PO Box 523, Station B, Ottawa, ON, K1P 5P6
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

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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…
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,…
If there’s one area of Ottawa that seems devoid of history, it’s easy to imagine Tunney’s Pasture being that place, but our September 29th guest speaker, Dave Allston managed to add some humanity to the story of an area famous for its dehumanizing buildings and wide, vacant parks. Tunney’s Pasture has a much richer history than you might expect. Dave is a long time resident of Ottawa’s west end, and maintains a website, The Kitchissippi Museum, dedicated to telling the stories of communities like Hintonburg, McKellar Park, and Britannia. A…
Saturday, 02 October 2021 10:52

Jim Hurcomb: Rockin' on the Rideau

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You can say that the Historical Society of Ottawa’s guest speaker for September 15, 2021 is certainly an accomplished speaker. From 1973 to 1980, Jim Hurcomb was a familiar voice on CKCU-FM, Radio Carleton. From 1980 to 2000, Jim hosted a number of programs on CHEZ-106, including the morning show, and the afternoon variety show, In the City. From 2000-2008, Jim worked at CFRA Radio. In all these years of jockeying everything from vinyl records to MP3s, Jim has gathered a wide collection of memories of the music scene in…
Our last presentation before the summer 2021 break took us halfway around the world but the story resonated here in Ottawa in 1979. After seeing stories on the news about the plight of refugees fleeing Cambodia and Laos and Vietnam, Ottawa mayor Marion Dewar anxiously arranged a public meeting at Lansdowne Park to gauge the interest within the city for sponsoring refugees in desperate need. Dewar expected about 500 people to show up, but when she arrived to open the meeting she discovered that 3,000 had arrived to do their…
Our guest speaker for May 12, 2021 was James Powell, who is a long-time member of the Ottawa Historical Society, and a director on the HSO board. For his presentation James spoke about one of the most tragic heroes in Canada’s history. Thomas D’Arcy McGee was murdered near his Sparks Street apartment on a chilly April evening in 1868. James talked about McGee’s early life in Ireland and his brief stay in the United States. While in the US he visited Canada, and it was here that McGee felt Ireland’s…
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