d been our main courses. For here we ventured into the dinner disappointing –yes abyss. It was almost as if there’d been a change in chefs in the kitchen that forms the core of this circular restaurant.
My companion ordered the roast pork tenderloin wrapped in phyllo pastry served with a moutarde de meaux sauce ($21.25) and I ordered the lake trout steamed in a parchment pocket garnished with a julienne of vegetables in a delicate champagne sauce ($21.50). In passing, I should let you know that neither of us was being extravagant in our choices. The pork and the trout are at the very bottom of -La Ronde’s main course prices; for $30 per person, there’s Chateaubriand or grilled filet of venison, for $24 there’s medallions of veal loin or gulf shrimp flambeed with pernod, for $27 there’s braised partridge. We might have done better with ! other selections for the pork a quite intimidating serving, by the way had been cooked to the point where germs stood no chance of survival. It was also dry, tough and chewy. And there wasn’t enough sauce to allow the hunks of meat to slide down. As for my main course well, it certainly was unlike any trout I’ve ever tasted. In fact it very much tasted like the last item on the menu: “Whole Dover sole prepared to your taste.” Now I have eaten quite a bit of Dover sole in my not-so-brief lifetime and a well prepared Dover sole is heaven. But a previously frozen sole that may or may not be Dover is not my idea of a gourmet dining experience. And this wasn’t. For dessert we had a slightly over set creme caramel ($4.25) and an okay raspberry mousse cake ($3.75). The coffee, however, was very good. And, as I mentioned, the view was fantastic.
By Marilyn Mlnnes Don’t place your purse on the window ledge. It will stay there. So will the window ledge. But you, your companions and the dining table will move onwards. It takes about 80 minutes for your return to the same spot. Any restaurant that revolves at 27 storeys (or 2,000 eggs strung shell to shell as determined by a recent promotion) to expose the heart and skyline of a city to the diner, is a tourist come-on. But now La Ronde offers more than that.
In fact the Holiday Inn’s penthouse restaurant has improved its image lately. Mind you, it did have a long way to go. One of the biggest criticisms yesteryear was that service was arrogant, .Waiters were known to tap their pencils impatiently waiting to take an order. There’s still a hint of that, but altogether La Ronde has become much less stuffy. Our waiter was even noted to have offered and performed the cutting up of a youngster’s meat an operation that was deftly handled. However, he wasn’t much impressed with our order of a Canadian wine, Moulin Blanc, at $1.90 a bottle. It along with other Canadian wines, are the only ones left to be had for under $5. And that’s at the old prices.
I had a glimpse of the new listings, ready for when the older-priced stock runs out. The tab for Pouilly-Vinzelles, now $11.05, will soar to $22. And that’s enough to take away anyone’s appetite. What else does La Ronde offer you? Six nights a week, there’s music to dance by (dinner guests only), with time to enjoy the dance floor between courses The music is good, requests can be made, the room is romantic.
Half-price for half portions, dimmed and, as the sunlight fades, single carnations on each table gracefully silhouetted against the panoramic view of Ottawa by night. As for the food, it remains mediocre. The occasional dish is better than that. Nothing is outstanding. The only unacceptable item was the Caesar’s salad ($5 for two) that had been carefully prepared at the table with all the right ingredients to give it healthy zip, including copious bits of bacon, crisp croutons and a shower of parmesan. But tossed into the dressing were romaine leaves that had faded and were limp and tasteless.
We started with an appetizer of smoked salmon ($4.50), short on flavor but ample in quantity. Plated arrange arranged with capers, rings of onion, creamy horseradish, tomato wedges and a small creamed cheese sandwich. Our main course choices were scampi amoureuse ($15.25), the delicately-flavored crusacean sauteed (at the table) with shallots and tomato and then flamed with pernod and cream. It is a tasty dish, complemented by a bed of bland rice, and colorfully presented with plain frozen green beans and what appeared to be canned baby carrots.
Like the scampi, the veal scaloppine ($11.50) was tender; tasty and well prepared. Again the vegetables were the weak sisters: overcooked zucchini and not-quite-crisp fried potato balls. Other main course items include fish and shellfish, steaks and roast, chicken tarragon, rack of lamb ($28.50 for two), Chateaubriand ($28.50 for two), veal kidney and pork tenderloin. Points must be given for plates that remained hot throughout; a menu showing off a few Canadian specialties, namely salmon and fiddleheads; and explicit descriptions of both the dinner items and the wine list.
Desserts, revolved around strawberries. One was a feather light but ordinary cheesecake ($2) with a strawberry preserve sauce, the other, fresh berries Komanoff ($2.75) sat atop ice cream scooped into a water pocket. The bill for two, presented with After Eights chocolate mints, was about $52 (not including tip). That’s not extraordinarily high for the setting and the french-style service. Now that the attitude permits one to enjoy the altitude, how about some inspiration with the food.
Mike Robert shares a fabulous photo which may have been shared in the comments of Lost Ottawa before.
It looks like family that would have a lot trouble fitting in to that Porsche, but it really fits with our sign theme of the week.
