On Twitter today, side effectsI was drawn into another discussion of an old obsession of mine: the route of Wellington Street in Ottawa. Or more specifically, the question “WHY ARE THERE TWO WELLINGTONS?” Tourists and residents alike are confused by the presence of two prominent – but not physically connected – streets bearing the name “Wellington”: the Wellington Street downtown, and the Wellington Street West that runs through Hintonburg and Wellington Village.
In addition, there were/are lots of little remnant bits of road called “Wellington” that still appear on maps if not road signs. So, intrigued, I did what I usually do when a geeky local history question bugs me, I led a pair of Jane’s Walk Tours in 2012 and 2013.
You can find some of my related, and poorly organized, geekery in my blog notes (below the map). But one thing I didn’t do was provide a single clear map showing how the “missing links”connected. So here we go…
Recently I’ve been playing around with an iPhone app called iMotion HD that allows you to use your iPhone to do some pretty snazzy time-lapse photography. Here are a few iPhone time-lapse videos I’ve done recently.
Two hours of chaos in one and a half minutes with a great acapella vocal group doing a Manhattan Transfer style version of Carol of the Bells. Love how this turned out.
iPhone time-lapse video: artist Jennifer Shepherd shooting a video
I recently did some work with artist Jennifer Shepherd of Living Tapestries and Susan Murphy of SuzeMuse.com and Jester Creative to shoot a concept video for Industry Canada’s Canada Business group on how to start a business. We wanted to try a different approach for this video – more fun and whimsical than your average government information package. I’ll share the final product when it’s public.
But as a fun way of capturing the process and camera set up, drugs I shot this time lapse of Jenniferat work on one of the drawings.
iPhone time-lapse video: prefab house being delivered in Wellington Village area.
Cool to see how they do this, but the timpe-lapse video ended up being kind of shaky. So maybe this one isn’t ready for iMax yet.
For long-time Ottawa residents, patient this view will look strange, and it should. Because it doesn’t exist anymore – or rather, the view has changed drastically, and the hill and path are now blocked off and overgrown. But I’m thinking it’s time for Nanny Goat Path to rise again.
So where is this?
Believe it or not, this picture was taken on Laurier Avenue. Specifically, the photographer was standing at the very Western end of Laurier Avenue, at the top of the Nanny Goat Hill escarpment, facing West. The road that stretches straight to the horizon is now the Western part of Albert Street, where it turns into Scott Street.
The view is toward the sawmills and housing on Lebreton Flats (gone), the O’Keefe brewery (gone), and the Western Ottawa railroad yards, roundhouse, and the old West-end train station (all gone). To get a better idea of how it all once fit together, this great piece on Urbsite is a solid primer, but we could spend a whole book talking about Lebreton Flats… oh wait Phil Jenkins already did.
Originally, the path in the photo was part of Maria Street – the road that eventually became Laurier Avenue. Maria ran straight down the escarpment here as a road which joined the old Richmond Road. You can still see the grading, retaining walls, and utility poles (above) from the era when this was a municipal street.
But in the late 1800’s: the grade of Maria Street proved too steep for streetcars, so engineers route trams and roads around it to connect Wellington Street downtown with today’s Wellington Street West, and Albert Street angled across to merge with Wellington near the same spot.
So by the early 1900’s, the Nannygoat Path became what you see in the photo above: a rough, informal pathway. Rough, but a convenient way for people to move on foot from downtown Ottawa to a few major residential, employment, and transportation centres. So you can see the path in the photo is well-worn and steep, but not unreasonable for a person on foot.
So what happened to Nanny Goat Path?
Two things went wrong for this path. First, with the Lebreton Flats fiasco and the death of the rail and sawmills, all the major reasons to use Nanny Goat Path had disappeared by the 1960’s. Second, car culture came along, and at the bottom of the path, Albert Street became the major route for cars, and later Transitway buses, to climb the escarpment.
So Nannygoat Path was stranded in an awkward high-traffic corner, with not a lot of people using it anyway. So eventually, the top and bottom of the hill were fenced off, and over time, largely forgotten.
But this is critical: the Nanny Goat path right-of-way remains City of Ottawa property.
Imagine with me…
Now that Laurier is the major East-West bike route through downtown, and the Albert / Scott corridor has long been identified as the ideal place for a major East-West bike way, this hill would be a poker-straight connection between those routes.
Certainly, the grade is still steep, so it would be a hard climb and a fast descent, so switch-backs, road crossings, and connections at the bottom would need to be considered.
But even if it never became a bike-route, at the very least, this path should be resurrected as a pedestrian path. What do you think? Crazy? Possible?
Here are a couple of Google Map grabs showing the rough route (red shapes).
A thought experiment:
What if Ottawa treated speed limits like development applications?
Recently, dosage our City’s Planning Committee has been happily rubber-stamping rezoning applications from large developers for skyscraper condo buildings – even though they are double, pills triple, or even quadruple Official Plan and Community Design Plan guidelines. So I wondered: what if we treated other urban regulations the same way? After all, they all get in the way of growth, don’t they?
BY DAVID RAVELY, THE O-TOWN CITY-ZEN, JULY 11, 2012
In the quiet urban neighbourhood of Placid Park, more than 750 giant cement trucks a day will now be able to drive at up to 130 km/h through small residential streets. “Maximum 40km/h” signs will remain in place for residents and all other vehicles, but Devco Cement trucks will now be allowed to travel at more than three times the posted speed.
