HOK # 102: Marj Lalonde

Marj Lalonde, Human of Kitchissippi #102
Marj Lalonde

“I was born in Owen Sound and we moved to Ottawa when I was 9. We moved to Byron Avenue, and besides a brief leave a few years ago, I have been here ever since. When I moved here, there were only the first three buildings and they were building the rest: Byron was a dirt and gravel road. My mom and dad were one of the first tenants to move into these buildings in 1955.

We moved to Ottawa because my dad was offered a position with the National Capital Commission, then known as the FDC, Federal District Commission. He was a landscape architect. His first project was Vincent Massey Park and Hogsback Park, along with all the government buildings around there.

Then he was offered a job when they started the River Parkway, now known as the Sir John A Macdonald Parkway, but to me it will always be the River Parkway. He designed the entire parkway from scratch. He would be devastated with the changes going on right now. In his later years, he was upset because he felt they were not keeping it up like the way they should have been.

There were a lot of cottages, where people lived all year round along the river and there was a lot of expropriation going on.

I went to Champlain High School and straight out of high school I got chosen with one other girl to be secretaries at London Life downtown. I worked there for a while and then ended up working at CBC. I remember being at Champlain and looking across the street at the CBC building and thinking it would be so special to work there because they had this little gated area and a guard house. I worked for CBC for about 24 years.

I like this area because it represents home, and security and familiar areas. I moved away briefly, but came back to these buildings and it felt like coming home. The change to Westboro was the biggest shock when I came back; the condos and the business of it. It was always busy, but this was different. I don’t go down much anymore. It’s too busy, too hard to get around with my mobility issues, there is no where to park accessible for seniors, and I’m restricted to going somewhere where there is a shopping cart. I think Westboro does a good job at catering to the people who live there, but it is a bit too ‘uppity’ for me.”

Collected by Ellen Bond

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