The Re-Birth of the Ottawa Senators

20 December 1991

Major league sports franchises have not always thrived in Ottawa, a relatively small market sandwiched between Toronto and Montreal, Canada’s two sporting giants. The city’s football team failed twice in recent decades, the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1996 and the Ottawa Renegades in 2002. The Red Blacks now take the field to uphold the Capital’s football honour in the Canadian Football League. Hockey too has had its challenges. After winning multiple Stanley Cups during the 1920s, the storied Ottawa Senators, collapsed in 1934. Barely profitable during good times, the team simply could not survive the ravages of the Great Depression. Decades later, a WHA franchise, the Ottawa Nationals, appeared and disappeared in a matter of months during the early 1970s.

Imagine the excitement, and the scepticism, when news broke in June 1989 that an Ottawa development company was not only attempting to restore NHL hockey to the nation’s capital after a break of close to 60 years, but it also planned to revive the old Ottawa Senators club, an honoured name that still resonated in Canadian hockey lore.

Ottawa senators original logo

Initial pre-launch Ottawa Senators logo used to fire up fan interest in 1989-90. This emblem was never official. Reportedly, the logo was rejected by the NHL for being too local. Team officials said that it was “the official logo of the campaign to bring back the Senators.” Fans who had bought Senators’ merchandise with this logo were not pleased when it was replaced by a Roman centurion. Sensnation.

That company was Terrace Investments Ltd, under the direction of its young president and chief executive officer, Bruce Firestone. Terrace Investments was no fly-by-night operation. The family-owned firm, established in 1956 by Bruce Firestone’s father, Jack Firestone, was well known, the developer of a number of commercial properties in the Ottawa region. However, bringing an NHL franchise to the city was a huge undertaking for the company, one that would require outside investors to bring it off as well as a lot of hard work and much good fortune. The price of admission was steep, a cool $US50 million. And that was before paying for players, building an arena, and covering all the ancillary costs associated with starting a hockey club from scratch, including putting together a convincing bid to the NHL’s board of governors.

A bid for an NHL franchise was not a wacky idea, however. The NHL was in the mood to expand after a decade of stability; it had previously added four new teams in 1979—Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and the Winnipeg Jets—former members of the World Hockey Association. Reportedly as many as thirty cities had expressed an interest in obtaining a hockey franchise. In addition to Terrace Investments’ bid for an Ottawa team, investors were interested in bringing major league teams to Halifax, Hamilton, Saskatoon and Kitchener-Waterloo. A number of US cities were also keen, including Dallas, Houston, Milwaukee, Phoenix and Seattle. As well, there was talk of European cities obtaining franchises in what would become a global hockey league. Cities like, Moscow, Leningrad (today’s St. Petersburg), Stockholm and Helsinki were mentioned as likely contenders. But did little Ottawa stand a chance? Many doubted it. The senior Firestone was sceptical of the idea. Ottawa Mayor Jim Durrell, while wishing Bruce Firestone well, thought his bid for an NHL franchise had little chance of success. Alan Eagleson, the former director of the NHL’s Players’ Association, said that Ottawa was a “long shot.”

Ottawa senators second logo

The first official emblem of the re-born Ottawa Senators (1991-1997). People criticized it for being “generic, derivative and unoriginal.” Some likened it to the Amex logo or the logo of the University of Southern California Trojans football team. Logopedia.

Firestone’s bold game plan was to build a 20,000-seat arena on agricultural land that Terrace Investments had purchased in West Carleton and Kanata. Around the arena would be constructed a mini-city of 9,000 residents to be called Terrace West. An adjacent, upscale hotel was also planned for the site. The cost of the franchise would be covered, at least in part, by Terrace reselling land for development, assuming the site was rezoned for commercial and residential use. This was a big assumption.

Firestone officially kicked off his bid for an NHL franchise at a news conference in early September 1989 with Frank “Finny” Finnegan at his side. Finnegan had been a member of the Ottawa Senators’ team that had won the club’s last Stanley Cup in 1927. Firestone also announced that plans for the new arena, to be called the “Palladium,” would be forthcoming shortly. Simultaneously, he launched a campaign for reservations for season tickets.

The words had hardly left his mouth when Firestone’s bid for a franchise hit the first of the many stumbling blocks that were to come. The Ottawa Senators of the Central Junior A Hockey League (CJHL) had launched a law suit over use of the name “Ottawa Senators.”

For the next fifteen months, Firestone worked hard to put together a package that would convince John Zeigler, the president of the NHL, and the NHL’s Board of Governors that his Ottawa Senators bid was genuine, and that he had the financial backing to bring it off.  Things initially moved smoothly according to Firestone’s game plan. In January 1990, Terrance Investments came to an agreement with the CJHL Senators over the name as well as members of the Thomas P. Gorman family who also had a claim on the name. In March, Terrace put up an initial non-refundable US$5 payment, a down payment on the $50 million franchise fee. Three months later, Regional Council and the Kanata City Council agreed to rezone the agricultural land for the construction of the Palladium. In October, Milwaukee, a front-running city in the bidding for an NHL franchise, pulled out, improving Ottawa’ chances. Subsequently, Ottawa Mayor Durrell urged supporters of the Ottawa Senators to swamp Premier Bob Rae with letters demanding provincial support for Firestone’s bid. The Premier complied sending a letter of support to the NHL governors on behalf of Ottawa, but also for Hamilton whose bid was backed by Tim Horton’s Donuts. Kanata residents were urged to support Operation Blackout in which they were to turn off their electricity on one day in November in support of the team. An estimated 134,000 people took part.

In early December 1989, the NHL’s Board of Governors met in conclave at the tony Breakers resort in Palm Springs, Florida to consider competing bids for NHL franchises. Firestone provided them with an impressive black, leather bound bid book with gold trim. Outside in the street in front of the hotel, the Ottawa Fire Brigade band and enthusiastic, placard-waving Senators supporters did their best to sway governors’ opinions.

Two years of lobbying and US$3.5 million in bid preparation costs paid off. Just before noon on 6 December 1989, President Zeigler announced that Ottawa, along with Tampa Bay, had been awarded conditional franchises.

From that point, the really hard slogging began. It was not obvious that Firestone and Terrace Investments would be able to meet all of the NHL’s conditions. Most importantly, there was the matter of finding US$45 million of the franchise fee to be paid in two tranches, the first by June 1991 and the second by December 1991. Second, the NHL insisted that by December 1991, Terrace had to have a binding financial agreement for the construction of the Palladium.

Both conditions were problematic. Terrace did not have the cash to make the payments; it needed outside investors. But Canada was experiencing a deep recession in 1991, and money was not easy to find. As well, much of Terrace’s financial plan hinged on the rezoning of prime agricultural land on the outskirts of Kanata for the construction of the arena and surrounding hotel, retail and residential development. But a Carp farmer, later joined by others, had protested the rezoning to the Ontario Municipal Board, setting in motion a hearing into the rezoning decisions made by Kanata and the regional government.

One condition that was easily met was the number of season tickets sold. In a ten-day selling “blitz” late December 1990, 9,355 season tickets were reserved for the Senators’ first season in the Ottawa Civic Centre, their temporary home before the Palladium was built. This was essentially all the seats in the arena. Following a renovation in 1991, capacity was increased to 9,793 seats by reducing the width of seats to a standard 16 inches.

Through 1991, Firestone worked on both the financing and zoning issues. To help him, Ottawa’s Mayor Jim Durrell, now a convert to the Senators’ cause, became President of the club in late 1990. Shortly afterwards, he resigned from the mayor’s chair after there were complaints of his “moonlighting.”

Terrace Investments began selling limited partnerships in the new franchise, which were divided into Class A, B, and C units. Buyers did come in, but it was slow going. And it looked touch and go whether the June US$22.6 million payment could be met. In the event, Terrace placed the funds in escrow on the due date (which had been extended a week for both Ottawa and Tampa Bay). Reportedly, Terrace borrowed the necessary funds. Funding prospects improved with news that Paul Anka, the crooner from the 1950s and 1960s who had roots in Ottawa, had stepped forward and bought a significant interest in the team and the Palladium project. A television deal with Baton Broadcasting for CTV affiliates CJOH in Ottawa and CHRO in Pembroke also brought in much needed cash.

The Ontario Municipal Board hearing, held over an eleven-week period through the summer of 1991, was a close call. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food as well as twelve individuals opposed the rezoning of prime agricultural land for other purposes. If there was no rezoning, the Firestone’s NHL’s franchise bid would fail. The opposition of the Minister of Agriculture incensed Firestone. Firestone thought that the NDP government’s hostility to the rezoning reflected its preference for Hamilton to receive an NHL franchise as Hamilton was an NDP stronghold.

The decision of the three-person Board hinged on six points. These comprised: the appropriateness of using agricultural land for commercial purposes, specifically a hockey area; whether Terrace Investments had made an adequate search for alternate sites; the size of the economic benefits to the project; the need for commercial development around the proposed arena, i.e. the proposed hotel and the homes and retail spaces; traffic congestion in the area; and the integrity of the municipal planning process.

While critical of Firestone’s approach to the rezoning issue, the Board agreed that 220 acres of land could be rezoned to permit the building of the Palladium arena. However, it required Terrace Investments to pay for all the required infrastructure, including the interchange linking road access to the arena to the Queensway. Moreover, the Board denied permission to rezone additional agricultural land for a hotel and the Terrace West “mini-city.”

It was enough. Construction on an NHL-size arena to house the re-born Ottawa Senators could begin. A key condition of the franchise had been met. Now that this major hurdle had been crossed, investor money was easier to raise. Terrace Investments paid the second US$22.5 million installment into the escrow account in mid-December 1991. On 20 December 1991, following the completion of the necessary paperwork, an excited Bruce Firestone held up a framed NHL franchise certificate. The Ottawa Senators had been reborn. Firestone said “The Senators will never leave town again.”

The re-born Sens were back in action at the start of the 1992-93 season. Bruce Firestone, however, didn’t stay around beyond that first year. In August 1993, he sold his and his family’s interest in Terrace Investments to his partner, Rod Bryden. The financial and emotional toll of bringing an NHL franchise to Ottawa had been too great.

Sources:

NHL, 2016. From six teams to 31: History of NHL Expansion, https://www.nhl.com/news/nhl-expansion-history/c-281005106

Ottawa Citizen, “20,000 seat arena, hotel part of NHL franchise bid,” 23 June.

——————, 1989. “Inside Bruce Firestone,” 5 December.

——————, 1990. “The Rocky Road To An NHL Franchise,” 7 December.

——————, 1991. “SRO for Senators’ seats, 2 January.

——————, 1991. “The Opposition Mounts,” 4 January.

——————, 1991. “It’s pay day: NHL to receive $5m down payment,” 14 January.

——————, 1991. “Hockey controversy hurting city hall, says O’Neil,” 15 January.

——————, 1991. “The Last Act,” 7 February.

——————, 1991. “Terrace looking for investors,” 28 February.

