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 projects. Celeste is the student coordinator of the Venture Initiative Program working with Fahd Alhattab who is in charge of the program as the entrepreneur in residence at the Faculties of Arts, and of Social Sciences.

Sarah Templier UofOSarah Templier, University of Ottawa.The idea of partnering with the HSO was the brainchild of Professor Templier. Before the start of the semester, she had contacted Karen Lynn with the idea of involving her fourth-year digital history students with the Society in some fashion. A number of ideas were floated, including going through the Society’s archives held by the City of Ottawa to document and digitize key documents. However, with the City Archives closed owing to Covid, an alternate project was selected under which student teams would develop websites that contributed to the HSO’s mission and online presence in a meaningful way.

In teams of two or three students, five website projects were presented—Epidemics in Ottawa by Jessica Barton and Victoria Pope, Ottawa and the Fur Trade by Danny Bengert and Jordan Johnstone, The Rideau Canal by Charles Wickens, Breanna Campbell and Jameson Holdip, The Murder of Thomas D’Arcy McGee and the Fenian Brotherhood by Jack Lapalme and Thomas Wagner, and The Galloping Gourmet by Rowan Moore and Brenna Roblin. The projects were judged on the basis of how the project contributed to the Society’s on-line presence and mission, the team’s research and ability to reach the target audience, their innovative use of visuals and digital tools that would enhance a reader’s experience, and the ability of each team to effectively “pitch” their project in the allotted time and answer questions.

All five presentations were excellent, making the choice of the top three very challenging. After more than thirty minutes, judges agreed that the top three presentations in order of preference were The Galloping Gourmet, The Rideau Canal, and Ottawa and the Fur Trade. Rowan and Brenna’s winning entry on the television show filmed in Ottawa from 1968 to 1971, styled their presentation in the form of a TV Guide. Their presentation featured recipes, a map of the locations Graham Kerr, a.k.a. the galloping gourmet, visited to inspire his recipes, an interview with a participant who viewed the filming of an episode at the Merivale Road studio, fashion in the 1960s, as well as a section on Graham Kerr’s life after the series ended. Their lively and fun presentation helped to bring to life the late 1960s as well as a little-known part of Ottawa’s television history. It is sure to delight Ottawa history buffs.

In second place, Charles Wickens, Breanna Campbell and Jameson Holdip’s presentation on The Rideau Canal had several innovative features. It was bilingual and acknowledged that the Canal cuts through Indigenous territory. The “then and now” feature was well done. In addition to the usual history of the Canal, the website featured sections on the financing of the canal and what the life of a labourer would have been like. The team noted the importance of the HSO highlighting the significance of the Canal for Ottawa’s upcoming bicentennial.

The third-placed presentation on Ottawa and the Fur Trade by Danny Bengert and Jordan Johnstone provided a useful reminder that life existed along the Ottawa River before the establishment of Bytown by European settlers. It filled a big gap in the HSO’s coverage of Ottawa’s history and heritage, highlighting the contribution of the area’s original Indigenous inhabitants to the fur trade in an engaging and informative fashion.

While the final two presentations on Ottawa pandemics from the early 1800s to the present by Jessica Barton and Victoria Pope, and on the assassination of Thomas D’Arcy McGee by Jack Lapalme and Thomas Wagner did not make the top three, they too treated their subjects well and provided useful insights. We wish we could have provided prizes to all the presenters.

After the students complete their projects, the HSO intends to link the Society’s website to the five student websites so that all those interested in Ottawa history and heritage can benefit from them. As thanks for their hard work on behalf of the Society, each student was given a copy of Controversy, Compromise and Celebration: The History of Canada’s National Flag by Glenn Wright, as well as a one-year membership in the Historical Society of Ottawa. The University also gave cash prizes to the top three projects.

We hope all those who participated in this digital history project learnt a lot about Ottawa’s rich history and had fun in the process. The Society would like to thank Dr. Templier for an excellent initiative and looks forward to future collaboration in the years to come.

James Powell, April 2022.

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Sunday, 26 December 2021 16:45

HSO Facebook Post Goes Viral

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 attract a younger demographic and to reach out to the broader heritage community. The two quickly set up the Society’s Facebook page. Starting with only six followers, more quickly signed up as the news of the page spread. With a few months, there were several hundred followers. This rose to 660 by late 2019.

