Critics of Greber’s urban plans for Ottawa can always find things we regret, or sort of regret. Replacing the cross town tracks with the Queensway may not, in retrospect, have been the best course of action.
If not, where would that freeway have gone? Any volunteer neighbourhoods saying “put it here, put it here”?
We do forget, or never knew, just how dominated by railways we were. Ottawa was a genuinely an industrial city at one time. Greber instructed the NCC what to tear out. And they were successful in removing most industry from town, indeed from any existence at all, since it didn’t just move to the suburbs, it packed up and died. It’s like manual labour and physical product
was is a anathema to the white collar civil service and policy fabrication.
Lets look at Dows Lake and Commissioners Park area in 1928:
The old Bronson swing bridge over the canal is at the very bottom right. Bronson and Bronson Place were straight.
The new QE parkway is very close to the Lakeside Terrace manors, and swung straight across Dow’s Lake to join the end of Preston Street, avoiding the lumber yards where Commissioner’s Park was to someday be planted. Prince of Wales drive, coming in from the bottom left, went straight to join Carling nearer Booth Street.
Here’s a version of the same aerial photo with the eventual street plan superimposed on it:
There are small squares all over the Kippewa and Manawaska streets are stacks of lumber. There are no houses on Fourth Avenue.
Look at the same view thirty years later, 1958, with the NCC half way through Commissioners Park:
The cross-lake causeway is gone, some trees are planted although not many near Preston street. The old Prince of Wales running through the park remains ghosted by a row of trees. The old Dows Lake Pavillion is there, and the wartime “temporary buildings” have appeared. We still have the old swing bridge on Bronson at the Canal.
Fifty five years later, in 2014 the world has become colour:
The new high level Bronson bridge is in at the Canal, there is a new dows lake pavillion, the trees have grown in Commissioners Park, the temporary buildings have become … a parking lot.
How did the railway tracks get to the lumber yards by the lake? They came across Carling from the NRCan blocks. A very small shunt engine moved the loads of lumber around the yards. Even in 1928 motor cars had the right of way on Carling at the grade crossing, and the locomotive had to toot toot as it approached and yield to car traffic.
Here’s another slice of 1928 showing the yards on the north side of Carling, where NRCan is now. Today’s road pattern is superimposed to help figure this out:
The NRCan yards exited onto the main cross town railway tracks where the Queensway is now, and also swung down the Champagne right of way just west of Preston. The NCC hadn’t yet dug a ditch to throw in the railway tracks, so there were numerous sidings, and crossings.