Chronological History of Bytown
(Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
by Mary M. Cox

May 16, 2008:

Chronological History of Bytown - Mary M. Cox
Author's Note: I have fond memories of a lady living in our home when I was nine years old who told fascinating stories about Bytown. She was born in Ottawa in the late 1860s or early 1870s. It is to this lady that I owe a debt of gratitude. She was the one who first planted the seed that would lead me to research Bytown's history. I started compiling this information over forty years ago. Most of the information was written on index cards. This was something I did for my own interests. Unfortunately I did not document where I read the statements you are about to read. I really never thought I would ever share this information so I did not really think it was important at the time to document my research. I am very fortunate to have several books relating to the history of Bytown and Ottawa. I spent years at Archives Canada and Ottawa City Archives researching Bytown's history. I have read every issue of the Bytown Gazette and many other papers. If anyone notices anything that should be credited to them I would be happy to make note of that or remove it entirely if they so desire. I want to share this information free of charge and I allow a creative commons license for the material. All errors and omissions are the author's responsibility alone. Unfortunately the same event may have two different dates. Hopefully with further research the proper date will be identified. I hope that this material will be of interest to people who are researching their genealogy and for everyone who is interested in the history of Bytown. I accept no liability for this material as it is strictly meant as a resource only and hopefully it will lead to future discoveries. This is a work in progress. I look forward to people adding to this information or clarifying errors. As a final note I wish to thank Elizabeth Strachan who gave me the story of Thomas Hunton of Bytown and her family album of photographs of her ancestors who lived, worked and played in Bytown. She rekindled my interest in Bytown's history. I hope to write a book based on the life of Thomas Hunton who arrived in Bytown in 1837 at the age of fifteen. ... Mary M. Cox Dedication I would like to dedicate this to Al Lewis for all that his has done to help stimulate a passion for researching and sharing on his amazing web site Bytown or Bust. ( I would also like to dedicate it to my son Jason who is also interested in Bytown's history and for listening to all my stories about Bytown over the years. 1800 Philemon Wright arrives in what is to become Wright's Village in Lower Canada across the river from the future site of Bytown. Note: One of the families who came with Philemon Wright was probably that of London Oxford, a free Negro. (Where Rivers Meet - Courtney C.J. Bond page 24) 1802 During this year Philemon Wright started the first industries in the area. A grist mill and a sawmill were constructed. 1806 First timber raft named Colombo was guided to Quebec by Philemon Wright his son Tiberius and three other men. 1809 Jehiel Collins and his family become the first settlers in the region later to be known as Bytown. He names his small settlement Collins' Landing. He built a log cabin, a store and a dock and he mainly serves the needs of the voyageurs. Caleb Bellows, from Bellows' Falls, Vermont, is an assistant in the store. He marries Collin's daughter and in time acquires the property referred to as Collins' Landing and the name is changed to Bellows' Landing. Indians and fur traders once stopped at the Chaudiere Falls to portage their goods around the great waterfall. The point at which they disembarked on the south shore of the Ottawa River was in those days occupied by Jehiel Collins. Robert Randall built a modest log storehouse at Collins' Landing. In the same year he goes to Montreal and is arrested and put into debtor's prison. He was not released until 1815. 1810 Ira Honeywell builds the first home in Nepean about 1810. Some of his crops the first year were: corn, potatoes, onions, melons and cucumbers. Braddish Billings leaves the employ of Philemon Wright. He becomes the first settler in Gloucester Township. He has a partner, William Marr. 1811 Ira Honeywell owned the first waggon in the Township. Note: A child belonging to the Honeywell family - the second born after their migration - was the first death in Nepean, at two or three years of age, and was buried in the old Olmstead burying-ground in Hull. Note: The name of this burying-ground was changed to Bellevue Cemetery. 1812 Braddish Billings builds a log cabin near Bank St. and Riverside Drive. On the 18th of June, United States declares war on Great Britain; the town of York (present day Toronto) is burned; Newark (Niagara) is also burned. 