Streets of Ottawa Tour
Historical Walking Tour: Notable Passages
Celebrating those who were honoured with a street name in their memory
The Streets of Ottawa Tour focuses specifically on some of the families who helped build Ottawa and the surrounding communities and named the streets in our neighborhoods.
- Rue GILMOUR Street - Section 53, Lots 3-4 Allan Gilmour is one of Bytown’s pioneer lumbermen. He learned the trade working for his uncle (also named Allan Gilmour), a partner in the lumber firm of Pollock, Gilmour & Company in Glasgow, Scotland. Year after year, Gilmour supervised the sawing and shipping of millions of feet of lumber on timber rafts floated down the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers to the Gilmour timber coves in Quebec. He was appointed to the rank of major in the local militia at the time of the Fenian Raids (1866-1867) and was later made colonel.
- Place SOPER Place - Corridor B, Section 30, Crypts ABC Warren Y. Soper formed an electrical equipment company along with Thomas Ahearn, the manager of a rival Telephone firm. As former telegraph operators, they knew the importance of communication. One of the first contracts they received was to build a coast-to-coast telegraph system for the Canadian Pacific Railway. As manager of the Dominion Telegraph Company, Soper opened Ottawa’s first telephone exchange in 1880. The Bell Telephone Company later acquired the exchange and appointed Soper as its Ottawa manager. Along with partner Ahearn, Soper brought electricity to Ottawa in 1885, and established the Ottawa Electric Street Railway Company in 1891.
- Avenue BILLINGS - Avenue Section 64, Lot 5 Opportunist, entrepreneur, profiteer: any of these could be used to describe Braddish Billings, one of Ottawa’s earliest settlers. His farm at Junction Gore would bring prosperity and a respected position in the community to five generations of Billings. Billings provided the surrounding community - eventually known as Billings Bridge - with roads, a bridge, a sawmill and, near the end of his life, rail.
- Rue KEEFER Street - Section 62, Lot 65 Thomas Coltrin Keefer became a distinguished civil engineer and engineering consultant in Canada and the United States. He constructed waterworks systems for Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa; under his guidance, water first flowed to Ottawa’s taps and hydrants on October 18, 1874. Keefer became a specialist in railway, harbour and bridge engineering, and he was among the first to advocate an all-rail route to the Pacific. He worked on the Erie and Welland canals until 1845, when he came to Ottawa to improve the facilities of the Ottawa River for handling lumber.
- Rue MACKAY Street - Section 62, Lot 65 Thomas MacKay earned his living as a mason and contractor. A contract to build the first bridge across Chaudière Falls and plans for the Rideau Canal first brought MacKay to Ottawa. With his partner, John Redpath, he was the chief contractor for the eight main locks at the entrance and also for certain other locks at the Ottawa end of the canal. During lulls in the canal construction work, he also built St. Bartholomew’s and St. Andrew’s churches. Between 1837 and 1855, he built a gristmill, a woolen mill, a brewery and a new sawmill at the falls. To house his workmen, he founded New Edinburgh on the eastern side of the Rideau River. In 1838, he built a grand house for himself, Rideau Hall. It was sold to the Canadian government in 1868 as the official residence of the governor general. MacKay also bought a thousand acres of land around Rideau Hall. Then known as MacKay’s Bush, it became Rockcliffe Park.
- Avenue SWEETLAND - Avenue Section 61, Lot 2 Dr. John Sweetland served on the medical staff of the County of Carleton Protestant General Hospital and was appointed surgeon at the Carleton County Gaol. He was the founder and first president of the Lady Stanley Institute for Trained Nurses established in 1890. The physician was one of the original members of the commission overseeing the construction of Ottawa’s original water distribution system in the early 1870s, and was appointed sheriff of Carleton County in 1880. He and P.D. Ross were appointed the first trustees of the Stanley Cup by the governor general, Lord Stanley of Preston.
- Rue SLATER Street - Section 48, Lot 1 James Dyson Slater was appointed assistant engineer in charge of the location and construction of the Welland Canal from Port Dalhousie to Thorold (1841 to 1845). In the spring of 1849, Slater was appointed a provincial land surveyor and carried on in this profession until 1858, when he was appointed superintendent of the Rideau Canal, a position he held until 1872.
- Rue BOOTH Street - Section 50 1/2, Lot 1 John Rudolphus Booth is ranked among Canada’s most prominent lumbermen. He built a small shingle mill at Chaudière Falls, and faced several significant setbacks until his first breakthrough in 1859, when he secured the contract to provide lumber for the construction of Canada’s new Parliament Buildings. Eventually, his mills produced more lumber than any other operation in the world. He already owned the Canada Atlantic Railway but, since the production of pine timber alone could not offset the cost of the railway, Booth diversified by adding passenger and freight cars. On December 8, 1925, he passed away as one of the richest men in Canada, with an estate valued at approximately $33 million.