Behind the family? The sign for the Royal Burger just east of St. Laurent on Montreal Road.
Notes Mike: “love this sign at the corner of Mtl. Road and Brittany Drive where Mark Motors is located now. My mother’s house was the white house in the background that became a vet’s office. I fondly remember the drive-thru at the RB!”
There was a Royal Burger at Woodroffe and Carling we went to a couple of times, but usually we went to Capital Burger which was cheaper on Croydon and Carling across from the Fire Station. I used to love the hot dogs, that were curled to fit a hamburger bun.
Best burgers and especially their “Bermuda” onion rings and real shakes to wrap up a great meal. Our daughter worked at the one in Peterborough. It closed and became a DQ. White house also vet clinic of Dr. Carioto. I would not be surprised if that was not the Mark family.
They were the first to have an intercom to order your food and have it ready when you arrived at the window. they had a slider window on the side for the carless customers. The special sauce was the taste. We liked the one on bank street, it was close and open late.. Owned by Lou MacDonald.
If memory serves me the Richmond road and Carling Avenue stores were owned by the Bruce family that also owned Bruce Fuels and Frazer Duntile (the quarry on Clyde Avenue). I worked for the Bruce family (old man Reginald and son Bob) in the mid 70s. There office was a big White House on Carling avenue stuck between two tall apartment buildings just next to Carlingwood. It was the longest year of my life. Swore I would never work for a family business again, at least as an outsider.
I sure do! My husband and I lived on Montreal Road right across from Royal Burger. Their burgers were the best, as were their onion rings. I remember the Royal burger, with 2 patties was 60 cents, and the burgerette, with one patty was 25 cents. Oh, for the good ol’ days of the 60s.
I used to go to the one just east of the Champlain Bridge when I was a kid. The last one I remember was at the corner of Richmond and Ambleside. I last saw “Mike” at Super Ex running a Royal Burger ‘truck’ that he said was doing the fair circuit at the time. He rememberd both my mom and me and even gave me my burger for free. That can’t be more than 5-10 years ago.
I worked at the Richmond road location as a teen, I remember making the “Special Sauce” in 5 gallon pails that pickles or other food products came in. We would pour all the ingredients in the pail, then stir it with your arm fully emerged in the product.
I worked for a year at the one on Carling at cross if Woodruff Ave. Friday and Sat. Were madhouse. A lit of folks at Britania Drive inn would make food run before second feature and I remember frilling 25 Royales at once for a single order.
Yes. That was my grandfather Reg Bruce’s chain of burger places. He also had Royal Donut. The ” Bruce MacDonald ” that someone is referring to is the “Bruce /MacDonald Motor Hotel that my grandfather built on Carling Ave. His business partners last name in that hotel was MacDonald. It’s now called Embassy West Hotel. So there’s some history for you.
Four years after our marriage, in 1964, we rented an apartment on the West end of Hull, on the very street where the first Royal Burger was installed. It was built from prefab components in less than a week. Thereafter, every evening until the wee hours, we were treated to “Yeah!”, “with the works” and wonderful phrases like that, never to be forgotten. Wafts of burning flesh perfumed the air all summer long. Wonderful memories!
I must have been 5 or 6 (1969-70) when for a treat my parents would hit the Royal Burger on Richmond rd. It was a drive-through and i was allowed to yell into the order board what I wanted. It was always the same thing “Chip & Coke). Yes, I was very exciteable back then. Can’t say I was upset years later when Harvey’s occupied the same land.
The one in Hull was Royal in name only after Bruce Macdonald shut the doors. My first job (after paper routes) was sweeping the parking lot on Richmond Rd. I impressed the manager that he hired me. I remember getting rides home in his 57 Canary yellow Chevy. Loud and fast, back then not as many cars on the road then. Especially after dropping the takings at the hotel. I remember Harvey’s bedside us. We traded burgs for fries. Funny our meat was fresh and fries frozen. While Harvey’s was the opposite. And our rings were made daily. Double dipped was that procedure. The closest to them would be A&W rings.
I think community should be documented for future generations. This hotel was part of the Ottawa community until it closed
Soul is a name. Every time you repeat the name, it steals a bit of soul, so that by the 1,000th time you say Burger King or Esso, it disappears. Soul resides in the one-of-a- kind, in Eddy’s Quick Lunch, The Vanier Grill, Maple Leaf Tavern. These are names that line Montreal Road in Vanier, names unrepeated in other places, names that outlive buildings, so that the gritty soul of the street resonates like the memory of sin’s embrace. Maple Leaf tavern which lasted 70 years until 1994 proudly served quarts, the once popular meeting place for Ottawa’s elite, the hotel’s bar became a magnet for crime – in the 1980s . The Maple Leaf Tavern, which opened on Montreal Road in 1923, closed in 1994.
Vanier ends a short distance west of St. Laurent Boulevard, where for years the Maple Leaf Tavern was home to a generation of National Research Council scientists, Mounties, tradespeople and those whose employment was more difficult to pin down. It closed in February 1994, to such universal sadness and outcry the Citizen dispatched one of its best writers to write an obituary “The Maple Leaf not forever, but not forgotten,” he concluded. A brand-new Blockbuster Video with plenty of parking replaced it.
