Friday, July 30, 2010

CCCA Volunteers build new community garden

[Edit: See background information on this site at URBSite]

In the last couple of years, many people have observed that the grassed-over lot at the north-east corner of Lyon and Lisgar would make a good place for a community garden. I myself thought so when I was in the area taking photos for the post on 293 Lyon.

To my knowledge, the only other community gardens in the Centretown area are the Sweet Willow Organic Community Garden, the Nanny Goat Hill community garden near the Ottawa Tech High School field, one behind Umi Cafe, and the former BUGS garden at the CCOC's Beaver Barracks site, which is on hiatus during the construction of the new housing there.

The lot is owned by the Catholic school board, and is adjacent to the CCOC building at 455 Lisgar, where CBC Toronto lives (according to the text on this van, at least!).

The lot is fenced off with wooden posts, and an inner row of posts with chains. In between the rows of posts on the Lisgar side is a row of trees. Apparently it was a tough sell to the landowner to plant the trees, but they have taken nicely and are now bearing fruit.

In March, I noticed this ghostly face had been attached to one of the posts.

Since last year, the Centretown Citizens Community Association's Trees & Greenspace Committee has been working with the City of Ottawa, the Catholic School Board, the Just Food community garden network, and the CCOC to make this garden happen. The Committee's chair, Bonnie Mabee, deserves recognition for taking the lead on this, as does the CCOC's Meg McCallum. They worked out an arrangement among the School board, the City, the CCOC, and the garden, to get insurance coverage for the project, which was the biggest obstacle in getting the school board's permission to use the land. The CCOC will provide water to the garden.

This past Wednesday, Bonnie and her team delivered ground barrier material, and a big pile of sand was delivered today, which has already been partially spread around the site. For context, St. Patrick's church at Kent and Nepean is visible in the background of this shot, and the intersection of Lyon and Lisgar is just behind the camera:

The volunteers will be gathering bright and early tomorrow morning to assemble the boxes for the garden's 30 plots. Sorry--they're already all spoken for! Names were taken from the over 100 people on the waiting lists for the other area gardens.

A great congratulations and thanks are due to the many individuals and organizations responsible for making this new garden a reality. Good work, everyone!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Light Rain

On Monday, July 19, 2010, it was raining, and not lightly. But the sun was mysteriously out while the rain continued.

It made for an interesting sight, as at the rear entrance to the Bridgehead on Elgin at MacLaren:

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Knox Church spruces up

Knox Presbyterian Church is a familiar site on Elgin Street at Lisgar. Anyone who attends Lisgar Collegiate or works at City Hall has probably walked past it hundreds of times on the way to Elgin. Here's the view from the kitty-corner:

As the Church's website explains, this is actually Ottawa's third Knox Church. The first one was in Sandy Hill. The second, opened in 1874, was on Elgin and Albert. This colourized postcard showing a photograph taken sometime between 1912 and 1915 from the old City Hall shows Knox Church in the foreground, with the still-extant First Baptist behind it on Elgin and Laurier, and Victoria Memorial Museum Building-with tower-in the background.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wellington Street, meet Wellington Street

With the current debate on the suggestion renaming Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill after Sir John A. Macdonald, lots of people are wondering why we've got two Wellington Streets.

We actually had three of them: the third was that stretch that connects Scott Street to Albert/Slater, a section that is now called Albert Street. As seen in the map below, this stretch in 1894 was called Richmond Road (because the road went to Richmond, Ontario), so that stretch has had at least four different names to it! (I'll talk more about this map further down)

At one point they were connected, technically just one Wellington Street--not two or three. The roadway connecting Albert Street in Lebreton Flats to Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill is still there, off Commissioner Street, but little used. It has a sign advertising the sidewalk as a shared sidewalk for cyclists, presumably dating from when there was regular motor traffic along there. At the end of it is Wellington Street coming off the Portage bridge, with the Library and Archives Canada square in front of us:

Before Lebreton Flats was razed, there was a bridge over the O-Train tracks connecting the 'middle' Wellington Street to what is now known as Wellington Street West. Here's a photo of that bridge from the Gréber report, with the bridge crossing the image. Behind it, you can also see the Prince of Wales railway bridge over Lemieux Island to Gatineau.

A similar view today, taken from the Somerset Street bridge looking North (bonus glamour shot of the O-Train). Where the track turns right is where the track turns right in the above photo. All the other tracks and buildings have been removed:

The right-of-way for this bridge is still there, going along the North edge of the City Centre building. In the photo below, looking West-ish, the City Centre building is at the left. The O-Train tracks are ahead (not visible), and we can see straight down Wellington West in Hintonburg. After a few blocks, it connects with Somerset Street West.

This isn't very intuitive, because Scott Street connects pretty much in line with Wellington/Albert, doesn't it? Well, Ottawa--even downtown Ottawa--is an agglomeration of a bunch of small villages and neighbourhoods that sprouted up pretty independently. The 1894 street map above (taken from this post on URBSite) shows duplicate street names (like two perpendicular "Arthur"s just blocks apart), often named in different neighbourhoods for the same royalty. Even by this time, the disparate road networks were connected, but it has led to some pretty strange intersections (e.g. pretty much any street crossing Bronson).

How does this look big-picture? Well that bridge is on the right in this aerial photo from May 1960. At the left is Nepean Bay, which is much smaller today than it was at the time. If you were to superimpose the Transitway, Ottawa River Parkway and pathways onto this photo, they would go right through the water. This is because it was filled in in the 60's or 70's for various city-building projects. The fill used was landfill (i.e. garbage), which is one of the main reasons it's so hard to get anything built there.

Also visible in the photo is the old Canadian Pacific Roundhouse, Lebreton Flats pre-demolition, the temporary buildings on the site now occupied by the Library and Archives Canada, the Alexandra (interprovincial) bridge in the background and buildings pre-dating the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and various former and existing landmarks.

And all this to explain why we've got two Wellington Streets.

PS: Those who want to rename Wellington after Macdonald and/or Cartier should know that we've already got a street named after Macdonald, running parallel to Cartier in the Golden Triangle, between Somerset and Frank: [Edit: It is observed by a commenter that the capitalization of that street is incorrect.]

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Monitoring Birkett

It is not at all uncommon to see garbage on the side of the road outside the Governor Metcalfe apartments at Metcalfe and Waverley, but on a sunny morning commute in early June, I got a curious glimpse of Birkett's Castle (the Embassy of Hungary) reflected in a discarded computer monitor:

Urbsite has some information on the history of Birkett's Castle in the post on 408 Bank Street.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]