Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
January 31, 2003:
For Norm Kimber, who has an interest in this area:
The small neighbourhood bounded by Isabella Avenue on the north, Bank Street on
the west, Strathcona Street to the south and the Queen Elizabeth Driveway was called
"Bloomingvale" around 1880. It seems to have been the first subdivision which was
created by severing lots from the farms of the Hickey family. In 1879, Pretoria Avenue
did not exist - it was still part of the Hickey farm. It was originally called "Jane
Street" and may have been re-named "Pretoria" after Canada's involvement in the Boer
War. (Just a guess).
Jane / Pretoria Street was first opened between O'Connor and Metcalfe streets - it
originally did not extend west to Bank Street or East to the Queen Elizabeth Drive
(which was then part of Elgin Street). Residential building lots were surveyed on
the north side of the street and there may have been a lag of a few years before the
south side of Pretoria Avenue was developed.
From 1955 to 1960 I lived at 158 Pretoria which is located on the north side of the
street, between Bank Street and O'Connor. At that time it was a two-way street (it's
one-way heading west today) and most of the traffic was local. There was little enough
traffic that as kids we could play football on the street - using the telephone poles
as goal posts.
It was a middle-class neighbourhood, composed of a mixture of single family homes,
semi-detached houses and row housing - a mixture of brick homes and wooden frame homes.
In the 1950's, the street cars still ran along Bank Street. One of the main features
of the neighbourhood was a fire station at 140/142 Pretoria Street. It was built in 1897,
in the days of horse-drawn fire-fighting equipment and was in use until 1966. When the
fire alarm would sound and the firemen would rush off to a fire, the building was vacant,
and all the kids would make a bee-line for the second floor and slide down the pole to
the ground level. Once when the firemen were out on a call, we kids discovered toast
burning in a toaster inside the fire station. The fire was quickly extinguished and we
never let the firemen forget that incident!
The CNR tracks were located where the Queensway is today. There was a stock-yard located
near Elgin Street. On occasion, a cow or a bull would make a break from the pens, charge
down Pretoria Avenue and interrupt a game of football.
During the 1950's, the cars were huge. These were the days of big fins and the Chevs and
Plymouths were very wide. About 1960, the families at 158 and 160 Pretoria each had
cars which were too wide to negotiate the laneway to their garages at the rear of the
houses. If you walk by these houses today, you can see how the basement walls of the
two houses are concave, as a result of being "chiselled out" to accomodate the cars of
Pretoria Avenue is part of the Glebe neighbourhood.
... Al Lewis,
E-mail Norm Kimber and Al Lewis
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