Evolution of an Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Neighbourhood
Ottawa's First Suburb
December 30, 2014:
The steamship Rideau Queen
Passing through the Mutchmore / Mutchmor Cut in the Glebe,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Library and Archives Canada,
MIKAN Number 3265227
The Glebe neighbourhood in the city of Ottawa has evolved into a distinct area. It is distinct
in many respects from the larger city and is also distinct from other local communities
within the city. This paper will examine the historical development of the Glebe in an
attempt to answer the question: "What are the main characteristics of the Glebe today
and which historical events and persons shaped its character?"
A unique community implies a sense of homogeneity among its individual residents in
spite of internal political, economic, social, ethnic and religious differences. A "united
front" is shown in respect to other communities. A suburb such as the Glebe is also
distinguished by physical attributes, for example, geographic/topographic and architectural
The Glebe is an "island" bordered on the east and south by the Rideau Canal, on the west by
Bronson Avenue (originally a major Concessional division), and on the north by the present-day
Queensway, previously the Canada and Atlantic Railway line (CAR) owned by J.R. Booth.
The Glebe was considered rural until it was annexed by the City of Ottawa in 1889.
The Glebe in 1879
Source: Belden's Atlas of Carleton County (1)
The major topographic change involves the man-made Rideau Canal which was built between
1826 and 1832. The Glebe portion was constructed in order to by-pass the rapids on the Rideau
River. In 1879, Patterson's Creek, a wooded and marshy area, extended to the west of Bank
Street and proceeded north-west to the CAR near Lyon Street. In the 1890's the watershed area
was landscaped and shortened to terminate near O'Connor Street, named after Daniel O'Connor). A landscaped Central Park
replaced the creek westerly to Lyon Street.
Two other creeks, one at the east end of Fifth Avenue, reached into the Fair Grounds,
where Lansdowne Park is located today. The two small ponds at Brown's Inlet replaced another
creek (see map). This landscaping and improvement of the waterways gave a unique parkland
atmosphere with opportunities for later architectural creativity.
In order to facilitate access to the Glebe "island", the east side of the Rideau Canal
was widened at Fifth Avenue (then called Mutchmor Street) to allow docking and turning room
for steam boats. This allowed fair-goers from Uppertown and Sandy Hill to travel in comfort.
The Ottawa Improvement Commission, forerunner of the National Capital Commission, was
established in 1899 to beautify the capital area. By 1904 the road now known as the Queen
Elizabeth Driveway, was macadamized and landscaped and followed the west side of the canal
to the Experimental Farm via a causeway through Dow's Lake. This causeway can still be seen
at low water in the spring and fall - and especially for skaters during the winter.
Economic class is a major shaper of housing and architecture. The "island" metaphor of
the Glebe neighbourhood reflects its individual character and substantial income/wealth of the early
residents. It has some of the most unique structures in the Ottawa area. The Mutchmor
Homestead, at 954 Bank Street, a solid cut-stone house called "Abbottsford", was built in
1872. In 1889 it became the Protestant Old Age Home for Men. It is now called the Glebe
Center and includes an adjacent apartment tower for senior citizens. Residential
"Four Square" pattern book three-story single family brick homes and row units, larger, in terms
of number of rooms, than the city average compose the majority of the housing units.
Architects designing in the Glebe experimented with combinations of Tudor (stucco within a
batten framework), Gothic Revival which features pointed roofs and spires and ornate eaves,
and the Georgian form of center-hall plans. There are also many examples of the round-towered
Queen Anne type.
By 1868 there was an impressive exhibition hall located on the fairgrounds (see picture
in Bruce Elliott's book 2 ). The 1875 Provincial Exhibition was held here. The
Aberdeen Pavilion / Cattle Castle was built in 1898. "Designed by Shawville, Quebec architect
Moses Edey, the Aberdeen Pavilion is a rare surviving example of exhibition halls inspired
by the Crystal Palace, built for the 1851 London Great Exhibition" 3. The
Horticultural Building designed by Francis Sullivan and built in 1914 is an example of the
Frank Lloyd Wright style of Prairie commercial architecture.