——————, 1991. “Terrae’s brilliant selling job,” 2 March.

——————, 1991. “Firestone’s vision remains true despite the many questions,” 7 March.

——————, 1991. “Citizen’s (sic) group shows support for Senators,” 19 March.

——————, 1991. “Anka wants quick return on Senators,” 23 March.

——————, 1991. CJOH, CHRO win TV deal with Senators,” 27 April.

——————, 1991. “Anka to be Senators’ landlord,” 14 May.

——————, 1991. “The logo they love to hate,” 18 May.

——————, 1991. “Arena site crucial, hearing told,” 22 May.

——————, 1991. “Bring back the Peace Tower,” 23 May.

——————, 1991. “Arena would defy city plan,” 28 May.

——————, 1991. “Developer gains Kanata approval for town centre shopping mall,” 30 May.

—————–, 1991. “Senators in a ‘war’ to survive,” 15 June.

—————–, 1991. “All is rosy for Senators on pay day,” 16 June.

—————–, 1991. “NDP’s obstinate opposition,” 24 June.

—————–, 1991. “Crunch time for the Senators,” 20 July.

—————–, 1991. Race against time at Civic Centre,” 1 August.

—————–, 1991. “Finding himself: Anka’s deal is oh so sweet,” 23 August.

—————–, 1991. “Major victory for the team,” 27 August.

—————–, 1991. “Now for the cash…” 29 August.

—————–, 1991. “Senators have sold $37m in shares.

—————–, 1991. “NHL says Senators financing in place,” 17 December.

—————-, 1991. “Its Official,” 21 December.

Red Deer Advocate, 1989. “Pro hockey on way to Saskatoon: report,” 24 November.

Star-Phoenix, 1989. “NHL expansion plan outlined by Shenkarow,” 11 November.

The Chaudière Ring Dam

19 December 1908

It would be hard to underestimate the importance of the Chaudière Falls to the development of the city of Ottawa. Along with the Rideau Canal, the city owes its existence to the power that was (and continues to be) generated at the Falls. Indeed, one could argue that without the Falls, the lumber industry, which was the economic life blood of the city through the nineteenth century, would have located elsewhere. And without its mills, it’s hard to imagine that little Ottawa would have been a viable candidate to be the capital of Canada in 1857 notwithstanding its ideal location.

From the early nineteenth century, settlers recognized the energy potential of the Falls. Lumber mills popped up on both sides of the River as well as on the islands that straddle the border between Ontario and Quebec, including the Wright’s, Chaudière, Victoria, Albert and Amelia Islands. Logs cut in the Ottawa hinterland were floated down the Ottawa River and its tributaries to these mills. In the years before electricity, the mills were powered by water wheels.

By the early 1880s, water-powered turbines had advanced to the point where it was economic to convert the energy of flowing water into electricity. The first hydro-electric plant in North America opened in 1881 on the U.S. side of the Niagara Falls. That same year, E.B. Eddy used a generator run by waterpower to power arc lights in his lumber, match and woodenware factory in Hull.

By the mid-1890s, Ottawa was known as the “Electric City,” due importantly to the development of electrical power made possible by harnessing the Chaudière Falls. At the time, it was estimated that 20 per cent of Ottawa’s population and 75 per cent of Hull’s population were directly dependent on the Falls for their livelihoods.

The two men most responsible for this electrical revolution, were Thomas Ahearn and Warren Soper. Ahearn was an inventor par excellence, Canada’s answer to Thomas Edison, while Warren Soper was the man with the business acumen. Together, the duo formed a powerful partnership that dominated Ottawa for a generation. In 1896, the Illustrated Buffalo Express newspaper wrote:

Through the splendid supply of cheap power afforded by the falls, combined with the business foresight and ability of two of its citizens [Ahearn and Soper], Ottawa has led the van, not only for the Dominion but also in many respects for the continent, in the way of the development of practical electricity.

In addition to powering a timber industry worth $5 million per year, a huge sum in those days, Ahearn and Soper’s Ottawa Electric Company provided power to many Ottawa-area businesses—as long as they were located within four miles of the generators at the Chaudière Falls. The Canadian Atlantic Railway Company’s repair shops in LeBreton Flats were powered by electricity. R.A. McCormick, a pharmacy on Spark Street, was heated electrically. The Ottawa Canoe Club even used an electric motor for hauling canoes out of the water. Ahearn and Soper’s electric railway system was also powered by hydro-electricity. The streetcar system had thirty miles of track with 40 cars running daily through the year. The streetcars were heated and lighted electrically, unheard of luxuries just a few years earlier.

The Ottawa Electric Company also provided street lighting throughout the city as well power for most of the 60,000 incandescent light bulbs in use in Ottawa at that time. The Buffalo newspaper enthused that is amounted to more than one bulb for every inhabitant, “a proportion claimed to be unequal by any other town of like size in America.”

While less expensive than using manufactured gas to light lamps, electricity did not come cheap, notwithstanding what the Buffalo newspaper said. In 1903, electricity reportedly cost 8 cents per kilowatt hour in Ottawa, equivalent to roughly $2 per kilowatt hour in 2019 dollars. The 2019 Ottawa Hydro’s off-peak rate is 6.5 cents a kilowatt hour.

Chaudiere Falls dam 3328647 Dept of Public Works

Picture of the Chaudière Ring Dam shortly after completion in December 1908, Department of Public Works, Library and Archives Canada, 3328647.

Growing demand for electricity as electrical lines were strung across the city, combined with economic growth, led to pressures to increase the production of hydro power at the Falls. However, conflicting interests and bickering among the power owners at the Chaudière caused long delays. On the Ottawa side of the river alone, there were 26 water lots lettered A to Z, most of which were controlled by electric power generators, lumber and flour companies. These lots were leased from the Dominion government for $100 per year. Added to the complexity of the problem was the fact that any agreement among the Ontario and Quebec power owners at the Grand Chaudière Falls had to respect the rights of power owners at the upstream Little Chaudière Falls. While the Dominion government recognized the importance of developing water power on the Ottawa river, it was not going to move until the private power owners came up with a solution to their disagreements.

In 1907, a settlement was finally reached among the water powers on the Ottawa River that settled “the vexed and prolonged differences between the users of water power at the Chaudière Falls.” The agreement was executed on the Ontario side by J.R. Booth, the Ottawa Electric Company, the Ottawa Electric Railway Company, the Ottawa Power Company, the Bronson Company, and the Ottawa Investment Company. On the Quebec side were the E.B. Eddy Company and the Ottawa and Hull Power Company. To facilitate matters, Thomas Ahearn and the Ottawa Land Association gave up their water rights at the Little Chaudière Falls.

The agreement was quite simple, and hugely profitable for the power producers. The Ontario and Quebec companies would share the water equally. They would also build a modern dam at the Chaudière Falls, replacing the existing submerged dam built forty years earlier. The new dam would raise the head of water at the cost of partially drowning the Little Chaudière Falls. For its part, the Dominion government would dam the upper reaches of the Ottawa river. By storing water upstream, water could be saved during the spring freshet and slowly released during the low water months of later summer and autumn. A steady, regulated flow of water would allow the hydro turbines to run more consistently and efficiently through the year. It would also improve navigation on the Ottawa River. As well, spring flooding would be mitigated. The City of Ottawa would also benefit. A higher water level behind a new dam would reduce the problem of anchor and frazil ice in the winter that blocked intakes to the City’s waterworks located upstream from the Falls. Anchor ice is submerged ice that forms in face-moving rivers at very low temperatures. Frazil ice is slushy ice that also forms in turbulent, super cold water.

Work began on a new dam in early August 1908 and proceeded rapidly in part owing to the Ottawa River’s extraordinarily low water level that year. The power owners established a committee in charge of the work consisting of George Millen, representing the north shore owners, William Baldwin, representing the south shore owners, and two engineers, J.B. McRae and William Kennedy Jr. Messrs. Quinlan and Robinson of Montreal were the contractors. The site’s superintendent was Mr. J. B. Laflamme who had considerable experience, having worked on the bridge across the Rio Grande River between the United States and Mexico at Eagle Pass and on the Trent Valley Canal. He kept a firm grip on the workers. He is reported as saying: “Two things I do not permit among my men are swearing and drinking.”  In charge of the concrete gangs was Uldric Marcotte would had worked on the piers for the Quebec bridge and the power dam on the Severn River at Ragged Rapids.

The first task was to take some two thousand soundings to determine the elevation of the river bed. Tests were also done to determine the velocity of the water at various points. Detailed drawings and specifications were approved for the contracts for concrete, steelwork, etc. Divers also cleaned the river bed. A temporary road to transport supplies to the site from the Chaudière Bridge was constructed along with a tool house, cement shed and a store shed.

Work began on the dam proper in late August on the Quebec side. Work commenced on the Ontario side shortly afterwards. As many as three hundred men were employed on the site working day and night to ensure that the dam was completed before the end of the season. The cost was $250,000.

Chaudiere dam winch 3326122 Topley LAC

The travelling winch used to raise the stoplogs that controlled the flow of the river, Topley Studios, Library and Archives Canada, 3326122.

The dam consisted of 49 concrete piers and two abutments constructed in the form of an arc of a circle with a radius of 546 feet, 9 inches, with the centre of the arc situated at a point within the Big Kettle of the Falls. Each pier was made of reinforced concrete, with steel rods bolted together. 1¾ inch anchor bolts fasten the rods to the bedrock of the river. To construct the piers, a wooden mould, made exactly to the shape of the pier, was filled with concrete and allowed to set. Each pier was 39 feet 5 inches long and four feet thick on the upstream side and 2 feet thick on the downstream side. To protect them from ice floes in the winter, the upstream sides were faced with a curved ½ inch steel plate.

The final pier was completed at 2.45 pm on Saturday, 19 December 1908. When the last bucket of concrete was poured, workmen hoisted the Union Jack on an improvised flagstaff in the presence of the engineers and representatives of the contractor. So accurately were the piers positioned, that holes drilled in the steel beams that connected the tops of the piers were only ½ inch out when the final pier was connected.

In total, the construction of the Chaudière Ring Dam entailed the excavation of 7,400 cubic yards of rock, the laying of 8,926 cubic yards of concrete, and the installation of 700 tons of steel.

To regulate the flow of the river through the dam, large stoplogs of British Columbian Douglas fir were purchased from Cameron & Company, and transported by rail across the country, arriving in Ottawa by mid-November. There were 550 pieces, totally more than 300,000 board feet of lumber. According to their position in the dam, the logs, each roughly 24 feet long, came in three sizes, 14 inches x 16 inches, 16 inches x 16 inches, and 16 inches by 18 inches. They were lowered between the piers by an electrically-operated, travelling winch with a lifting capacity of 50 tons. The winch travelled along a rail laid on top of a concrete road that connected the piers.

By the summer of 1909, several thousand horse-power of electricity was ready for sale at $15 per horse power per year, equivalent to 1.7 cents per kilowatt hour. 14,000 additional horse-power (roughly 10 Megawatts) could be made available with the installation of additional generators. Once the government had completed the water storage dams on the Upper Ottawa, many times that amount could be generated.