Ben WeissBen WeissBut it was after the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020 that our site came into its own under the guidance and curation of Ben Weiss. With in-person meetings and special events cancelled, Facebook took up the slack, becoming the Society’s primary means for sharing heritage news, events, and stories with others interested in Ottawa-area history. The site’s followers increased rapidly in number, doubling by the end of 2020, with more than 16,000 visits to our page in any given month. Stories were shared, commented on, and discussed within our growing Facebook community.

While these results were fantastic, little did we know what was to come in 2021. The number of followers soared through the year as did the number of views. By late 2021, we had more than 4,400 followers and in a good month we could expect roughly 100,000 visits to our Facebook page—not bad for a small organization with fewer than 250 members!

But these remarkable numbers were blown out of the water by the reception received by a short article that Ben posted in December 2021 on the world’s first nuclear meltdown that occurred in 1952 at the Chalk River Nuclear Power Plant and the heroic roll played by future US president Jimmy Carter in the subsequent clean-up. The story went viral, receiving almost 800,000 visits within three days, with twelve thousand shares, more than three thousand likes, and hundreds of comments. The story was quickly picked up and re-posed by a host of other outlets including on Twitter. Given the social media buzz, Newsweek Magazine summarized the story, noting its HSO origins, and fact-checked it, giving it the magazine’s top “True” rating. CFRB in Toronto and CBC radio interviewed Ben on the story. There were also requests for interviews coming from as far away as Texas!

For those who missed all the excitement, the story centred on the role played by 28-year-old Lieutenant Carter in stabilizing and cleaning up the Chalk River facility which was awash with radioactive water after the accident. Carter, who was a nuclear expert working for the US Navy at the time, was called in to help Canadian and US scientists deal with the disaster. Leading a 24-person team, Carter divided his men into small groups, each working in 90-second shifts to minimize their radiation exposure as they were lowered into the damaged reactor. He and his teams absorbed a year-worth of radiation for every shift. Carter’s urine still tested radioactive six months after the event. His Chalk River experience left a profound impression on Carter’s views on nuclear power and weapons and coloured his decisions when he was in the Oval Office twenty-five years later.

Thank you, Ben, and congratulations for your terrific work on the Society’s Facebook page. Thanks also go to our many contributors and volunteers who have helped over the past four years to make the page what it is today. Thanks also to our Facebook community whose comments and discussions have enriched our knowledge of Ottawa history.

News Flash: As we post this article, the Chalk River/Jimmy Carter story has received just short of one million views.

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Wednesday, 02 September 2020 20:42

HSO Sponsorships & Awards

The Historical Society of Ottawa offers a range of awards on an annual basis that are available to local students ranging from elementary school to university. The HSO is the official patron of the Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair which provides two awards, The Richard Scott Award and The Sacred Chaudière Falls Award, to up to four local students, ranging from Grades 4 to 10. In addition, the HSO provides The Colonel By Award to one undergraduate student at each of our two local universities which have a History department: the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, as well as our Applied Museum Studies Award for one student at Algonquin College. The awardees of the ORHF awards are selected by a selection committee made up of judges from a wide variety of local organizations and our post-secondary awards are selected by their respective faculties.

The Colonel John By Award 

The Colonel John By Award in History is a prize of $750, awarded annually to both a Carleton University student and a University of Ottawa student in a graduate or undergraduate history course who write the best paper in their respective university in either English or French on a topic concerning the history of Ottawa or the Ottawa Valley. The students will be awarded an additional $300 on submitting acceptable manuscripts for publication in the Bytown Pamphlet Series.

Past winners

jaime simonsJaime Simons

The 2021 winner of the Colonel John By Award for History is Jaime Simons of Carleton University for their work Shipwrecks of the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal. This fascinating, interactive presentation is featured on our website.

Jaime Simons is an MA student at Carleton University in Public History and Digital Humanities. Their work focuses on using sound as a means for substantive engagement with history, and engages with the role of steamboats in the industrialization and colonization of the Ottawa River in the nineteenth century. Jaime is the current Garth Wilson Fellow at Ingenium (2021-2022), where they will continue this work. You can reach them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


comeauChristian Comeau


The 2020 Winner of The Colonel John By Award was Christian Comeau of Carleton University for his essay “Urban Chickens: Like a phoenix rising from the ashes." The essay explores the history of rules around the raising of chickens by city-dwellers in light of recent changes to municipal bylaws in the City of Gatineau to permit egg-laying hens on certain properties.




