The power to travel back in time and see the events, people and landmarks that shaped Ottawa over the past 150 years is now in the palm of your hands. The City of Ottawa’s Archives presents the new Time Traveller app for your mobile device – now available on the Apple and Google Play stores.
The Time Traveller covers significant events and milestones in Ottawa’s history, from Confederation to present day. Discover the great Hull-Ottawa fire, the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, the origin of Lord Stanley’s Cup, along with tributes to the human spirit, like Project 4000 and the establishment of the Gays of Ottawa in 1977. It also features some unknown or quirky historical facts, such as the Flying Saucer Research Centre.
Time travellers have three ways to travel through time in the app:
- Use the interactive map and choose a story based on a location
- Follow a chronological, historical timeline
- Teleport to a random story
The app also utilizes geo-mapping technology that allows the user to identify sites and stories of historical significance near or around their current location.
To get a taste of the Time Traveller app, here are some sample stories:
Hello Canada! (1867)
On July 1st, 1867, the British North America Act merged the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into one country, the new Dominion of Canada. That night on Parliament Hill, Canada’s seat of government was crowded with spectators and troops who had come to celebrate and bid farewell to the Province of Canada. Five minutes after midnight, a gun salute celebrated the coming of the new Dominion. To this day, July 1st has been celebrated first as Dominion Day and, starting in 1982, as Canada Day. Huge celebrations on Parliament Hill and across the city make Ottawa a destination every Canada Day!
Location: Parliament Hill
The Spanish Flu (1918)
The 1918 flu pandemic, known as the Spanish flu, was one of the greatest natural disasters in human history. It infected 500 million people across the world. The Spanish flu struck Ottawa in September 1918. More than 10,000 people fell ill. In three weeks alone, 520 residents died. The Board of Health issued warnings and instructions through the press. City Council had circulars delivered to every household in the city by the Boy Scouts. Mayor Harold Fisher closed city schools, churches, laundries, theatres, and pool halls. Stores and offices were obligated to close at 4 pm. Women in the community and local female charitable societies, like the May Court Club, Halcyon Club and the Ottawa Local Council of Women, volunteered their time to provide nursing services to the limited number of medical professionals. Several schools were turned into temporary hospitals for the infected. After nearly two months, emergency restrictions were lifted on November 11th and life slowly returned to normal for most residents.
Afterwards, Mayor Fisher called for a federal department of health and made public health a priority during his tenure as mayor.
Location: Harold Fisher statue, Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus, 1053 Carling Avenue
Out of the Closets (1977)
The Gays of Ottawa were one of Canada’s earliest gay liberation groups, launching in 1970, along with groups in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. At this time, homosexuality was still treated as criminal or deviant.
Many changes occurred in Ottawa after the formation of the Gays of Ottawa. In 1971, “We Demand,” Canada’s first public gay protest, occurred on Parliament Hill. In 1976, Ottawa City Council passed a motion prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation when hiring, only the second municipality in Canada to do so at the time.
In 1977, the Gays of Ottawa produced Out of the Closets, an LGBT-oriented television program on local Skyline and Ottawa cable channels, and later a French language version on the local cable channel in Hull, Quebec. They also organized social events for the LGBT community.
In 1978, Mayor Marion Dewar convened a convention on the issue of homosexuality, six months after taking office. The Gays of Ottawa group declined in influence in the late 1980s as Pink Triangle Services, founded in 1984, grew.
Location: Pride Flag/Rainbow Crosswalk, Corner of Bank Street and Somerset Street West
The Time Travelers app works in both English and French, depending on the language preference that was selected on the mobile phone device.