1813 Lamira Dow of Merrickville marries Braddish Billings. That same year the couple moved to a farm in Gloucester Township south of the Rideau River (now part of the city of Ottawa). For seven years, they were the only settlers in the area. The Billings helped to build the first bridge, school and church in the area. 1814 Braddish Billings erected the first frame building in the Township - a barn. The boards were sawn in Merrickville and floated down river in the shape of a raft. Elkanah Billings Jr., put up a log house on the Rideau River across from the cabin in Gloucester that his brother had built upon his arrival. Jerard B. Chapman became the first settler in the interior of the township. During 1813 he had worked for Philemon Wright as a tailor. Mr. Draper settled not far from the Honeywell's. He did not stay long. 1815 American settlers are no longer allowed in Upper Canada. 1816 This was known as the Summerless Summer. It started to snow in June. There were practically no crops. Everything rotted in the ground. There was no flour, and no vegetables. People lived for twelve months on fish, meat, mostly venison, porcupine and groundhogs being varied with the thin meat of cattle, slaughtered because there was no vegetation to sustain them. Ira Honeywell made an interesting trip to Prescott to buy flour and upon his return he had an unexpected visit from Braddish Billings. Flour was $70 a barrel at Quebec and potatoes were a penny a pound. For additional reading see The Carleton Saga by Harry and Olive Walker. They also write about the Year of The Deep Snow in 1869. The first license for a tavern was granted to Roger Moore. Ruggles Wright went to England to sign on indentured workers, no longer available from the United States, because the recent enmity had restricted movement across the border. Nicholas Sparks appears for the first time on the payroll of Philemon Wright. He was recruited by Ruggles Wright to go to Wrightstown to work for his father. Samuel and Marbel Dow arrive. 1817 John Burrows arrives in what was to become Bytown. Using a 200 acre land grant he built a cabin near the intersection of Wellington and Lyon Streets. He called his clearing 'Long Ash Estate.' In 1826 he applied for work with John By. He died in 1848 and is buried at Beechwood Cemetery. 1818 The 99th & 100th Regiments arrive at Bellows Landing and change the name to Richmond Landing. William Dennison of the old 99th died during the winter of 1818-1819 from exposure to extreme cold, and a woman named Osborne also died due to exposure. The trail they cut out to Richmond is called the Richmond Road. It is the oldest road in Ottawa. Entrance Bay was previously called Sleigh Bay. The story is that the name Sleigh Bay was given to commemorate the occasion of Philemon Wright's son's wedding there during the winter. The wedding party and guests took sleighs across the river to the sheltered confines of the bay where the ceremony was performed from sleighs gathered in a wide semi-circle. 1819 The first farm in the Merivale area was begun by Andrew Berry and Isaac Firth. Andrew Berry opens a tavern and builds a wharf at Richmond Landing. The Duke of Richmond visits the settlement at Richmond. He dies from the effects of having been bitten by a pet fox. Isaac Firth opens the area's first tavern at Richmond Landing. His wife made highly prized otter caps. Philemon Wright commences the first passenger boat service on the Ottawa River. His first ship is the Packet; it was propelled by sail and oars. Ralph Smith, (ML# 594 on the McCabe List, from King's County, Ireland), built a house near Richmond Landing. He operated a ferryboat service and was engaged in the manufacture of whiskey. Ira Honeywell obtains a lease to run a ferry service across the Ottawa River just below the Deschenes Rapids to Hull. John Burrows Honey moves to Wright's Town. A new township, called March, fronting on the Ottawa and just west of Nepean, was created. 1820 There is a note on a sheet I have about the Billings Family Graveyard and it states, "The first recorded burial here was that of Mrs. Berry, mother-in-law of Isaac Firth of Bytown, in 1820. Wrightstown was not prospering. The community proved unable to supply its needs, and had to import flour, pork, and salt fish. Philemon Wright wanted to stop the lumber business and follow agriculture. Note: Just prior to the commencement of the building of the Rideau Canal, there were threats of seizure of rafts and debts pile up. Thomas Bingham (Philemon's son-in-law) wrote to Ruggles Wright in Quebec, "We are destitute." The building of the canal transformed the whole region and brought new economic opportunities to Wrightstown. 1821 Philemon Wright Jr. was killed in a stage coach accident. 