Getting under the skin

There is a c1902 house at the corner of Primrose and Booth. It’s actually a semi-detached, with one door facing Primrose and the other Booth. For as long as I can remember it has been sagging at the front corner.

This is probably due to the line of peat that traces the foot of the escarpment / Nanny Goat Hill that runs from parliament, Cathedral Hill, Bronson Hill, and eventually peters out somewhere mid-Dalhousie neighborhood near Gladstone, interrupted by the syncline of the Nepean-Gloucester fault line.

All along the foot of the escarpment you can spot houses that sag (these must be kept separate from the ones that sag due to being built on the former Rochester Creek that drained Dow’s Great Swamp before it became Dow’s Lake and got a new exit courtesy of Colonel By).

Periodically the brickwork on this house is repaired, and then it sags some more.

So, a fresh take on the brickwork began a week ago, by a new owner, with large swathes of it being removed. I hoped it would be repaired, but the old bricks are being taken away.

Notice the former  door, on the sawed off corner. This is a clue it was at one time a store, since the corner door allowed it to serve both streets equally with a single door (something modern property developers haven’t yet solved, at places like L’Esplanade Laurier, Minto Place, Constitution Square, where stores struggle with two doors). Above it are traces of a another door. Between the two doors are some heavy metal brackets (visible in the pic below), that probably held up a canopy that sheltered customers at the entrance.

Traces of another large door or window are visible just to the left of the sawed off corner.

The exterior walls (formerly under the brick) were made of very wide boards. We don’t grow them this wide anymore:

In addition to the steel brackets, removing the brick reveals some original door of the door and window trim.

If you wanna see it, you have to move fast. Crews were putting on chipboard as of Saturday, covering up the old exterior. I expect they will put up a new exterior cladding like plastic siding or maybe stucco.

I wonder how long they will last, given that the underlying foundation issues are not being addressed.


6 thoughts on “Getting under the skin

  1. I really enjoy reading your commentaries of the different areas around Ottawa – educational for those who are not from this area of Canada. Keep up the great work.

  2. This home must have survived the Great Fire and would be a fine example of the workmanship of some of the very best house builders the city ever witnessed. Shame the NCC isn’t going to restore it. They do a complete job, …to a fault at times !! I really enjoyed your thorough report on this building, as, I played in the Nanny Goat Hill as a young boy and living at 535 Albert Street. All the steam to you !! ~~John Cullen

  3. Excellent, now I finally know the name of the outlet for Dow’s Great Swamp! So it drained along what is now Preston but was called Rochester Creek. That makes sense, since the area around Somerset just west of Bronson (old City limits) was called Rochesterville.

    1. squint at the attached map and you can trace rochester creek. If you have the map in hand, and walk the streets, you can pinpoint the crooked sagging houses built on peat. The whole neighborhood drained out to nepean bay overland roughly were musca wine pressing is now on somerset, but then the city built the earthen damn called somerset viaduct and trapped the water in the lowest lying areas (no 2 firestation and the adjacent apt bldgs) resulting in decades of flooding.

      thanks for reading


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