Reversing time: A look back at 20 years in Kitchissippi

By Charlie Senack

Time is a funny concept. It’s an unsolved mystery, a force of unknown nature, a precious resource. Days can feel like weeks, years can feel like months.  

Sometimes it feels like the world needs to slow down, other times we want it to speed up. Good memories feel like they pass too quickly, bad times feel like they never end. 

No matter the life circumstance, situation, or outcome, time never stops. Each moment in time soon becomes the past, then a distant memory. We live in the present as we look ahead for a better, brighter future. 

With time comes change, evolvement, new beginnings. It gives us an opportunity to look back, reflect, and view what we could have done better. 

The Kitchissippi community is ever evolving and adapting. With time, it has changed through various cycles of life. 

Over the last two decades, used car lots have been turned into high-rise condo projects. Zoning amendments have been introduced to allow for larger scale developments. Light rail transit has finally come to fruition after decades of planning and years of construction havoc. 

While many changes are noticeable, many aspects of the community have remained the same. Wellington West and Westboro are home to some of the longest running businesses in Ottawa. Memories from the past are ingrained in the walls of heritage buildings that the community fought hard to protect. The Parkdale Market is still going strong after almost 100 years. 

What’s not changed is the care, dedication and passion Kitchissippi residents have for their neighbors, their community, and their city.  

As a community paper, we have been able to ensure that untold stories reach living rooms, kitchens, storefronts, and coffee shops since 2003. Almost 15,000 people read the Kitchissippi Times in print monthly. Tens of thousands more stay up to date with the community through our website. 

To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we are looking back at some of the biggest newsmakers Kitchissippi has faced over the last two decades.

By my rough count, we have published somewhere between 300 and 400 newspapers since the very first issue of KT hit newsstands in October 2003. Since then thousands of interviews have been conducted and thousands of local stories have been told.

Unfortunately, most of KT’s archives from our first seven years have been lost to time. A big thank you to Millie Farley, Andrea Tomkins, and Dave Allston for their help in filling the gaps.

The first issue of the Kitchissippi Times.

October 2003

The first issue of the Kitchissippi Times is published by Mark Sutcliffe and Donna Neil. Top stories that month include hazing at Nepean High School, development at the corner of Holland and Wellington, and Tunney’s Pasture Transitway restoration.

December 2003

City council vows to forgive the Parkdale Food Centre of its $52,000 debt. The decision took so long, however, the non-profit is left scrambling to find a new home after being vacated from its location for 17 years in an old fire hall.

November 2004

Three preliminary designs are presented to residents over what should be done with Bayview Yards. They include residential construction and community greenspace that would replace Laroche Park.

“We don’t like the proposals. We don’t want the park taken from the community and shifted to the other side of what will be upscale development,”

– Jay Baltz, past president and chair of the zoning committee for the Hintonburg Community Association.

December 2004

Amid camera flashes, applause, and a gale-like November wind, the Great Canadian Theatre Company announces they will break ground for a new building at Holland Ave. and Wellington St. in 2005. “It’s going to change the character of Hintonburg,” said Michael Frojmovic, local urban planner.

The Great Canadian Theatre Company announced in December 2004 that they would break ground on a new facility. Photo by Mark Sutcliffe.

January 2005

A 13-year-old boy from Broadview Public School recovers from a broken jaw after being beat up outside Aladdin Convenience at Broadview Ave. and Carling Ave. Four Notre Dame High School students are charged and facing expulsion as a result.

June 2007

The first “Taste of Wellington” event is held by the newly formed Wellington Village Business Association. That organization does not last long as city council approves the formation of the Wellington West BIA in November 2007.

October 2007

The new Great Canadian Theatre Company [GCTC] Irving Greenberg Theatre opens for the first time. The first play was The Man From The Capital held on Oct. 11. That same year, Hintonburg was listed in “enRoute”, Air Canada’s in-flight magazine, as one of the top emerging neighborhoods in the country.

St. George’s School on Piccadilly is demolished. Photo credit: Google Maps.

June 2008

The former St. George’s School on Piccadilly is demolished to make way for a new townhouse development. Tennis courts south of the church are lost to make way for houses. That same month, St Mary’s School on Beech Street closes due to low enrollment.

January 2009

Kitchissippi retailers are feeling the blow from OC Transpo’s transit strike after a year where sales were already low because of neighborhood construction work.

“At this point, I don’t even care whether the city settles with them or not because I’m already peeved about December. If you’ve got a union that’s wanting public support, they haven’t gotten mine,”

– Mike Morris, owner of Wellington Home Hardware.

May 2009

Residents express frustration over the Wellington St. West Phase 2 infrastructure project, which includes the replacement of sewers and water mains. Traffic can only head eastbound as completion is delayed until the end of year.

Cheryl Parrott organized a rally to protest the increased number of buses on Scott Street.

April 2010

Residents oppose transitway buses on Scott Street. “This would mean up to three buses a minute during peak hours and bus traffic 24 hours a day for the next five years,” said Cheryl Parrott.

September 2010

The Wellington Marbles are unveiled. Eighteen of the familiar marble fire hydrants pay tribute to local culture and activity.

December 2011

Residents oppose Uniform’s plan for 194 units in two towers—14 and 16 storeys at 335 Roosevelt Avenue in Westboro. It is inline with allowed density, but residents say the height and shape of the towers would grossly contradict the cherished human scale that marks the neighbourhood.