Last call for landmark beer hall Phil Gebert shut the Maple Leaf Tavern a week ago, closing the doors on a three-tiered beer hall that could easily seat most of Vanier round its well-worn tables. This was not a happy ending to a hotel and watering hole first opened in 1923. Friday, as he tried to sell anything not nailed down, Gebert was not a happy man. “What’s the story?” the middle-aged businessman asked mockingly.
“There’s no story. The place is a dump. It should have been torn down a long time ago.”
He lights a smoke, drinks coffee, lights another smoke, all the while leading a handful of buyers between stacked cases of glassware and used kitchen equipment. At one table in the clutter 150 salt shakers are neatly lined up, their chrome tops gleaming in the weak light. In a few minutes, he will pull a black 8-ball from his blazer pocket, a remnant found in the basement games room.
“Take a picture of this. I’m always behind it.”
Gebert tried to keep things quiet when he closed the tavern, but you don’t easily remove a landmark. “If God had a bar, It would be called the Leaf,” a sentimental patron memorialized on the wall with magic marker. Others joined him: “It’s been great Tawny” “God Bless the Leafs”, and, “Lest we forget the times, Thanks for the memories Nancy Kerrigan”.
The grouchy Gebert may not want to talk about the tavern’s past but Claude Larose, 59, does. Larose has been working in taverns for 35 years back when beer was 42 cents a quart the last 17 at the Maple Leaf. Friday, the short, dark-eyed man came in to help out with the sale and pick up his last paycheque.
The tavern, at Montreal Road and St. Laurent Boulevard, used to rent 17 rooms in the upper floor. Larose says government workers in the area staked out their own sections of the tavern: RCMP in one area, CMHC in another, plumbers and electricians in yet another.
There have been so many stories connected with the Leaf over the years, Larose is hard pressed to single out a few. He remembers the man who was having chest pains at home and told his son, “Just get me to the Leaf and I’ll be alright.” He went to the hospital instead and died. Gebert and Larose say the Maple Leaf has been victimized by changing times and taste: People don’t drink as much anymore and, if they do, it’s only one quart instead of five.
While a 1988 fire hurt business the tavern shut for nine months they say there’s been a steady slide in business since 1992. When word leaked out last week about the closure, Larose estimates two or three dozen wooden chairs disappeared, whisked away to dens and basements. “It’s like they say. All good things must come to an end,” says Larose. So they do. The Maple Leaf not forever, but not forgotten.
Americo “Maigo” Rego, the young manager at the Maple Leaf Restaurant and Tavern on Montreal Road, saw the graffiti on the wall two years ago and has been slowly renovating the tavern since.” Rego has been forced to open the Popular Draft Room downstairs to everyone because of declining sales. “At first the men didn’t like it but it has gradually been accepted. I always answer the phone with ‘hello, Maple Leaf Hotel’, though. It will always be that to me,” Maigo says.
“Our male-only side will never die-out, though. It may not be as busy as it used to be but the women will never feel comfortable there.” Rego has been forced to open the Popular Draft Room downstairs to everyone because of declining sales. “At first the men didn’t like it but it has gradually been accepted.”
By John Kessel and Mike Blanchfield Citizen staff writers
A fire Sunday that gutted the upper floor of the Maple Leaf Tavern and Restaurant was likely the job of an arsonist, an investigator with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office says. Les MacPhee said he and police believe the same suspect set a $20,000 fire at the tavern in mid-September. “We just haven’t been able to find the man to question him,” MacPhee said. “We believe it’s someone who has a grudge against the hotel.”
When firefighters arrived, flames were shooting out upper windows of the tavern on Montreal Road just east of St. Laurent Blvd. They battled the blaze for nearly four hours before bringing it under control. Two firefighters received injuries. They were taken to hospital and later released, said Guilbault. Despite extensive damage to the upper floor of the two-storey building, the pub’s manager vowed it will reopen within two weeks. Phil Gebert said the ground floor and the basement which house the pub received only water damage. The upper floor was unoccupied. “It’ll just need a week to air out,” Gebert said Sunday morning, noting that most of the tavern furniture was not destroyed.
However, Dave Guilbault, an investigator with the Ottawa fire department, said there was “severe damage” to the roof, with minor smoke damage to the rest of the building. The basement, where the restaurant’s popular lunch specials were served, was not damaged, he said. “It doesn’t look too good right now,” said Platoon Chief George Way. “There isn’t much of a roof left.” He estimated damage to the building at $350,000 and water damage to its contents at $100,000. The building was empty when Sunday’s blaze broke out.
I don’t have a ton of history about this Ottawa hotel which like several businesses in the neighborhood mysteriously burned down around the same time.
The Maple Leaf Hotel was a favorite hangout for a lot of people, some even legal drinking age. It was on the corner of St Laurent and Montreal Road.
In high school (grade 13) it was where I would skip math classes with a few friends and head over for the afternoon and then high tail it back to school to get our books and catch our school buses home.