Over time, there has been a united community effort against increased housing density
in the form of large residential apartments. Two exceptions are the c. 1915 Prince Rupert
Apartments at 585 O'Connor Street and William Teron's high-rise development at 300 The Driveway
In 1889, when the Glebe was annexed by the City of Ottawa, the political influence of
Uppertown was enlarged by the extension of Wellington Ward to include the portion of the Glebe
which lay west of Bank Street. At the same time, Central Ward was created east of Bank Street.
It included the eastern part of Uppertown and the remainder of the Glebe. The residents of the
two Uppertown/Glebe wards, using strategic alliances with residents of St. George's Ward (Sandy
Hill) and Rideau Ward (New Edinburgh), were able to cooperate on Council matters which were of
mutual (mostly Tory) concern.
Provincially, from 1854 to Confederation, William F. Powell, who held a large parcel of land
in the Glebe, was the Conservative MPP for Carleton County. Powell was able to ease the
development of Bank Street through his property by using his political influence to enable the
building of bridges over Patterson's Creek and the Canal, both of which were on ordnance property.
Ordnance property was a provincial responsibility at that time. The Glebe was also represented
federally from 1885 to 1902 by Senator Francis Clemow who was able to use his political influence
to urge the Ottawa Improvement Commission to develop Linden Terrace, Monkland and Clemow Avenues
to higher federal standards.
The influx of civil servants into the capital region began in the mid-1860's. The majority
settled in Sandy Hill or Lowertown, depending on their ethnic background and social class. Later,
the increasingly interventionist role of government services, beginning around 1900, led to the
arrival in the Glebe of higher level officials - professionals and managers - who could afford
to live in the Glebe and commute to Uppertown by streetcar.
By 1866 the Ottawa and Gloucester Road Company, established by William F. Powell, had
completed a macadamized road along Bank Street. In 1891, Thomas Ahearn and Warren Soper's Ottawa
Electric Railway Company laid streetcar tracks from Uppertown to a southern terminus at the
exhibition grounds along Bank Street. In the 1950's the streetcars were replaced by buses.
Economics and Commerce:
Before 1850 the Glebe was a mixture of forest and meadow. Proximity to the city encouraged
landowners to lease plots to market gardeners rather than to large-scale farmers as this provided
a yearly income without losing control of their property for any length of time. Three major
speculators in this venture were the Presbyterian Church, which leased its Clergy Reserve just
south of William Powell's property, the Hickey family and William F. Powell.
The annual Agricultural Fair was held at what is today known as Lansdowne Park. It attracted
farmers from the outlying townships as well as urban dwellers for a mixture of business and pleasure.
The Bank Street commercial corridor bisected the neighbourhood. Early taverns at Central Park
and Fifth Avenue and businesses such as the Capital Boat and Canoe Works provided employment. At
this time Patterson's Creek was still navigable by canoe and rowboat, as far west as Bank Street.
At the northern boundry of the Glebe, along Chamberlain and Isabella Streets were "piling yards"
where sawn lumber was stored as late as the 1950's. There was also a stockyard south of the CAR
terminus, in the north-east corner of the Glebe.
The Hickey (see below dated January 7, 2003) family from Tipperary were the earliest Roman Catholic landowners in the Glebe
(although they had Protestant connections to the Thomson family). The neighbourhood at that time
was almost exclusively white and Protestant. Much of the land in the central part of the Glebe
was a Clergy Reserve granted in 1837 (the year of the Rebellion in Upper Canada) to the
Presbyterian Church and was administered by St. Andrew's on Wellington Street. Many early churches
were built: Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and Quakers. There were only a few French
or Irish Catholic families in the Glebe. Most were concentrated on the northern boundary on Chamberlain,
Isabella and Pretoria Avenues, which were working-class areas. The English-speaking Catholics in the
Glebe crossed the tracks to attend St. Patrick's Church on Kent Street in Uppertown while the French
Catholics attended L'Eglise Christ Le Roi on Argyle Avenue in Stewarton.
A gradual religious diversity took place. By the 1920's, the English-speaking Catholics had
their own church in the Glebe - Blessed Sacrament Church on Fourth Avenue at Craig Street. In 1925
the union of the Methodists and some Presbyterians into the United Church of Canada made some of
the Protestant church buildings redundant. Since the 1960's there has been a decline in church
attendance in general. Today the Korean Community Church shares the building of Glebe-St. James
Presbyterian Church on Lyon Street.