The Algonquin College Applied Museum Studies Award

The Algonquin College Award is a prize of $750, awarded annually to a student in the Applied Museums Studies program at Algonquin College.

2022 Algonquin College Award

2022 AlgC

The HSO's Karen Lynn Ouellette and Ben Weiss were pleased to present the 2022 award to Jeanne Rodrigue.

Algonquin College held this year's event for graduates on April 19, 2022 at the Ottawa Art Gallery, which is also where Jeanne completed her internship, contributing to the exciting new exhibit "Dark Ice" featuring the art of Ottawa's Leslie Reid and Robert Kautuk of Kangiqtugaapik, Nunavut.

It has been for all, a very different world these past few years. Algonquin College's President, Claude Brulé, spoke of the challenges faced these past two years.  One of the Applied Museum Studies' coordinators and instructors mentioned that this evening for graduating students was the first time she'd met many of them in person!

We offer our congratulations to all of the graduating students, especially so in these difficult times, and we extend our best wishes as you commence exciting new careers.

Past winners

The 2020 winner of The Algonquin College Award is Jonah Ellens. Jonah writes: 

It is with great personal satisfaction that I accept this award. I have enjoyed researching, studying and sharing Ottawa's history over the past years. I am thankful for the role Algonquin College and my friends in the Applied Museum Program have played in helping me develop my skills so that I can continue to improve my abilities and better share local history. I hope that in the near future we can return to an unrestricted public setting to tell our stories.

Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair

The Historical Society of Ottawa is an official sponsor of the Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair (ORHF), which is usually held in April.

Le Prix Sir Richard William Scott Award

Le Prix Sir Richard William Scott Award is presented annually at the Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair. The award is given to research project on an Ottawa-themed historical project. A certificate is awarded, along with a cash prize of $300.

Indigenous Sacred Chaudière Falls Award

Indigenous Sacred Chaudière Falls Award is presented annually at the Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair to recognize, support, and encourage participation by Indigenous youth in projects that reflect and celebrate Indigenous culture and traditions, or that look at the impact of settler colonial policies on Indigenous peoples. The award consists of $300 and a certificate.

ORHF 2022

We were thrilled to again participate in the Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair, held on April 20, 2022, at the Canadian War Museum.

It has been twenty years since the HSO advocated for the establishment of this annual event, showcasing the work of students, Grades 4 through 10, from Ottawa area schools. The HSO continues as the ORHF's official patron. 

This year was the first in-person fair since before the pandemic. Fewer schools were able to participate than in the past but those that did were superbly represented by an extraordinary group of students with a clearly evident passion and appreciation for history.  We are confident that, as COVID precautions ease, we will see the number of schools participating quickly return to normal.

Congratulations to Felix Graham Bevin and Yigit Yarangulmelioglu of Glashan Public School whose project "Ottawa: What is the history of our nation's capital?" won the HSO's Richard Scott Award at this week's Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair. These 8th graders know their history!!

Felix and Yigit's in-depth knowledge and enthusiasm for Ottawa's history was apparent as they presented a full run-down on our city's past... beginning with the area's Indigenous roots... Champlain's travels through the area in the 1600s... the arrivals of Philemon Wright and Colonel By... the innovations of Thomas Ahearn... up to more recent figures such as Dan Aykroyd. The young men even made sure to mention Ottawa's Kai-Voon Joe, one of the first Chinese women to settle in Canada.

2022 ORHF 

HSO President Karen Lynn Ouellette was proud to present Felix and Yigit with their well-deserved award from the HSO.  In addition, HSO members Bryan Cook and Ben Weiss participated as judges this year.

All of the projects at this week's annual Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair were amazing. Congratulations to all of the students and thank you so much to their teachers and the ORHF's organizers.

Past Winners
2021 Virtual Fair

HSO is immensely proud of our important role as official Patron of the annual Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair (ORHF).

Every year, enthusiastic young students from area schools submit wonderfully researched and thoughtfully written projects relating to local and/or Canadian history.

In “normal” years, a national museum atrium is jostling with students, teachers, parents, and local dignitaries while judges carefully examine each creatively rendered project, assessing the imaginative submissions, quizzing the young competitors, and determining the well-deserved award winners.

As we all know, things are done quite differently these days.

Take a look at some of the fascinating projects submitted by these young people for 2021 virtual edition of the ORHF.