25th September an Intent to Sell Land is signed between Nicholas Sparks and John Burrows Honey. John Burrows Honey was the original grantee in 1817. 1822 The first steamer commenced running on the Ottawa River between Bytown and Grenville and was called the Union of the Ottawa. It ran for about six years and was succeeded by the William King, and very soon after, by the steamer Shannon. See also our page regarding steamers on the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers. The Town Clerk's census for 1822 shows 37 'Men Heads of Families' with a total of 191 persons. The assessment roll shows 303 acres under cultivation, 3 houses of dressed timber, 4 frame houses under two storeys, 2 merchant shops and a sawmill. John Scott the first mayor of Bytown was born in Brockville. 1823 The Earl of Dalhousie arranges the purchase of land from Hugh Fraser. The land extends from the Ottawa River to where Wellington and Rideau Streets are and from the Rideau River to Bronson Avenue. This land would be given to Colonel By for use in the building of the Rideau Canal and for the establishment of a town. 1824 The first settlers received title to their lands after Captain George Thew Burke wrote to York (Toronto). By 1824 a steamboat was arriving every second day at Wright's landing from Montreal. 1826 Ground for the construction of the Rideau Canal was broken. The Earl of Dalhousie, Colonel By and probably Thomas McKay, Philemon Wright, Nicholas Sparks and officers of the Royal Engineers, took a boat from Wrightsville and landed on the southern bank of the Ottawa River. They probably landed near or at Entrance Bay. At the foot of St. Patrick Street in Lower Town, Colonel By commissioned the construction of a wharf for the landing of government supplies. On 2 November, Nicholas Sparks married the widow of Philemon Wright Jr., Sarah Olmstead Wright. She and her nine children moved to Bytown, into a house near the site of the Wellington Ward Market. The population is now almost negligible. In the entire township of Nepean there is one stone building, three wooden houses, a few log cabins, one store and one inn. Mary Ann By O'Connor daughter of Daniel O'Connor is born in her parents' log cabin on Wellington St., where the Confederation Building now stands. She later married Henry Friel who was mayor of Ottawa three times. John By Burrowes is born on 25 Sept. and he died the 27th of June 1827. He was the first person to be buried in Sandy Hill. The first bridge built to cross the chasm of the Chaudiere Falls was a military structure, made of wood, and the foundation was laid on the Hull side by the Countess of Dalhousie, on the same day as the commemorative of the beginning of the Rideau Canal. It is interesting to note that the bridge was constructed in freezing cold winter weather. The bridge broke apart before it was finished. Wellington Street which commenced at the western end of Barrack Hill and extended westward toward Richmond Landing was laid out in 1826. The second village street in Upper Town was Vittoria which ran along the bluff where the Supreme Court of Canada is located. Later, Wellington and Vittoria were intersected by Bay, Lyon, Kent and Bank Streets. John McTaggart writes - "In Dow's great swamp, one of the most dismal places in the wilderness, did five Irishmen, two Englishmen, two Americans, one French Canadian, and one Scotchman, hold their merry Christmas of 1826 - or rather forgot to hold it at all." In 1834 it was closed by barriers at either end. *See note. The bridge fell on the 18th of May 1836. The southerly boundary of Lot B was designated as the principal thoroughfare, called Rideau Street east of the canal line, and Wellington Street west of it. The first grist mill was erected by Jean-Baptiste St. Louis near Cumberland and York Street. Captain John LeBreton erects the first grist mill on the south side of the Ottawa River at Britannia. On December 1, 1826 handwritten signs were posted on the trees along the travelled trails and the Richmond Road for the settlers to see. Eva Taylor author of Ottawa's Britannia believed the grist mill was located at the foot of Rowat St. This mill was destroyed by fire. *Note: During the time the bridge was closed, a scow, succeeded by a horse-boat was established as a ferry across the river from the old steamboat wharf (now Sterling's Brewery - 1858) to the opposite point by the late Mr. John Bedard, and ceased on the opening of the present wire Suspension Bridge, which took place on the 17th. September 1844. 