The Chaudière Ring Dam was the principal source of electrical power in Ottawa for the next twenty years. By 1928, however, electrical demand finally outstripped what could be generated at the Falls. Increasingly, additional power had to be purchased from the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, later known as Ontario Hydro.

Chaudiere Ring Dam 2019

Aerial View of the Chaudière Ring Dam, courtesy of Jeff Young.

Today, the Chaudière Ring Dam produces 84.6 Megawatts of clean, renewable hydro-electricity. This is enough power to supply 58,000 homes. All of the six hydro-electric facilities in operation at the Chaudière Falls on both sides of the Ottawa River are owned and operated by Portage Power, a subsidiary of Hydro Ottawa. This includes Canada’s oldest operating hydro-electric plant situated on Victoria Island, which dates back to 1891. In 2017, Generating Station No. 5 located on Chaudière Island, was opened. Its state-of-the art powerhouse with four turbines was constructed entirely below ground. This permitted the creation of the Chaudière Falls Park with a viewing platform over the Falls, thereby restoring public access to the area for the first time in over 100 years.  To reinforce the eco-friendly nature of the new hydro facility, a fish ladder was installed to facilitate the migration of the American eel up the Ottawa River. As well, a sturgeon spawning bed was created to help restore the sturgeon population on the Ottawa River, devastated in the past by pollution.

Despite the environmental credentials of the hydro-electric facilities at the Chaudière Falls, the Chaudière Ring Dam remains controversial given its location at a site long considered sacred by Algonquin First Nations. The area, indeed all of Ottawa, remains unceded Algonquin territory. A “Free The Falls” group seeks the demolition of the Chaudière Ring Dam and the return of the Chaudière and Victoria Islands to their natural state or parkland.

 

Sources:

Back, Margaret, 2016. “Report of March meeting: Franz Kropp – Electrical Power Generation at the Chaudière Falls,” Historical Society of Ottawa, HSO Newsletter, June.

Illustrated Buffalo Express, 1896. “Making the Waterfalls Work,” 27 December.

Lambert, Lindsey, 2014. “Free Chaudiere Falls,” Ontario Rivers Alliance, https://www.ontarioriversalliance.ca/free-chaudiere-falls-lindsay-lambert/.

Ottawa Citizen, 1907. “Water Power Interests Settle Their Differences,” 25 November.

——————-, 1908. “Begin Work on Chaudiere Dam,” 11 August.

——————-, 1908. “Rapid Progress,” 18 August.

——————-, 1908. “Dam’s Progress,” 3 November.

——————-, 1908. “A Most Serious Condition,” 26 November.

——————-, 1908. “Piers Completed At Chaudiere,” 22 December.

——————-, 1909. “Ottawa’s Wealth Of Cheap Water Power,” 9 October.

——————-, 1909. “Electric Power Is Plentiful,” 6 November.

——————-, 1912. “Judge Gunn’s Report,” 2 December.

——————-, 2017. “Chaudière Falls opens up to the public with new viewing platform, free show, 10 October.

Portage Power, 2019. Portage Power, http://portagepower.com/.

 

The Inter-Provincial Bridge, a.k.a. the Royal Alexandra Bridge

12 December 1900

During much of the nineteenth century, only one bridge spanned the mighty Ottawa River linking the burgeoning community of Bytown, later known as Ottawa, with its sister town of Hull on the northern shore. Initially, this was the wooden Union Bridge which was completed in 1828 close to the Chaudière Falls. That bridge collapsed a few years later and was superseded by the Union Suspension Bridge in 1843. This bridge became the main thoroughfare linking Ontario and Quebec for the rest of the century. Condemned in 1919, it was replaced by the Chaudière Bridge which is still in operation today.

In 1880, the Montreal, Ottawa & Occidental Railway Company built a railway bridge across the Ottawa River close to Lemieux Island. Initially called the Chaudière Railway Bridge, its name was later changed to the Prince of Wales Bridge in honour of the eldest son of Queen Victoria, the future King Edward VII. (When this name change occurred is uncertain but it was no later than 1887.) However, the Prince of Wales bridge did not carry pedestrian or carriage traffic, and was far removed from the city centre.

Alexandra Bridge Mikan 4459589

The Inter-provincial Bridge under construction, 1900, Library and Archives Canada, Mikan 4459589.

Discussion of a new interprovincial bridge to the east of the Union Suspension Bridge actually predated the construction of the Prince of Wales Bridge. In 1877, meetings were held at Ottawa’s City Hall on the construction of a railway and carriage road bridge linking Rockcliffe in Ontario with the small Quebec community of Waterloo on the north shore of the Ottawa. The plan was for the Ottawa & Toronto Railway Company to link its rails with the Montreal, Ottawa & Occidental Railway by way of the bridge. There were also plans to build a central depot near Elgin Street linking downtown Ottawa with the Rockcliffe bridge. But the scheme failed to gain political traction with the provincial or federal governments. Bridge supporters had hoped that governments would provide much of the $380,000 needed to fund construction.

In 1883, Sir Charles Tupper, the then Minister of Railways and Canals, put the kibosh on the proposal on the grounds that the road to the bridge had not been completed, and that the Quebec and Ontario governments had not provided any funding. Four years later, a similar proposal was mooted, with a bridge over the Ottawa at Rockland, Ontario. Supporters viewed it as an ideal Jubilee project to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden anniversary on the throne with the suggestion that it be called the “Victoria Inter-provincial Bridge.” The idea went nowhere.

In 1890, the Pontiac & Pacific Junction Railway (P.P.J.R.) and the related Gatineau Valley Railway Company came up with a new proposal for an interprovincial bridge to link Ottawa to Hull at Nepean Point with a central depot to be built at the Rideau Canal. The price tag was estimated at roughly $800,000 including the cost of building the approaches to the bridge on both shores.

This idea was warmly greeted by important Ottawa citizens and groups, including former mayor Francis McDougal. Ottawa’s City Council, the Ottawa Board of Trade, and the Trades and Labour Council. Other communities in eastern Ontario and western Quebec later came out in support of the proposal. In 1894, the City of Ottawa taxpayers voted in favour of By-law 1,458 to give a “bonus” of $150,000 to the P.P.J.R. upon the completion of a bridge for railway, carriage and pedestrian traffic. Instead of cash, the City would hand over 30-year debentures paying an interest rate of 4 per cent. There were conditions, however. Most importantly, the inter-provincial bridge would have to be completed by July 1897.

Applications for grants also went to the Ontario, Quebec, and Dominion governments. High-powered deputations of railway and municipal officials lobbied members of legislatures. Ontario came through with $50,000 in April 1895, only a fraction of what was sought. The Quebec government chose not to provide any funds. After much delay, the Dominion government provided $212,000. In the meantime, the City of Ottawa twice extended its deadline for the railway to qualify for its $150,000 bonus.

With financing, both private and public, adequately secured, and the plans approved by the Department of Railways and Canals, work finally commenced in February 1898. The bridge would carry a single-track railway line in the centre with two carriage roads and sidewalks for pedestrians. It was to be 1,300 feet long, excluding land approaches, with one cantilever span of 556 feet, two anchor, or flanking, spans of 247 feet each, and one truss span of 250 feet on the Hull side. Five piers would be constructed to support the structure with the deepest pier located in 70 feet of water. Messrs. McNaughton & Broder were awarded the contract for building the piers. Messrs. Sooysmith & Company of New York were the contracting engineers.  The Dominion Bridge Company of Montreal won the contract for the bridge’s superstructure.

Bridge engineers faced some difficult challenges in building the piers owing to sunken logs and sawdust littering the river bed. Before finding bedrock for pier two, workers had to go through eight feet of drowned boards and timbers. At pier three, sawdust thirty feet deep had to be removed using a “clam-shell” dredge. While there were federal laws against fouling waterways, the law apparently did not apply to the Ottawa River—a testament to the political strength of the Ottawa Valley timber barons.

After clearing away the debris at pier two, workers discovered that the bedrock was sharply sloped. To level the area, they blasted the stone using dynamite placed in holes and attached by wires to an electric battery on Nepean Point. Reportedly, the blasts were imperceptible until smoke and bubbles came to the surface of the river.  Caissons, built of twelve-inch thick wooden boards, were installed around the work sites. Into them, workers poured cement to form the base of the piers. Ten thousand barrels of cement were used in building the five piers. Stone for the masonry work came from quarries in Rockland and Eganville.

Alexandra bridge approach triple tracks and underpass road MIKAN 4269727

The Ottawa Approach to the Inter-provincial bridge, Nepean Point, William Topley/Library and Archives Canada, PA-009430.

Another challenge that workers faced was building the approaches to the new bridge, especially on the Ontario side of the River. Labourers carved out thirty-five feet from the face of the cliff at Nepean Point to form the roadbed. A considerable portion of Major’s Hill Park was also sacrificed to make the entrance into downtown Ottawa. As well, the stone abutments of Sappers’ Bridge were pierced to provide an entry for trains into the new central train station located beside the Canal. The stone abutments were replaced by iron and steel supports that allowed for room for the trains.

Given the engineering challenges, the extensive excavation work, and delays in obtaining needed supplies, the construction of the bridge took much longer than expected. There was also the occasional labour action. In January 1900, stone cutters downed tools when their wages were cut from $3 per day prevailing during the previous summer, to $2.50 per day at the beginning of December to only $2 per day.

Because of these delays, work was hurried to ensure that conditions for the Ottawa bonus were met. Despite the haste, however, there seems to have been few accidents, and the ones that did occur were relatively minor.

Whether or not the P.P.J.R. had met all the conditions to qualify for the City of Ottawa bonus of $150,000 in debentures became contentious. Some aldermen as well as the City’s engineer maintained that the railway had failed to meet an intermediate condition of spending a minimum of $50,000 on the construction by the middle of March 1898. Consequently, they wanted to withhold the bonus. The railway said otherwise and threatened to sue. In the event, the bonus was eventually paid. There was also controversy over the nature of the bonus. Since the time the bonus was originally agreed, interest rates had fallen from 4 per cent to 3 ½ per cent. This implied that market value of the debentures had increased significantly. Instead of $150,000, the bonus was effectively worth roughly $162,000. There were unfavourable comments in the press about the City’s financial acumen in promising to give the railway company marketable debentures rather than cash.

Alexandra bridge 12-12-00OEJ

The small announcement of the first bridge transit, 12 December, 1900. The Ottawa Evening Journal

Another hiccup along the way was a proposal by a consortium of investors led by the Hull & Alymer Electric Railway to build another bridge across the Ottawa River, with the Ottawa end coming out at roughly Bank Street. The idea was to provide electric streetcar service from Hull to the Ottawa shore of the Ottawa River. The proposal was warmly greeted by both the Hull and Ottawa city councils as well as the Ottawa Retail Merchants Association, especially as the backers of the bridge were not seeking public money. However, there was strong opposition from the Inter-provincial Bridge Company, which was owned by the P.P.J.R., that argued that the new bridge would divert business away from its bridge.  As well, the Ottawa Electric Railway owned by Thomas Ahearn, complained that should the Hull streetcar company provide service to Ottawa, even just to the Ontario shore of the Ottawa River, its monopoly rights would be infringed. The proposed Bank Street bridge failed to get a charter from the federal government despite several attempts.

