Population Growth

In many respects, Bytown was a planned community modelled after the grid pattern common to European society at the time. Dividing Upper and Lower Town was the prospective canal site, which soon became a physical – as well as a social, religious, and political – line of division between the two classes of early settlers. Upper Town, originally a dense forest, was the first area to be developed: located on higher (and drier) ground, it was home to the more prosperous English and Scottish immigrants. Lower Town, which was originally a cedar swamp, was developed later, once construction of the canal had begun. It was in Lower Town that labourers and immigrants, in particular Irish and French Canadians, eventually took up residence with their families. Unlike Upper Town residents, those living in Lower Town were only permitted to lease their land. Since voting rights were given only to property owners, this zoning decision restricted the ability of the labourers to participate in municipal decisions.

Points of Interest

Get Flash Player
This video requires Javascript to be enabled and the Adobe Flash Player plugin. The plugin is available at http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/

[Source: “Upper Bytown [Ottawa, ON] boundaries as marked on the ground and laid agreeably to the M. G. & Board’s order”, 1850, Library and Archives Canada, 77803/9 CA , NMC [Not given]; Ottawa City, Canada West (Upper Town). Edwin Whitefield, Charles Berkeley Powell fonds. Library and Archives Canada, accession number R11188-2, C-000601; Wellington Street near Bank Street, Ottawa. C. Sedley fonds, Library and Archives Canada, accession number 1992-675-2, C-001548; “The Development of Upper Town” [Animation]. Dr. Stephen Fai. Carleton Immersive Media Studio. 2012.]

Duration: 59 seconds
Download "The Development of Upper Town" (.mp4 23 MB) View the transcript of this video.

The Development of Upper Town

Once Lt. Col. By had finished his survey of Upper Town and marked off lots with stakes and pickets, those families with prestige – as well as the economic means to build houses and develop the land – quickly bought up the land parcels. Located on higher ground to the west of the proposed canal site, these lots were larger, considered healthier because they were on drier land, and therefore more valuable to potential settlers.

X
Painting of Wellington Street, Upper BytownEnlarge

[Source: View of Wellington Street, Upper Bytown [1845]. Thomas Burrowes fonds. Archives of Ontario, C 1-0-0-0-10.]

View of Upper Town

The Upper Town demographic, which mirrored that of upper-class English society at the time, was mostly Protestant. A Presbyterian Church on Wellington Street and a Methodist Chapel were soon built to serve the burgeoning community. The early buildings were mostly built of stone or brick, reflecting the higher economic stature of the Upper Town community.

X

Get Flash Player
This video requires Javascript to be enabled and the Adobe Flash Player plugin. The plugin is available at http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/

[Source: Donald Kennedy, “Plan of Bytown with its limits shewing the exact situation of every street & lot”, 1842, Library and Archives Canada, S/440/Ottawa/1842 , NMC 19056; “The Development of Lower Town” [Animation]. Dr. Stephen Fai. Carleton Immersive Media Studio. 2012.; Ottawa City, Canada West, (Lower Town) from Government Hill, looking down the Ottawa River and showing the locks of the Rideau Canal. Edwin Whitefield, Charles Berkeley Powell fonds, Library and Archives Canada, accession number R11188-1, C-000600]

Duration: 50 seconds
Download "The Development of Lower Town" (.mp4 23 MB) View the transcript of this video.

The Development of Lower Town

Located on lower ground to the east of the proposed canal site, Lower Town (now the Byward Market area of downtown Ottawa) remained an undesirable cedar swamp until canal construction began in 1826. The need for new roads and housing projects for the workers led to the draining and surveying of the land for roads and lots. Once developed, the area was inhabited by a large number of devout Catholics, mostly of French-Canadian and Irish descent. This demographic explains the early presence of the beautifully designed Notre Dame Basilica. The Catholic influence is also found in present street names, including St. Patrick, St. Andrew, and St. Joseph streets, while Guigues Avenue commemorates the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Ottawa (who served from 1847 to 1874). As most of the original houses were built of wood, they either deteriorated over time or were lost in fires. It wasn’t until 1843, when Lower Town residents were first permitted to own their own properties, that they began to invest in more durable building materials.

X
Map of Lower Bytown from the East Bank of the Deep CutEnlarge

[Source: Lower Bytown, from the East Bank of the Deep-cut, Rideau [1845]. Thomas Burrowes fonds. Archives of Ontario, C 1-0-0-0-12.]

Lower Town as a Commercial Centre

The construction of the canal contributed to the development of Lower Town as a commercial centre. A footpath leading from the bottom of the east side of the locks at Steamboat Landing (also known as Cholera Wharf) allowed merchants to bring their wares directly to shops along Sussex Street. The large basin at the top of the locks allowed for ships to unload their commercial goods as well, generating even more revenue for businesses that had been set up by Lower Town residents. By 1841, the population of Bytown had reached over 3,000, with 38 different merchant shops in the area. Lower Town, with the Byward market at its core, continues to be a significant commercial hub in Ottawa today.

X
Property Disputes» Founders«