1827 The name Bytown comes into popular use. Free land grants are stopped to all but military and Loyalist claimants; sale of Clergy Reserve lands is permitted; open land market begins. William Stewart arrives in Bytown. Much of the Lower Bytown area was a swamp covered with cedars. Lower Town swamp was drained and a connecting road - Sussex Street to the wharf at the foot of the canal was built. McIntosh & Stewart's store was one of the first general stores. Pierre Desloges was the first to clear and build there. Colonel By seized land from Nicholas Sparks. This reserved land physically divided the communities of Upper Bytown and Lower Bytown until 1847. The Earl of Dalhousie and The Countess Dalhousie crossed the Chaudiere on a temporary swing bridge on September 29th. R.M. Bouchette drew their crossing in 1827. PAC C-2173. The first stone of the locks was laid amidst great rejoicing during the autumn, by Captain Franklin (later Sir John), the famed Arctic explorer, who was on his homeward route, following his second expedition. The first church erected in Bytown, was a small wooden building situated in Sandy Hill, and devoted to the services of the Wesleyan Methodists. Shortly after completion it was destroyed by fire. The church was built by John Burroughs / Burrows ? The first bake and butcher shops were erected by the military and were located on Rideau Street. Joseph Coombs builds the first frame house in Bytown on Rideau Street. The first Roman Catholic mass held in Bytown is celebrated in a home on Bank Street near Wellington Street. Market building constructed - a solid log structure. A courthouse was built behind the market building. 1828 First fighting ring built on the north side of Rideau Street near Mosgrove Street. On Saturday afternoon men would settle their disputes here. Messrs. Berry and Firth, two squatters on Captain LeBreton's land, opened a new establishment known as the "Union Hotel." There was an ad in the Perth newspaper. Swamp fever, a severe type of malaria, breaks out in Bytown. Col. By had as many as 2,000 men working on the canal at any one time and naturally there were injuries and fatalities, the latter caused by falls and blasting but mostly by the dreaded "swamp fever" as it was called, Malaria as we would call it today, was indigenous to the area, especially in the swamps, of which there were many. Col. By himself became a victim. St. Andrews Presbyterian Church the first stone church in Bytown is built. There are just fewer than 150 houses. We know the names and something about the work of the first people in Bytown from William Pittman Lett's - Recollections of Bytown. The poem was written in 1873 but refers to the year 1828. - on-line version. 1829 First public fair was held in an open space on the west side of St. Andrew's church on Wellington Street. A horse race takes place on Wellington Street and a fight takes place following the race. This was the last fair held in Bytown for several years. Note: Two of the horses were ridden by Pat Ryan and a man by the name of Davy. Construction of Sapper's Bridge started and was completed. Note: Thomas Smith (a private soldier) carved a representation of the ordnance arms. The sundial on Barrack Hill was another example of this man's handiwork. The first timber slide was built by Ruggles Wright, son of Philemon Wright, on the north side of the Ottawa River, allowing logs to safely bypass the Chaudiere Falls. Private individuals had begun to establish businesses to supply the basic needs of the people of Bytown. Braddish Billings builds a two storey frame house east of his log cabin. It is currently the Billings Estate Museum. Matthew Connell is appointed the first Postmaster. His office is located on the north side of Rideau Street., between Mosgrove Street and William Street. He died of cholera in 1833. I have as part of my personal collection about 300 pages of letters from Bytown, Brockville, and Montreal from 1841 to the 1870s. At a later date I will try and write something about them. They are to say the least very interesting. They were written by Thomas Hunton and Amelia Houghton of Brockville. They mention several familiar names. An 1829 map by Thomas Burrowes showed 21 civilian buildings in Upper Town and 126 in Lower Town. There was a fire in Bytown and most of Lower Town was destroyed. James Fitzgibbon had a market building and a court house erected in the middle of George Street near Sussex. A market was started in Upper Town on Lyon Street just south of Wellington on Sparks' land. Braddish Billings subscribes with others for the erection of a bridge across the Rideau River. It was known as "The Farmer's Bridge", but in later years it was named Billings' bridge. 1830 The completion of the Rideau Canal to Dow's Lake was celebrated in Bytown with the roasting of an ox. Stores were established both in Upper and Lower Town. Note: Early businesses in Upper Town were confined almost exclusively to Wellington Street. Donald McArthur built The British Hotel at the corner of Sussex & George Sts. Nicholas Sparks builds a stone house near where Sparks Street and Bay Street intersect. The house was demolished in 1954. Nicholas Sparks died in Ottawa in 1862.

