Eric Darwin commemorative gate CLOSES soon

Intrepid follows of this blog may recall the brou-ha-ha over the gate at the north end of Preston (aka the Preston Extension) where for decades residents have accessed the Ottawa River parklands. We even had a legal crossing of the Transitway ! Then one day — shock: Several times the NCC has tried to close the gate, but we beat them back. Some kind soul even put up a sign naming the gate after Qui- Moi? That sign is long gone, and today the NCC announced our gate and access to the Flats, the River, the bike paths … is … Continue reading Eric Darwin commemorative gate CLOSES soon

Condonaught on Preston

Seen on Preston: large crane at site of future condo tower Soho Italia: And the reason for the crane? Here is condo-naught William McElligott, author of the best-selling photo book Ottawa. He’s going to be hoisted up 260′ on the end of the crane to take photos on a clear Ottawa today, so that condo buyers will know exactly what their October views will be like. The crane revs up its mighty motor, and the boom starts to extend higher, while the hook descends towards the ground. There is a safety rope hooked to Mr McElligott, so he could slide back … Continue reading Condonaught on Preston

When your local resto has tattoos — on the outside

The former home of the Lindenhoff restaurant on Preston is a typical c 1902 brick house that has seen many conversions into businesses and restaurants. The Lederhosen is now gone for a hike, along with the Linden tree silhouette, the rabbit and boar on the menu, and taking Scamp from the signboard. While walking by the building at 268 Preston I noticed that the brickwork had been “patched” or “repaired” by the addition of a stucco coat of cement down the north side. The new stuff is just above the pink band of cement that coats the foundation, perhaps to “modernize” it from limestone blocks … Continue reading When your local resto has tattoos — on the outside

Lazy Parker

etc The utter selfishness and laziness of people continues to astound me. We have previously seen pic on this blog of people who park on the sidewalk in front of their destination instead of parking a few feet further on in a vacant legal parking space. In the case shown above, there are several vacant parking spaces in front of the subject vehicle. Nonetheless, (s)he parked with tail end sticking out onto the street. And then turned on the car flashers to alert everyone that the vehicle was where it shouldn’t have been. Fortunately, a traffic officer went by in the … Continue reading Lazy Parker

Tree makes way for Bambinos

The Preston street BIA has been planning for some years to install a sculptural bit of landscaping at Preston and Gladstone. Called the Bambinos, it is a concrete installation suggesting family, and a soccer team, and is a gateway to the Italian community. Some serious digging has been going on at the corner of Preston and Gladstone recently. I can only presume that they are installing the foundations for these sculptures.    While preparing a new foundation on the northeast corner, they uncovered an older one. Notice the tree on the crest of the little hill, beside the red stake: Last week, … Continue reading Tree makes way for Bambinos

Commercial renovations

Commercial renovations are very different from residential renovations. They are often done for different purposes. Sometimes a quick and dirty reno is all that is justified by an elderly building or underused site where something much better is around the corner. Many commercial modernizations do not maintain the historic style of the old building. And too often those that try to open up the façade (the modern need to see inside) while maintaining a look and feel and materials similar to the old,  are derided as “faux historic”. Some commercial renovations in our west side community go awry: consider the strip on West Wellington, which whilst … Continue reading Commercial renovations


A great fuss is being made over the new Bridgehead coffee shop and factory that opened on Tuesday on Anderson Street at Preston. While I was there the CBC camera crew was there, then a reporter, and a steady stream of curious customers. Certainly the exterior facelift of the old Bell stables building is welcome and, when finished, should be attractive. The Preston Street-side exterior won’t be renovated until the coffee shop expands out to that façade in a few years time, when they manifest their restuarant-bakery ambitions. The first thing that struck me was seeing the usual advertising T-shirts being customized to one store. … Continue reading Bridgehead

Putting the pieces back together in the right order

Sometimes streetscaping projects by the City use lots of bricks or other paving blocks to enhance the sidewalk experience. Other times they use good ole’ concrete. I have mixed feelings about both. The biggest advantage of concrete is that it begs to be trowelled off level. No matter how crude the installation, or unskilled or careless the crew, the finished walk is usually usable. In other words, it’s a forgiving substance. Pavers look nice, but because each one is small they are subject to being laid with an uneven surface. Pavers have the advantage of being removable and relayable after disruption. When pavers … Continue reading Putting the pieces back together in the right order

