Why we love it!
The streets of Old Ottawa South have changed a lot over the decades (as have house prices!), but one thing has been a constant for the past century and a half: the Bennett family.
Born a Killarn (just a wee bit Irish, aren’t I?), I grew up at 35 Belmont Avenue.
"Ottawa South" - as it was then called (the “Old” was added when the City expanded to the south – but I would prefer it if it were called “Original” Ottawa South) was your typical idyllic, middle-class neighbourhood with streets filled with children, beautifully maintained gardens, friendly neighbours, nearby parks, and a beach for summertime fun. This was, and frankly still is, the place to raise a family and plant your roots in Ottawa – but, then again, I may be a little biased!
As a child, it seemed like there was no better place to grow up than Belmont Avenue. My Dad was a Fireman at Fire Station #10, which is now the Old Ottawa South Community Centre on Sunnyside. He was basically a neighbourhood celebrity with the kids (as most Firemen and Police Officers still are today), so I would bring all my friends to visit my Dad, and he’d let us sit on the firetrucks and even slide down the station’s pole. It was blast and good clean fun!
Our quiet cul-de-sac was only steps from the Rideau River. In the summer, you could find me down at Brighton Beach taking swimming lessons, playing with my friends, or lazily floating around on rafts, sun-tanning and diving into the water. Even then, we knew it was a real bonus or luxury to be able to hop on our bikes and hit the beach within minutes – or in my particular case, within seconds. In the evenings, after a basketball, football or baseball game at Windsor Park, you could find all of your neighbours and team-mates at the Dairy Queen near Billings Bridge.
Each year, just before the end of Summer and the start of a new school year, my friends and I had a blast on the rides at the Ex at Lansdowne Park. Admission was free for us then and food and fun were really inexpensive and the carneys were – well - different. Although the return to school was always a down-time, as it still is for many kids, but, believe it or not we quickly started looking forward to the Winter because that meant spending our evenings with friends on the ice on the freshly and often quickly frozen canal and then later after the canal became snowed-in (this is long before the NCC turned the canal into a tourist skating attraction) on the rink at Windsor Park.
On weekends, we’d all gather at the hill behind Saint Margaret Mary’s Church with our toboggans, no matter how cold it was! What wild rides that hill provided. Sometimes scary – but always fun and always noisy! Staying indoors and watching television was never on our minds because there was so much to do right outside our front doors. Besides, in those days, there were only two channels – three if you included the French CBC channel.
As a child, I attended Saint Margaret Mary's School on Bellwood Avenue (which is now a new home development of high-end, semi-detached homes that was built by Charlesfort about twenty years ago). I soon switched over to Hopewell Avenue Public School because they had an accelerated program for math wizards, and I’m proud to say that I’ve always had a talent for numbers.
After Hopewell, I moved on to Glebe Collegiate, which still stands as a staple in the community and one of the best schools in the area. The first day that I walked through the large doors, I couldn’t get over the size of the building. I thought, wow, this is some school! The marble columns, the high ceilings, the enormous assembly hall and gyms (plural), the shiny floors that echoed the female teachers’ high heels and the students’ chatter– it was like something out of a movie. Gone were the small hallways of our elementary school years. This was the big time – this was high school!
Glebe Collegiate was really where I came into my own, and it’s where I found my love for sports - both as a player and a cheering from the sidelines. On “Football Fridays”, everyone at the school sported yellow and blue ribbons with huge pride, and everyone came out to watch the Gryphons trounce another opponent! Our teams were the best of the best. As a majorette, I would pump up the crowd during the halftime show, twirling my baton, and showing off my smooth moves. My love for entertaining and being in front of crowds started at a young age! In fact, later on I became a Rough Rider Riderette, which meant performing during the halftime shows at CFL games for up to 30 thousand fans! It was amazing, to say the least!
At Glebe, I wanted to get involved in as many activities as I could. I played basketball, volleyball, football, broomball; I skied, and I swam. There was never a time that I remember saying that I was bored. On weekends, I also held a part-time job at Sears at the Carlingwood Mall. I learned the importance of hard work very early on.
Every Sunday, we headed down the street to Saint Margaret Mary’s Church for mass. This was also the same place our family gathered to watch me sing in the choir at the annual Christmas concert. Again, I loved to shine in front of the crowd! I saw all the neighbourhood kids’ christenings and first communions. We all grew up together as part of a large family. I really couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Old Ottawa South is far more to me than simply rows of houses and intersections. Its landmarks, its families, it sidewalks, its parks all formed and remind me of my history. These streets have watched me grow from a child first learning to ride her bike, to a teenager getting her driver’s license to a young mother pulling her kids on a toboggan. If the lampposts could talk!
