Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The history of Lowertown

One of our neighbours, Nancy, is the co-author of a very interesting 34-page publication that I discovered on the Internet today. It aims to document the history of our part of the city before too many of its older buildings are demolished and swept away by modern developers and is entitled Lowertown East, Our Disappearing Heritage.

On pages 6, 7 and 10 of this research paper are maps showing our neighbourhood in relation to the Rideau River.
To the north of the St. Patrick Street Parkway and east of King Edward Avenue, a small isolated section of Lowertown has evolved over the years and is fondly called the “Wedge” by some of its residents. Sometimes, it is also referred to as the Bordeleau Park community.
That's us.

Much of the paper describes the working class French, Irish and Jewish communities that once thrived here and incorporates old photographs from the early 20th century. It focusses on the history of three buildings that are about to disappear ...
The occupants, from over the years, of the four heritage buildings slated for demolition represent a true cross-section of the resourceful and resilient groups that made this river area of Lowertown East such a vibrant community. The "Brennan" house was built [~140 years ago] and occupied for many decades by working people of Irish descent. The "Gauvreau" rowhouse was built with money acquired by a descendant of one of the first Quebec inhabitants who used the land by the Rideau River first to build a hide and pelt business and then to build an income-generating rowhouse. The "Gauvreau-Bodovsky" house, built by the Gauvreau family, saw ownership transferred in 1921 to a Jewish family who for more than 50 years contributed to the commercial and cultural life of Lowertown. Finally, the “Ouellette” house was occupied by working-class French-Canadian families over the years and once included a convenience store.
What a contrast Claridge's new "Waterstreet" condominium complex will make to those old houses, when it is erected in their place.

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