20. Ottawa Tech High School graduating class, 1943

Here is the graduating class from Ottawa Technical High School on Albert Street  in 1943.

OttawaTech1943_2 (Medium)


And what became of that class? The next photo tells the tale:

OttawaTech1943 (Medium)


Fortunately, these people enlisted at point where many were not deployed overseas. Still, I wonder how many survived, how many were killed.

Allen Darwin, who lived at the corner of Bronson and Christie,  is 2nd from left, second row, in the before picture; and 3rd from left, second row, in the uniform picture.



story and photos contributed by Eric Darwin.

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19. Sycamore House


178 Cambridge St. N. “The Sycamore”

A ‘Queen Ann’ style house characterized by multiple materials, bay windows, gable ends and a turret.  A crest inscribed “The Sycamore” embellishes the front facade.

The Sycamore Crest

The house was built in 1889[1] in the area once known as Mount Sherwood, by Herman Hayner, a carpenter/builder who lived there until 1900.[2] That the house has a name, is named after an American tree, has imported wood trim unique to Ottawa[3] and was left to the original owner’s nephew, an American architect[4], suggests that the nephew had a hand in the original design.

A one storey remnant of squared timber construction from the c1875 predecessor house supports the back of the 1889 house[5]. The ground floor brick cladding  is orangey-pink under the red paint. The second floor stucco was originally pink[6], and the wood trim was once painted in maroon and cream. The roof was originally cedar shingles[7]. The ‘Classical’ style double columned and pedimented front porch and also the carved symbols on the oak front door suggest a link with the Masonic order[8]:

front door window

front door window

The Vaughan family owned the house from 1905-46[9]. In 1954 the house was divided into three apartments. In 1982 the present owners converted the house back to a single family dwelling.

[1] Construction evidence, Fire Insurance maps and City Directories

[2] Ottawa City Directories

[3] Eric Cohen; architectural collector

[4] Ottawa City Directories

[5] Construction evidence

[6] Rear is still pink stucco

[7] Removed from under asphalt shingles 2004

[8] Masonic historian

[9] Ottawa City Directories


Story and Photos by David Seaborn

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18. Musca Fruit store on Rochester Street

Giorgio Musca, along with his wife Lucia (“Pina”) ran the family variety store on Rochester Street near Balsam. The store was open 365 days a year, from early morning — usually 7am — until late in the evening. It was closed Christmas morning, but Mr Musca opened it by 11am and took Christmas dinner with the family in the little kitchen at the back of the store. Otherwise the family lived upstairs and the business dominated domestic life.

store exterior

In good weather, merchandise was displayed on the sidewalk. A wide variety of goods was important, said Mr Musca, to give people more reason to come into the store more often. He drove the white van parked on the side of the store to Montreal to pick up fruit and other merchandise from wholesalers, leaving in the wee hours of the morning.  Passengers were welcome, provided they were willing to sit on short wooden school chairs in the cargo bay. This picture dates from the mid-1970’s.

Importing grapes from California (and occasionally from Italy) for the home wine-making market eventually came to dominate the business. After moving to much larger Somerset Street premises in the late 70’s, the variety store was run by others and eventually became the Vietnamese Association offices.

In winter of 2013, the buildings all along the block are being demolished to construct new townhouses:

jan 2013 002


Story as told to Eric Darwin by Maria Musca.

Then Photo: Musca family.

Now Photo: Eric Darwin.

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17. Emmigrating to Canada by boat

musca family - boat

The picture above captures some immigrants on their way to Canada. The photo was taken in 1950 or 1951. We don’t know the boat name, nor the three men on the left. But the man on the right was to become an important figure in Little Italy in Ottawa.

Giorgio Musca was born in Sannicola, Lecce, Italy on 9 February 1920. He looks comfortable on-board the ship, having served in the Italian Navy in World War II. Captured at Tripoli (or was it Tobruk?) he spent several years in Australia as a prisoner of war, assigned to replace Australian ranch hands who were away fighting. He returned to Italy after the war, married, and then emigrated to Canada.

He came alone, leaving his wife and baby daughter behind, until he has established himself. Upon arriving in Ottawa, he established a variety store on Rochester Street in Ottawa. Eventually he moved the business to Somerset Street, specializing in grapes, where family still runs it today.


Story as told to Eric Darwin by Maria Musca

Photo: Musca family.

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16. Snow Removal on Preston Street

Prior to the arrival of streetcars, horse-drawn wooden rollers packed down the snow in Ottawa. The hard-packed base facilitated sleighs with runners.   In the picture below, one such sleigh  can be seen going north, away from the viewer. By 1920 sleighs were less common as the streetcar network required snow be removed from the streets.


Photo: Preston Street, looking north from a point between Somerset and Spruce, c1920. Note the supply of pucks for street hockey on the left foreground.

The open cab trucks shown in the photo were loaded by hand. A group of shovellers can be seen to the right, at the corner of Spruce Street. An elderly resident told us these were known as “dollar a day men” hired on a temporary basis each day as required.

In the distance, Preston terminates at the brick walls of the Wilson Carbide building, also known as the Marine Signal Building, which was then the  longest building in the British Empire.

This historic picture will be the opening title for the winter season at this website Historic Dalhousie Ward.

All of the homes and buildings shown along Preston Street still exist, as shown in this 2012 picture:

preston snow cropped then and now


Contributor: Eric Darwin

Then photo: courtesy City of Ottawa

Now photo: Eric Darwin, Jan.2013

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