The "island" has always placed a high value on education. Mutchmor (1895) and First Avenue
(1898) Public Schools were the first elementary schools in the neighbourhood. The first Catholic
elementary school was Corpus Christi (1926), on Lyon Street, adjacent to Mutchmor Public School.
Glebe Collegiate Institute was built for all academic students. The CAR line (Queensway)
was the border between Uppertown high school students who attended Lisgar Collegiate, and Glebe
students. Both schools were co-educational. The High School of Commerce shared the Glebe Collegiate
building. Roman Catholic secondary school students had to leave the Glebe neighbourhood to attend
St. Patrick's (men) or Immaculata High School (women) to obtain denominational educations. By the
1960's the percentage of Catholic and other non-Protestant students began to increase at Glebe Collegiate.
The original site of Carleton University was at 662 Lyon Street. This building, erected in
1914, was originally the Ottawa Ladies' College after the ladies had been lured from Uppertown.
Algonquin College, which was originally called the Eastern Ontario Institute of Technology, also
had its roots in this building. It began in the 1950's.
Much of the leisure and recreation facilities of the city of Ottawa has been "hosted"
within the boundaries of the Glebe. The Trotting Park, where Mutchmor School is today, was the
scene of the running of the first Queen's Plate in Canada in 1872 as well as many of the then
popular steeplechases. At the Aberdeen Pavilion, the Ottawa Silver Seven hockey team won the
Stanley Cup (on natural ice) in 1903.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Metropolitan Grounds near Pretoria Bridge was a
popular location for family outings such as Sunday picnics or the 1893 visit of Buffalo Bill Cody
whose troupe staged a production of Custer's Last Stand. (4)
Lansdowne Park became the home of professional sports in the city of Ottawa. Football,
hockey (in 1967 the Ottawa Auditorium on Catherine Street was sold to the YMCA/YWCA and a
combination hockey arena and football stadium - the Civic Center - was built.
A "glebe" is a property asset which supplies revenue to a church.
The Glebe neighbourhood is an "island" in that it has clearly defined physical boundaries.
Its individual character was formed over time by its initial rural nature and the pioneer
settlers. The early speculators and developers were mainly residents of the Glebe itself. The
Glebe has developed as a strong and 'patriotic' local community and is self-sufficient in
1. Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of Carleton, Including Ottawa, 1879, H. Belden and Company, Toronto, page 14
2. Bruce Elliott, Nepean: The City Beyond, page 167
3. Kathryn Fletcher, Capital Walks, page 161
4. Capital Walks, by Kathryn Fletcher, page 155
(see also our bibliography page)
H. Belden and Company, Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of Carleton, Including Ottawa, 1879, Toronto,
Reprinted 1997 by Wilson's Publishing Limited
Bond, Courtney C. J., City on the Ottawa, National Capital Commission, 1964
Elliott, Bruce S., The City Beyond (Nepean): 1792-1990, 1986, Corporation of the City of Nepean, ISBN 1-55036-258-5
Fletcher, Kathryn, Capital Walks, McClelland and Stewart, 1993, ISBN 0-7710-3151-3
Taylor, John H., Ottawa, An Illustrated History, 1986, James Lorimer and Company
Publishers, ISBN 0-88862-981-8
Taylor, John H., Miscellaneous lecture notes from the Carleton University course in Canadian Urban History, (History
3209, Fall term, 2002)
Walker, Harry and Olive, Carleton Saga, Published by Carleton County Council, 1968
Woods, Shirley E. Jr., Ottawa, The Capital of Canada, Doubleday Canada Limited, 1980
The Aberdeen Pavilion (Cattle Castle or Cow Palace)
(Here ya go, Lisa and Todd!)
The Aberdeen Pavilion was built in 1898.
It is easily recognizable by its rounded roof topped by a cupola ringed with
snarling lions heads. Designed by Shawville, Quebec, architect Moses C. Edey, the
Aberdeen Pavilion is a rare surviving example of exhibition halls inspired by the
Crystal Palace, built for the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, England. Edey's
design took only two months to erect, an event that amazed Ottawans.