A few settlements appear near the eastern shore of the Rideau River. In time, the small community takes the name of Janeville, after the wife of Donald McArthur, a prominent resident of the area. In 1873 Janeville is incorporated as a village and adopts the name of Clandeboys and in 1969 it is changed to Vanier. The first saw mill was erected about 1830 at the Rideau River, by Mr. Jean Baptiste St. Louis. 1832 The Gatineau Privilege referred to a monopoly introduced to limit the cutting of timber along the Gatineau River in Lower Canada from 1832 to 1843. In 1843, the Crown Timber Act brought an end to the Gatineau Privilege. Cutting rights for all crown lands were purchased at an office in Bytown. Bytown for the next two decades began to thrive as the supply warehouse of the timber trade. The first steamer called the Pumper, passed through the canal on the 29th of May, and the canal was opened for general transportation in August of the same year. The first Board of Health in Bytown is formed to combat an epidemic of Asiatic cholera. A small hospital is built where the Royal Canadian Mint is on Sussex Drive. The wharf here is called Cholera Wharf. This building was subsequently allowed to go to decay, and was ultimately torn down for firewood by the squatters in the neighbourhood. There was another cholera epidemic in 1834. Mr. K. Walkley opened the first brickyard in Bytown. The first building composed entirely of brick was built about 1835. Population is approaching 1,000. By the end of 1832 Isaac Firth abandoned his tavern and moved into Bytown. 1833 Dr. Edward Van Cortlandt starts a medical practice in Bytown. 1834 Mr. Thomas McKay erected the first manufacturing grist mill at New Edinburgh near Bytown. The bridge over the Chaudiere is closed. George Baker succeeded Matthew Connell as postmaster of Bytown in 1834 when the current postmaster Matthew Connell died of cholera. The post office was moved from Connell's house on Lot G on Rideau Street in Lower Town, to Kent Street in Upper Town. 1835 Spring floods in Bytown washed out several bridges. The Bytown Association for the preservation of peace is formed with 200 voluntary constables. 1863 - The regular Police Force is established. 1836 On the 24th of February the first newspaper, called the Bytown Independent, was issued by J. Johnston. This journal only outlived a few numbers, when the type and press were purchased by Doctor Alexander Christie and the name of the paper was changed to the Bytown Gazette. Depression began during the winter of 1836 and lasted into 1838. There were food shortages, high prices and the residents experienced bad winter weather. The weather was bad for lumbering. There were frequent thaws and then there was low water. Immigration virtually stopped. In the Bytown Gazette the following was mentioned, 'not six days supply of flour in Bytown for bread and none to be purchased at any price.' Bytown's first timber slide was built by George Buchanan on the south side of the Chaudiere Falls. Many people took the thrilling ride down this slide. The expression "Riding the slide of Bytown" is repeated around the world. The bridge over the Chaudiere fell into the river. Lyman Perkins built a plough factory. Nathaniel Blasdell began to make axes. On the 10th of March, The Ottawa Valley Lumber Association was formed. Note: Joseph Merrill Currier and Moss Kent Dickinson were the first to supply sawn lumber to the American market. 1837 Population 1,300 Thomas Hunton, William Hunton, Timothy Hunton, and Ann Hunton arrive in Bytown in January. Thomas begins working for a man named Burton and then he works for Howard & Thompson. World depression takes place. The province entered a financial depression which lasted until 1844 - 1845. Felt powerfully in the cities of North America, the effects were perhaps even more crippling in the back townships of Upper Canada where the market for farming goods sagged, available capital shrank, and the number of new emigrants dwindled. During the years 1837-38 the Rebellion in Upper and Lower Canada takes place; American invasions. Mr. McKay erected the first distillery in New Edinburgh. It closed in 1852. The first theatrical production is performed called, The Village Lawyer, presented by the troops stationed on Barrack Hill. The soldiers act all parts, both male and female. 1837-1845 The Shiners War - The time when no decent man or woman dare set foot on the streets of Bytown after sundown. Daniel McLachlin constructed a small gristmill at the Chaudiere Falls. Like most small communities Bytown is plagued by fires. A hand-operated water pumper is purchased. A volunteer force fights all fires until the formation of a municipal Fire Department in 1849. Note: "The old Bytown houses each contained a good frost-proof cellar and into this went the winter's supply of potatoes, turnips, etc. Yards were equally capacious to contain the winter's stock of wood." -George Drummond Page 50 - Where Rivers Meet Bytown is declared a town. 1838 About 1838 Mr. H. Blasdell / Blaisdell erected the first iron foundry. About 1838 William Skead began manufacturing wagons and sleighs at Chaudiere Falls. Zoe Masson opens a private school solely for French Canadians. The first public newsrooms are opened in the British Hotel. Louis-Theodore Besserer, a notary public residing in Quebec City comes to live in Bytown. He was the heir of his brother, Lieut. Rene-Leonard Besserer, received the land his brother had been granted for his military service during the war of 1812. This grant comprised the Sandy Hill area. Besserer started to sell lots from 1828 onwards. 1839 Mr. H. Freligh opened a hat business as early as the spring of this year at which time he employed a single assistant, and this only for about three months in the year. Philemon Wright dies. Population is slightly above 2,000. 1840s There was a Depression during the late 1840s in Bytown. 