Growth of Ottawa as a Mega City with Million Plus, Councillor Jan Harder, Ottawa City


Growth of Ottawa as a Mega City with Million Plus, Councillor Jan Harde, Ottawa City

Recently Ottawa reached the milestone of being home to one million people.  A formerly quiet government town, Ottawa today is a culturally and socially diverse city.  When asked to pick a capital city for Canada in 1857, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa which at that time was simply a lumber town.  However, her choice was strategic.  At the time there were a few cities vying for the position of Canada’s capital. Queen Victoria chose Ottawa because it was centrally located between the cities of Montreal and Toronto, and was along the border of Ontario and Quebec (the centre of Canada at the time). It was also far from the American border, making it safer from attacks.  Meanwhile, the townships surrounding Ottawa continued to flourish as they had for almost 100 years.  This included Nepean, where Barrhaven is located.


As a note, the following will be a short history of Nepean.  Although the focus is on early settlement, it recognized that the First Nations people lived in this area for hundreds of years.  It is known that the Jock River was used as corridor.


Nepean was first settled by American soldiers fresh from the American Revolution.  Rich in agricultural lands, it was not long before others from further afield settled in the area to take advantage of prime farm land. Many arrived from Ireland and the British Isles. It certainly was not an easy life for these settlers.  Winters were harsh and the warmer months brought many mosquitoes.  Named after Sir Evan Nepean, a British bureaucrat in charge of Canadian affairs, Nepean was a well-run rural community.  Despite Barrhaven not being quite a century old, we can see many traces of its rural history in a few remaining buildings and street names.


Mary Honeywell School’s namesake was the wife to Ira Honeywell, the first permanent settler in Nepean.  Ira had received a 200 acre parcel of land from his father and walked from Prescott to settle in the area that is known as City View today.  It is known that Mary taught school to a few children in her home.  She is in essence the first school teacher in Nepean.  It is just that there is a school named after the first school teacher of the area.


The population continued to grow with the building of the Rideau Canal.  Where there is work, people follow.  Many labourers settled in the area in the late 1820’s.  Soon their families followed and by the 1840’s, a few schools opened in Nepean to educate the children.  Today as children start school, they require a backpack, pencils and notebooks.  In the early days, the children had to contribute wood for the school to keep the school heated.  Today it is hard to imagine our children having to provide their own method of heat.


The Jockvale School still stands today on the corner of Jockvale and Strandherd.  First built in 1841, it served the needs of the predominantly Irish Catholic families of the areas.  It was rebuilt in brick by 1906 which is what we see today.  Typical of its time, it was a one room schoolhouse where children of all grades were taught by one teacher.  Jockvale school served as a hub for the community for many years.  The school closed in 1965, but til this day it continues to provide the community with a place to gather and learn.


The story of how Barrhaven came to be is a good one.  It involves a Kingston man wanting to build a horse racing track.  What a different vision it turned out to be.  Next time, the history of how the purchase of a 200 acre farm in the early 1960’s has turned into a city of 90 000.



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