By December 1899, the Dominion Bridge Company was ready to start building the building’s superstructure with six barge loads of steel on site. Work moved rapidly from that point. By October 1900, Ontario and Quebec were connected and work was underway in building the roadbed. Venturesome youth were spotted making the dangerous journey across the iron work from one side of the bridge to the other. On 12 December 1900, the first test train made its way over the new bridge without mishap and without fanfare. Only a small announcement in the Journal newspaper celebrated the event. A month later, Chief William F. Powell of the Ottawa Police Force and his wife were the first to drive their carriage over the bridge. They were initially stopped by a bridge guard, but were subsequently allowed to proceed when the Chief identified himself. In mid-February 1901, the inter-provincial bridge was checked out first by Dominion inspectors and subsequently by the City of Ottawa’s inspector and aldermen. Having received a positive assessment, the bridge opened to the general public for the first time at noon, 5 March 1901.

More test trains ran over the bridge, including one consisting of four heavy locomotives drawing several cars bearing heavy loads of stone and steel. Weighing more than 400 tons, far beyond the weight of a usual train, the idea was to test the endurance of the bridge. Not even the slightest tremor was felt.

Alexandra bridge from Nepean Point William James TopleyLACPA-009430

Inter-provincial Bridge a.k.a. Royal Alexandra Bridge, William James Topley, Library and Archives Canada, PA-009430.

Another less felicitous milestone occurred on 14 April 1901 when the bridge experienced its first accident. An approaching train spooked a horse pulling a rig occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Lahaise, the owners of a furniture store on Rideau street. The horse galloped across the bridge towards Hull and crashed into a carriage driven by Mr. and Mrs. James Cudd who were out for a pleasure drive. Mr. and Mrs. Lahaise suffered shock and bruises when they jumped from their rig to safety. Pedestrians were also sent scurrying to safety to get out of the horse’s path.  While the Lahaise carriage suffered no damage, the Cudds’ buggy sustained a badly twisted wheel and back axle.

The cross-bridge train service from the Hull Station to Ottawa’s new Central Station was officially opened on 22 April 1901; scheduled service had in fact commenced four days earlier. For the big event, both bridge and train were decorated with flags and bunting. On board, were city dignitaries and railway officials. Mr. John Lauzon was the first official paying passenger. Souvenir badges were presented to all on board that inaugural seven-minute journey. Conductor Hoolihan was in charge, with engineer Mr. W. McFall. As the train rolled onto the bridge, Mr. Noe Valiquette, the proprietor of the Cottage Hotel, broke a bottle of wine on the locomotive. Huge crowds of spectators standing on the Dufferin Bridge, greeted the arrival of the train into Ottawa.

Alexandra bridge today, wikipedia by SimonP

Alexandra Bridge today, by SimonP, Wikipedia

In August 1901, Ottawa’s Mayor William Morris suggested that the new inter-provincial bridge be called the Royal Alexandra Bridge in honour of the wife of King Edward VII. The bridge’s railway owners readily agreed with the suggestion. The bridge’s “christening” was planned for the following month when Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, (the future King George V and Queen Mary), came to Ottawa for the unveiling of a monument to Queen Victoria on Parliament Hill. It was proposed that the Duchess would press a button to illuminate the bridge. However, while the bridge was decked out in electric lights, which spelled out the words “Royal Alexandra Bridge” in twelve-foot letters on its side as part of the illumination of the City done specially for the Royal Visit, contemporary newspaper accounts don’t mention whether the Duchess turned the lights on. However, the royal couple did cross the bridge by carriage to visit Hull which was still recovering from the great fire of 1900.

When the Central Station, called Union Station from 1920, was closed for train traffic in 1966, the train tracks on the Alexandra Bridge were removed and the bridge converted entirely to vehicular traffic. Today, the venerable Alexandra Bridge, the oldest bridge in service across the Ottawa River, is approaching the end of its life. Owned by the federal government, there is talk that the bridge will be replaced within the next five to ten years

 Sources:

Montreal Gazette, 1995. “From The Queen City,” 11 April.

Ottawa Citizen, 1877. “The Inter-Provincial Bridge Scheme, 13 November.

——————, 1877. “The Inter-Provincial Bridge,” 14 November.

—————–, 1883. “Dominion Parliament,” 18 May.

—————–, 1887. “Queen’s Jubilee – Bridge Over The Ottawa,” 23 March.

—————–, 1895. “The Inter-provincial Bridge,”31 January.

—————–, 1997. “New Bridge For The Ottawa,” 22 November.

—————–, 1898. “Everything Arranged,” 11 January.

—————–, 1898. “Work Starts In A Few Days,” 1 February.

—————–, 1898. “Work On The Big Bridge,” 7 February.

—————–, 1898. “The First Pier Started,” 8 February.

—————–, 1900. “Work On Sapper’s Bridge,” 28 February.

—————–, 1900. “The New Bridge,” 17 November.

—————–, 1901. “Bridge Was Inspected,” 18 February.

——————, 1901. “Begun Three Years Ago,” 5 March.

——————, 1901. “The First Runaway,” 15 April.

——————, 1901. “Stood The Test,” 20 April.

——————, 1901. “Formally Opened,” 23 April.

——————, 1901. “Alexandra Bridge,” 8 August.

——————, 1901. “Alexandra Bridge,” 26 August.

——————, 1901. “The Duchess of Cornwall and York,” 21 September

Ottawa Evening Journal, 1887. “Cold Water,” 5 February 1887.

—————————–, 1893. “By-Law No. —,” 6 December.

—————————–, 1894. “Nepean Point Bridge,” 16 June.

—————————–, 1898. “Bank Street Bridge Defeated,” 14 April.

—————————–, 1898. “A Scene Of Great Activity,” 6 June.

—————————–, 1898. “A Stupendous Undertaking,” 15 October.

—————————–, 1900. “Train Over The New Bridge,” 12 December.

—————————–, 1901. “First To Drive Across,” 15 January.

—————————–, 1901. “To Be Named Alexandra,” 15 August.

Woodard, Rick. 2019. “Alexandra Bridge could be replaced within 10 years,” Global News, 19 March.

 

 

 

Smallpox and the Porter Island Isolation Hospital

2 November 1893

Be thankful that you live today and not a hundred years ago. Then, communicable diseases were rampant. Diphtheria, measles, whooping cough, and scarlet fever routinely killed babies and infants. In 1909, the infant death rate in Ottawa was a horrific 283 out of 1,000 life births. (In 2017, the rate of infant mortality in Canada was 4.5 out of 1,000.) Even if you managed to survive the so-called “childhood diseases”, you ran the gauntlet of contracting other lethal illnesses such as cholera, tuberculosis, and typhoid. Epidemics periodically swept through the fetid cities of North America killing thousands. But of all the diseases, the one that people feared the most was smallpox.

Smallpox Fox, George Henry (1886) Photographic illustrations of skin diseases (2nd ed.)

Smallpox sufferer, 1886, Fox, George Henry, Photographic Illustrations of Skin Diseases (2nd Edition), Wikipedia.

Smallpox has a long history. There is some evidence that the disease was present in ancient Egypt more than three thousand years ago. More reliably, descriptions of the disease can be found in Chinese medical texts of the 4th century AD. It was prevalent in south-west Asia by the 10th century. By the thirteenth century, people in the Middle East were practising variolation to ward off the disease by inoculating people with the live virus—liquid from a smallpox pustule was rubbed into a scratch in the skin. This was a dangerous procedure, but it conferred life-long immunity.

Smallpox is caused by the variola virus, and came in two forms: the virulent variola major strain, which had a death rate of about 30 percent, and the less severe but less common variola minor type that had a death rate of about 1 percent. The characteristic symptom of the disease was raised pustules that spread across the body, especially the extremities. Survivors of smallpox often experienced terrible disfigurement and blindness.

By the 15th century, the disease was well-established in Europe. Subsequently, European explorers and traders introduced smallpox to the Americas. Lacking resistance to the disease, indigenous populations were virtually wiped out. The fall of the Aztec and Inca civilizations in South and Central America was due far more to smallpox than the weaponry of the Spanish conquistadors. In what was to become Canada, European settlers brought the disease to eastern First Nations. Later, the Plains tribes were infected through their interaction with voyageurs and traders. The result was calamitous. Whole communities died. In just one epidemic on the Prairies in the 1830s, two-thirds of the Blackfoot First Nation perished.

A major step towards conquering the disease occurred in 1796. Noticing that dairymaids who had contracted cowpox, a mild disease, appeared to be immune from smallpox, the British scientist Edward Jenner undertook an ethically-challenged experiment. First, he inoculated a young boy with cowpox serum. As expected, the child only experienced a slight fever, a few aches, and a temporary loss of appetite. Two months later, Jennings infected him with smallpox. Fortunately, the boy had no reaction; he was immune as Jennings had hypothesised.

Although several countries enthusiastically embraced vaccination (from the Latin word vacca meaning cow)—Bavaria reportedly introduced mandatory vaccination as early as 1807—it was a hard sell elsewhere. Like today, anti-vaxxers peddled “alternative facts” and received wide press coverage. To give the anti-vaxxers their due, unclean vaccination equipment and unsanitary conditions could cause serious infection in an era long before antibiotics. Vaccinations also didn’t confer lifelong immunity and had to be repeated. However, the risks of contracting smallpox far outweighed the possible side effects of vaccination. But out of ignorance and fear, people still hesitated to get vaccinated, and epidemics continued to claim thousands of lives and maim many more.

Smallpox arrived in Ottawa as early as 1828 with the Rideau Canal workmen. Colonel By apparently averted an epidemic by organizing a speedy vaccination campaign. Fortunately, the disease did not appear to be a major health risk until later in the century. In 1860, the Ottawa Daily Citizen reported that “smallpox and throat disorders [most likely diphtheria] were very general.”  Fortunately, fatalities were comparatively rare. In 1871, an outbreak of smallpox was reported in Sandy Hill in the Stewart Street area. In a letter to the editor, “Pro Bono Publico” complained that “cow yards, hog pens, and dirty yards in such abundance as to originate, let alone the nurturing of, disease and pestilence.” Another article reported the unwillingness of civil service men to reclaim their laundry when their washerwoman came down with smallpox, necessitating them to buy new clothes.

