Heritage schoolhouse on Slack Road (near Merivale) in Nepean.
Tuesday, February 18, 2020 is Heritage Day in Ottawa, and all the week is Heritage Week, a nation-wide celebration that encourages all Canadians to explore their local heritage, to get involved with stewardship and advocacy groups, and to visit museums, archives, and places of significance.
If you’re near City Hall on Feb. 18, drop in between 11:30am-2:00pm to see exhibits from over 40 exhibitors. See how heritage is being celebrated in your community, learn about services offered by local heritage organizations, public programs and special initiatives, as well as professional development and volunteer opportunities.
You don’t even have to leave your house to access treasure troves of historical photos, maps, and stories about Ottawa’s rich local history. Here are our favourite local history web sites.
Heritage Ottawa: This site is full of interesting articles, photos and news. One of the best features is an archive of their newsletters, dating from 1974 to the present. Also check out the 50 Years | 50 Stories series.
Bytown or Bust: Pioneer families: A massive genealogical site run by Al Lewis containing information about pioneer families who settled in Ottawa starting in the early 1800’s.
The Margins of History: Christopher Ryan loves local history and takes very interesting photos of Ottawa buildings and landmarks. His specialty is researching the backgrounds of some lesser-known architectural gems. Ryan has also written a number of special features for OttawaStart.com…
The Kitchissippi Museum: Dave Allston’s blog about old west Ottawa’s little-known history, with stories, photos and information covering the fascinating history of the historic Kitchissippi neighbourhoods.
Mid-Century Modern Ottawa: A collection of photos, drawings and information about mid-century housing design in Ottawa. Written by Saul Svirplys, an architectural historian and PhD student at the University of Ottawa. Focus will soon be changing to 1970s suburban architecture and community design, he says.
Ottawa Past & Present: You can really get a sense of how Ottawa has changed over the decades with this blog by Alex Laquerre. His posts feature an interactive “slider” that allows you to compare scenes from the past with what they look like today.
URBSite: In each post, Robert Smythe does an in-depth historical and pictorial study of a very specific feature of Ottawa’s urban landscape.
Vanished Ottawa: A blog documenting “the vanished and the vanishing” in Ottawa, including buildings, landmarks, etc.
Ottawahh: Lots of incredible photos from Ottawa’s past.
Lost Ottawa (This group is so popular the owner created a best-selling book out of all the photos and memories that have been shared over the years!)
Local History Web Sites
Barrymore’s: 1978-1988: Originally opened as the Imperial Theatre in 1914, the building we now know as Barrymore’s lasted for nearly four decades as on of Ottawa’s premier movie theatres. It closed in 1955, spent a number of years as a furniture warehouse, and then re-opened in the 1970s as concert hall, and then as a restaurant/discotheque.
Closed Canadian Parks: Britannia Park
Eastern Ontario Ghost Towns: Here’s an idea for a weekend getaway: explore Eastern Ontario’s ghost towns. This site features photos and information about dozens of abandoned towns in Ontario and across Canada.
Historical Society of Ottawa: “…founded in 1898 as the Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Ottawa. Its objective is to increase public knowledge of the history of Ottawa through its publications, meetings, tours, outreach programs and participation in local heritage events…”
One Room Schoolhouses: From local author Joy Forbes, who recently published her book, “Perseverance, Pranks and Pride - Tales of the One-Room Schoolhouse”. It is a collection of 75 stories from English- and French-speaking individuals who attended or taught in local one-room schoolhouses, capturing the fascinating history of our rural education system.
Ottawa Genealogical Society: If you’re looking for ancestors with an Ottawa connection, this should be your first stop. It’s an extremely worthwhile resource, with plenty of material and suggestions to get you started on your search for your great-great-great-great-grandparents.
Ottawa Mayors: Some mayoral trivia: Bytown’s first mayor was John Scott (1847). Ottawa’s first mayor was John Bower Lewis (1855). Ottawa has had three female mayors: Charlotte Whitton, Marion Dewar, and Jacquelin Holzman. (from Wikipedia)
Ottawagraphy: (a heritage project for sharing Ottawa’s stories)
Our Little Italy: A history of Preston Street (aka Corso Italia), the heart of Ottawa’s Little Italy, and the home of many of Italian immigrants in Ottawa.
Originally published for Heritage Day 2018 and updated annually since then