Friday, March 18, 2022

What to expect when you go Next Door in Ottawa

We interrupt the blog series about the history of Wellington Street to bring you this informational item.

In late January or early February, I got a letter in the mail (since discarded), addressed to "Dalhousie neighbour" (red flag #1), inviting me to something called "NextDoor Dalhousie", which claimed to be a social media site to "connect with neighbours". Sounds nice enough, but obviously somebody's making enough money off of of this "free" app to afford to mail out physical invitations. I've since discarded my letter, but here's a similar one received by a neighbour on Eccles Street in March, 2022:

A paper letter starting Hi Eccles St Neighbours, Our neighbourhood is now using a free app called Nextdoor Dalhousie and you should join us. There's a code that it says will expire in 7 days, and it's signed Your neighbour, [name and street name removed by me]

The top level takeaway—in case the reference to red flags wasn't clear enough—is don't bother signing up, but for the sake of others who, like me, wanted to know more about it before signing up, here's what I've observed after having been signed into the site for a month.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Wellington Street Part 9: The NCC's distractions (early-mid 1960s)

Part 9: The NCC's distractions (early-mid 1960s) (first or second draft)

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In the previous part of this series about the renamings, connections, and disconnections of Wellington Street, we looked at the Ottawa Journal campaign leading up to the August 1969 viaduct transplant that broke Wellington Street apart over the tracks to connect with Scott. Today we'll skip back a few years now to look at what the NCC was up to around Wellington Street in the early 1960s.

December 2012. Looking from the park atop the cliff at Bronson and Sparks down to LeBreton Flats including old Wellington Street, Pooley's Bridge, and Fleet street. Water pumping station is undergoing repairs. Condos south of Fleet not yet started construction. Transitway, no Booth Street bridge yet. A light dusting of snow.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Wellington Street Part 8: Viaduct traffic, Journaled

Part 8: Viaduct traffic, Journaled

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Although I set out in October 2019 to write this Wellington Street blog series looking to learn about the street's various connections and disconnections, the last three parts, ending with a look at a 1950s traffic study were a bit of a sidetrack.

The last connection change was back in Part 4 when the Wellington Street Viaduct was built in 1909 (overtop an existing route). As it happens, the next major change to Wellington Street that we'll look at is when the viaduct was replaced.

The Viaduct gets an entire post thanks to the Ottawa Journal's obsession with its role as a bottleneck for afternoon rush-hour traffic.1

1940s Newspaper article with heading For Traffic Jams Try Wellington, with a bird's eye photo of a line of cars on the Wellington St Viaduct, captioned 5 O'Clock Jam Session.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Wellington Street Part 7: Dawn of "Modern" Transportation Planning in Ottawa

Part 7: Dawn of "Modern" Transportation Planning in Ottawa

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If A.E.K. Bunnell's 1946 report covered in Part 5 recommended a few tweaks to the road network, and the 1949 Gréber report we looked at in Part 6 reimagined large swathes of the City's buildings and transportation network, a January 1955 report report on traffic and transportaion in Ottawa by consultants Wilbur Smith & Associates came in somewhere in the middle. No renamings or disconnections of Wellington Street in this installment, this time we're going on full traffic nerd mode.

This 245-page report1 took a detailed snapshot of traffic in Ottawa, and made a number of specific recommendations, many of which involved Wellington Street. In today's part of the Wellington Street blog series, we'll dive into this report and see what it had to say about traffic in general, and Wellington in particular, in the mid-1950s.

Image of the blue cover of the spiral-bound report in the Ottawa Public Library's Ottawa Room

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Wellington Street Part 6: Postwar traffic on Wellington

Part 6: Postwar traffic on Wellington

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Back in January 2020, we left off with Part 5, in which we watched traffic get heavier on Wellington Street from the 1910s to the 1940s. After a hiatus to do more research and life getting in the way, we're now back to look at government interventions in and around Wellington Street in the ten years following the end of World War II.