This was quite funny as our high school was several miles away and I would actually have to pass where I lived to get back to school only to then head home.
We would each order 5 small glasses of beer for $0.90 and leave the waiter a $0.10 tip so 4 guys ordering 5 beers and that table got filled up with glasses pretty darn fast. I mean we were on a mission and only had so much time.
I also recall the waiter wouldn’t take the glasses away so we would stack the glasses on top of each other making a 3′ high pyramid of breakables on the table (maybe they were plastic?)
Drinking age was 21 and I was 16 (going on 17) but looked older, yet I doubt I looked 21. We never got asked for our ID.
On one adventurous day, we stole a wooden Maple Leaf sign from inside which was proudly displayed in our grade 13 lounge.
Thanks Linda, my ancestor was Michael Spears who in 1830 owned the 100 acres where the Maple Leaf Hotel was. Mary Ann Spears, from Navan, mentioned in the obit for James Alberty was Michael Spears’ granddaughter. I had not seen his James Alberty’s obit before — thanks
My Mother Father and myself lived for a month at the Maple Leaf Hotel in early 1956 when we first came to Ottawa.My father finally found an apt not far away from the ML in Alvin Heights. We stayed in the corner room which had two windows one facing the Montreal Rd and the other St.Laurent Blvd. I last stayed at the ML in Oct. 1970 room rent was $6.50 per night. It’s one of the places that if you have been there you will never forget.
An old story. Years ago 4 cooks from the base (Rockliffe) would go for a beer. It was an exceptionally hot day and one of the four saw one guy put 2 pounds of butter on his head and put his hat on. So they decided it was a good day to have a beer. 4 took their hats off, 4th didn’t. Days before air conditioning. Butter started rolling down his face. He was embarrassed as hell.
Bank Street hotels called ‘dead’ Ottawa hotels appear to consider Bank Street dead for tourist travel. Not a single one accepted the Tourist and Convention Bureau’s invitation to put direct-line telephones’ into the Bank Street reception centre. At the Prescott Highway centre, five major hotels have taken up all available spaces, forcing the bureau to turn down an application from Bruce MacDonald Motor Hotel. The hotel wants to locate only in the Prescott centre, bureau director Gerald Geldert told the tourist and convention committee Tuesday night. But the Beacon Arms, Lord Elgin, Savoy, Chateau Lauri-er and Butler Motor hotels have filled all the spaces. The committee agreed a row of tourist folder racks there can be taken out to provide more spaces if the direct-line venture works out.
A request from Eastview’s Lafontaine Hotel for permission to install a phone in the Montreal Road ‘centre was turned down because the hotel does not advertise in the city’s tourist publications. Charles St. Germain complained that Eastview keeps aloof from tourist, promotion and benefits from Ottawa advertising. Now in the Montreal Road centre are phones to the Beacon Arms, Lord Elgin, Savoy and Riverside Motor hotels. The Beacon Arms, Savoy and Lord Elgin are in the Britannia centre. Motorcycle guides Not even Donald Sigouin, 55, of 356A Cumberland St., who is promoting tourist guides on motorcycles, wanted to locate at the Bank Street centre. He told the committee his choice is the Prescott centre where he counted 26 tourist groups Sunday at one time. The committee recommended letting him move his Ottawa Tourist Motorcycle Escort Service to the centre on a trial basis.
Aldermen Lionel O’Connor and Charles Parker opposed the move. Foolish move? “This town’s in the midst of a local revolution because of all the motorcycles,” said Aid. O’Connor. “It’s so bad that we have women out on the streets, screaming at them.” He indicated city council would be foolish to appear to promote the proliferation of the two-wheeled noise-anakers. “The whole city is up in arms against motorcycles,” he said. John Powers said Mr. Sigouin’s motorcycle escorts, who will charge $1 to guide tourists to their destination in Ottawa, will have to stick to a rigid contract with the city as well as obey laws governing motorcycles. St. Germain objected to Mr. Sigouin’s intentions of taking 50 cents out of each dollar his cyclists make. But the committee agreed Mr. Sigouin would need the money to pay for signs and the receptionists he hopes eventually to place outside all four centres.
A striking story of the unique manner in which rats were cornered and slaughtered in wholesale fashion in the servants’ dining room in the Russell Hotel back in the 1880s. It may be explained that the servants’ dining quarters were in an old stone building which had once been the residence of a prominent Bytown family and which served as an annex to the hotel. This annex overlooked the woodyard and stables on the Canal street side of the hotel.
At that time the yard was overrun with huge rodents which made it their business of gnawing their way into the ancient structure and devouring everything in sight. The visits, of course, were by night, and the mode of entrance was through holes gnawed in the baseboards. Weasels and ferrets also failed in catching these rodents.
Two gentleman with two husky dogs were hired to do the job of getting rid of them. With various methods failing of catching them they snapped on the lights and saw stopping the unwelcome visitors had failed. They were racing hither and thither fullfilling their purpose with food from the traps taken in flight. The staff clambered onto the tables, with the rats coming in like they owned the place. The rodents, about sixty of the night prowlers, skilfully wrested the bait in their teeth and looking at ordinary traps like they were infant’s toys.