2020 Fair Cancelled

Due to the COVID-19 emergency, the Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair Committee cancelled the 2020 Fair that was to be held on April 22, 2020, at the Canadian Museum of History. The Fair will return in 2021.

2019 Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair

Le Prix Sir Richard William Scott Award


HSO president, Karen Lynn Ouellette, presents the Sir Richard William Scott Award to Derek Strachan and Joseph Schmidt of Glashan Public School at the 2019 Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair for their project "Comment le Canal a-t-il impacté le Canada."

Sacred Chaudière Falls Award


Karen Lynn Ouellette, president of the Historical Society of Ottawa, presents the Indigenous Sacred Chaudière Falls Award to Nevaeh Sarazin, a Grade 5 student from St. James Catholic School in Eganville, west of Ottawa, and a member of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation.

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Friday, 31 January 2020 17:01

Pamphlets Available for Sale

Price of the HSO Pamphlet Series (cost of postage is extra)

  • $4.00

Please contact the HSO by post or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to order printed copies of pamphlets.

78 Timothy Osborne Bellwood Mobile Home Park Y
79 Don Carrington Windfall: the Badge Story Y
80 Lillian Scott Desbarats Recollections Book 1- Elizabeth Residence and Laurier House Y
81 Lillian Scott Desbarats Recollections Book 2 - Chapel Court, Union Mission, T. D. McGee Y
82 Lillian Scott Desbarats Recollections Book 3 - Irish Settlers, Earnscliffe, Sir Richard Scott Y
83 Clifford Scott Robert Bell, A Man For All Seasons Y
84 Lillian Scott Desbarats Recollections Book 4, Some Old Houses in Sandy Hill Y
85 Ed Bebee The James Sutton Elliott Story: Turmoil and Tragedy Y
86 Robert Serré Early History of Ottawa's Sandy Hill N
87 Kurt Johnson Some 1812 Richmond Soldiers/Settlers Y
88 Dave Mullington To Be Continued...A short history of the Historical Society of Ottawa (book) Y
89 Salvatore Pantalone Growing up in « La Colonia » Y
90 George Chapman Remember: England, France, Belgium (1914-18) N
91 Ian Browness and Cynthia Coristine The Bate Brothers of Ottawa, Booklet 1: The Brothers' Circuitous Path to Bytown Y
92 Ian Browness and Cynthia Coristine The Bate Brothers of Ottawa, Booklet 2: Charles "C.T." Bate: Merchant, Mayor & More Y
93 Ian Browness and Cynthia Coristine The Bate Brothers of Ottawa, Booklet 3: Sir Henry Newell Bate & Family: A Civic Legacy N
94 Frances M. Slaney The Canadian Museum of Civilization: A brief history from its 19th century origins to its recent demise Y
95 Mary MacGregor From Garden Suburb to Garbage Dump: Thomas Adams' Forgotten Plan for Old Ottawa South Y
96 Doris Grierson Hope Griersons of Torbolton Y
97 M. Moore The Politics of Commemoration & The Failure of the Davin Memorial Project Y
98 Christine F. Jackson From Steamboats to the NHL: The Ottawa Valley's Cowley Family Y
99 Tyler Owens A Mayor's Life: John Scott, First Mayor of Bytown (1824-1857) Y
100 Diana Pepall Canada's Bletchley Park: The Examination Unit in Ottawa's Sandy Hill, 1941-1945 Y
101 Glenn Wright Controversy, Compromise and Celebration: The History of Canada's National Flag Y
102 Elizabeth V. Krug Martin O'Gara, Ottawa's First Irish Catholic Police Magistrate, 1863-1899 Y
103 George A. Neville Loyalist Land Grants Along the Grand (Ottawa) River, 1788 Y
104 Doris Grierson Hope Our "Capitol" Wrens Y
105 James Powell & Bryan D. Cook When Ottawa Welcomed the Empire through a Yorkshireman's Lens Y
106 Katherine Van der Veen Protests and Affordable Housing Policy Delayed: Urban Renewal and the Demolition of LeBreton Flats N
107 George A. Neville and Iris M. Neville Ottawa River Settlements in 1833 as described by Dr. Alexander J. Christie Y
108 James Powell Mayor John Scott's Portrait, Its Conservation and Continuing Mystery Y
109 James Powell and Karen Lynn Ouellette Ottawa's Historic Vineyards N
110 Alan B. McCullough The Ottawa Canoe Club 1883–1913 Y
111 Robert Vineberg The Store – A Personal History of Larocque’s Y
112 Dianne Brydon A Genteel Woman in Need: Emma Maud Lampman First Woman Appointed on Parliament Hill Y
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Friday, 31 January 2020 16:24