The biggest change for the City of Ottawa was on January 1, 1950,1 when Ottawa annexed nearly all nearby developed area, including Westboro, Ottawa West, Hampton Park, Highland Park, Woodroffe, Laurentian View, McKellar, Britannia, etc. Thich comprised 7,420 acres (3,000 hectares or 30 square kilometres) of Nepean and Gloucester Townships,2 as seen in the two large sections on the map below.3 Much of this was burgeoning suburban development which fed a daily stream of workers into downtown Ottawa.

Map of City of Ottawa from 1955 showing annexations/expansions up to that point, starting with Town of Bytown 1850 City of Ottawa 1855 in the middle and the largest expansions reading Pt of Twp of Nepean 1950 and Pt of Twp of Gloucester 1950.

Although Richmond Road was thus brought into the City limits, it retained its name west of Western Avenue, where Wellington ends.4 Since there were no major physical changes to Wellington Street specifically in this period, today's post will look at traffic in general on Ottawa's Wellington Street.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Wellington Street Part 5: Tinkering with traffic (1910s to 1940s)

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Let's continue with our journey exploring Wellington Street as the street was extended, renamed, and rerouted over its 200-year history. In today's post, we'll look at the many little clues that give us an idea of what traffic was like on Wellington Street from the 1910s to the mid 1940s.

During this time, Wellington street wasn't extended or curtailed, but traffic in the city got busier as more people drove automobiles and the City's response to this traffic problem had to mature to cope with it. To set the scene, here's LeBreton Flats from around 1930, with Wellington Street coming in from the left and winding up through to downtown:1

Black-and-white aerial photo taken from above Preston and Somerset with LeBreton Flats, Chaudière and Victoria Island, and Hull at left, and Somerset/Booth, Bronson/Laurier, and the Parliament buildings on the right. The Alexandra/Interprovincial bridge crosses the Ottawa River at the top. From the left near the bottom Wellington Street comes in and splits at Broad Street with Albert continuing straight and Wellington turning left at a shallow angle. On the north side of Wellington, west of Broad, is the Marine Signals building ('the longest in the British Empire') with trainyards and Nepean Bay beyond, and the blocks abutting Wellington on the South side are occupied by a few large industrial facilities. The other blocks further south are primarily residential.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Wellington Street Part 4: As the City grows, so does Wellington (1880-1912)

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Before our foray into the east end of Wellington Street in the previous post, we were talking in Part 2 about the first roads in Ottawa and how the fledgling town's road network began to develop in the new neighbourhood that would one day be called LeBreton Flats.

In this post we'll look at the period from about 1880 to 1912, during which time rail lines cross over Wellington at grade, fires ravage the western part of the street, Ottawa absorbs various suburbs, and an excessive number of bylaws authorize the renaming, widening, and paving of Wellington Street. To set the scene, here's what it looked like to walk in the middle of Wellington Street in 1898:1

Photo taken from Wellington Street, looking east, at around O'Connor Street, with the street extending into the horizon. From left to right: The stone and wrought iron fence at the perimeter of Parliament Hill, the north sidewalk (material unclear), a boulevard planted with a continuous row of trees, the roadway which is dirt and rutted, a bicyclist in the road heading straight toward the camera, a horse drawn carriage further away on the opposite side of the street, telephone poles each with nine rows of eight insulators, the south sidewalk (concrete?) with some trees, buildings on the south side of Wellington Street, all around 4 storeys tall. The photo has an all-caps caption at the bottom (from the book from which it was scanned), Wellington Street Looking East

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Wellington Street Part 3: Wellington and Rideau's on again, off again, connection (1820s-1913)

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In this blog series about 200 years of physical and nominal changes to Wellington Street, most of the action is West of Bank Street, particularly in LeBreton Flats. The previous post showed the earliest of these changes. Today we will examine the changes to the east end of Wellington Street in the 1800s, as it dabbled with connections to Rideau.

This photo is of the Plaza Bridge, which spans the Rideau Canal to connect Wellington and Rideau Streets, looking east up Wellington Street with Confederation Square in the foreground and Parliament Hill on the right. It was not taken in the 1800s, but in 2012 when I visited the Chateau Laurier during Doors Open Ottawa