Ottawa – 1927 – Russell House Hotel (canal view) – Credit David Jeanes
The rat-holes were in the wood yard. Above each of these holes Mr. Charbonneau constructed slides, to which were attached cords, these in turn being tied to a strong cord which ran the full length of the wall about three feet from the floor and the end of which was attached to a hook in the baggage room.
They pulled the main cord tight, which automatically raised the six slides and held them in position about an inch above the rat-holes. Two hours later, when the nocturnal visitors had been given plenty of time to rally to the cause, the cord was loosed and down went the slides or prison gates as they might well have been designated. Then the fun began in real earnest. The man hired for the job was lazy and tired of the hunt, so his dogs went todo the work for him. Finally they came upon a unique and successful plan, and used the old fashioned brush-broom. It seems that the rats lasted less than half an hour and their entrance entirely at one side slaughter was at an end.
On one occasion, having let several travellers in on the secret, one being a burly Londoner tipping the scales at 250 pounds they invited them to witness the slaughter. Taking to leave the gruesome sight behind them and anticipating to repeat the stories about the experience back home about the nights at the old Russell House Hotel.
The Russell House Hotel
The original Russell House Hotel, formerly Campbell’s Hotel, c. 1864
Library and Archives Canada, C-002567B
8 June 1863
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the centre of Ottawa’s social life was the Russell House Hotel that stood on the southeast corner of Sparks and Elgin Streets. It was a grand and stately hostelry that dated back to about 1845. Originally, the hotel was a three-storey structure with an attic and tin roof known as Campbell’s House after its first owner. Located in Upper Town close to the Rideau Canal, it was the main stopping point for people vising Bytown, later known as Ottawa. Its food and other supplies came from Montreal by river in the summer and overland by sled in the winter.
The Russell House hotel was the most high-profile hotel in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada for many decades. It was located at the corner of Sparks Street and Elgin Street, where Confederation Square is located today. The original building was built in the 1840s. Additions were made in the 1870s and the original building replaced in 1880.
In 1901 there was a smallpox outbreak in Ottawa. Complaints were made on a daily basis to the Ottawa Journal of anyone that a local citizen deemed should be quarantined. Names and addresses were published in the newspaper, no matter the age of those who were inflicted. Vaccines were available at the Ottawa City Hall and doctors were kept busy.
In 1912, the Château Laurier succeeded the Russell as Ottawa’s premier hotel. Money was spent on renovations in the 1920s, but the hotel had declined due to age and its closure was announced on September 1, 1925. Some of the reasons listed were the high cost of heating the structure, and the higher number of staff to operate the hotel, compared to a newer facility.The Russell House closed permanently on October 1, 1925. Ground-level shops remained open, but the hotel was emptied.
On April 14, 1928, a fire broke out in the hotel, and the hotel was mostly destroyed. The remains of the structure were demolished by November. The Government of Canada had been in the process of buying the property when the fire occurred, and the government used the land to expand Elgin Street to create Confederation Square. Various artifacts of the hotel are on display at the Bytown Museum.
A chasseur de rats, or rat-catcher, was tasked with catching and disposing of the vermin or pests in a city. He was the ancestor to today’s modern exterminator. In medieval Europe, rats and mice were responsible for spreading disease and epidemics, such as the plague. In a time where people had no refrigerators or freezers, vermin would also threaten a home’s food supply. Black rats in particular would live among the city’s inhabitants, getting into wooden houses and hiding in the straw where poorer folks would sleep.
Because of the dangers posed by vermin, the rat-catcher was actually a well-respected, and very important, position in society. It was a difficult occupation, however, with rat-catchers having to go into dirty and unsanitary places, and handling potentially disease-ridden or rabid rats and mice.
Rat-catchers would attempt to catch the vermin themselves, or use animals trained to hunt and kill them. Alternatively, they could use rat traps. In France, rat-catchers would walk the city streets accompanied by cats in cages and a stick on which 2 or 3 dead rats would be hung from, all the while yelling “Mort-aux-rats!” or “death to the rats!”.
In Québec, the first record we have of rat-catchers are from the 19th century. They were known as “acheteurs de rats”, or rat buyers, who offered to rid someone of the vermin in their house or barn, and actually paid the homeowner a few cents to do so (what they actually did with these rats I couldn’t determine). Others would simply sell vermin-poisoning powders or small spring-loaded traps. Some rat-catchers claimed to be gifted in the art of chasing away vermin, while others recited a spell to drive them away
The funny thing was that the Ottawa Daily Citizen only published once a week, and after all this publicity a formally written account of the event was never published. But word on the street was– he did in fact do his two performances: one at 3PM and the other at 10PM and once blindfolded.
James Powell of the Historical Society of Ottawa shares a story a man, a rope, and the Chaudiere Falls.
The Great Farini crossing the Niagara Gorge with an Empire Washing Machine strapped to his back, 15 August 1860.
Earl W. Brydges Public Library, New York.