The building is an important engineering achievement in Ottawa. It represents
the first use in the city of long-span steel arches, which create an open interior
eminently suitable for agricultural displays. Steel's structural strength allowed
Edey to design an interior enclosure 310 feet long with a span of more than 130 feet.
His use of steel with pressed-tin cladding tells us he was building with permanence
in mind. In 1899, during the Boer War, Lord Strathcona's Horse Regiment camped inside
the building for two weeks before being sent to the front. And it was here that the
Silver Seven won the 1903 Stanley Cup. (Taylor: Did they play Toronto ??? ... Al)
On the outside, the two cross-gabled side entries to the north and south are
particularly decorated, highlighted by corner towers that are topped by cupolas. It's
southern entrance has the projecting head of a laughing horse over the central doorway;
the balancing north door sports a cow's head. The east and west doorways are less
fanciful but their pediments and round-arched windows still evoke a sense of whimsy.
Source: Capital Walks by Katherine Fletcher.
The Mutchmor homestead (Abbottsford House).
September 23, 2013:
Thanks to Taylor Kennedy for the following newspaper article from 1902 and the map showing Lansdowne Park in 1879.
Altered Topography: The Lily Pond.
Typical houses in the Glebe.
January 7, 2003:
From Alexa Pritchard:
Have I got a treat for you!!! I inherited some Hickey treasures! I have the
family photo album. Owned one of the houses up until last year. (Not the
main one, it burnt down in its 115th year located between Bronson and Elgin
Street in Ottawa) Many of the paintings which show the farm land around the
canal. A copy of the deed selling "young Queen Victoria" land to build the
canal through the property. Cost £13 for 13 acres and 29 perches.
The last in this branch line was Jean, a spinster. Her father Bill married a
Protestant so he was not too popular with the rest of the family. He was
James Thomson William Hickey b 1876 son of Andrew Hickey b 1843 and Margaret
Farley (the artist) and grandson of John Hickey and Janet Thomson (of what
is now known as Maple Lawn on Richmond Road, Ottawa) Jean's mother was my
grandmother's half-sister. John was a brother to Thomas, James and William.
All owned land along where the present day Queensway is.
If you are in the Ottawa area look for The Wilsons of Denholm -1842 at the
Ottawa public library (main branch) or at the National Library. ISBN
0-9682818-0-X Failing that I do have some copies left. Contact me via e-mail
January 8, 2003:
More from Alexa:
Credit "Wilsons of Denholm-1842", page 139
Letter to William James Thomson Hickey b 1875:
BRADLEY & BRADLEY
ROOM 21 Central Chambers
Cor Elgin & Queen Sts.
Wm J.T. Hickey Esq,
33 Strathcona Ave,
I have been looking into this matter of the triangle. On the 30th of
December 1839 one John Hickey heir of the deceased Thomas Hickey sold to her
Majesty for the sum of £13 the property described in the deed thereof, a
copy of which I enclose you. Now these 13 acres and 29 perches include land
and water; land 5 acres and 41/100, water 7 acres and 77/100. The water is
comprised of that portion of the Canal that ran through your lot, - actual
water and Patterson's Creek, - actual water. The land is all that portion
of the Ordnance Reserve which is not water, I think it runs about two
hundred feet from the center of the canal on either side of it, and it takes
in, so far as I can see a little inlet, whether the inlet that we are now
claiming, or not I do not know. However the Government have employed Mr.
Biggar to make a survey and he goes on his duty next week, it is to lay out
exactly according to this deed what land your ancestors conveyed. I don't
know who John Hickey is, or Thomas Hickey, that you can probably enlighten
You might come in and look at the Plan if you please, and we could discuss
the matter fully.
A 181 Deed No. 46.
