Take a Tour of Lowertown!June 27, 2017
As part of Welcoming Ottawa Week, consider taking one of our upcoming Immigrant Heritage Walking Tours of Lowertown.
Here are the dates/times:
June 27, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. (English)
June 29, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. (French)
June 30, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. (French)
Here are five surprising facts about Lowertown:
- Lowertown was originally a cedar swamp on the lower of two plateaus west of the Rideau River. In the 1820s, trees were clear cut to create a planned community to house the French-Canadian and Irish workers who came to build the Canal. Colonel By was the town planner at the time, as well as the one responsible for building the Rideau Canal, which was completed in 1834.
- In 1836, Colonel By named the streets of the Byward Market in Lowertown after those he considered the most important members of the royal family—King William and his brothers, the Dukes of York, Clarence and George. It didn’t occur to him to name a street after King William’s daughter, Victoria, who a year later became the Queen.
- Following the First World War, Jewish merchants had a major presence in the Byward Market. Their businesses included produce and butcher shops, bakeries, dairies, furniture stores, furriers and others. A few of the early Jewish businesses still exist, including Saslove’s Meat Market and Irving Rivers.
- Throughout the early 20th century, King Edward Ave., which ran through Lowertown, was a beautiful tree-lined boulevard. In 1965, more than 100 elms along King Edward were cleared to transform it into an expressway linking to the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge. Today, the street is and a dangerous eyesore, congested with large commercial vehicles.
- Today, Lowertown continues to attract newcomers and is home to a wide variety of immigrants and racialized Canadians. Dalhousie Street alone has 13 different ethnic restaurants, including African, Caribbean, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, Mexican, Lebanese and Japanese.
H. Aisenberg Fruits & Vegetables, 30 Byward Street, circa 1930