on June 21, 2017 by test_editor in Archive_2017, June, Print Articles, Comments Off on June 22, 2017: The End of an Era; Local historian plans a move.

June 22, 2017: The End of an Era; Local historian plans a move.

June 22, 2017: The End of an Era;
Local historian plans a move.

By Dave Allston.

Wellington Village is a well established neighbourhood that was largely developed in two distinct spurts: the mid-1920’s after the land was first subdivided and offered for sale; and the early 1940’s during the housing shortage after the depression had ended, and soldiers were returning after the war. The neighbourhood has thankfully for the most part avoided gentrification and infill which has changed so many others. Many families in Wellington Village have taken root here, and some can boast of multiple generations residing within its borders, in some cases within the same house.

The number of houses in Wellington Village that have been single-family owned are down to a rare few, and that number is about to be reduced by one. Bruce Chapman is a fixture of Gilchrist Avenue, the son of Fred and Laura Chapman who had 38 Gilchrist built seventy-eight years ago, back in 1939. Three months prior to their wedding, the couple hired young Western Avenue-based house-builder Wilfred J. Carriere to construct their family home.

Bruce came along a few years later in 1945, and 38 Gilchrist is the only house he has ever resided in. He knows the area and its anecdotal history better than perhaps anyone, and has a particularly impressive memory for dates.

Pulled in by the lure of the railway, Bruce spent his childhood years enamoured with the trains that travelled down Scott Street, on the old CPR tracks that ran where the Transitway runs today. Bruce boasts that as early as age 2 he was able to hear distant trains approaching, and would race outside to catch a glimpse. Later he began photographing them, and indeed has accumulated arguably the pinnacle collection of vintage Ottawa railway photos.

Bruce turned his passion into employment, and after spending his school years at Elmdale, Connaught and Fisher Park, got a job in January 1965 out of the Ottawa West train-yards. His first role was as Train Order Operator, where he was responsible for verifying the arrivals and departures at Ottawa West, and issuing clearance passes. Later he had the opportunity to travel along the line, all the while taking photos and documenting history as it was unfolding. When the Ottawa West yard sadly closed in 1967, Bruce captured its final days.

Fifty years later another era ends when Bruce moves from Gilchrist Avenue. He notes that it is both difficult and a relief to go through a lifetime of items and downsize. Leaving the home you’ve resided in for 70 years can’t be easy. Highly respected in the local railway history circles, Bruce has found homes for a large portion of his items, but is of course keeping much of his amazing archive. As much as an adjustment it will be for Bruce to move, it won’t be easy for many of his neighbours to get used to it either. An icon of the neighbourhood who won’t soon be forgotten.

collage of 2 images, subject stands on a modern residential street. 2nd image lower right child on bike on a winter street in sepis tinted old black and white photo.

On the street where…

Photo Caption: Bruce Chapman prepares to leave the street where he once rode his tricycle (inset). Photo by Dave Allson; inset photo courtesy B. Chapman.


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