Know all men by these present that I John Hickey, Heir of deceased Thomas
Hickey, of the Township of Nepean in the District of Bathurst, yeoman, in
consideration of the sum of Thirteen Pounds of good and lawful money of
Upper Canada to me in hand paid on behalf of her Majesty Queen Victoria at
or before the Sealing and delivery of these presents the receipt whereof and
that the same is in full compensation and Satisfaction for all damages by me
sustained from the overflowing of the Waters of the Rideau Canal upon my
lands and Premises situate within the said district is hereby acknowledge
have surrendered and yielded up and by these presents doth surrender and
yield up to Her Majesty Queen Victoria Her Heirs and Successors all that
parcel or tract of land overflowed and covered with Water Situate in the
Township of Nepean in the District aforesaid and being composed of North
half of lot G in the C concession of the said Township of Nepean containing
by admeasurement Thirteen Acres more or less and more particularly
described in the Plan thereof hereunto attached and all my estate and
interest in the same to the end intent and purpose that the said land and
premises covered with water hereby surrendered shall and may from henceforth
and forever hereafter be vested in and held and enjoyed by Her Said Majesty
Her heirs and Successors in right of the Crown, free from all incumbrances
In witness whereof I have hereunto Set my hand and Seal the 30th day of
December in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty-nine
in the third year of Her Majesty's Reign.
(Signed) John Hickey
Signed, sealed and Delivered in the presence of
(Signed) W. McDonald
... and more interesting material from Alexa:
Does the name Parnell Hickey mean anything to anyone?
Would anyone like to view the photo album and perhaps identify some of the
photos? I have ideas but no confirmation.
"Old Glebe Landmark
To Be Demolished
A 115 year old landmark is about to disappear in the Glebe.
The Building Inspector's office announced yesterday that a house, once
owned by the Hickeys, an old Ottawa family, will be demolished shortly. The
house is at the corner of Chamberlain and Bank Streets.
It is not known what will replace the old home, now owned by Samuel Craig.
The old Hickey home, built 115 years ago, was part of the Hickey farm
which comprised a block of land between Elgin street and Bronson avenue,
south of where the CNR tracks are now located. The Hickeys were the only
landowners in this area 70 years ago.
The Hickey family at that time comprised John, Thomas, James and William
according to the Carleton County Almanac of 1879."
(Article was clipped out of the paper and not dated. James's twin brother,
Andrew, b 1844, also a gardner, lived at 584 Elgin Street.)
November 30, 2002: More Glebe History ... by Ian McKercher
April 25, 2008:
Thanks to Alexa Pritchard for the following photo of the Hickey family:
Andrew Hickey and Margaret Farley in the back row, Bill sitting front and
center. Parnell left, "quite tall and a commanding figure", and Frank
on the right, plus Sarah, Ruby, Edith & Laura c 1902
Death of Mr. Andrew Hickey
WAS KILLED LAST NIGHT
Mr. Andrew Hickey Struck by O. & N.Y. Train
Was Within 300 Yards of Home on Carling Ave.
Well Known Gardener and Property Holder.
A fatal accident occurred on the Hawthorne road near Hurdman's Bridge last night about
seven o'clock, when Mr. Andrew Hickey, the well known market gardener of this city, who
was driving across the tracks of the Ottawa and New York railway. He was struck and
killed instantly by a train. The horse was killed and the buggy demolished.
Mr. Hickey was driving into the city to visit his daughter, Miss Laura, on Carling Avenue,
when about 300 yards from home was hit by the in-coming train. Coroner Craig was
immediately notified and the body was conveyed to Mackenzie's morgue on Bank
Street, where an inquest was held this morning.
Deceased leaves a widow, who is in Vernon, Ontario,(Osgoode Township) at present;
three sons, Parnell, the well known all-round athlete; William, of Ottawa, and Frank,
who is in the Northwest; five daughters, Mrs. Graham, Elgin street; Miss Laura, Edith,
Ruby and Cora, of Carling Ave.; one brother, James, living at 15 Chamberlain Ave.
Mr. Hickey was 68 years of age and was well known and highly respected in this city. He
was a resident of old Bytown and a large property holder, having been closely
associated with the early history of the city.
The funeral will be probably held tomorrow, although the funeral arrangements have
not yet completed. (1910)
... Alexa Pritchard
February 9, 2010:
Canoeing on the Rideau Canal in the Glebe in the 1920's
Source: Our Times: A Pictorial Memoir of Ottawa's Past, page 111
Keywords: Berube, Morin, Canoe, Lansdowne Park, Cattle Castle (Aberdeen Pavilion)
March 4, 2010:
The Rideau Canoe Club at Fifth Avenue and the Rideau Canal
Notice to the City of Ottawa: Still soul-searching about what to do with Lansdowne Park?