Initially, smallpox victims were treated in isolation wards in the Protestant General Hospital located on Rideau Street. Later, such patients were segregated in an annex. In the mid-1870s, despite considerable neighbourhood opposition, the Sisters of Charity opened a second, Catholic, smallpox hospital at the rear of the Catholic cemetery in Sandy Hill. Both hospitals were extensively used in a major smallpox outbreak in 1879-1880. Mortuary statistics show that 219 died of smallpox in Ottawa during 1879.  A further 97 died before the epidemic ended by the middle of the following year out of 230 additional cases of smallpox—a mortality rate of 42 percent. (Ottawa’s population at the time was only 27,000.)

Smallpox 9-12-79 ODC

Announcement in the Ottawa Daily Citizen, 9 December 1879. All classes of people of all ages were affected by smallpox. The impact of the disease on families was devastating.

When the Protestant Hospital was deemed “dangerous and unsuitable” as an isolation facility, the City began searching for another location for a new smallpox hospital. In 1893, City Council finally chose Porter’s Island, an eight-acre, low-lying property in the Rideau River.

The major factors in favour of Porter’s Island was its relative isolation and price. Under provincial law, a smallpox hospital needed to be at least 450 yards away from inhabited areas. While a number of locations were considered, they were all deemed too expensive or not sufficiently accessible. A committee of city doctors also supported Porter’s Island on the grounds that the flowing water around the island lent itself to cleanliness. Others, however, worried that the damp, low-lying island was unhealthy, and that the island was prone to flooding. The Ottawa Clinical Society noted that there was a highwater mark nine feet above the mid-summer water level, indicating that up to a half of the island could be submerged during the spring freshet. 

Despite these misgivings, the City awarded a contract for the construction of a cottage hospital on the island to Mr. John Bruce, the low bidder, for $16,400 on 2 November 1893. Construction commenced as soon as the City formally acquired the land, the price of which was settled through arbitration. (It was set later at $6,713, costs included.) Bruce promised to build three brick hospital buildings, which could accommodate some 100 patients, and a separate administration building. Another contract was awarded to Dominion Bridge Company to construct an iron bridge linking the island to St. Patrick Street for an additional $5,000.

Work on the isolation hospital was suspended three months later after the City had spent $34,000, and with the contractor demanding another $10,000 to complete the job. A local firm of architects, which inspected the site, found shoddy workmanship—the hospital’s foundation was built above the frost line, the brickwork was a third thinner than specified and was already cracking, and the floors were sagging. The next month, with the spring run-off underway, the basement of the administration building flooded just as critics had warned.

Then, the blame game began, with some City alderman saying “I told you so.” Others went into denial. One Island apologist said the situation was “not at all bad” other than a “few blemishes.”  In April 1894, an official of the Ontario Board of Health visited Porter’s Island to assess the situation. His report dropped like a bombshell on City Council. He said the island was unfit for a hospital. He recommended against further expenditures on the island for hospital purposes, suggesting instead that the semi-constructed buildings be converted into an incinerator for garbage.

Over the next decade, City Council bickered over what to do with Porter’s Island, how they could re-coup the thousands of dollars spent, and whether the island could ever be used as the location for an isolation hospital. Nothing was resolved. Besides lawsuits, the only action taken was to fire G. F. Stalker, the project’s architect.  He died of apoplexy shortly afterwards. Meanwhile, the semi-built hospital deteriorated owing to weather and theft despite the presence of a resident caretaker.

It wasn’t until 1902 that the administration of the Mayor Cook took the bull by the horns and built a new contagious disease hospital located on Regan’s Hill at the old Rifle Range in Sandy Hill (now the location of the Sandringham Apartments). Opening in 1903, the new Strathcona Hospital was designed to treat such diseases as diphtheria and scarlet fever—not smallpox which fortunately was in abeyance. Meanwhile, Porter’s Island was used as a refuse dump. Its derelict hospital buildings were demolished in 1904.

Porter's Island c.1912 William James Topley LAC PA-009184

Smallpox Tents on Porter’s Island, undated, most likely circa 1912, William James Topley, Library and Archives Canada, PA-008184

The need for a smallpox hospital returned with a vengeance when a serious smallpox epidemic swept the city in 1910-12. In response, the Ottawa Board of Health converted the caretaker’s frame house on Porter’s Island into a makeshift isolation hospital. When the numbers of smallpox victims rose beyond the capacity of the house, the City erected large tents on the island, notwithstanding it being the middle of an Ottawa winter. The tents were heated using “Quebec heaters” whose warmth extended only a short distance. There was no running water, no modern flush lavatories, and rats abounded, a situation made worse by the continued use of the island as a refuse dump. “Nothing is to be seen apart from the smallpox camp but tin cans, ashes, dead rats, decaying vegetables and fish,” said the Ottawa Evening Journal. Many exposed to smallpox hid in fear of being forced to Porter’s Island. Guards were stationed at the bridge to stop people escaping.

In May 1911, a naval architect and his five children were stricken with smallpox and ordered to Porter’s Island. The architect, an employee of the Public Works Department, reported to the Journal that vermin had eaten through eight military blankets on his bed located in one of the tents, which itself was sited just a few feet from a filthy outhouse. He managed to catch five rats using an improvised trap. Meanwhile his dying eight-year old daughter, who was conveyed to the Island in an ambulance that lacked basic amenities such as sheets and pillows, complained of abuse from one of the nurses. After the story broke, hospital staff said the man had exaggerated, saying he had only caught one rat. As for the charge of abuse, a nurse denied it. However, she admitted to occasionally slapping a child, after all “we had over thirty children at this Island and how could we make them behave and mind them all if we did not do this occasionally.” Remember that these children were in a frightening environment, many of whom were desperately sick, and had been separated from their parents.

Hopewell Hospital, 1912, Alfred G. Pittaway, Bytown Museum P893b

Hopewell Hospital, 1912, Alfred G. Pittaway, Bytown Museum, P893b.

In November 1911, on a close 11-10 vote, with Mayor Hopewell casting the deciding ballot, City Council agreed to build a proper smallpox hospital on Porter’s Island. Architect Francis C. Sullivan was commissioned for the job. George A. Crain won the contract to build it at a cost of $30,323 which later rose to more than $45,000. To avoid being flooded in the spring, the 107’ x 37’ brick building was constructed on a raised fill platform. There was no basement. When the new Hopewell Hospital opened in late January 1913, the City burnt the old smallpox shack and tents.

The last big epidemic to hit Ottawa occurred in 1920-1921 with more than 1,000 cases. Fortunately, the infecting strain was relatively mild. There were only two deaths. For a time, the Hopewell Hospital was completely full. At one point during the outbreak, more than eighty houses in Ottawa were also under quarantine. To interdict the disease at the border, the province of Quebec quarantined Ontario. Nobody could enter Quebec, including Quebec residents, from Ontario without an up-to-date smallpox vaccination certificate. Free vaccinations were given in the CPR station in Hull. By mid-year, the epidemic had been halted by a massive vaccination campaign with 40,000 vaccinations given out in Ottawa alone.

By the early 1930s, smallpox had become very rare, and was eradicated in Canada by 1946. With the underused Hopewell Hospital now obsolete, it was converted to apartments in the mid-1940s and demolished in 1967. Its site is currently occupied by the Chartwell Rockcliffe Retirement Residence. The old bridge constructed in 1894 is still standing although it is now closed to the public.

After a concerted global vaccination campaign carried out by the World Health Organization, smallpox was eradicated with the last naturally occurring case recorded in Somalia in 1977. The following year, a medical photographer caught the disease in a laboratory accident in Britain. She died. Currently, the only known smallpox virus stocks are held in the United States and Russia.

 

Selected Sources:

Fenner, F., Henderson, D. A., Arita, I., Jezek, Z., Ladnyi, I. D., 1988. “Smallpox and Its Eradication,” World Health Organization.

McIntyre John and Houston, C. Stuart, 1999. “Smallpox and its control in Canada,” CMAJ, 14 December.

Ottawa Daily Citizen (The, 1861. “Ottawa in 1860,” 4 January.

——————————-, 1871. “Sanitary Precautions,” 13 May.

——————————-, 1871. “The Effect of Small-Pox on the C.S.” 4 December.

——————————-, 1880. “Mortuary Returns,” 9 January.

——————————-, 1881. “The Health Of The City,” 12 January

——————————-, 1933. “Were Objections When Nuns Put Up Small-pox Hospital,”

Ottawa Evening Journal (The). 1893. “Board of Health Discuss,” 29 August.

————————————. 1893. “And Now For Porter’s Island,” 3 November.

————————————. 1893. “On To Porter’s Island.” 24 November.

————————————. 1893. “The Arbitrators Award,” 29 November.

————————————. 1894. “A Bolt Falls!” 24 Apri.

————————————, 1911. “Rats, Neglect And Filth Features Of A Sojourn On Porter’s Island,” 21 June.

————————————, 1911. “Heated Denials Made By Nurses Upon Island,” 22 June.

————————————, 1913. “Handsome Structure Erected By Famous C. Sullivan, A Young Ottawa Architect,” 8 February.

———————————–, 1920. “Quebec Quarantines Ontario On Account OF Smallpox,” 6 January.

———————————–, 1921. “The Smallpox Risk,” 27 January.

———————————–, 1921. “Smallpox Now Under Control,” 16 February.

Passfield, Robert W. 2013. Military Paternalism, Labour, and the Rideau Canal Project, Bloomington: AuthorHouse.

Riedel, Stefan, 2005. “Edward Jenner and the history of smallpox and vaccination,” Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, 18 January.

Urbsite, 2014., http://urbsite.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-smallpox-hospital-porters-island.html.

Walker, Kate, 2015. “Medical Ottawa: Ottawa’s Smallpox Outbreak of 1911 And The Origins Of The Hopewell Isolation Hospital,” A Canadian Treasury of Medical History, http://canuckhm.ca/ottawas-smallpox-outbreak-of-1911-the-origins-of-the-hopewell-isolation-hospital/?doing_wp_cron=1552596495.2340080738067626953125.

 

Buffalo Bill Comes To Town

1 November 1880

Among the iconic figures of the U.S. Wild West, the most famous must be William Frederick Cody (1846-1917), alias “Buffalo Bill.” Cody was born in Le Claire, Iowa Territory, the son of Canadian Isaac Cody. As a young boy, he lived in Canada for several years just outside of Toronto before the family returned to the United States, this time settling in Kansas Territory. (In the 1880s, a story circulated that Buffalo Bill actually hailed from Hope River, Prince Edward Island, where he supposedly still had relatives.)

Buffalo Bill c. 1880 by Sarony Wikipedia,

William Cody, a.k.a. “Buffalo Bill” in 1880 by Sarony, Wikipedia.

Cody was only 11 when his father died and he had to go out and make a living, first riding as a messenger on a wagon train and subsequently as sort of informal scout for the U.S. army in Utah. In his autobiography, Cody claimed to have joined the Pony Express at the tender age of fourteen. However, this may have been self-promotional hype. Some researchers suggest that he was a mounted messenger boy for the company rather than a long-haul rider delivering mail across the far west. Too young to join the Union Army during the American Civil War, Cody was again a scout sometimes with Lieutenant-Colonel George Custer and was involved in the Indian Wars in the western United States where he burnished his reputation as an “Indian fighter.” After the Civil War, he shot bison (buffalo) to feed railway construction workers. He won the moniker “Buffalo Bill” for shooting 68 bison in an eight-hour competition. During his hunting career, he reportedly shot almost 5,000, doing his part to virtually exterminate the species and end the way of life of the Plains First Nations.

