Virtual exhibits

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All Aboard! A history of rail transportation in Ottawa: 1850-2010

A booklet about the history of rail transportation in Ottawa

Written by C. Robert Craig Memorial Library researchers Colin Churcher, David Jeanes, and David Knowles, and edited by Signe Jeppesen, All Aboard! [PDF - 1.5 MB] traces the history of rail transportation in Ottawa from early beginnings till 2010.

Enduring Bonds Virtual Exhibit

The Dutch Royal Family

Enduring Bonds: The Story of the Dutch Royal Family in Ottawa [PDF - 3.675 MB] commemorates the strong bonds of cooperation and friendship between Ottawa and the Netherlands. The photo exhibit highlights Canadian and Dutch stories of World War II and the safe haven Ottawa provided to the Dutch Royals, including the iconic portraits of the Dutch royal family by renowned portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh.

The exhibition was prepared by the City of Ottawa Archives to mark the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and presented at City Hall from May 16, 2022 to May 31, 2023.

Rick St John: carver and community builder

Portrait of Rick St. John by the water

Rick St John: carver and community builder

Presented by the volunteers of Rideau Archives, Rick St John: carver and community builder [PDF - 7.96 MB] features the life, work, and passions of Kars resident Rick St. John.

Throughout his life, Rick has excelled in the fields of carving, breeding champion beagles, writing for media, fishing and hunting, and community building. His talents have been recognized, encouraged, and awarded. In all these pursuits he has demonstrated his generous and limitless capacity to develop and share excellence.

Witness of Change: Visions from the Andrews-Newton Photographs

Cars parked around the ByWard Market Square, corner of George Street

The Andrews-Newton photographers documented Ottawa’s growth and transformation. From the post-war years through to the end of the 1950s, the Andrews-Newton staff worked as the official photographers for The Ottawa Citizen newspaper, capturing everything from major events and disasters to portraits and community celebrations.

Between 1945 and 1960, Ottawa went through a period of dramatic change. By the end of the Second World War, our Nation’s Capital was a small city moving from a wartime economy to a peacetime economy. After years of refuge in Ottawa, the Dutch Royal family headed home to the Netherlands while troops returned from war looking for homes and jobs. The federal government hired an urban planner to deal with the rapidly growing city.

Through the images from the Andrews-Newton collection, Witness of Change: Visions from the Andrew-Newton Photographs [PDF - 5.8 MB] will take you on a trip during an exciting period in Ottawa’s history - a time that shaped how Ottawa looks and functions today.

The Billings Family virtual exhibit

The Billings family house

The Billings Family virtual exhibit [PDF - 5.5 MB] presented by the City of Ottawa Archives, gives a view of the Billings Family and their interactions with the growing city center of Ottawa and Billings Bridge Village. The histories are written from the perspective of one family’s experiences and activities, within the context of Ottawa’s development as a city.

A virtual exhibit: Ottawa becomes the capital

Bytown vue vers l’est le long de la rue Wellington en 1853

One hundred and fifty years ago Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the capital of the United Province of Canada. As one of the oldest and the fourth largest municipality in Canada, the City of Ottawa has a story to tell that encompasses but is also distinct from its role as the national capital. The stories of the many communities that comprise Ottawa have been overshadowed by its identity as the nation’s capital. At the same time, this is very much a national story, relevant to all Canadians as outlined in the virtual exhibit: Ottawa becomes the capital [PDF - 5.153 MB]

The Aberdeen Pavilion

Lansdowne Park Exhibition grounds, 1898

The Aberdeen Pavilion, built in 1898, became central to Lansdowne Park (opened 1888). The Central Canada Exhibition (CCE) staged its annual fair on this site until 2010.

Built by the Dominion Bridge Company, the exhibition hall was designed by Ottawa architect Moses E. Edey. His design was inspired by the Crystal Palace in London. It is composed of a series of large steel arches, large glass windows, pressed metal ornaments, and a column-free open space. This late-Victorian exhibition hall was named after former governor general Lord Aberdeen, a supporter of the agricultural fair movement and farmer’s markets. Initially, the hall was mainly used for agricultural shows, thus its nickname ‘the cattle castle’. It is one of the last exhibit halls of the 19th century still standing and in use today – a testament to Ottawa’s agricultural tradition.

An ice rink was built in the pavilion in 1902 by the Ottawa Hockey Club (now the Ottawa Senators). The pavilion hosted the team’s 1904 full season and the Stanley Cup Challenge.

The structure adapted to become an important military facility in wartime serving as home to Lord Strathcona’s Horse in the Boer War, and to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, and the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards during the First World War.

In 1973, the City of Ottawa took over site management. The pavilion, designated as a Heritage structure under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1982, was later recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1983 although it required significant restoration work. By 1991 it was closed to the public and threatened by demolition. Ottawa City Council reversed its decision to demolish the hall and a newly restored structure opened in 1994.

At the turn of the new millennium, the Aberdeen Pavilion was chosen by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada as one of the top 500 buildings built in the last millennium. The 2012-2014 revitalization project further enhanced the significance of the building by tying together the dynamic modern facilities and the community’s history.

See more images dating from 1888 to 2015 from the Aberdeen Pavilion display.

The 1998 Ice Storm - A Terrible Beauty

branches verglacées et de camions

During the winter of 1998, a stat of emergency was declared as the region was battered by an ice storm of unprecedented ferocity. A Terrible Beauty [ PDF - 2.2 MB] highlights the efforts of community members that brought the people of Ottawa together to provide safety, shelter, food, and security during a catastrophic weather event.

The exhibition was prepared by the City of Ottawa Archives with contributions of various media outlets and presented at City Hall Art Gallery from September 24 to October 26, 2003.

Time Traveller App

Inspired by Canada's 150th anniversary celebration, the City of Ottawa Archives created Time Traveller—a mobile app providing access to Ottawa’s history and its landmarks. The app allows you to travel through time to discover places, events and people that shaped the City of Ottawa since Confederation. Using the interactive map, users choose a story based on a location, a timeline or a random story.

Due to ever changing technology, the app is no longer supported. The app will be sunsetted on both platforms by the end of 2021.

If you are interested in learning more about the app, please contact us.