Carlington's post-WW2 homes recognized for historic importance

·3 min read
Cars drive through the northern part of the Carlington neighbourhood in this archival photo from 1956. Ottawa's planning committee has approved designating the post-Second World War community a 'character area' to help preserve its built form. (City of Ottawa Archives - image credit)
Cars drive through the northern part of the Carlington neighbourhood in this archival photo from 1956. Ottawa's planning committee has approved designating the post-Second World War community a 'character area' to help preserve its built form. (City of Ottawa Archives - image credit)

Ottawa's planning committee has recognized the historic nature of a post-Second World War residential neighbourhood west of downtown, but is stopping short of declaring it a heritage district.

The committee approved a plan Thursday to designate a northern portion of the Carlington neighbourhood — south of Carling Avenue between Fisher Avenue and Merivale Road — a "cultural heritage character area."

The area contains nearly 400 homes designed by Wartime Housing Limited, a former Crown corporation that built homes in the 1940s first for workers helping with the war effort, and later for veterans returning from overseas.

"It really has been a close-knit community for close to 80 years now. Many of the streets are named after or make reference to the war or people who served in the war," said River ward Coun. Riley Brockington in an interview with CBC.

"The architecture is very distinct. The homes are about a thousand square feet. They look like small cottages."

Trevor Pritchard/CBC
Trevor Pritchard/CBC

Church, park singled out for heritage status

Initially conceived as a short-term rental solution to a national housing shortage, the prefabricated homes were among tens of thousands that went up across Canada in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

In Ottawa they were built in two phases between 1945 and 1947 in planned subdivisions laid out by Wartime Housing Limited.

Designed in the style of Cape Cod cottages, the homes were situated on large lots so tenants could grow their own food and even raise livestock, according to a historical background document attached to Thursday's report.

The heritage character recognition would create guidelines for new builds and renovations, but it won't require homeowners to get the go-ahead from the city before doing work — something that would be required if it were deemed a heritage conservation district.

City staff would monitor the effectiveness of the guidelines for three years, and then report back.

The plan approved Thursday does single out two locations, however, to be considered for protection under the Ontario Heritage Act.

One is Harrold Place Park, a swath of public green space named after Ernest William Harrold, a First World War veteran and popular Ottawa Citizen columnist who died just as the first homes were being erected.

The other is the modernist St. Tekle Haimanot Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church on Merivale Road, designed by Ottawa architect James Strutt.

Trevor Pritchard/CBC
Trevor Pritchard/CBC

'The right balance'

Brockington noted the city's new official plan does target Carlington for intensification, and the recognition — which was in the works before official plan discussions got underway — should help protect the neighbourhood's distinct character.

"We've had veterans and veterans' descendants live here. There's obviously greater diversity now, but there's still those deep roots in our community to our past. And the veterans play a big role in that history of the community," he said.

"So we want that protected. And what the city has proposed is the right balance."

The proposal now goes to city council for final approval.

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