Buffalo Bill came into the collective consciousness when he was only in his early 20s, owing to author and publisher Ned Buntline who wrote often semi-fictious stories about Cody’s colourful life. Buntline had met Cody on a train ride in California and the two became friends. In 1872, Buntline wrote a play called Scouts of the Prairie and asked Cody to star in it, thus launching Buffalo Bill on a show business career that was to last forty years. In 1874, Cody formed the Buffalo Bill Combination where he combined stage performances with scouting in the off season. In 1883, he established Buffalo Bill’s Wild West which toured throughout North America. The show also went on four European tours during the 1880s, and performed in Britain for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. The Queen was particularly impressed when both Cody and his horse bowed to her at a command performance. Cody and his troupe, which included cowboys and native-American warriors, were a sensation everywhere they went, re-creating (in a fashion) an exotic and by now fast vanishing way of frontier life.

Buffalo Bill, who always admired native-Americans notwithstanding his reputation as an “Indian fighter,” gave a temporary home to a number of important First Nations’ chiefs, including the great Sioux leader Sitting Bull who had defeated Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1877.  Gabriel Dumont, the Métis leader who featured prominently in the North-West Rebellion with Louis Riel, similarly joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West after he had fled south into the United States after the 1885 Battle of Batoche. At an 1886 show in Staten Island NY, he was introduced as Riel’s lieutenant and “a man of ability and courage, who enlisted in what he and many others believe was a righteous cause.” Oddly given the circumstances, when interviewed by Canadian journalists, Dumont called Sir John A. Macdonald, “the greatest man of modern times.”

Buffalo Bill, Gabriel Dumont c. 1886 Orlando Scott Goff LAC archival reference number R13796-2, e010699485

Métis leader Gabriel Dumont, c. 1886, by Orlando Scott, Library and Archives Canada

On Dumont’s return to Canada after being granted amnesty, the Quebec newspaper Le Canadien called him a farceur (buffoon) for his involvement with Buffalo Bill. Dumont replied in the newspaper La Justice that he had lost everything when he escaped to the United States and that he never took direct part in the show. He invited the editor of Le Canadien to come to his hotel and call him a farceur to his face.

In 1893, Cody’s show expanded into Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World. As the name suggests, performances showcased both the American West and riders from around the world. The troupe performed throughout North America, including in Chicago on the periphery of that city’s 1893 World’s Fair. The company also went on four European tours in the early 1900s with performances before crowned heads and the Pope.

Owing to changing tastes in entertainment and rising costs, the company slowly faded, and went bankrupt in 1913. “Buffalo Bill” died four years later.

Buffalo Bill and his company made two trips to Ottawa during his show business career. The first brought him and his Wild West Combination to the Grand Opera House on Albert Street for three days, starting on Monday, 1 November 1880. Reserved seats were available for 75 cents. The price was only 25 cents for the matinee on the holiday Wednesday (Thanksgiving Day). While in Ottawa, the troupe were guests of the Russell House Hotel. On the morning of their first performance, Cody led a mounted parade of Cheyenne warriors, cowboys and his Serenade Band through the streets of the capital to promote the show.  According to the Ottawa Daily Citizen, “The red men were rigged out in their war paint and feathers, and created quite a stir.”  That evening, Buffalo Bill and his troupe put on a play called The Prairie Waif, described as a drama about frontier life. Besides Cody, the play starred Jule Kean as a very funny Dutchman who sang, danced and said witty things, and Miss Lizzine Fletcher as the heroine. The band of Cheyenne warriors performed a war dance while Cody did some trick rifle shooting. How he did this indoors is unclear.

Bufalo Bill TOC1-11-1880

Advertisement for Buffalo Bill’s First Appearance in Ottawa, 1 November 1880, The Ottawa Daily Citizen

It was standing room only at the Grand Opera House for the first performance. So packed was the theatre that many people who had bought tickets for the balcony went away to use the tickets at the following night’s performance. In attendance for the second night’s showing was the Governor General, the Marquis of Lorne, and members of the Harvard College Football team who occupied complementary boxes. The Harvard team had just played the Ottawa Football Club that afternoon on the Rideau Hall cricket grounds. Harvard won by one goal.

Buffalo Bill returned to Ottawa seventeen years later in late June 1897 for the city’s celebration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. This time it was Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World consisting of 600 men and more than 500 horses. Along with three bands, it created a mile-long procession through Ottawa streets. In the parade were 100 warriors from the Ogallala, Brule, Uncapappa, Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe First Nations, 50 cowboys, 30 Mexican Vaqueros and Rurales, 50 Western marksmen, 25 Bedouin Arabs, 30 Russian Cossacks, 30 South American Gauchos, and furloughed English Lancers, German Cuirassiers, and U.S. cavalry and artillery men. As well, Miss Annie Oakley, “The Peerless Lady Wing Shot,” was given prominent billing, as was Johnny Baker, “The Skilled Shooting Expert.” Also in Ottawa for the show was “the only herd of buffalo on exhibition.” How Cody obtained his buffalo was not reported. By this time, the America bison was nearly extinct. Ten years earlier, it was estimated that in the United States there were only 200 bison left in Yellowstone Park, another 150 in Texas and a few others in private herds. In Canada, there were only 68 pure-bred bison and 18 hybrids owned oddly by the warden of the Manitoba Penitentiary. Cody had tried to purchase part of this herd but had been refused.

Buffalo Bill 23-6-97 OEJ

Advertisement for Buffalo Bill’s Second Appearance in Ottawa, 28 June 1897, The Ottawa Evening Journal

Needless to say, the exhibition was held outdoors. The massive company and its equipage arrived in Ottawa from Quebec on two heavily laden trains, and set up on the Metropolitan Grounds on the western side of Elgin Street across from the Canadian Atlantic Railway Station. Stands capable of holding 20,000 spectators protected from the sun and rain by a massive, white canvas shelter were quickly erected. There were additional tents for dressing rooms, and a huge meal tent. Apparently, the hundreds of participants consumed 1,500 pounds of meat each day, as well as mountains of potatoes, vegetables and bread. The Native Americans, described as “grim-faced,” were housed in “a little encampment of teepees” on the field. For the evening performance, the grounds were lit by 2,500 electric arc lights powered by a portable power plant. Ticket prices were 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children under 9 years of age.

Thousands of Ottawa residents came to gawk as the tents were raised at what the Ottawa Evening Journal described as “an exhibition of human nature which is only seen once in a lifetime.” The newspaper’s reporter was awed by the exhibition that had clearly lived up to its advance billing. He called it more attractive than a circus, novel, and unique. He also saw the show as educational opining that “In the hurly-burly of American life, people are too apt to forget the history of their own country. They are apt to forget the toils and sacrifices of those who laboured to redeem the great West from barbarism.”

This quote gives a big hint of the show’s character. The performance began with a covered prairie wagon drawn by mules bearing a mother and babies with older children riding outside. Suddenly, the unsuspecting pioneers are attacked by Indians. Just when things look their darkest, along come the cowboys led by Buffalo Bill who quickly disperse the marauders and save the day. (Doing this everyday, no wonder the native Americans, whose homelands had been despoiled by white immigrants, were described as “grim-faced.”)

Buffalo Bill LAC C-000249 From BB's Show

“Cowboys and Indians,” Buffalo Bill’s show, date and place unknown, Library and Archives Canada, C-000249.

After this cliché of the Wild West, which would jar modern sensibilities, the programme shifted to the Exotic East, with Arab riders doing feats of horsemanship. Next on the ticket was Johnnie Baker shooting glass balls as they were thrown in the air, while he on his head, running, and looking backwards. Following Baker came the Cossacks standing on their saddles or hanging from one foot, and cowboys lassoing horses and breaking wild broncos. (The Toronto Star later alleged that the broncos weren’t actually wild but bucked because sharp spurs were driven into their bodies.) Finally, came the armies of Europe and the United States performing cavalry drills.

Buffalo Bill may have overestimated the likely crowds in little Ottawa, which had a population of less than 100,000 in 1897. The first day’s two performances brought in a respectable 15,000-20,000 spectators, though this meant that the bleachers were only about half full at best. On the second day, attendance slipped sharply to only 3,000-4,000 guests owing to inclement weather despite spectators being protected from the weather. After its two-day appearance in Ottawa, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World rode off into the sunset, headed for Belleville.

 

Sources:

Cody Studies, 2019, https://www.codystudies.org/.

Ottawa Daily Citizen, 1880. “At The Russell,” 30 October.

————————–, 1880. “Musical and Dramatic,” 1 November.

————————-, 1880. “Musical and Drama,” 2 November.

————————-, 1880. “Parade,” 2 November.

Ottawa Evening Journal, 1886. “Gabriel Dumont,” 3 July.

——————————, 1887. “Last of the Buffalo,” 8 June.

——————————, 1887. “People and Personalities,” 22 July.

——————————, 1888. “Gabriel Dumont,” 25 April.

——————————, 1897. “True Heroism,” 18 May.

——————————, 1897. “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West And Congress of Rough Riders of the World,” 23 June.

——————————, 1897. “Extensive Exhibitions,” 24 June.

——————————, 1897. “Buffalo Bill Is Here,” 28 June.

—————————–, 1897. “Buffalo Bill,” 29 June.

—————————–, 1897. “Attendance Small,” 30 June.

—————————–, 1897. “Buffalo Bill’s Broncos, 9 July.

Stillman, Deanne, 2018. “The Unlikely Alliance Between Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill,” History, https://www.history.com/news/the-unlikely-alliance-between-buffalo-bill-and-sitting-bull.

Shirley Temple and the 7th Victory Bond Campaign

21 October 1944

Canada was in its fifth year of war and Canadians could finally see light at the end of that long, black tunnel. In June 1944, Allied forces had landed on the beaches of Normandy and had successfully breached the Nazi defences of Festung Europa. By October, American forces were fighting on German territory around the Rhineland city of Aachen. The liberation of the Netherlands was underway by the 1st Canadian Army and other Allied units. In the east, Soviet forces had occupied Romania and Bulgaria and were on the outskirts of Warsaw (where they temporarily stopped, waiting for the Nazis to put down the Warsaw Uprising led by the Polish underground Home Army). While Hitler’s so-called thousand-year Reich was in its death throes, there was still much fighting and misery to endure.