- Rue ROCHESTER Street - Section 50, Lot 1 John Rochester is referred to as one of the 27 American founders of Bytown. He got wealthy quickly, supplying the military with bread, beer and butchered meat. He then turned his efforts to the lumber trade and built two large steam mills on the Chaudière, where he worked until his retirement in 1885. John Rochester also bought large tracts of land west of Ottawa’s core, creating the village of Rochesterville, which the City of Ottawa annexed in 1887. Rochester was voted mayor of Ottawa in 1870 and 1871, and helped organize, construct and equip the Ottawa Ladies College.
- Avenue BRONSON Avenue - Section 50, Lots 119, 120, 128 Erskine Henry Bronson eventually became one of Ottawa’s most prominent businessmen. His father, Henry Franklin Bronson, founded the firm of Bronson & Harris around 1852 after securing advantageous water lots at Chaudière Falls. Erskine later diversified the firm’s interests, expanding its lumbering operations to California, where he was a director of the Little River Redwood Company. He also capitalized on the growing demand for electricity by founding the Ottawa Electric Company. Erskine Henry Bronson passed away on October 19, 1920, at the age of 76.
- Avenue AHEARN Avenue - Section 50, Lot 123 Thomas Ahearn started an electric company that lit the first light bulbs and street lamps in Ottawa, and he inaugurated Ottawa’s electric streetcar service. In response to winter weather, he equipped the trolleys with large rotating brushes to push away snow. Ahearn became the first Ottawa millionaire who made his money in something other than timber. He established Ottawa’s parkway system and personally financed the Champlain Bridge over the Ottawa River in 1928. He made the first telephone call between Canada and England in 1926, as well as the first national radio broadcast a year later, establishing a continental chain of radio masts. He died on June 28, 1938.
- Avenue FLEMING Avenue - Section 49, Lots 13/14 Sir Sandford Fleming was an engineer, writer, diplomat, explorer and university chancellor. He was appointed chief engineer of the Northern Railway in 1857. He was one of the founders of the Canadian Institute for the Advancement of Scientific Knowledge. He published the first large-scale surveyor’s map in Canada, designed the first usable chart of Toronto Harbour and promoted the trans-Pacific submarine telegraph cable. Fleming also designed Canada’s first postage stamp, the “three-penny beaver,” in 1851. In a series of papers delivered to the Canadian Institute, he suggested that the planet be divided into 24 time zones, each covering 15 degrees of longitude, from an accepted meridian. The time in each zone would be the same, notwithstanding the position of any point in relation to the sun. In 1884, the first International Meridian Conference was held in Washington D.C., and Fleming’s idea was officially adopted.
- Allée PERLEY Drive - Section 41, Lot 130 In the 1850s, William Goodhue Perley moved to Bytown with his business partner, Gordon Pattee. They purchased water lots at the Chaudière, running the successful business of Perley & Pattee. He bought land in LeBreton Flats and became the area’s first rich man. His stone mansion was one out of only 25 listed in the 1853 city directory. By 1865, his mills were churning out 16 million board feet of lumber a year. In 1866 he created a compromise urban transit system: horse-drawn streetcars that ran on rails. He then moved on to the regional scene, founding the Upper Ottawa Steamboat Company in 1868. Finally, with the financial assistance of several lumber barons, he created and became president of the Canadian Atlantic Railway, guaranteeing Ottawa’s access to American markets. He was also a member of Parliament for Ottawa, from 1887 until his death on April 1, 1890.
- Chemin HURDMAN Road - Section 50, Lot 33 One of Ottawa’s enduring dynasties, the Hurdman brothers were pioneers in industrial and agricultural development along the Rideau River. Under the name Hurdman Brothers, William started the family lumber business in 1841 with his brothers Charles and Robert. It became one of the largest timber operations in Quebec. In the early 1870s, William and Robert established themselves in the Junction Gore area of Gloucester Township, branching into large-scale farming. Eventually, both brothers were farming 200 to 300 acres each, using the most progressive methods of the day. The present contracting firm of Hurdman Brothers (T. Fraser and Walter) was hired to remove the railway tracks from the downtown core of Ottawa in the late 1950s. Today, the firm specializes in moving heavy machinery and equipment.
- Avenue HOPEWELL Avenue - Section 39, Lot 101 S. Charles Hopewell was a contractor by trade and served as a City of Ottawa alderman from 1900 to 1907, as controller in 1908 and, finally, as mayor from 1909 to 1912. He was also president of the Union of Canadian Municipalities in 1910. In 1912, a hospital built on Porter Island to handle smallpox victims was named the Hopewell Isolation Hospital in honour of the retiring mayor. Hopewell was appointed magistrate in 1922 and passed away on May 15, 1931.
- Promenade MORRISON Drive Section 39, Lot 17 W. Ctr. & S.W. G. Cecil Morrison started his first bakery in Ottawa in 1911 and co-founded Morrison Lamothe Bakery in 1933. During the Second World War, he was bread administrator in the Wartime Prices and Trade Board. He founded Ottawa Low-rent Housing, now City Living, and was its president for 20 years.