1845-1846 and 1848 sharp drop in population. Estimates were as high as 2,000 or more. The decade of the 1840s was marked by both peaks and disasters in the timber trade. A peak year was 1845 but a ruinous slide followed. Merchants: (more commercial development) North Rideau Street - Andrew Main -shoemaker Howard & Thompson - general merchants Mr. Patterson - general merchant John McGraves - chandler Malcolm Cochrane - stove merchant John Mills - confectioner James Peacock - hattier & furrier Workman & Griffin - hardware John Leslie - jeweler Alexander Gray - watchmaker Maurice Dupuis - watchmaker Thomas Hunton - dry goods 1840 A well is sunk in Lower Town. Note: Citizens are able to draw their own supplies. For many years water is scooped from the Ottawa River, in these days considered sufficiently pure for drinking, and poured into a large cask mounted on a horse-drawn puncheon. Water sells for 15 cents a barrel in summer and 25 cents in winter. Many families prefer to walk to the Ottawa River, the Rideau River or the Rideau Canal, bathing and laundering when weather permits this luxury, returning with a pail of water for domestic use. 1841 Population 3,122 As early as 1841 there were 38 merchant shops in Bytown. The goods flowed into Bytown on the Ottawa River steamboats and the Rideau Canal barges in the summer and by sled train along the ice of the Ottawa River during the winter. The canal became an important route for commercial steamer traffic, for timber and sawn lumber, and for local travel. Mr. McKay erected the first large cloth factory on the Ottawa. It was located in New Edinburgh. The British Parliament Act of Union came into effect on February 10th creating the Province of Canada. John Dawson came to Nepean in the 1840s. He authored the first book printed in Bytown. First library was established but it lasted only a year. Allan Gilmour opens a timber office in Bytown. The water turbine, invented in France, did not become known in the Bytown area until 1841. The first election in Bytown for a seat in the Legislative Assembly of United Canada is held in March. The successful candidate is William Stewart. Only 85 of the population of 3,122 are eligible to vote. George Baker is the village postmaster. Tiberius Wright dies. Thomas Hunton meets Amelia Houghton in Bytown. 1842 The first bank opened in Bytown. James Stevenson was the manager. As the bank did not have a safe he carried the money home at night. Thomas Hunton begins working with his brother William at the firm Hunton & Routh. The Propeller was run into near Bytown by the Prince Albert and sunk. Philip Nairn Thompson and John Perkins built mills at the Chaudiere Falls. 1843 At the northeast angle of Bay & Wellington Sts; numerous human bones and skulls were found by workmen engaged in digging sand for the mortar used in the construction of the piers of the wire suspension bridge. Archaeological Mysteries in the Ottawa Area - Doctor Van Cortlandt The weekly paper the Packet is founded by William Harris. The paper sold in 1849 to Robert Bell. On Feb. 22, 1851 the paper adopts the name Ottawa Citizen. A well is located in Upper Town. Dr. A.J. Christie dies in Bytown. The timber trade collapses. 1844 The first plank sidewalks were laid on either side of Sussex and Rideau Streets. The steamer Pilot is travelling the Rideau Canal. Note: Livestock wandered freely about the streets of Bytown. The first Model School is opened at the corner of Duke and Queen. The Albion Hotel is erected on Court House Ave. (later Daly Ave.) at the corner of Nicholas St. Four new cemeteries opened north of Rideau Street near the river. These cemeteries replaced the old graveyard at Barracks Hill and served the Church of Rome, the Church of Dissent, the Kirk of Scotland, and the Church of England. 1845 The first continuous plank sidewalk was laid on Rideau Street. Tuesday December 1st a public meeting was held at Doran's Hotel to discuss that an application be made at the next session of the Provincial Legislature to incorporate a Company to be called "The Bytown and Britannia Railroad Co." Forty of Bytown's most influential citizens signed this application. The scheme failed. Note: The first street to be paved was Sparks Street in 1895. Single ward seven bed General Hospital opens on May 8th. 1846 A large open area on George St. is used as a market place by vendors displaying their wares from carts or small stands. This is the start of the By Ward Market. 1847 Typhoid fever caused many deaths among the Irish immigrants. (This was the year of the Great Famine). First mayor was John Scott. Scott married Nancy Louisa Wright, a granddaughter of Philemon Wright, in 1850. 1848 After 1848 Nicholas Sparks graded and laid out in lots Sparks Street and Queen Street. The two communities of Lower Bytown and Upper Bytown were finally joined. 1849 On January 11, fire destroys the former home of Col. By on Major's Hill. Nicholas Sparks develops Sparks St. between Bank St. and Sappers Bridge. 1850 The first telegraphic dispatch reached Bytown on March 9th. The subject dealt with the Sherbrook election. Bytown was incorporated as a town and had a prosperous lumber industry. Queen St; and Maria St. (later Laurier Avenue West) are laid out. Daly Ave. is impassable due to the great number of tree stumps still not removed. Stewart Street is opened to as far east as King Edward Ave. 1851 Population 7,760 January 11, a company was organized for carrying into operation the Bytown & Prescott Railroad. York Street from Sussex to Dalhousie is macadamized. Bytown is entering an era of prosperity, rapidly becoming an important sawmill centre. The shrill whine of saw blades, cutting through huge lengths of Ottawa Valley pine and spruce, fills the air from early morning until late evening. New settlers are arriving each day. Spring slush and summer rain turn the dirt streets of Bytown to mud. During dry periods, clouds of dust rise to everyone's annoyance. 1853 Imperial troops maintaining the canal are withdrawn. 1854 Circa 1854 J. R. Booth arrived in Bytown with his wife and their infant daughter. They lived in an apartment on Queen Street. Ezra Butler Eddy comes from Vermont, USA. Her Majesty's Theatre is opened on Wellington Street facing Barrack Hill. This is Bytown's first legitimate theatre. The first train in Carleton County is named the Bytown & Prescott Railway. The first train steamed into Ottawa at the old Sussex - McTaggart street station on December 25, 1854.