pamphlets3Since the early 1980s, the Society has regularly published monographs on various aspects of Ottawa's history in its Bytown Pamphlet series. These monographs are available free to members and through the Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada. We are currently in the process of scanning and digitizing older pamphlets to make them more accessible to the general public. If you wish to receive a hard copy of a pamphlet that has not yet been uploaded to the Society's website, please contact the HSO by post or email.

The first introductory pamphlet produced by the Historical Society of Ottawa contains excerpts from an address on the history of the Historical Society given by E.M. Taylor before the Ontario Genealogical Society (Ottawa Branch), March 22, 1976.

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Thursday, 02 January 2020 15:49

Meetings of the Historical Society of Ottawa

All are welcome, admission is free.

For the foreseeable future, our twice-monthly Speaker Series will continue to be conducted virtually using the Zoom software platform, in respect for current restrictions and cautions on public gatherings.

As soon as it is fully safe to do so, we hope to return to our regular in-person afternoon Speaker Series in the auditorium of the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library, 120 Metcalfe Street, at 1:00 pm on the second Wednesday of each month (except in July and August).

We plan, however, to continue, to present our evening Speaker Series via Zoom, due to the enormously positive response we have had to this virtual format, at 7 p.m. on the last Wednesday of each month (except for June, July, August and December).

In addition, we conduct an Annual General Meeting (AGM), normally in May, an occasion for the board of directors to account for its conduct during the preceding year and offer an insight to its plans for the future. All members are eligible to vote for individual candidates for the board of directors.

Upcoming Meetings

L.B. Foote photo, Manitoba Archives.
Guest Speaker: Brian McDougall
Sep 28 2022
Evening Series

View the full calendar

Past Meetings Reports

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Thursday, 02 January 2020 15:43

Publications Policy

The Society shall publish reports in its Bytown Pamphlet Series on research which meets the Society’s objectives, and is either required of students under awards supported by the Society, or unsolicited from members or non-members, subject to passing an editorial review process approved by majority vote of the Board and to priorities dictated by the Society’s objectives and resources.

One copy of each report shall be distributed to each member in good standing as of its date of publication; others may buy copies at a price to be determined by a majority vote of the Board. Two copies of each published Bytown Pamphlet shall be sent to Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario for legal deposit and registration under ISBN and ISSN. Two copies shall be deposited in the HSO holdings at the City of Ottawa Archives.

All manuscripts should be submitted to the Director for Publications or the Publications Committee. In accordance with the Copyright Act (R.S.C. 1970, c C-30, s.5), ownership of this intellectual material remains with the author for life plus 50 years, unless signed away to someone else. HSO published formats are copyright of the HSO and shall only be reproduced with the consent of the Director for Publications or the Publications Committee. A copyright release, as follows and also available from the Publications Committee, shall also require authors to assume responsibilities to verify the copyright status of quotations and illustrations which they have provided for use in their reports, and to ensure appropriate citation of sources.

Copyright Release

Publications Committee
The Historical Society of Ottawa,
Postal Box 523, Station B, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5P6
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Contributor’s Certification


Manuscript Title ________________________________________________________

Publication Title ________________________________________________________

I certify that:
I have acquired permission to reproduce any previously copyrighted material which I have provided for use in my manuscript including, inter alia , sources, quotations and illustrations for which I have given accurate citation in the manuscript;

I agree to transfer to The Historical Society of Ottawa (HSO) publishing rights to the manuscript: that is, without relinquishing my proprietary rights as author, I transfer to HSO the rights to reproduce and distribute the article in HSO format, including figures and graphic reproductions, and the right to adapt the manuscript to conform to HSO publishing standards; and

(Please strike out one):
I agree that the article may be reprinted or copied for non-profit use by individuals and organizations without my written permission, providing proper credit is given to the source of the item
I require that the article should be accompanied by the copyright symbol (©) denoting that
the article may not be printed or copied without my written permission.


Signature:             ____________________________________

Printed Name:      ____________________________________

Date:     _______________________

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