- Rue McLEOD Street - Section 37, Lot 42 McLeod Stewart was called to the Ontario bar in 1870 and became one of the country’s most distinguished lawyers. He was elected mayor of Ottawa in 1887 and 1888 and he strongly advocated the purchase and setting aside of Rockcliffe as a public park. He was a life member of the board of the Protestant Orphans’ Home and was one of the founders of the Protestant Home for the Aged. In business, he was president of the Stewart Ranch Company, president of the Canadian Anthracite Coal Company, and president of the Canada Atlantic Railway. Mayor Stewart was also one of the original officers of the Governor General’s Foot Guards.
- Avenue HOLLAND Avenue - Section 37, Lot 55 N.W. The Holland family were active in newspaper publishing. One of the most prominent members of the family was Andrew Holland, a parliamentary and law reporter born in Ottawa on August 11, 1844. He became the official reporter of the Senate of Canada in 1876. Holland reported on the Dominion Board of Trade, on the settlement of the Intercolonial Railway and Welland Canal construction contracts, and on the royal commission appointed in 1880 to inquire into the engineering, construction, and route of the Canadian Pacific Railway. He helped secure a contract and subsidy from Canada to establish the Canadian-Australian steamship line between Sydney and Vancouver. The Holland established one of Ottawa’s first movie houses.
- Rue GRANT Street - Section 37, Lot 59-60 N.E. Sir James Alexander Grant came to Canada and opened his own medical practice in Bytown in 1854. Physician to every governor general from 1867 to 1905, he tended to all the vice-regal family’s ills. For instance, he treated Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria and wife of the Marquis of Lorne, when she was seriously injured in a sleighing accident on Sussex Street (now Sussex Drive) near Rideau Hall in 1880. Grant sat as a member in the first Parliament of Canada, in the government of Sir John A. Macdonald. He also served as president of the Canadian Medical Association and the Royal Society of Canada, and was knighted by Queen Victoria.
- Avenue HINTON Avenue - Section 34, Lot 28 Robert Hinton is a pioneer. Sometime before 1821, his father Joseph arrived in the Richmond area. In 1849, the Ontario Municipal Act was passed, opening the door for the first assembly of the Municipal Corporation of the Village of Richmond on January 21, 1850. Joseph Hinton was named auditor and superintendent of highways. He later became reeve of Richmond and warden of the county. Joseph is also credited for advancing the status of the village by helping it obtain the first grammar school in the county, a frame building erected some time before 1864 at a cost of $600. The City of Ottawa annexed Hintonburg in 1907.
- Rue LETT Street - Section 34, Lot 28 N.W. Pt. William Pittman Lett was a journalist, poet and author. As editor of the Ottawa Advocate newspaper, the younger Lett displayed his ability as a writer of both poetry and prose. Five years later, he was elected to the office of city clerk when the City of Ottawa was incorporated, and remained in this position until his retirement 36 years later.
- Rue LEWIS Street - Section 34, Lot 8 At the time of Confederation, John Bower Lewis was one of the ablest lawyers in the country. He was elected councillor in Bytown’s first election, in 1847, and he was chosen mayor in 1848. Soon, Bytown changed its name to Ottawa. Lewis was elected Ottawa’s first mayor in 1855 and remained in that position until 1857. In 1863, he became commissioner of Ottawa’s police force. He signed the eloquent plea that Ottawa sent to the Queen on May 18, 1857, urging her to choose the city as capital of the United Provinces of Canada, which she did during his term as mayor.
- Rue THOMPSON Street - Section 34, Lot 14 Philip Nairn Thompson came to Bytown to enter the flour trade. He built the flour and sawmills known as the Thompson Mills. By 1853, Philip Thompson had a sawmill with a 40,000-log capacity with attached flour and oatmeal mills, a carding and cloth dressing mill, and a woolen factory. Respected throughout the community, Thompson served as a local director of the Bank of Commerce, and held extensive timber limits on the Gatineau River.
- Rue LAMPMAN Crescent - Section 25, Lot 17 Born in 1862, Archibald Lampman published his first poetry collection, Among the Millet, in 1888. As a poet, he was renowned for carefully crafted observations and contemplation of nature. He was one of Canada’s finest poets during the “Golden Age” of Canadian poetry. He passed away on February 10, 1899, at the age of 37.
- Avenue CRERAR Avenue - Section 27, Range G, Grave 226 Henry Duncan Graham Crerar is one of Canada’s greatest military leaders. At the outbreak of the First World War, he entered Canada’s First Division as an artillery officer; he finished the war as a lieutenant colonel. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Crerar was promoted to brigadier. He became Chief of the General Staff in 1940 and a lieutenant general in 1941, when he commanded the 1st Corps. He assumed command of the First Canadian Army on March 20, 1944. He became the first Canadian to gain the rank of full general while still in active service at the front.