And these features are not part of just my own history, but of both my and my husband’s family’s. In fact, it is in this neighbourhood that I met my high school sweetheart and future husband, George, who was also raised in Old Ottawa South. His parents lived on Belmont Avenue when they got married in 1934 and soon moved to Bellwood Avenue, where, until he was a young teenager, George’s family (of seven kids!) lived right across the street from St. Margaret Mary’s School - although he attended Hopewell. George’s grandparents and many of his aunts and uncles lived just across the canal in the Glebe area where they had lived since the late 1800’s right up until the 1970’s.
We both attended Glebe Collegiate, and even at the young age of fourteen, I knew that we were meant to be. I graduated from Glebe in 1972 and married George in 1973. We had our first child in 1977, and by late 1982 we had had three kids. Forty-three years of marriage, three kids, and four grandchildren later, and we’re still going strong and continue to be deeply involved in the community as George runs the Icebreaker Soccer Tournament which is now the largest soccer tournament in Canada, coaches a skilled girls’ team and chaired the Committee which installed two artificial turf fields just across the river in Alta Vista.
When it came time for me to attend post-secondary university, I once again didn’t stray far from Old Ottawa South as I enrolled part-time at Carleton University and pursued my love of numbers with a double major in Economics and Law. I graduated just two months before my son, Taylor, was born.
Because of our love for this neighbourhood, there was obviously nowhere else that we would choose to raise our own children. We wanted them to have the same innocent and carefree memories that we had from our childhoods on Belmont and Bellwood. On summer evenings, we would take the kids and head down to the Bandshell at Lansdowne to listen to music, and on Sunday afternoons we’d pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery at Vincent Massey Park.
All this to say, your neighbourhood is also my neighbourhood. I know the area, the schools, and the houses because I have grown up here. I have lived at the same house in Old Ottawa South for 35 years now, just ten houses down the street from where my husband’s parents’ moved in 1964.
The Bennett family has always been very active in the community from running the now-disappeared “canteen” at Brewer Park for more than a decade, to starting up the Little League baseball program at Windsor Park, to delivering newspapers for both the Ottawa Citizen and Journal, to delivering bread by horse and wagon for Walker’s Bakery, to volunteering in sports and charity door-to-door drives to its involvement in municipal and provincial politics alike.
Family is the most important thing to me, and I see my company as an extension of my family. In fact, my three kids and even my son-in-law, Greg, all work with me at Bennett Property Shop. How many parents can say that their children willingly chose to have their mothers as their boss? I think this goes to show what a great atmosphere we’ve created here.
I see family as the heart of our community and our shared belief systems. With my deeply-rooted and long-time ties to Old Ottawa South, I can truly say that no one knows Old Ottawa South better.
I love our community; there is no better place to call home!
Old Ottawa South
Old Ottawa South is an older, vibrant, urban neighbourhood in Ottawa located between the Rideau Canal and the Rideau River. It consists of a mostly English speaking population.
Old Ottawa South Housing
If you're looking for a mature neighbourhood, then Old Ottawa South is surely one to consider as most of the homes pre-date 1960 and the area developed as an early suburb at the turn of the last century. The architectural style is mostly Craftsman style homes, with many houses in the American Foursquare style popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Many of the solid red brick and clapboard homes that filled the neighbourhood are still lovingly maintained. Many of these houses have been upgraded and added to over the years, contributing to the area's eclectic style. Proximity to Carleton university makes it a haven for professors and students. Approximately a third of the housing are rentals and shared accommodation.
Old Ottawa South Jobs and Employment
Carleton University and Canada Post are big employers in the area with many retail jobs available in the nearby shops and restaurants. Other employment opportunities exist at the Recreational facilities in the area.
Is Old Ottawa South A Safe Neighbourhood?
The population of Old Ottawa South is a mix of older residents who've lived here for years and young families who like the quality of the schools and recreational options nearby. Over 60% of the population holds a University Degree and there is a substantial university student population in this area.
Old Ottawa South Schools
Residents of Old Ottawa South are close to many excellent schools, from junior kindergarten (and child care) right up to post-graduate studies including:
- The Ottawa Montessori School
- The Glebe Montessori School
- Hopewell Avenue Public School
- Mutchmor Public School
- Glebe Collegiate Institute
- Carleton University
Old Ottawa South Activities
Bank Street runs through the centre of the community, offering a variety of retail options: from cafés, pubs, restaurants and toy stores, to second-hand clothing and antiques, as well as fine take-out, catering, and kitchen stores—including a full service grocery store. And it's all within walking distance for locals, with good parking for visitors.
There are several parks that preserve nature on the river and provide good fun for children and dogs. Children's play areas, water parks, skating rinks, and a local indoor pool in Brewer Park offer great recreational activities. Just to the north over the bridge is Lansdowne Park.
Considering all that it has to offer, Old Ottawa South is a rather unique neighbourhood. With great emphasis placed on education, and the residents' commitment to greener living, walkability and sustainable growth, Old Ottawa South is a great place to live.
For further information about Old Ottawa South's housing and amenities please sign-up on this page and see what options you have for living in Old Ottawa South.