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

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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…
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, 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…
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