The purpose of this blog is to provide readers with a brief account of an interesting or important event that happened in Ottawa’s history on a given day of the year. Ultimately, my objective is to have an article for every day of the year. While I will try to cover the highlights of each event, the brevity of the articles precludes a lot of detail and analysis. If readers wish to explore a topic in more detail, the sources listed at the end of each story will provide a useful starting point for research. Please note that for some dates I have multiple stories; events don’t always conveniently fall on different days of the year. So, just in case, scroll down on a given date. You might find another interesting Ottawa story.

This is clearly a work in progress.  While I have lots of additional stories on the drawing board, I would be delighted to hear your suggestions for new stories associated with a particular date that is not yet filled.

This blog is written by James Powell. I am the author or co-author of three books dealing with some aspect of Canadian history. These comprise:

A History of the Canadian Dollar, 2005. Bank of Canada, Ottawa,

The Bank of Canada of James Elliott Coyne: Challenges Confrontation, and Change, 2009. McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, Kingston, and

with Jill Moxley, Faking It! A History of Counterfeiting in Canada, 2013. General Store Publishing House, Renfrew, Ontario.

Unfortunately, the publisher for the counterfeiting book has gone out of business. If you would like a copy, please send me an email; the price is Can$15.00 (reduced from $24.95).

I am a member of The Historical Society of Ottawa.

Sharon Zoschke, a friend and colleague from The Historical Society of Ottawa, the editor of my stories from the beginning of 2020 to the end of 2021, is taking a breather. Thank you Sharon for your invaluable help! 

News Flash: In December 2021, Today in Ottawa’s History was selected by Feedspot as one of Canada’s top 25 history blogs. See https://blog.feedspot.com/canadian_history_blogs/.

Definition of a historian–“Usually it is some tiresome old pedant, one with nothing better to do, who busies his normally worthless time with compiling the trivia of local history: its mythical antecedents, the wars fought and social movements, local genealogies…The virtue of such people was that they needed little provocation to talk about their favorite subject. The problem was to narrow their recitations to the topic you were interested in.” John Maddox Roberts in SPQR XII, Oracle of the Dead.

10 thoughts on “About

  1. I am looking for information and pictures on cycling in Ottawa in the 1930s. I am looking for pictures of my father, Elmer J. McKinnon and his brother Donald Anselm McKinnon on their bikes. Can you help me out?


    • Hi Margaret;
      I’m sorry I don’t have any information on cycling in Ottawa in the 1930s. Have you tried Library and Archives Canada or the City of Ottawa Archives at 100 Tallwood Drive? Also, you might want to go to the Historical Society of Ottawa’s website. Under the page “External Links” there are links to both official and private sites that have pictures and information on early Ottawa. Apt613.ca recently republished a very short story of mine on the early days of cycling in Ottawa but the focus was on the 19th century. Good luck on your quest.
      James Powell


  2. Mr. Powell…thank you so much for your work on Ottawa’s History. I love reading it. My mother had much of her childhood in Britannia and she loved living there. Unfortunately, she has long passed but so often I remember her tales of life in Britannia and in South March. I think it’s called Kanata these days. By any chance do you have a newsletter that I could subscribe to? Thanks again, Anne Schaetzke


  3. Just wondering if you are related to Alan Powell who I knew in the 70s and 80s who had an antique shop in the Byward Market called Bytown Glass. We used to have some great chats and sometimes he would put up the ‘closed’ sign and we would sit and have a beer at lunchtime.


      • Alan was a real gentleman, and a scholar too!

        We always look at Bermuda as our spiritual home, having visited many times since the 1970s when we first stayed at the Pink Beach Club in Tuckers Town, alas now demolished at turned into expensive houses and a boutique hotel that looks like it should be in Dubai. We also used to stay on Tankfield Hill, and with friends in Paget and Riddels Bay. (Bruce Lines who you may know)


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