9 September 1864
Back in the mid-nineteenth century, the world was wowed by Jean François Gravelet, better known as the Great Blondin. In June 1859, in front of a crowd of 25,000 fascinated and horrified onlookers, Blondin crossed the Niagara Gorge from the United States to Canada on a tightrope. On his return trip, he brought a daguerreotype camera with him to take a photo of the spectators.
One of Blondin’s greatest fans was a young man from Port Hope, Ontario named William Leonard Hunt. Hunt was born in June 1838 in Lockport, New York but grew up close to Port Hope where his parents settled after living for a time in the United States. As a child, he was a daredevil and was fascinated with all things related to the circus—much to his parents’ chagrin who view such activities as dishonourable. Hunt gave his first professional performance as a funambulist (tightrope walker) at age twenty-one by crossing the Ganaraska River in Port Hope on a rope stretched eighty feet high between two buildings, just months after Blondin’s conquest of Niagara Falls. Hunt chose the stage name Signor Guillermo (Italian for William) Farini, or the “Great Farini.” Read more here.. CLICK
Saturday Shopping: Orme’s Piano Store at 189 Sparks Street, in 1897. Awesome carriage on the right. But I particularly like the J.P. Curry “express” wagon on the left. Some things are never Lost.
The store was named after J. L. Orme, a Scottish immigrant who arrived in Canada in 1856. He became the first paid organist at St. Andrew Presbyterian in 1861. Realizing there was a market for such a thing, he opened a music store on Sparks Street which he incorporated in 1866. The store remained in business for decades.
Check out the basically mud road. This level of dirt makes it clear why clean, green parks were so important back in the day. —Lost Ottawa (PA-011372).
When Gowan’s Music Hall was established in Ottawa in 1869, the hall was hailed as a fine forward step for the Capital. Prior to that, Ottawa had had Her Majesty’s Theatre, on Wellington street, but had not had any suitable building where local concerts could be held, or where outside performers who were not in the theatre class could go in the early 1860s they came to Ottawa from Toronto.
The Gowans were musical people. They were also carvers and gilders, picture framers, made looking glasses, etc. They kept a music store, and had a fine brass band and a string band. Over their store they had a dance hall. The Gowans were located at 113 Sparks street, the site which in after years housed the J. L. Orme Piano Store and St. James’ Hall. The Gowans, who were very enterprising people, and seemed to have been possessed of some money, dominated the music field here. It was Gowan this, and Gowan that; Gowan here and Gowan there.
Gowan’s Opera House. Ottawa Dramatic Club. Season 1876-77. First Performance, Friday Evening, 15th December, 1876. Under the Distinguished Patronage of Their Excellencies The Governor General and the Countess of Dufferin. Performance to Commence at 8 O’Clock Punctually. [With]: Mounted Photograph of Gowan’s Opera House. 8x 9cm., on grey card 13.5x 13.5cm, inscribed on verso: Gowan’s Opera House, Albert Street, Ottawa. Seven April 1902. [by H.J. Morgan; not signed]
The Gowans came to the pinnacle of their business eminence, when in the early seventies, they built the Gowan Theatre on Albert street (later the Grand Opera House). This story, however, is not about the Grand Opera House, but about Gowan’s Music Hall. When the Gowans, in 1869, decided that a concert hall was desirable, they remodelled the dance hall above their stores, putting in a stage which would permit of concerts or of small plays. The dance hall had a high ceiling. To make their opportunity for serving the public wider, they put in a floor over half-way up the wall of the concert hall, 12 feet, making another large room above. This room they intended for a supper room for the use of dancers and others.
When their alterations were completed they had a ball and concert hall, on the first floor, 80 x 33 in size, and on the second floor a supper room, 52 x 33 in size. The supper room was planned to hold 300 guests. The reason the supper room was not as large as the ball room, was that on the supper room floor, were a kitchen and dressing rooms for ladies and gentlemen. It should be mentioned that in the ladies’ dressing rooms were racks for ladies’ bonnets, hats and cloaks.
The entrance to Gowan’s halls was from Wellington street, there being then a vacant lot in rear of the Gowan store. The Gowan Music Hall, which seated 600 persons, was the scene of many noted lectures, balls, concerts, plays, etc. On the Sparks street frontage of their building the Gowans had their two stores (separated). In one was their instrument and music store, and in the other their picture framing and gilding establishment. For a while all went well with the Gowans and their enterprises. But the dark days of the 1870s took their toll, and their enterprises became hard hit.
The Gowans were still on the map in 1876. They appear to have still been operating the music hall and the Gowan’s Theatre, but were out of the musical busi ness and the picture framing business. In 1877,which was a very bad year the Gowan’s business appears to have gotten worse. They had left the Sparks street building (including the music hall) and had moved to 192 Bank street, where the three brothers, 4 John, James and Thomas, had their 5 businesses and lived upstairs. Hunter Gowan had already gone away. They still did carving andgilding, and John advertised himself as a musician. What had happened to the celebrated brass band I and the orchestra is not clear. The Gowans still had possession of the theatre apparently.