March 17, 2011: (added picture) McTaggart Street Train Station, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 1855 The population is nearly 10,000. Bytown not only achieved city status, but also changed its name to Ottawa. The city was first lighted with gas on the night of the 31st. of December. They still had to be lit by a lamplighter each night. Note: Streets were first lit by whale oil lamps. Whale-oil lamps were not lighted at the full moon or orders of an economy conscious council. Electric arc lights were established in 1885. 1856 Gas light standards are installed on Sparks, Rideau, Sussex, York and Nicholas Streets. Free education for all Ottawa children is inaugurated. 1857 Ottawa is chosen by Queen Victoria to be the Capital of the Province of Canada. 1858 Pounds, shillings, and pence had been abandoned in the province; dollars and cents came into circulation. 1859 Barrack Hill becomes Parliament Hill. Excavations start on December 20th. The first game of lacrosse to be played in Ottawa is between two Indian tribes from the Caughnawaga & Cornwall reserves. First Atlantic telegraph is laid between the United Kingdom and Canada. Before 1859, wills were probated either by the province-wide Court of Probate or the local Surrogate Courts. 1860 Ottawa Citizen September 1 His Royal Highness, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, descends the Government Slide at the Chaudiere on a crib of timber. Crowds lined the river to watch and ladies tastily arrayed occupied the most prominent position. As the royal crib passed a large wave struck the raft, and rebounding, deluged the admiring females in its vicinity. 1861 Due to rising costs Parliament orders all construction work to cease on Parliament Hill. The three buildings stand as empty shells. More than 1,700 men are unemployed. Families worry over the loss of their only source of income. Skilled craftsmen leave Ottawa in droves. Many merchants file notice of bankruptcy. Note: Construction resumes in 1863. 1863 Police constables are paid a fee based on the number of arrests made. 1864 On May 10, the Daily News publishes Ottawa's first daily newspaper. 1865 Civil servants arriving from the former capital at Quebec begin to occupy offices on Parliament Hill. 1866 The Ottawa City Passenger Railway Co. is incorporated on Aug. 15th. This is the first public transportation system in Ottawa, using horse drawn, 20 passenger tram-cars riding on iron rails. Note: 1893 the horse-drawn trams disappear from the streets of Ottawa. Authorities began to enforce a regulation requiring the removal of garbage and night-soil from behind houses. Finally, dumping refuse in the Ottawa River was forbidden. Note: Garbage and night-soil accumulated in the backyards during the winter and was put on the river ice in springtime. 1867 Ottawa becomes the capital of Canada. Farini crossed above the Chaudiere Falls on a tight rope stretched from Perley & Pattie's sawmill to a tower on the Hull side. 1868 Thomas D'Arcy McGee is assassinated. He is shot at 142 Sparks St. Patrick James Whelan is charged with the murder. Patrick Whelan was a tailor and worked in the workshop of Eagleson Brothers on Sussex. 1869 First "EXTRA" ever published by an Ottawa newspaper Times EXTRA Thursday, Feb. 11, 1869 Execution of Whelan February 11th. Patrick Whelan is hanged at the Nicholas Street jail. Note: This year was also knows as the Year of the Deep Snow. The diary of William Upton has the best account of the Deep Snow. 1870 EVENTS Gloucester Fire, 1870 - August 17th. Mrs. Braddish Billings III (Charlotte Elizabeth Humphreys) wrote: Audio File (MP3) "People living in the city could form no adequate idea of the horrors of the situation to those in the surrounding burning townships. Depict to yourself, if you can, a night, blackened by mighty clouds of smoke; a mighty tempest raging, tearing up by their roots and dashing to the ground the sturdiest of forest trees, the fierce flames roaring on every side, burning up, in the space of perhaps an hour, the fruits of years of arduous toil - houses, barns, and everything the unfortunate ones possessed, simply melting before their horror-stricken gaze and this is not an exaggerated delineation of what passed during that awful night. Throughout the whole time people were on the move from place to place in search of shelter and safety; women were on foot, with terrified children clinging to them, picking their