Here's an idea! Don't mention it!
Patterson Creek, the Driveway at Linden Terrace, Ottawa
This photo was in the May 4, 2003 issue of the Ottawa Citizen, page C7.
March 10, 2010:
Thanks to Taylor Kennedy for the following:
OTTAWA CITIZEN – AUGUST 13, 1935
CANOE MARATHON SATURDAY
The annual 15 mile marathon tandem race for the Craig-Cameron trophy which is held at the Rideau Aquatic Club, will take
place on Saturday afternoon, starting from the clubhouse at three o'clock. The race is open to all paddlers of the Canadian
Canoe Association, and the course is to Wright's Grove on the Rideau River, and back. The contestants will face two portages,
that of Hartwell Lock's and Hog's Back Locks. Last year the race was won by John Velt and Harry Butler. The marathon is
taking place in conjunction with the ladies open regatta, also to be held on the same afternoon. A large attendance is expected.
March 29, 2010:
Dear Bruce Hurley:
I'm just writing a quick note because I came across a web posting of yours which also posted some pictures from the
McCord Museum about a City of Ottawa coat of arms containing the figures of a blacksmith / justice etc.
I am on the School Council at Glebe Collegiate in Ottawa and we are renovating the auditorium there. A large coat of arms
was uncovered on one of the walls of the auditorium and is being repainted and restored. It is a replica of this coat
of arms of the City of Ottawa –
It would be lovely to have as much history about this coat of arms as possible – I know that the school principal
is particularly interested.
If you can pass along any other information about this coat of arms, that would be great.
I will ask the principal if there is a photo of the coat of arms and if not I will get one for you.
As the Fund Raising coordinator for the "Raise the Curtains" fund raiser, I would be more than happy if you would link
Glebe Collegiate Institute to your website -- we are trying hard to find ways to contact alumni who might be interested
in contributing to the auditorium refurbishment. As a School Council we are responsible for raising $15,000 over three
years (we've raised $5,000 so far).
Here are the website URLs:
Glebe Collegiate Institute
Glebe Collegiate School Council
Sue Gemmell (E-Mail)
Glebe CI School Council
August 26, 2010:
Clemow Avenue was in the news yesterday. According to the Ottawa Citizen, the City wants to re-orient the
area of Clemow Avenue near Bank Street to extend the size of Central Park to the possible detriment of some
residents. Here is a photo of Francis Clemow and a record of his 1846 marriage to Margaret Powell
from the next street over:
20 Aug 1846,
at Christ Church Anglican, Bytown, Francis CLEMOW to Margaret, youngest daughter of the
late Col. James H. POWELL of Perth (Reverend S. S. Strong). (Source: Marriages, 1829-1856)
Photo Source: Ottawa: An Illustrated History, by John H. Taylor, page 102
but today's Citizen, on page C2, tells of a probable suitable settlement:
September 30, 2010:
Jean-Claude Dubé is researching the history of the buildings at Lansdowne Park.
See his work regarding the Coliseum Building at 1015 Bank Street.
August 31, 2012:
Here is the Picasa site that you were asking about. It really needs culling and updating, which I plan to do when I get a round tooit :)
Some albums with houses do not belong there but rather in another Picasa site of mine for Old Ottawa South houses, by street names.
The Ottawa Touristique albums were made for a Dubé family association Ottawa meeting that I organized a few years ago. The O-Train Gatineau
were taken before the City of Gatineau decided to go with their Rapibus transit system.
I took lots of Lansdowne Park pictures a few years ago. Most of them are pretty much irrelevant now.
The Lansdowne Park construction site is one that I will be adding to, every once in a while.
I think they are all for public use and downloadable...if not, let me know and I'll make an appropriate change.
See also Lowertown, a contrasting neighbourhood
and Uppertown, (Parliament Hill area)
and Sandy Hill
and New Edinburgh
and Dalhousie Ward, A Working-class Ottawa Neighbourhood
E-mail Alexa Pritchard, Taylor Kennedy and Al Lewis
Back to Bytown or Bust - History and Genealogy in the Ottawa area
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