PO Box 523, Station B, Ottawa, ON, K1P 5P6
One early April afternoon, Karen Lynn Ouellette and myself had the honour of attending the last class of Dr. Sarah Templier’s Canadian Digital History course at the University of Ottawa. This was a big day for Dr. Templier’s students who in groups of two or three presented their digital history projects. All the projects were related to the Historical Society of Ottawa. Besides enjoying the wonderful presentations, our job was to help Dr. Templier and PhD candidate, Celeste Dagiovanni, to judge the students’ work, and to select the top three…
Thomas Barber is proud of how much the Black community in Ottawa has prospered over time. Thomas tends to look at a darker past not with anger or bitterness. Instead he tends to see Black History in Ottawa as a series of challenges overcome and lessons to be remembered. Understanding the past is key to measuring how far we’ve all come in establishing a more inclusive community, and it’s to our benefit that Thomas relates the past with insight and humour. Much of Thomas’ presentation highlights his family members' journey…
Sunday, 10 April 2022 08:26

We Are the Children: Coming To Terms With Our Past

Written by Richard Collins
In honour of Black History Month in Canada, both of our guest speakers for February discussed the history of Ottawa's Black community — one that is growing both in numbers and influence in our culturally-diverse city, and of the challenge of confronting prejudice and exclusion in the past. June Girvan is an award-winning educator, activist and community leader who came to Ottawa from Jamaica almost 70 years ago. June is the president of Black History Ottawa (a non-profit organization dedicated to carrying out research in the history, culture, traditions and achievements…
Wednesday, 02 March 2022 15:58

Sports Vignettes from Old Ottawa

Written by Richard Collins
Football fans in this town have managed to remain loyal to their home team for 145 years, be it the Rough Riders, or the Renegades, or back again to the Rough Riders, and now the Redblacks. Hockey fans have retained their allegiance to two different Senators teams over 80 seasons, separated a by a 58-year winter when locals were forced to chose between the Leafs, Habs, or other members of the Original Six. But as we learned at our January 26th presentation, Ottawa’s sports history is much more than hockey…
Wednesday, 02 March 2022 15:47

Upheaval Across Canada’s Landscape of Commemoration

Written by Richard Collins
Randy Boswell highlights the opportunity to find deserving figures "other than Victorian-era politicians, government functionaries and members of the British mobility" to name our landmarks after. Randy had been one of the first to propose, in a 2020 Ottawa Citizen column, to rename Ottawa's Prince of Wales Bridge in honour of Chief William Commanda. Randy, a past member of the HSO Board of Directors, draws attention to the way "the naming of streets, buildings and other places has sometimes memorialized slave owners and other unworthy figures from the past" and…
Thursday, 27 January 2022 12:26

Grampa Jack – British Home Child

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A few months ago, I had the honour of taking part in the Historical Society of Ottawa’s Speaker Series and speaking about my Grandpa Jack. My grandpa passed away when I was about 12 or 13 but during the lockdowns in 2020, I had a chance to reconnect with him. At the urging of my mother, he spent the last few months of his life using a tape recorder to record his early memories of coming to Canada as a British Home Child. Hearing his voice again, telling his own…
Sunday, 26 December 2021 16:45

HSO Facebook Post Goes Viral

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From small acorns do mighty oaks grow, the saying goes. And this is certainly true for the HSO’s Facebook page. It was almost four years ago that Karen Lynn Ouellette, our President, and Jen Seltzer, HSO Director, met to discuss the feasibility of using social media to promote the Historical Society of Ottawa. While our pamphlets, meetings, and website were valuable tools for spreading the word about Ottawa’s rich and fascinating history, they believed that social media had the potential to not only engage with our members, but also to…
Sunday, 28 November 2021 12:12

Capital History Kiosk Project

Written by Richard Collins
They’re easy to spot when you’re walking along any of Ottawa’s busy streets. They’re designed to be recognized. Our October 13, 2021 presentation is about the traffic control boxes at many of Ottawa’s intersections; not of the drab utility boxes themselves, but about the colourful history lessons that have been applied to them to remind you of what Ottawa used to look like 10, 50, or 100 years ago, and to tell the story of a significant event that took place near each control box. David Dean has been a…
Sunday, 21 November 2021 18:07

Mapping the Ottawa Valley’s Ancient Indigenous Trails

Written by Richard Collins
HSO Presentation Wednesday, November 17, 2021 Imagine going online 500 years ago to find something on Google Maps. You’d see no grid of streets with familiar, mostly British names; no array of colourful icons directing you to coffee shops or LRT stations. What you’d have seen then is a vast wilderness broken only occasionally by a few narrow, meandering paths. These trails were winding, not because the trail makers were lost, but because the trail makers were following the path of least resistance. To the Anishinabe traders, trappers and hunters,…
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