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City of Ottawa Funds Heritage Survey in Old Ottawa South

Originally published in the OSCAR April 2009.

by John Calvert

The Ottawa South History Project received some fantastic news in early March: the City of Ottawa is awarding $6,000 toward our Heritage Survey project allowing us to hire a student this summer to conduct the detailed research and field work from May through August 2009. Now we need residents of Old Ottawa South to step forward as volunteers to assist with project activities, or as donors to help complete the fundraising.

What is the Heritage Survey project?

The survey has several goals:

1. To create an up-to-date survey of heritage features in Old Ottawa South

2. To enhance public understanding of the heritage value of the neighbourhood as a whole

3. To involve the community in the identification and documentation of the heritage value of Old Ottawa South

4. To create a reliable information resource that can serve as evidence for decision-making about the urban environment of Old Ottawa South

Old Ottawa South lacks an up-todate profile of its heritage features. The neighbourhood contains 7 properties designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. In addition, there are approximately 400 properties on the City of Ottawa’s Heritage Reference List, a sort of watch list of properties of potential heritage interest. Yet the reference list is based largely on informal “windshield surveys” conducted 30 years ago and does not contain substantive details. In recent years, appreciation of heritage as something of intrinsic value has grown significantly, while government policy of intensification and general trends for redevelopment and wholesale teardown of properties have put increasing pressure on the neighbourhood form. There is a substantial and growing risk that properties of heritage significance in Old Ottawa South could be lost simply because not enough is known about them to adequately protect them. A recent example is 900 Colonel By Drive, as described in the OSCAR newspaper, Nov. 2008 issue.

This is where the heritage survey comes in. The Ottawa South History Project plans to:

a) Identify buildings and public spaces that individually or as a group (or streetscape) contribute to the historic character of Old Ottawa South (survey)

b) Document the history of a select sub-set of these properties and the contributions that they make to the historic character of Old Ottawa South (documentation and analysis)

c) Present the information and analysis to the community (awareness and education), including:

- a written report deposited with the community association, the City of Ottawa Heritage Planning group, the City of Ottawa Archives, and Heritage Ottawa

- a summary report published in the community newspaper, The OSCAR

- a web-based interactive version of the report published on the OSHP website, including a map and catalogue of streets and properties documented

- an open house and public lecture in the community to promote the survey findings

Old Ottawa South, the neighbourhood, developed as a late 19th / early 20th century suburban cluster of residences and businesses catering to civic servants and some well-to-do residents of Ottawa; a number of large country homes were built, a few of which still exist. It is among a handful of Ottawa neighbourhoods that exist today in a nearly intact original form. Many properties retain, in whole or in part, architectural features dating back nearly 100 years.

Since October 2007, the Ottawa South History Project has been actively researching and documenting the history and heritage of Old Ottawa South. Because OSHP is volunteer based, this work proceeds slowly, and in some cases is hampered by a lack of professional expertise in historical and heritage disciplines. In order to address the heritage planning concerns identified, OSHP conceived of the heritage survey and streetscape analysis.

In order to leverage volunteer resources and broad community interest, OSHP plans to engage a senior university-level student or recently graduated professional with heritage planning and conservation expertise to conduct the heritage survey. As a small community group with limited financial resources, OSHP is soliciting funds from various public and private sector sponsors in order to carry out this work in a timely fashion, and before any significant heritage property is lost. Financial and in-kind donations are critical to the project success, OSHP needs your support to make the heritage survey project a success. If donations are made through our project partner, Heritage Ottawa, a registered charity, they are eligible for a charitable donation tax receipt.

The Heritage Survey project is lead by a mix of OSHP volunteers and professionals donating their time and expertise, including John Calvert, founder of OSHP, heritage specialist Julie Harris of Contentworks Inc. and architectural historian and OSCAR board member Mohammad al-Asad.

The Heritage Survey project has been endorsed by the following groups and individuals:

- Heritage Ottawa;

- Carleton University School of Canadian Studies Heritage Conservation Programme;

- Stuart Lazear, Coordinator of Heritage Planning, City of Ottawa;

- Councillor Clive Doucet.

But we need several more volunteers to help with revising the heritage reference list, identifying potential properties for in-depth research, photography and website development. Please contact the Ottawa South History Project if you are interested and willing to help out or can make a donation, 613-730-9851, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit us online at www.OldOttawaSouth.ca/HistoryProject.