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Wednesday, 04 November 2020 19:14

Michael Kent: Secrets from the Geniza

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The September 14th 2020 presentation of the Historical Society of Ottawa took us on two journeys. One was to the Middle East; but more on that in a moment. The other journey was shorter in distance but was a big step technologically. With recent social restrictions forcing us to cancel live presentations at the Main branch of the Ottawa Public Library (for the time being) our Regular Events coordinator, Ben Weiss, asked guest speaker Michael Kent if he’d be interested in making a presentation online through a video conferencing application…
The second speaker at the HSO meeting on November 27, 2020, was Stephen McKenna. His grandfather, Patrick Kerwin, was a justice on the Supreme Court of Canada for 27 years, from 1935 until his death in 1963, the last nine years as Chief Justice. During this time, the Supreme Court was housed in two buildings at different locations on Wellington Street. Stephen’s talk, entitled ‘Along the Road to Today’s Supreme Court’, told some of the story of the two buildings. The Supreme Court of Canada was created by an Act…
Venerable Élisabeth Bruyère — 175th Anniversary Gravely needed in Bytown, Élisabeth Bruyère (aged 26) and her small entourage of young Grey Nuns bravely journeyed the frozen Ottawa River by sleigh from Montreal. Within three months of their arrival in rugged Bytown, Mother Bruyère and her group had founded a school, a general hospital, a home for the aged and an orphanage; and within another two years Mother Bruyère and the sisters would defy the risk of deadly contagion and tend to the sick as Bytown found itself in the midst…
Friday, 04 September 2020 11:56

Buchan’s Talents Bedazzled Author

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Lord Tweedsmuir was Governor General of Canada from 1935 until 1940. Tweedsmuir’s remarkable memory, writing capacity, and skill in working with people were what first drew the attention of Bill Galbraith, the speaker at the HSO afternoon meeting on January 29, 2020. Bill ended up writing a book about Lord Tweedsmuir, published in 2013, titled John Buchan: Model Governor General. John Buchan, before being made a Baron by King George V in 1935, was a well-known journalist and author, having written over 100 books. He wrote the spy thriller The…
The guest speaker for the first HSO meeting of 2020 is familiar to many who have a love of Ottawa’s past. As the executive director of the Bytown Museum, Robin Etherington has been an enthusiastic promoter of culture and heritage in Ottawa for over 20 years. Robin has been the executive director of Bytown Museum since 2012. The Bytown Museum is located in the oldest building in the city. Of course, the museum wasn’t built as a museum. The stone structure was initially a “commissariat” and its construction was supervised…
Thursday, 03 September 2020 20:55

Rawlson King Recounts Journey

Written by Richard Collins
The speaker for the HSO presentation on February 12, 2020, not only brought to our event a more culturally diverse crowd than usual, but also a younger crowd. Rawlson King has recently become an inspiration not only for young Ottawans, but also to Ottawans of any culture who feel marginalized and who look up to people like Rawlson to provide a voice for their concerns and hopes in the city. Rawlson was elected as Ottawa’s first black councillor in a 2019 municipal by-election in Ward 13. The successful campaign for…
Sunday, 23 August 2020 23:37

Tree Trouble in Ottawa’s Urban Forest

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At the HSO November 2019 afternoon meeting, Joanna Dean, a Carleton University history professor, described to listeners the Trouble With Trees. While being a lover of trees, Joanna acknowledged that trees sometimes do cause the city and its residents problems. William Saunders, the first director of the Experimental Farm was instrumental in promoting elm trees. Many were planted on King Edward Avenue and Clemow Avenue. However, in 1903, 1922, and 1932 reports, city engineers described problems that trees were causing to infrastructure. They heaved sidewalks, grew into the sewers, and…
Sunday, 23 August 2020 20:43

McGill: Protect, Promote Historic Canal

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Construction of the Rideau Canal began early in the year 1827. Taking only four years to construct, it opened for navigation in the spring of 1832. About 150 years later, Hunter McGill arrived in Ottawa to attend Carleton University, located near Hartwell’s Locks. Since the 1980s he has been a member of the Friends of the Rideau. Hunter talked about the history of the Canal, how it has operated since its opening, and some of his views on the Rideau Canal today. The British Colonial Administration of Canada was very…
Monday, 13 January 2020 15:34

A Tour of PMs’ Sandy Hill Homes

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The Historical Society of Ottawa’s October 9, 2020 meeting was our first evening gathering at the main branch of the Ottawa library. We had many first-time attendees. Maybe the new time and location are the attraction. Or it may have been our guest speaker, who is well known in Ottawa for his passion for history. Neighbourhood historian François Bregha, described many prime ministerial homes during his Oct. 9 evening presentation.Sandy Hill is more than just a passing interest for François Bregha. He has lived in Sandy Hill for 34 years.…
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