The Ottawa Planning Commission has recognized the historic character of a post-World War II residential area west of downtown, but is ceasing to declare it a heritage district.
The committee on Thursday approved a plan to designate a northern portion of the Carlington neighborhood, south of Carling Avenue, between Fisher Avenue and Merivale Road, as a “cultural heritage area.”
The area contains nearly 400 homes designed by Wartime Housing Limited, a former Crown firm that in the 1940s built homes first for laborers who assisted in the war effort, and later for veterans returning from abroad.
“It’s really been a close-knit community for almost 80 years. Many of the streets are named after or refer 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 special. The houses are about a thousand square meters in size. They look like small houses.”
Church, park selected for heritage status
Initially intended as a temporary rental solution to a national housing shortage, the prefabricated houses were among the tens of thousands built in Canada in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
In Ottawa, they were built in two phases between 1945 and 1947, in planned subdivisions prepared by Wartime Housing Limited.
Designed in the style of Cape Cod cottages, the homes were set on large lots to allow tenants to 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 construction and renovations, but it doesn’t require homeowners to get the city’s green light before starting work — something that would be necessary if it were considered a heritage district.
City officials would monitor the effectiveness of the guidelines for three years and then report back.
However, the plan approved Thursday designates two sites eligible for protection under the Ontario Heritage Act.
One of these is Harrold Place Park, a patch of public green space named after Ernest William Harrold, a World War I veteran and popular Ottawa burger columnist who died just as the first houses were being built.
The other is the modernist St. Tekle Haimanot Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church on Merivale Road, built by Ottawa architect James Strutt.
‘The right balance’
Brockington noted that the city’s new official plan focuses on stepping up Carlington, and the acknowledgment — which was in the works before official planning discussions began — should help protect the neighborhood’s distinctive character.
“We’ve had veterans and descendants of veterans here. Obviously there’s more diversity now, but there’s still those deep roots in our community to our past. And the veterans play a big part in that community history,” he said. .
“So we want that protected. And what the city has suggested is the right balance.”
The proposal now goes to city council for final approval.