Description of Historic Place
Sandy Hill West Heritage Conservation District is a primarily residential neighborhood located to the east of the Rideau canal, south of the Byward Market and north of the University of Ottawa. Settled in the mid 1800s, the area known as Sandy Hill developed as a desirable residential area with a strong presence of the Roman Catholic Church and Bytown College, today the University of Ottawa, Canada's first bilingual educational institution. The district represents an unusually rich cross-section of Ottawa architecture over the last one hundred and fifty years, with over 80% of the buildings dating from before 1920.
The district was formally recognized under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act by the City of Ottawa in 1994 (By-law 255-94).
The heritage value of the district of Sandy Hill West lies in its associations with the growth and development of the City of Ottawa in the late nineteenth century, its connection with prominent institutions (including the University of Ottawa) and its architectural variety.
Sandy Hill West is a relatively intact residential neighbourhood with the majority of buildings dating from the 1860s to the 1920s. The area of Sandy Hill West developed on a portion of land granted to Quebec City notary, Louis Besserer. From 1840-1880, the area saw little growth until the choice for Ottawa as the capital of Canada in 1857 by Queen Victoria. Besserer conveyed six lots to the Roman Catholic diocese, which became the site of Bytown College, Canada's first bilingual educational institution. The Oblate Fathers and a number of other religious bodies built churches and schools in the area. A number of influential, affluent residents were attracted to the area, and residential development accelerated in the late 1860s and early 1870s.
The majority of development occurred from 1880 – 1920 when the area was redeveloped as part of the rapid change and intensification in the core area of Ottawa as the city's population quadrupled. Within Sandy Hill West, lots were redeveloped to provide smaller single family and multiple unit residential properties. The area was middle class, with working level civil servants, railway employees and merchants. Some of the churches were also rebuilt on a larger scale in order to serve citizens across the city. Sandy Hill West is an important indicator and remnant of the incredible growth that Ottawa experienced in the late nineteenth century.
One of the landmark features of Sandy Hill West is the University of Ottawa, formerly Bytown College. Although most of the campus lies to the south of Sandy Hill West, a number of important buildings, including the oldest building on campus, Academic Hall, are contained within the district. The contribution of the Oblate Order to education in Canada, the history of French education in the province of Ontario, and the contribution of bilingualism and French/English relations are all important historical themes that have associations with the area of Sandy Hill West.
Sandy Hill West represents an unusually rich cross-section of Ottawa architecture over the last one hundred and fifty years. The survival rate has also been quite high; over 80% of the buildings date from before 1920.
The district is strong in residential and institutional building types. The residential buildings include single family homes, double residences, two, three and four door rows, and larger multi-unit apartments. The institutional buildings include an unusually high number of churches and related religious buildings and many of the more significant University of Ottawa properties. There are a few mixed-use properties which record the earlier commercial and light industrial activities in the area.
A variety of architectural styles and expressions are represented in Sandy Hill West. Despite the diversity of building stock, they are unified by the dignified decorative and ornamental elements, added to create a modest prestige in the district. The architecture is also representative of new building techniques being employed in Ottawa for the first time, such as the widespread use of stone and brick veneer, the emergence of the front gable and flat roofed building, as well as new preferences regarding siting and orientation. Overall, the architecture of Sandy Hill West represents a great diversity of styles and expressions which contribute to the heritage character of the district.
Source: Sandy Hill West Heritage Conservation District Study, 1993, City of Ottawa
Character defining elements that contribute to the historical value of the Sandy Hill West Heritage Conservation District include the:
- street plan and lot patterns from the original survey in the 1840s.
- relatively intact, cohesive streetscapes of residential and institutional development
- evidence of the development of new ideas in the late nineteenth century regarding siting and orientation of structures, including setbacks and frontages
- 80% of current building stock dating from before 1920
- historical connection with the University of Ottawa and the Oblate fathers whom established it
- significant, historical buildings of the University of Ottawa, the first bilingual educational institution in Canada (est. 1848)
- unique concentration of many prominent nineteenth century religious buildings
- buildings as they represent the rapid growth which occurred in Ottawa from 1880 until 1920 due to the expanding federal government
- variety of architectural styles, expressions and types
- relatively consistent building materials of red brick and grey stone veneers