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February 4, 2010: Opinion Piece; The Changing Face of Hintonburg.

Opinion Piece; The Changing Face of Hintonburg.
By Diane Plewis.

(A July readers extra: A timeless article from our older issues.)
Takahashi Dojo’s 40th anniversary in December led me to muse about some of the changes Hintonburg has undergone since 1969. That was the year I moved to the Iona Mansions, built in 1912 on Wellington at Rosemount. (Mansions is a common designation for these type of buildings in England.)
From my interesting little apartment, I saw a busy and self-sufficient neighbourhood. We had fast-food outlets galore including the A&W, Kentucky Fried Chicken (still going strong!), Tai Hong Chinese Food and several pizza places. If one actually wanted to cook, groceries were available from the A&P on the corner of Stirling, the Dominion store near Holland, or an independent grocer across from the KFC.
Dry goods were stocked at the United 5¢ to $1 Variety Store until Giant Tiger took over the building in 1972. The United was ripe with smells of fabric and bins of rubber sneakers on display. Gentlemen could get duded up at Rolly’s Menswear and ladies could shop at Irene’s Dress Shop. The latter was famous for semi-annual halfprice sales, carefully timed to coincide with government paydays, which caused near riots inside and line-ups of hopeful customers outside!
If you had no luck furnishing your home at Ottawa Neighbourhood Services or one of the other second-hand shops, Saslove’s Furniture and Appliances would be happy to help, with speedy delivery service and an easy payment plan. There were three gas stations at the Parkdale and Wellington intersection. It’s a mystery to me how they all survived when gas was 30 cents a gallon.
As I continued my walk down memory lane, I realized that 40 years was just a good start for some remarkable businesses in our neighbourhood. Morris Home Hardware, 63 years, and Hubert Heating, 88 years, are still family-run, now into third and fourth generations respectively. Victoria Pharmacy turned 80 this year and our local watering holes, the Carleton Tavern and Elmdale House, set up shop shortly after the repeal of prohibition in 1933. West Park Bowling Lanes is 64 years old, and Tony’s Shoe Repair is the baby among them at age 50.
All in all, it was a busy, happy neighbourhood, with a bit of a split personality.

Daytime was conventional, with folks hurrying to work, to school or to shop. After dark, there were many motorcycles on the street and the taverns disgorged large numbers of people who sometimes couldn’t remember where they lived. Ladies with dramatic makeup and unique wardrobes were not waiting for buses or for the walk signal. The rest of us just locked our doors and enjoyed our stack of library books or adjusted our TV antennas to pick up the strong signals from CBC and CJOH.
And it worked. The swirl of different folks gave the area an independent, largely tolerant, carry-on atmosphere with clear boundaries which, when respected, enabled us all to live and work together comfortably. When I moved to Ottawa South in 1973, I missed the neighbourhood so I was happy to return to Hintonburg in 1990, sneaking in just before we were discovered by a newer generation. And that will be another story!

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