Shirley Temple and 7th Victory loan

Certificate that could be framed and hung in a business that met their Victory bond sales objective, November 1944

In late September 1944, Finance Minister Ilsley announced Canada would raise a minimum of $1.3 billion in the Seventh Victory Bond—$700 million from large corporate investors, and $600 million from individuals. This was an increase of $100 million from the minimum set for the Sixth Victory Bond campaign earlier that year. (The Sixth campaign actually raised slightly over $1.4 billion.) The interest rate was 3 per cent on the long-term bonds, maturing in 1962. There was also a series of shorter term bonds issued at 1.75 per cent with a maturity of 4 years. The slogan for the Seventh Victory Bond was Invest in Victory. Its logo was the flaming sword patch of the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, in France.

The Victory Bond programme had begun in 1941, following two “Victory Loans” in 1939 and 1940, respectively, which netted the government roughly $550 million. Small investors could also buy War Savings Certificates on the payroll plan. The Victory loans, bonds and certificates were used to finance the war effort and to soak up the cash that was going into the pockets of Canadians. Despite price controls and high wartime taxes, there was a justifiable fear that with the economy operating flat out, inflationary pressures would rise unless Canadians saved.

Following their introduction in 1941, Victory Bonds were sold every six months with as much hoopla and razzmatazz as possible to generate interest. Sales teams were organized in communities across the country with objectives for general and payroll sales. To help raise their profile, Hollywood stars were also enlisted through the Hollywood Victory Committee. Film stars such as Spencer Tracy, Charles Boyer, Walter Pidgeon and Joan Fontaine made appearances in Canadian cities to help boost bond sales in between movie shoots. Percy Faith, the Toronto-born but U.S. based conductor, handled the music for Victory Bond campaigns.

Shirley T and surrender

Advertising poster for the 7th Victory Bonds Campaign, October 1944

On announcing the terms for the Seventh Victory Loan in late September 1944, Finance Minister Ilsley said that the government’s increased borrowing needs reflected “the intense activity on all battlefronts.” Graham Towers, Governor of the Bank of Canada and Chairman of the National War Finance Committee, explained that in earlier years, just the navy and air force had been fully engaged. Now, all of Canada’s armed forces had been committed “to the struggle at sea, on land and in the air.” As well, war supplies were being used up faster than expected. “The tremendous operations which have begun so successfully on the continent of Europe must not be limited, nor men be sacrificed, for lack of firepower, equipment, or other supplies.”  Concerns about inflation were also strong. “Canadians have been told, over and over again, that all-out war production is possible only if they give maximum support to Victory Loans. And, this is very true. Without this support we would be in the grip of inflation” leading to “despair, discontent and social turmoil sweeping the land.” He warned that even after the war, inflation will remain a concern as soldiers are demobilized and industry is converted to peacetime operations.

To help launch the 7th Victory Bond campaign came Shirley Temple to Ottawa, accompanied by her parents, Gertrude and George Temple. Shirley, born in 1928, had been a child film star from the age of four when she appeared in Baby Burlesks in 1932. She hit the big time two years later when she starred in the film Bright Eyes, the story of a bachelor aviator (James Dunn) and his relationship with his orphaned goddaughter (Shirley Temple). The film was specially made to showcase her talents. Her musical number On the Good Ship Lollipop became hugely popular. In 1935, she won a special Juvenile Academy Award for her contributions to cinema. Also that year, in The Little Colonel, Temple performs the staircase dance with the legendary Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in the first inter-racial dance number. Little Shirley Temple’s dimples and smiles were the needed tonic for a Depression-weary nation. She became the top box-office draw in North America for four years in a row.

By 1944, Shirley Temple was no longer the ringleted little girl of her early movies. She was now 16, and was making the transition from a child actor to an adult performer. On contract with producer David O. Selznick, Temple wasn’t allowed to sing or dance in order to provide some distance from her earlier screen persona. In July 1944, the movie Since You Went Away was released by Selznick International Pictures. A war-time drama set on the U.S. home front, Temple plays the adolescent daughter of a mid-western housewife (Claudette Colbert). Jennifer Jones plays Temple’s older sister. The movie garnered eight Academy award nominations and won one for best music at the 1945 Academy Awards.

Shirley T with PM LAC C-029451

Shirley Temple with Prime Minister Mackenzie King, 21 October 1944, in front of the Parliament Buildings, Library and Archives Canada

Temple arrived in Ottawa from California after stops in Toronto and Montreal to boost sales of Victory Bonds in those two cities. There, she was accompanied by an up-and-coming Canadian actor, Alexander Knox, who had made a name for himself in the Darryl F. Zanuck movie Wilson. Knox played the lead role of Woodrow Wilson in the docudrama. The movie went on to win five Oscars in the 1945 Academy Awards. In Montreal, Temple showed off her linguistic abilities by being interviewed in French.

Shortly after her arrival in Ottawa, two enterprising boys managed to get Shirley Temple’s autograph. After being stopped by Mounties from approaching her when she was at Union Station, the two darted down the tunnel to the Château Laurier Hotel. Although challenged by a porter, they managed to sweettalk their way onto an elevator. After knocking on the door of the Temple family’s suite, they talked to her father, George Temple, who introduced them to his daughter.  After a couple of frantic moments trying to find a pen with ink, the two boys obtained her autograph.

Shirley Temple movie 21-10-44 OC

Shirley Temple’s latest movie, Since You Went Away, opened at the Elgin Theatre on 23 October 1944, two days after she opened the 7th Victory Bond Campaign, Ottawa Citizen 21 October 1944.

The official launch day for the Seventh Victory Bond campaign was 21 October 1944, a chilly, overcast Saturday in Ottawa; sales of the bonds had already commenced among Canada’s servicepeople. The highly choreographed event started at 12.15pm when Shirley Temple, wearing a full-length mink coat, came out of the door of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill with Prime Minister Mackenzie King, Mayor Stanley Lewis, members of King’s Cabinet, and Graham Towers. Prior to stepping outside, Temple and Mayor Lewis had exchanged “short snorters” with each other—dollar bills with their autographs on them. She had also bantered with the Prime Minister, asking him if he had memorized his speech.

The film star and government dignitaries were greeted by a roar of thousands of spectators standing on the greensward in front of a dais set up at the base of the Peace Tower. Shirley Temple’s name was chanted and spelled out by students from five Ottawa high schools—Lisgar, Glebe, Commerce, St Patrick, and Ottawa Tech., who were assembled in roped-off areas. Each school held up a placard with its name on it. Cheerleaders jumped and cavorted, exhorting their compatriots to shout their school yells. The students were there to greet both Temple and five servicemen, one from each school, who had returned home from the battlefields abroad. Also on the dais were nine returning servicemen, one from each of Canada’s provinces.

After the programme of the afternoon’s activities had been announced, the first of the local returning servicemen was introduced—Private Bert Draper of the High School of Commerce. He was followed by Pilot Officer Peter Pennefather of St. Patrick’s and F.O. Don Cheney of Glebe Collegiate. Cheney had flown over Germany eleven times, had bailed out over enemy territory and had somehow made his way back to Britain. F.O. Lorne Frame followed. He joined in the Tech.’s school cheer. The last returnee, Lisgar’s F.O. Garn Wright was introduced over national CBC radio.

A number of short speeches followed with Prime Minister King underscoring the great financial challenges still ahead of the Canadian people. He also paid tribute to the returning servicemen and those who have long awaited their return. Finance Minister Ilsley commented that the “repats” “had experienced the grimness of war first hand” and “would be the first to warn Canadians against any idea the war would end soon.” Mayor Lewis followed saying: “We who waited and watched in safety must accept the responsibility that was placed on us to shorten the war and support the men who fight for us.” Justice Minister Louis St. Laurent provided similar sentiments in French.

Shirley T. HMS Myrmidon by Mrs CD Howe Harry Rowed National Film Board of Canada LAC

Launch of HMS Myrmidon by Mrs. C.D. Howe. The 1,000th ship built in Canada since the beginning of the war, 21 October 1944, Harry Rowed, National Film Board, Library and Archives Canada.

Then came the climax of the day’s events—the launching of nine ships from shipyards at ports across the country. The nine servicemen from each province were placed in front of a bank of microphones, where each in turn spoke over the air to a loved one—a mother, sister or sweetheart—in one of Canada’s ports. After some personal banter, the servicemen in turn gave the signal to their loved one to launch a ship. After each launch, the bells on the Peace Tower rang out.

In all, four cargo ships, a transport ferry, a maintenance ship, an ocean-going tug and two Algerine minesweepers were christened and released into the waters of the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Great Lakes. The ninth ship, one of the minesweepers, was the 1,000th ship constructed in Canada since the start of the war. It was launched into Toronto Harbour by Mrs C. D. Howe, the wife of the Canadian Munitions Minister, on the instruction of her son Lieutenant William Howe of the Royal Canadian Navy.

At the end of the elaborate ceremony, Shirley Temple’s car was mobbed by well wishers, both young and old, as it made its way slowly down the east drive on Parliament Hill towards the Château Laurier Hotel.

The Seventh Victory Bond campaign was a great success, raising $1.52 billion. There were two more Victory Bond campaigns to go, with the Ninth taking place in November 1945 after the end of the war. In total, the nine issues of Victory Bonds raised $12 billion. In 1946, the Victory Bonds were replaced by Canada Savings Bonds which remained a popular investment vehicle for small investors well into the 21st century. Sales of Canada Savings Bonds were discontinued in November 2017.

Shirley Temple made a second, successful wartime movie for David O. Selznick, called I’ll Be Seeing You released in late 1944. However, her later films fell flat. She married John Agar in 1945 at only 17 years of age. The marriage didn’t last, the couple divorcing in 1950. Temple married Charles Black that same year. On her marriage day, she announced that she was retiring from film. She was only 22 years old. This did not mean the end of Shirley Temple, however. She appeared on a number of television shows during the 1950s and 1960s. Active in the Republican Party, for which she unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1967, she became a career diplomat. President Nixon appointed her as a delegate to the 24th General Assembly of the United Nations in 1967. She subsequently served as the US Ambassador to Ghana, Chief of Protocol in Washington D.C., and US Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, her time as ambassador coinciding with the “Velvet Revolution” in 1989. She died in 2014 at the age of 85.

 

Sources:

Fullerton, Douglas H. 1986. Graham Towers And His Times, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.

Globe and Mail, 1944 “Nine Launchings Open Victory Loan Campaign,” 23 October.

Montreal Gazette, 1944. “Temple, Knox On Air Here,” 16 October.

Ottawa Citizen, 1944. “Ottawa Students and Shirley Temple Open 7th Loan Drive At Hill Ceremony,” 23 October.

——————, 1944. “Boys Get Autograph of Shirley Temple,” 23 October.

Ottawa Journal, 1944. “Students Introducing Repats To Shirley Temple,” 20 October.

——————, 1944. “Shirley Temple In Person,” 21 October.

Windsor Daily Star, 1944. “Towers Shows Need For Success Of Seventh Victory Loan,” 17 October.

———————–, 1944.  “Loan Started With Colorful Ceremonies,” 23 October.

 

 

 

Ottawa’s Champion Hose Reel Team

2 October 1880

The crowds had started to gather at the train station hours ahead of the arrival of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Railway train from Prescott, anxious to get a glimpse of their “boys.” On board was the Chaudière No. 1 Hose Reel team, the newly crowned “Champions of America” who were returning from an international meet held in the small town of Malone in upstate New York.