dangerous steps among the patches of burning ground; while some, to save both themselves and their horses, mounted and galloped at breakneck speed over fields of fire. On this awful night of nights, before the wind rose, the fire in Gloucester, out towards and at Green's Creek, was apparently exhausted but in a few hours the wind had fanned it into one of ominous magnitude. It burst like an escaped monster out of the woods; it seemed to break spontaneously out of the ground and swept fearful velocity over the parched fields. The punk-dry fences acted like powder trains, and invariably conducted the fire to the farm buildings. When barns took fire, the scene was one of fearful grandeur, the whole sky looking like a vast curtain of flame; from the burning barns full of hay and grain, great sheets of fire were carried through the air intact, ever and anon dropping burning cinders which were most probably the germs of another fire where-ever the fell." Pasted from Note: Ottawa City Council issued a proclamation closing all places of business. Residents along the river on the Quebec side were forced to take refuge on rafts. Ottawa was unscathed. The dam at Dow's Lake was cut and the water released. People were seen burying their treasures. 1873 A five-year depression began in North America. There is a stock market crash on Wall Street. 1875 Thomas Hunton dies at Ottawa on February 13th. 1876 The By-wash was filled in. The famous "By-Wash" was a creek which started at the canal basin on Mosgrove Street and crossed Rideau Street under cover. It emerged again on Mosgrove, and then down George, crossed Dalhousie diagonally to York, down to King Edward, and thence to the Rideau River. Housewives used to do their family wash in it. Boys fished for suckers in it, and cab men washed their cabs there. So it was a sort of sociable creek. The by swamp and beaver meadow, extending from west of Bank Street and south of Sparks and Queen to the Canal Basin was drained by this creek. General Andrew Berry is said to have been the first to establish a garden. The first lots leased in Lower Town were located on the north side of Rideau Street. Braddish Billings is credited with having been the first entrepreneur on the south shore of the Ottawa River. Moses Holt was the first to keep and drive a stage and carry the mails by canoe or cutter. Miss Dalmahoy (Mrs. Isaac Firth) was the first glamour girl of Bytown. Bytown's first hostelry was the Chaudiere Inn. The first blacksmith shop was opened by Lyman Perkins. First marriage took place in the home of Roger Moore. His brothers David & Job of Wrightstown married two sisters named Prentiss. Mrs. Honeywell was the first person to teach school. The first school-house to be erected was on Lot 35, Con 5, Ottawa Front. Rice Honeywell owned the first waggon {sic}. Joseph Coombs built the first frame house in Bytown on the north east corner of Nelson and Rideau Streets. Joseph Coombs was also the first druggist. Rev. John May was the first school inspector for Carleton County. Following the influx of canal workers, a Post Office was opened on the north side of Rideau Street, between Mosgrove and William. The first postmaster was Matthew Connell, who died in the cholera epidemic of 1834. River steamer delivered the mail to a wharf at Bytown where it was picked up by Capt. George W. Baker who was on horseback. As he rode back home - 357 Wellington St. He let Bytowners know that the mail had arrived by playing a tin horn. He was in business until 1850. The early inhabitants of Bytown procured their provisions mainly from Government stores. Supplies came from Montreal by barge - unloaded at By's government wharf at the end of St. Patrick Street. People could have also purchased from Philemon Wright. J.R. Booth used horses for the first time in the lumbering history of the area. The Bywash ran through Lower Town a short distance south of the Entrance Locks, emptying eventually into the Rideau River. Following the completion of the Rideau Canal the Bywash was routed along York Street to the Rideau River. The volume of water in the Bywash was sufficient to allow the passage of delivery barges right through Lower Town. This offered businesses and the market a cheap, quick and affordable means of having goods delivered to their doorsteps.
August 17, 2009: New e-mail address for Mary Cox:
E-mail Mary Cox and Al Lewis
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