By 1879 the Gowans were out of Ottawa altogether. Not a Gowan name appeared in the city directory that year. They had either lost or sold the theatre by 1879. In that year the theatre became the property of John (Buffalo) Heney, and the name had been changed from Gowan’s Theatre to “Grand Opera House.” Either in that year or a little later, the late John Ferguson, a son in-law of Mr. Heney became a manager and was manager many years.
Thus in 1879 ended the story of the Gowans in Ottawa. After the Gowans left Sparks street from Quebec came the large tailor groupof D. Morgan and Sons. The Morgans appear to have torn down the partitions between the two Gowan stores, and to have madet one large store. They also cut out an entrance to the concert hall from Sparks street. Another thing they did was to change the name of the hall from Gowan’s Hall to St. James’ Hall. Why the hall was given that particular name is not known, Perhaps the intention was to provide a British flavor.
The Morgans did not remain long and 113, St. James’ Hall, was acquired by the J. L. Ormeand Son music firm. Mr. Orme, not desiring to have anything to do with suppers or dances, tore out the upper floor and restored the concert hall to its original height.
For years St. James’ Hall had a reputation as a concert and lecture hall and meeting place. Conventions, mock parliaments, and similar gatherings used St. James’ Hall. For many years the Plymouth Brethren held their Sunday services and prayer meetings there, bur now the building was somewhat back to its original condition. There were two stores in the building: Thorburn and Abbott’s and Sutherland and Parkins, and there were two floors above made into offices
Here’s an old idea for Sparks Street — bring back the swings! The young Ottawa lass in front of Orme’s furniture store sure seems to be enjoying it circa 1961.
Orme’s was founded in 1861 as a musical instrument store, but slowly shifted into furniture and appliances as radio and later TV came in. The business still exists with two store in Ottawa. Not too many last that long!
This picture was taken when Sparks Street was still a temporary pedestrian mall in the summer.
Working in the Gowan Theatre -Mr Louis Charbonneau, 456 Besserer Street, Ottawa
This is 456 Besserer Street where Mr. Charbonneau once lived. The white siding house could have beenbuiltafter ateardown or it may be hiding some other structure underneath.
Memories of those glamorous days in the 1870s when the Gowan enterprise provided Ottawa with all that was worth in theatricals and musical entertainment. When Mr. Charbonneau was a boy still in his teens he was engaged as a stage hand and general helper in the old Gowan’s Hall on Sparks street and later in Gowan’s theater on Albert street (the old Grand Opera House) and therefore he has many interesting memories of the famous Gowan family their celebrated orchestra and events prior and subsequent to the building and opening of the Gowan theater.
Gowan’s Organization, as it was called on its first formation, was started in the early 1860s and were: James Gowan, Sr., first violin and leader: Thomas Gowan, second violin and viola: James Gowan. Jr., cello and trombone:John Gowan. string bass: Hunter Gowan, Flute and piccolo: Karl M. Fehr, clarinet; George S. Suthertherland:cornet. Later Edward Marley. a distinguished violinist from England, became leader of the orchestra.There was also: J. C. Bonner, fine cornet and clarinet player, and a son- in-law of James Gowan, became a member. The orchestra was kept busy in those days attending to most of the musical engagements in and outside of the city.
The Gowans were very energetic and established a combined picture framing and gilding business and music store, afterwards known as “Goldsmith’s Hall.” This enterprise was first located where the Ottawa Electric Company building stood on Sparks street and later it was moved to the premises occupied by the Halcyon Club on the south side of Sparks street. Still later the business was moved to the north side of Sparks street where the Thorburn and Abbott store was. There was a hall over the store in which all the city theatricals and dancing assemblies were held, and it was called Gowan’s Hall.
Mention of this old hall, Mr. Charbonneau feels, should arouse pleasant memories, because in those days it was not only the Mecca of discriminating lovers of drama and music, but the rendezvous of people who revelled in amateur theatricals. Many a meritorious play was staged there by local talent, and many a group of youthful and aspiring Thespians were given an opportunity of displaying their wares on amateur nights.
It was in this old hall that Ottawans got their first glimpse or rather hearing of a “talking machine.” It was irtroduced by Annie du Montford, the celebrated actress of that period, and was shrouded in mystery. The machine spoke its pieces and sang its songs in a curtained box and the audience was amazed. Mr. Charbonneau has distinct recollections of opening night at the Gowan theater on Albert street, which was erected in 1874. One reason why his memory is clear on that point is that owing to the unavoidable absence of the cymbal player, he was pressed into service in that capacity. Thus he proudly lays claim to having once played an instrument in the famous Oowan orchestra.
The celebrated Holman Opera Company opened the theater. In Mr. Charbonneau’s opinion. Sally and Julie Holman were truly great artists, and their mother a wonderful musican. The Holmans were always welcome visitors to tne Capital. The opening performance was attended by the Governor General and his suite and many of the elite of the city. Mr. Charbonneau recalls that among the early plays in Gowan’s theater were “Across the Continent.” “The Silver King.” “The Two Orphans,” and “Lights of London.” He also has vivid recollection of how the boys in the gallery used to stamp and yell when the hero conquered the villain, and how they used to hiss whenever the villain seemed to be getting the upper hand.