Arriving at 6.30 pm, the team was met by an official welcoming committee that included Fire Chief William Young, head of the Ottawa Fire Brigade. At that time, the Brigade consisted of eighteen professional fire fighters located in five stations, each equipped with a two-wheeled hose reels that could be pulled by one horse, or manually if necessary. Also present were Aldermen Lauzon, Coleman and Heney. Outside of the train station, a hook and ladder truck along with No. 1, 2 and 3 hose reels were drawn up in preparation for the parade through the streets of Ottawa. After the customary greetings, a procession formed up, starting with the team’s reel which was decorated with flags and bore a banner strung between two brooms with the word “Champion” written on it. The time being long past sunset, the parade was lit by torches. On their route to the City Hall on Elgin Street, the “boys” were cheered by crowds of Ottawa residents and supporters.

ottawa fire department

Hose Reel being drawn by horse outside of Ottawa’s No.1 Fire Station, undated, Topley Studio, Library and Archives Canada, PA-013103.

At City Hall, in the absence of the Mayor, Alderman Lauzon welcomed back the champion hose real team of America. He said that after the team’s earlier defeats at Canton and Potsdam, New York, the victory showed what perseverance can accomplish. The victory was being “hailed with pleasure throughout the Dominion.”  Alderman Coleman remarked that the win “added another to the long list of trophies won by Ottawa representatives.” Somewhat more tangibly, Alderman Heney promised that as soon as the City was in better financial shape, the fire brigade would get a pay raise.

Hose reel racing was a very popular activity during the late nineteenth century, with competitions organized among fire departments across North America.  Agricultural shows often hosted hose reel races, offering significant prize purses to attract the best teams. With serious money to be had, team members were often professionals selected for their speed or brawn to represent a particular fire hall rather than true fire fighters. Betting on these races was fierce.

In a typical hose reel race, a team of up to 18 men competed to draw a 450-pound reel cart carrying 350 feet of hose yards to a fire hydrant. They would then attach and lay 300 feet of hose, break the couplings and screw on a nozzle. Typically, a total of 400 yards would be run from start to finish. The races were timed. A good team could complete the course in a minute or less. Sometimes, two or more teams would race side by side. In early competitions, a team would push the hose reel cart along the track by hand. In later events, the men were tied to the carts, allowing them to put their entire bodies into the push, leaving their arms free. This was a dangerous sport. If a team member couldn’t keep up, he risked falling and being trampled by his team mates or run over by the hose reel cart. Serious injury could result.

Ottawa Hose Reel team 1880

The Chaudière Hose Reel Team, Champions of America, 1880, Topley Studio. Back Row: Cyrille Crappin, W. Cousens, Peter Duffy, “Boston” Ed O’Brien, W. McCullough; Middle Row: Andy Lascelles, Sam Cassidy, Chief William Young, Johnnie Shea; Front Row: J. Newton, Johnnie Raine, and Bob Raine. Missing: W. Grand, B. Leggo, W. Palen, and F. McKnight. Ottawa Citizen, 25 February 1925.

The Chaudière Hose Reel team was formed in LeBreton Flats in 1880. There were in fact at least two hose real teams in Ottawa at this time. At the Fourth Annual Fireman’s Picnic held in early August of that year, the Chaudière Hose Reel team faced the Union Company Hose Real Team which was captained by Cyrille Crappin, a legitimate fire fighter, who belonged to the “Queen Company” stationed at the Nicholas Street Station. At the Fireman’s picnic, organizers had expected that hose real teams from Prescott and Ogdensburg to compete in the same event. But at the last moment, both teams pulled out leaving only the two Ottawa teams in competition. The Chaudière team won the $75 first prize, with the Union team taking home the $30 second prize. Divided among the participants the prizes didn’t amount to much, though it was nice pocket money. This was about to change.

After that early August competition, Crappin joined the Chaudière team. Already a fast team with all its members noted runners—Peter Duffy reportedly ran the 100-yard dash in 9 4/5 seconds—the addition of Crappin took the Chaudières to a new level. He had competed in a number of professional foot races over the previous several years, invariably winning. Most famously, he had defeated a field of a dozen competitors from Montreal, Toronto and the Mohawk First Nation of Caughnawaga in a four-day racing event. Race participants ran continuously for four hours for four consecutive days. Whoever ran the furthest won the competition. The race took place in Powell’s Grove on Bank Street, opposite the Muchmor race track. The hotel located in the Grove sponsored the race. Crappin emerged the victor, having run 119 miles.

With the extra speed and endurance brought by Crappin, the Chaudière Hose Reel team was ready to take on all challengers. Chief Young of the Ottawa Fire Brigade said that he had “from $100 to $1,000 that says that Ottawa can produce a hose reel team…that can beat, and make better time than any hose reel team belonging to any part of the Dominion of Canada.” In September 1880, representatives of the St. Lawrence County Agricultural Society of Canton, New York, who had heard of the Chaudières’ prowess, came to Ottawa to invite the team to compete in Canton’s upcoming hose reel meet. The purse was US$250—a considerable sum of money in those days, equivalent to over US$6,000 today.  The Chaudières came in second at the Canton competition behind the Relief Company of Plattsburgh, New York. A few days later, at another meet in Potsdam, New York, the same thing occurred—the Chaudières fell short against the first-place Relief squad. According to hose reel race aficionados, while the team had the necessary speed to win, it lacked an expert coupler. This deficiency was filled by Johnnie Shea who became the new captain of the Chaudière Hose Reel team. Shea hailed from Burlington, Vermont where he had been the coupler for the renowned Barnes Hose Reel team. At Postdam, he asked if he could join the Chaudière team.

After their return to Ottawa with Shea, the Chaudière Hose Reel team practiced on Parliament Hill in front of a large crowd of onlookers and fans to prepare themselves for their next competition to be held in Malone, New York. This time, the purse totalled $450, of which $225 went to the winning team. The Ottawa team arrived two days ahead of the competition which was held on Friday, 1 October on the track of the Franklin County Agricultural Society. They had to borrow all their equipment—the reel from the Blake Hose Company of Swanton, NY, couplings from Chief Engineer Drew of Burlington, Vermont, and the hose from the Blake Hose Company and the Frontier Hose Company of St. Albans, Vermont.

The Ottawa team was met at the Malone train station by the Chief Engineer of the Malone Fire Department and members of the Active Hose Company of Malone. Owing to their late arrival, all the restaurants in the town were closed. Fortunately, the foreman of the Active Hose Company supplied an excellent meal to the hungry Chaudière team who stayed at Hogle House hotel. Owing to rain the next day, the team practiced indoors in a rink. Prior to their arrival, betting had strongly favoured the Relief team. However, once it was known who was on the Chaudière team, the odds shifted heavily in favour of the Ottawa team.

At 10 am Friday morning, six hose reel teams formed up in order of their turn to race—Chaudière Company No.1 of Ottawa, Blake Hose Company of Swanton, NY, the Relief Company No. 2 of Plattsburgh, NY, Washington No. 1 of St. Albans, Vermont, Chamberlin No. 1 of Canton, NY, and the Frontier No.2 of St. Albans, Vermont. The Chaudières and Reliefs came in first tied at 59¼ seconds, necessitating a tie-breaking run. The Ottawa team offered to run the tie-off as a direct race against the Relief squad instead of against the clock. But the Plattsburgh team declined. Betting odds were 2 to 1 on the Ottawa team.

There was considerable excitement among the 8,000 spectators as they waited for the drop of the umpire’s flag. As the Chaudières raced to the finish line, disaster almost happened. A boy who had been running alongside the Ottawa team was apparently pushed “violently” by one of the Relief’s team members into the way of the Ottawa team nearly tripping one of the members. The Ottawa Citizen reported that “fortunately this despicable action did not accomplish what was evidently intended.” Instead,  at the finish line, “Shea caught the coupling as it came over the reel…and broke it in a twinkling, with a team member quickly screwing the pipe on “in a masterly and satisfactory manner.” Their time was a phenomenal 58 seconds, easily out classing the Relief Company team who ran next. To great cheers, the Ottawa team drew their reel through the streets of Malone to their hotel. It was reported that the team “carried brooms to show that they had swept the day and also a rake to show the had racked in the cash.”

After their victorious return to Ottawa. Mr. Topley of Topley Studios took the team’s picture in their “full running costume.” Topley had planned to take the picture outside on Parliament Hill, the site of the practice runs. However, inclement weather forced him to take the photograph inside.

The Chaudière Hose Reel team competed the following year in Malone, and won their second American championship, again against the Relief Company of Plattsburgh, NY, taking home the $225 first prize. As a follow-up, the team was slated to race side-by-side with the Wentworth Hose Reel Team of Malone for a $100 prize. Controversially, the Malone team refused to race unless the course was shortened from 400 yards to 300 yards, citing an implicit agreement. The judges ruled against Malone. With the Wentworth Hose Reel team still refusing to run, the $100 was awarded to the Chaudière team. Subsequently, the Franklin Gazette, the Malone newspaper, reported that the Wentworth team was disbanded for their unsporting behaviour.

The success of the Chaudière Hose Reel team may have gone to members’ heads. The Montreal Gazette reported that the team was not willing to compete in any tournament where first prize money was less than $500. By 1882, the Chaudière Hose Reel team appears to have disbanded. In August of that year, Cyrille Crappin, the running star who had helped to bring victory to the Chaudière team in 1880 and 1881, was once again part of the Union Hose Reel Team that was competing in a race for a prize of only $50. There was no mention of the great coupler, Johnnie Shea.

Sources:

Franklin Gazette (Malone), as reprinted in The Ottawa Daily Citizen, 1881“Hose Reel Racing,” 8 October.

Malone Palladium, as re-printed in The Ottawa Daily Citizen, 1880. “Hose Reel Contests,” 9 October.

Montreal Gazette (The), 1880. “Dominion News, From Ottawa, 3 August.

—————————-, 1880. “Dominion News, From Ottawa,” 24 September.

—————————-, 1880. “Dominion News, From Ottawa,” 28 September.

—————————-, 1881. “Dominion News, From Ottawa,” 16 August.

Ottawa Daily Citizen (The), 1880. “The Firemen’s Picnic,” 6 August.

———————————, 1880. “A Champion Fire Brigade,” 13 August.

———————————, 1880.  “The Chaudiere Hose Reel Team,” 28 September.

———————————, 1880. “Return of the Victors,” 4 October.

———————————, 1880. “Photographed,” 5 October.

———————————, 1881. “Hose Reel Competition,” 28 September.

———————————, 1925. “These Were Champions of Champions,” 28 February.

———————————, 1925. “Cyrille Crappin Brought Home The Bacon; Wonderful Distance Runner Of Seventies; Won a Great Victory in Sixteen Hour Race,” 28 February.

———————————, 1925. “Great Pete Duffy In Action,” 25 April.