Miracle on Preston Street

A dozen years or so ago, some nuns in a convent on Primrose Street brought in a fallen apple tree branch. They stuck it in a bucket in their chapel, and proceeded to decorate it with some Christmas ornaments as there was no room for an evergreen in their little chapel room. The bare branches looked suitably artistic. Satisfied with their work, they said their prayers, and headed off to bed. On Christmas morning, they awoke to find all the branches of the tree in full apple blossom. A miracle? Passing by Pubwells on Preston, a chapel to a different sort of prayer … Continue reading Miracle on Preston Street

Crackin’ Up is Easy to Do

The City lays new sidewalks during road reconstructions. They are supposed to last many decades. I notice they do not. Every pedestrian walking the City knows that many sidewalk squares get cracked, heaved, or otherwise broken. Sometimes the squares are too big: when the portion of Somerset between Lyon and Percy was done years ago, the sidewalk squares were huge, and by the first spring half of them had cracked. They were replaced by the contractor, but don’t think that cost wasn’t borne by the taxpayer somewhere, somehow. The City avoids putting rebars or reinforcing wire mesh into the sidewalks to save … Continue reading Crackin’ Up is Easy to Do

Snow Plowing — 1920 vs 2012

The City may change from year to year, but the winter stays the same: it snows. Here’s a shot of snow removal on Preston, looking north, in 1920. Each trucker had his bin filled by hand shovels, there is a crew off to the right. The first building on the left is now Pubwells. All the houses shown in this pic are still there. The building in the far distance closing off the end of Preston was the factory where the transatlantic cables were made. It was the longest building in the British Empire at the time. It was partly … Continue reading Snow Plowing — 1920 vs 2012

Desire lines in the snow

Pathways through fields tell us a lot about where people want to go. Frequently it is not where the planners or architects’ walkways want to take us. That’s because they usually make walkways accessories to buildings, following the same square lines. In the summer, paved walkways and roads hide the pedestrian record. But in winter, the size of the beaten path tells us how many people want to go somewhere. And if they want to go badly enough they will boldly go where no snow plow has gone before. [cut the Capt’n Kirk stuff –ed]. Let’s start off with the … Continue reading Desire lines in the snow

Could the city actually install benches ?

This is another post building more detail on the original Downtown Moves series in While health and fitness naggards complain we sit too much, everyone wants to sit sometimes. I love to walk to places in my west side neighborhood, and walk into the core at least three times a week in the winter. (In the summer, I bike many of these trips, plus my travel zone expands…). Twenty years ago, most shopping malls had few benches in the mall area. Those that were there were to catch collapsing shoppers before they hit the deck. But there seemed to … Continue reading Could the city actually install benches ?

Avenue of Lights

Work crews are rushing to finish up the Somerset Street reconstruction projects. The section west of Preston, to Bayswater, has its final coat of pavement, the sidewalks are down, and the work crews are putting up the light fixtures: In the above picture, the concrete base for the fixture has been erroneously installed too low. Instead of being 4″ above the finished sidewalk, in which case the concrete protects the base of the light fixture from being dinged by the sidewalk plows, a few of these were installed flush with the sidewalk. Here’s the row of lights installed (on their raised … Continue reading Avenue of Lights

Progress on Somerset

It seemed for a while that Somerset, running up from Preston, would never get finished. Would Chinatown be left with craters and a war zone all winter? Deadlines seem to have focussed the contractor’s mind. On Thursday, curbs were laid east of Preston, and by Friday the road base was largely in place. Can the paving crews be far behind? Alas, the sidewalks and landscaping will not be installed this year, that will have to wait for spring. Provided the contractor can assign a crew to do it. Continue reading Progress on Somerset

City counts cars

  It took numerous calls and some arm twisting by the Councillor, but the City is now conducting traffic counts on Preston, Bronson, and Albert.  The unique value of these is to count cars while Booth Street south of Albert is closed due to construction. The City always says it cannot close Booth south of Albert to through traffic because, like dammed water, it would flow around and flood the adjacent streets with cars. And push those streets to the breaking point, resulting in traffic chaos. To anyone who bothers to go out on the streets at rush hour (and that is all … Continue reading City counts cars