Map of the Night: Location of the Grand Opera House on Albert Street, just before it burned down in 1913.
The Grand Opera was apparently Ottawa’s first major theatrical venue. It appears to have been renamed the Colonial by 1912. The movie theatre where the fire started can be seen in the map, right next to the Carling Breweries. I am not sure I’ve seen any reference to this brewery before.
For reference, the King George Hotel was on the corner of Albert and Metcalfe.
(LAC Goad Map)
On the other hand, if you were looking for some great entertainment in 1880, could you do better than Buffalo Bill Cody?
The “Prairie Waif” is actually the name of the play presented on the stage of the Grand Opera House, as well as one of the main characters. In act two it says Bill will give his “Fancy Rifle Shooting.” I wonder how that worked out!
The Grand Opera House was located on Sparks Street. It burned down on a Friday night in 1913 – the result of fire that started with the ever-dangerous nitrate film in the “Nickel Moving Picture Theatre” located next to the Opera House on Albert Street (between Metcalfe and O’Connor).
In the early 1800s, one man saw dollar signs in frozen ponds. Frederic Tudor not only introduced the world to cold glasses of water on hot summer days, he created a thirst people never realized they had. Read-Would You Like Some Ice With that Drink?
Now we call it the “icebox.” But once it really was the icebox, filled with chunks of ice cut out of the Ottawa River, the Rideau, or Dow’s Lake.
Here’s a crew at work near Hurdman on the Rideau in the 1930s.
Two of these gentlemen are identified as Gordon and Tony Adams, The pictures were apparently taken by Bill Adams.
You needed the saw to cut the blocks. Then you loaded the blocks on the wagon. Then it was off to the ice warehouse, where the blocks would be packed in straw, and keep frozen all the way through the summer.
Joan Anderson shares a tiny Ottawa building that recently dissappeared at 52 Carruthers in Mechanicsville.
Joan wanted to know what the building was used for and discovered that Andrew King had the answer on his website history of Carruthers Avenue. Talking about businesses on the street, say Andrew:
“The most well-known of these is the Vachon family business opened by Charles Vachon in 1908-09 on the lots of 50-52 Carruthers Avenue. The Vachons wound remain on this location as ice, coal and wood dealers until the early 1950s; their boarded-up small office somehow still stands at 52 Carruthers, a symbol of a way of life in Mechanicsville long since lost.”
Photo is ice cutting on the Clyde River in Lanark.
Before there was electricity, there was a little thing called the “ice box” into which you put an ice block. And that’s how things were refrigerated. Here, workmen cut commercial size ice-blocks from the Ottawa River just below the Prince of Wales railway bridge, circa 1900-1910.
The men in front show off their ice saws. The blocks on the wagon show how thick the ice was. The wagon driver seems determined to freeze his posterior if it meant carrying more ice …
Men like these would cut enough ice to last deep into the summer, and the ice was especially important for Ottawa’s nearby breweries.
Ran into Gord Pike (owner of the Heritage Mall, bottom of Mill street, #Almonte) the other day, and heard his description of this spot (pictured), part of the mall’s stone work, parking lot side:
This was the window into the ice house. A wood chute came from the window to the ground – to load the ice blocks in (and/or?) out. There’s an iron ring, bottom right of the picture, to tie up a horse. There’s also a doorway stoned-over on this same wall face (to the left, out of this picture).
Gord said he thought of calling the mall, “Horse Stall Mall”, but didn’t think it was quite right Smart man – and hard-working – he’s been renovating two new store spaces to get them ready-to-go for grand openings, this month & next!
I found this article in the Ottawa Citizen and decided I wanted to dig up the story. Did he really disappear?? I found out later there was no way the man could have survived but also found out some neat history about Alexander Scott from Ottawa and documented it.
Alexander Scott Confectioner First Home
62-64 John Street— Alexander Scott Confectioner first home
The Fraser School House reverted to residential use after the school closed in 1844. Photo ca. late 1940’s: City of Ottawa Archives / CA 6201
Present day- Photo from Google
Originally built as a semi-detached workman’s dwelling,this one and one half storey stone dwelling is locatedon Lot 13, John Street in New Edinburgh. It is one ofthe oldest surviving buildings in Ottawa. Built by Thomas McKay, stone mason.
MacKay sold the building in 1848 to Alexander Scott. An early City Directory lists Alexander Scott as a baker and confectioner at Sparks corner of Elgin in Ottawa.
He was also the Captain of the Central Hook & Ladder Company
Ottawa – 1864 (or fall of 1882) – Scott’s Confectionery and the Russell House Hotel at Elgin and Sparks looking East
Ottawa, July 11, 1866 Alexander Scott, Confectioner, aged 50 years. A native of Perth, Scotland. His obituary states that he came to Ottawa about 28 years ago (1838?) and that he was the first Captain of the Central Hook & Ladder Company (Fire Department) and at the time of his death, he was the senior Alderman of the City Council.