That’s because earlier today, the City’s Transportation Committee unanimously approved a proposal from Devco to allow their cement trucks and other heavy vehicles to travel through the neighbourhood of Placid Park at an “optimized speed”.
“They’re just being all “NOM-C”, saying ‘Not Over My Child’. But oh, wait till they see how lovely this proposal really is for everybody!”
~ Councilor Catherine Hobby
According to Devco president Lance De Boil: “The goal is to help the city meet its “rapidification” goals, and ease traffic congestion on main arteries.” To do this, Devco will now be able to use Placid Park as a high-speed bypass – whisking their trucks from Highway 466 to a new Devco cement plant on the other side of the small neighbourhood.
“It’s a win-win!” Says Transportation committee chair, Councilor Peter Hummer: “Our Diesel 20/20 Plan calls for rapidification of 20-40% in this area, and this decision allows us to take one big step towards getting those trucks moving much more quickly to their destination.”
The City, for its part, will pay for repaving and widening the road – and removing all speed bumps, stop signs, cross-walks, bike lanes, and the school crossing zone next to Placid Park Elementary School’s playground.
“Fast is good. It’s really a step up from the clunky, down-speed proposals of the past!” said De Boil in his presentation, before handing off to his Transportation Architect, Roddy Heehee.
According to Hayhee, the old speed limits were about preventing dirty, ugly, old trucks, not today’s “low-profile conveyances, pulsing with power, energy, and grace”. Heehee’s PowerPoint presentation showed artists’ renderings of pastel-coloured trucks on wide, leafy streets, moving past happily waving mothers and children. His presentation drew applause from the dozen lobbyists, consultants, and transportation architects on hand.
And area Councilor Catherine Hobby says she is enthusiastic that the community will eventually change their minds on the issue: “They’re just being all “NOM-C”, saying ‘Not Over My Child’. But oh, wait till they see how lovely this proposal really is for everybody! Devco has hired an expensive Toronto truck-decorating firm. And gosh, but won’t all those slim new trucks make Placid Park sparkle with urban energy!”
But community representatives aren’t convinced: “I don’t care how pretty the truck is. If it runs over my dog, it’s going too damned fast!” said one grumpy man, who asked that his name (Fred Smith) not be used. “I thought the word “limit” meant, well, a “limit”. I guess not for everybody. If I asked for permission to drive that fast, I’d get arrested!”
“I don’t understand,” said Placid Park Community Association chair Les Pertinent. “The city’s official plan says one thing, and we spent years working with the city to develop a long Community Transportation Plan (CTP) – all of which were approved by Council. Then we put in countless hours and community dollars hiring experts to show how ludicrously dangerous this proposal is, and twenty-five of us took unpaid days off work to come downtown and say our piece. How can they just overturn all that with one, unanimous vote?”
Hummer rolls his eyes: “Sure, we all support CTPs in principle. But this one only covers the middle of the street Devco is proposing to use, not the new wider street! And the wording says “greater speeds than 40 km per hour should be discouraged. Discouraged? How can we possibly know what that means? That would get thrown right out at the Ontario Motor Board (OMB)!”
Hummer angrily denied that this decision was simply a way for Devco to increase profits at the expense of safety for local residents. He also denied any connections between campaign funding and the pattern of voting on the committee – which routinely approves major speed limit rezoning applications by large companies against community objections.
“Besides,” adds Hobby,who has herself also reacted angrily in the past to questions of campaign funding: “You can’t say it wasn’t democratic. We did hold consultations. Well, one public meeting anyway. The company presented the idea to the community, while I hid… er, um, took notes at the back of the room. And even though there were hours of objections, Devco staff very patiently explained how wrong and narrow-minded everyone in the room was.”
Then Hobby smiles beatifically and gestures to the huddle of angry citizens outside the Committee Room: “And gosh. These people did elect me. So they must approve of what I’m doing!”
When asked what the next steps are for the Community Association are, Les Pertinent shrugs. “We’re a small community, so we can’t afford a legal challenge. I guess we’ll just have to keep our kids off the streets.’
“And I guess, since Devco originally asked for 160 km per hour, it could be worse….”
Last week, medicine I reacted with shock and dismay when I saw that our friend and neighbour Joanne Chianello had done the unthinkable. She had written the following piece for her Ottawa Citizen column.
She was referring, of course, to the fact that Ottawa foodie idol Stephen Beckta was going to be opening a new Westboro restaurant under that (objectively speaking) glorious name. But she opined that:
It’s a bad name. Unless you’re Dutch, which we are not.
(Ahem.) Now apart from my day job as a branding guy, I’m also a proud Dutch-Canadian. Both my parents were born in the Netherlands, and so I grew up with the word, and with the philosophy embedded in, “gezellig”. That word that is to Dutch culture what furniture isn’t to the Swedes, or haggis to the Scots (and as a bonus, without any Allen Keys or sheep entrails masquerading as food).
So imagine my surprise and delight when I ran into His Excellency, the Dutch Ambassador to Ottawa Wim Geerts at an event this morning at Hub Ottawa. So here you are Joanne Chianello. Straight from the horse’s mouth (that’s “horse” with a glottal G).
Thank you very much to His Excellency for playing along!