December 2012

The famous Newport Restaurant closes at Richmond and Churchill. It relocates to 322 Churchill where it merges with Moe Atallah’s other restaurant, Donna’s Express.

June 2013

WestFest celebrates their 10th anniversary. Dubbed as “Best Fest” by Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar, the lineup includes chanteuse Jill Zmud, flamenco dancer Juliana Pulford, Jane Siberry and Eliott Brood, one of the hottest bands in the country music scene.

October 2013

A new YMCA-YWCA is announced for Carlingwood Shopping Centre. That same month, an inaugural Wellington Mile Race is held over the Thanksgiving long-weekend, with Leah Laroque coming in first place. Residents also meet to discuss the future of Byron Park.

The Westboro BIA announces new plans for Winston Square. Photo by Andrea Tomkins.

May 2014

The Westboro BIA announces that new life will be coming to Winston Square. Paving stones, art, benches, flagpoles, and a living wall with plants are all part of the plan. “It’s about bringing the community together,” said Patti Church, a local marketing expert involved with the project.

August 2014

The Parkdale Market celebrates their 90th season. “It’s a real farmers market,” said Catherine Barrette, who has attended the market for 60 years. “It’s such a beautiful place,” echoed Azeb Debebe.

Community members shared their memories of the Parkdale Market.

February 2015

The Kichi Sibi Winter Trail (then known as the SJAM Winter Trail) is launched as a pilot project. A $20,000 fundraising campaign is started the next year to keep the activity going.

April 2015

The heritage process begins for Bayview Yards. The year prior city council announced a new innovation centre would be coming to the site. “This building is going to be a really inspiring place to do some great economic work,” said councillor Jeff Leiper.

July 2016

Abdirahman Abdi dies outside his Hilda Street apartment after an incident with the Ottawa Police Service. Constable Daniel Montsion is charged with manslaughter. In 2020 he was found not guilty. Abdi’s death led to many Black Lives Matter protests across Ottawa.

After Abdirahman Abdi’s death, many Black Lives Matter protests were held across Kitchissippi. Photo by Maureen McEwan.

June 2017

To commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary, the Kitchissippi Times publishes a photo spread showcasing the faces of 150 Kitchissippi community residents. “We don’t know exactly what the future will look like. But even as we evolve with our community, we can pause and appreciate what we have in each moment along the way. We are here for a reason,” wrote Mark Sutcliffe.

July 2018

Wellington West’s historic Magee House suffers a partial collapse after its west-facing wall falls onto the street below. Engineers said an absence of mortar is to blame. Years later the court battle is still in limbo as the building sits vacant and boarded up. Owner Ovidio Sbrissa said he still hopes to save what he calls his “castle in the sky.”

Wellington West’s Magee House still stands boarded up years after it suffered a partial collapse. Photo by Charlie Senack.

The Westboro Legion celebrates their platinum anniversary amidst declining membership. “Membership peaked in the 1980s at about 800 members. Current membership stands at 300,” said Doug Munroe, an active legion volunteer since 1973.

“Branches are suffering, closing and amalgamating to try to lessen the burden, and this branch is not any different,”

– Doug Cody, Westboro Legion president.

January 2019

A double decker OC Transpo bus collides with the overhang structure at Westboro Station. Part of the upper deck is torn on impact, killing three people and injuring 23 others. Driver Aissatou Diallo is charged with three counts of dangerous driving causing death and 35 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. She is later acquitted of all charges.

The double decker bus is seen being towed away from Westboro Station in Jan. 2019. Photo by Charlie Senack.

September 2019

Phase 1 of light rail transit officially opens after decades of planning and years of construction. An official unveiling is held at Tunney’s Pasture Station. Excitement however soon turns to disappointment as glitches slow down the system, crowded platforms strand passengers, and door jams cause chaos.

March 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic hits and all non-essential businesses are forced to close. The Westboro BIA encourages businesses to expand their online shops. The Parkdale Food Centre sees an increase in demand as their drop-in programming is canceled.

Kitchissippi businesses adapt at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photos courtesy of the Wellington West BIA.

September 2020

The Jackie Holzman Bridge officially opens, connecting the communities of Wellington West and Civic Hospital. “Continue building bridges — May all those who cross over remember that they are not alone. There are two vibrant communities supporting them,” Holzman said in her opening remarks.

April 2021

Mechanicville residents organize a protest to save greenspace at Lazy Bay Commons. They are opposing an embassy row precinct which is planned for the site. “We are begging the city not to approve rezoning this greenspace,” said Lorrie Marlow, president of the Mechanicsville Community Association.

Mechanicsville residents fight to save greenspace at Lazy Bay Commons. Photo by Charlie Senack.

July 2021

The Prince of Wales Bridge becomes the Chief William Commanda Bridge. The City of Ottawa announces a $22.5 million plan to open the interprovincial crossing to pedestrians and cyclists.

May 2022

Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, visit the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral on Byron Avenue as part of their three-day tour of Canada. “It was unbelievable. There was a feeling of gratefulness to God that we have such good and strong relations between Ukraine, Canada and Great Britain,” said Father Taras Kinash.

Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla visited visit the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral while touring Canada in May 2022. Photo by Charlie Senack.

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