Controlling creepy car lots

One of my pet grievances is parking lots on the edge of the sidewalk. Too often motorists or the lot owner “creep” all the time onto the sidewalk. In the streetscaping treatment of West Wellington the City employed portable planter boxes, planted with currant bushes, to keep the cars back. They didn’t do this for every parking lot. But now, a few years on, I saw these planters being installed in front of yet another used car lot. Bravo! When the lot is redeveloped for urban purposes, the planters can be redeployed. I delighted in noticing that the lot owner was not moving his cars … Continue reading Controlling creepy car lots

NCC reopens the gate …

Madame Chairman sent crews of workers down to LeBreton Flats and the Preston “extension” on Friday morning. Crews were busy adjusting the tension on the chain link fence, lopping off a few weeds, removing a superannuated  “stop” sign, etc. They even cut off the protruding rebar and its chip-bag safety cone top: While I was watching the crews, there were a steady stream of walkers and cyclists going through the gate. And a trickle of media-types to check up on the path. That the path is reopened is an example of people-power over the bureaucracy. Together, by complaining to Madame … Continue reading NCC reopens the gate …

NCC closes popular cycling link after promising to keep it open

Readers may recall the brief brou-ha-ha in late June and early July, when the gate at the north end of Preston street was unexpectedly closed and locked. You can read about it here: (when you get to the link, scroll up a bit to read the post, and down a bit to see the commentary). See also To recap, there is a paved bit of ‘closed’ road running north from Preston and Albert to a legal crossing of the transitway and then connections to the Ottawa River pathway network. It is popular with people walking to work, cycling, walking … Continue reading NCC closes popular cycling link after promising to keep it open

What should go at street level? (part i- the good)

I complain a lot in these blog postings. The City did this wrong. The stupid developer did that wrong. Yadda yadda. I even get tired of myself complaining. But some things do work out alright. In the case of the 333 Preston development (Sako is the developer, major tenants include Adobe, Xerox, RBC, Heart and Crown) we have an example of a better quality development. The ground floor is chock full of narrow storefronts, each with a different colour signage and awning. The patio spaces are friendly and often well patronized. There are trees along the sidewalk, and ped-scaled lighting. A row … Continue reading What should go at street level? (part i- the good)


At the beginning of August, I featured this pic of a porch renovation on Preston: Now the front garden on the left had the same lush landscaping as the garden on the right. But at first, only the left porch was being redone (you can guess where this is going…). I should point out, for those unaware, that the streetscaping along Preston broke new ground in City-paid-for landscaping and urban architecture. Instead of just “restoring” the usually shitty front pavement in front of houses that had been blighted by decades of a too-wide road, and decades of too many absentee landlords, … Continue reading Trampled

Care and enjoyment of expensive streetscaping

The City spent millions to improve the look and landscaping along Preston. It is now a truly extraordinary street, a joy to walk along. (That it is extraordinary is an indictment of how bad the rest of our streets are…) The contractor repairing the porch of a house (shown above) decided these shrubs make a great place to throw his demolition debris. Who cares? And he is right, there doesn’t seem to be any penalty for those who abuse the plantings. All along the street, residents/businesses with generous paved frontages still decide to stack their garbage bags on top of the … Continue reading Care and enjoyment of expensive streetscaping

Popular bike and ped route “locked shut”

Several years ago a gate was installed at the north end of Preston, where it crosses NCC land. There is a paved path (actually a derelict bit of the transitway from pre-1980’s) that leads to a legal marked crossing of the current transitway and then out the Ottawa River bike paths. The gate was installed by contractors during water main construction a few years ago. On Monday, it was locked shut. I went out Monday evening to view the scene. I met cyclists coming up from the River, having crossed the transitway, and were then forced to return and recross the transitway to search … Continue reading Popular bike and ped route “locked shut”

Disappearing Corner Stores Captured

I met Colin White when he  was sketching the Preston Food Market. I put up a blog post with this picture of him at work:  He has  just hung the Confectionaries series at the Raw Sugar Café, where anyone can check it out. The show will be up for the month of June, and includes various stores from around West Centretown (though a few from Glebe as well). In the picture below, you can see what he was sketching, .   The series is also on his website: but you should go to the Raw Sugar and see it in person, as well as enjoy the funky … Continue reading Disappearing Corner Stores Captured