Lost Ottawa has a new book out. It’s an electronic book called Souvenir of Lost Ottawa.

It contains 40 beautiful colourized images of Ottawa from the years 1900 to 1914  and we’re giving it away free!

What’s up with that?

We have so many answers to that question it might take a few posts, but let’s get started with the fact that here at Lost Ottawa we search for new photos every day. Sometimes we come across a fantastic resource that we just can’t do justice to by posting the pictures one at a time to the Facebook page.

We came across just such a resource a few years ago. It was a booklet containing 30 colour postcards, published in 1914 by the Scottish firm of Valentine and Sons with the title Souvenir of Ottawa.

Queen and Elgin Streets

Looking south down Elgin from Queen.

The pictures inside were fantastic, presenting views of the city the height of the Edwardian era, which is to say a time when the city had been growing for almost a century, constantly adding to its beauty with new parks and buildings, but which had not yet suffered the massive demolition of buildings and houses that first came in the 1920s and ’30s, and then again in ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. 

In other words, the Valentine postcards captured the nation’s capital at what was arguably its scenic zenith. Even better, as postcards are supposed to do, the images captured what people of that time believed to be the city’s classic, characteristic, and most distinctive features. 

Some of the classics were old standbys we’ve come to know and love, like Parliament Hill, Major’s Hill Park, Notre Dame Basilica, the Rideau Canal, a bustling Spark Street. Others views showed features of the city that have been lost for years, like Lover’s Walk, the lake in Major’s Hill Park, and the park down the middle of King Edward Avenue. 

In Major's Hill Park

The Lansdowne Gates and the pond created by the Ottawa Improvement Commission.

Still other views presented “new classics,” meaning features of the city that were new in 1914 but are still with us today. Many of them were created by an organization called the Ottawa Improvement Commission which, in 1899, was assigned the task of turning Ottawa into a capital worthy of being a capital. Within a decade the Commission had created the Government (aka Queen Elizabeth) Driveway and footpaths along the Rideau Canal, Nepean Point Park, Central Park in the Glebe, Strathcona Park in Sandy Hill, and had taken over the landscaping of Rockcliffe Park. Not too shabby a list!

These are just some of the scenes in the original booklet, each view presented in beautiful colour that invited you to step through the window into the Ottawa of the past.

I think you see where I’m going with this. Beautiful pictures of places people can identify with. Features of the city in the past, many of which still affect our lives today. Something we could bring to the public for free. That booklet had Lost Ottawa written all over it! 

But the book needed work. The images needed digitization, repair and reorganization. The scenes needed texts to explain what would have been obvious in 1914, but not so obvious to us in 2019.

And so our Souvenir of Lost Ottawa was born! 

You can get your free copy by signing up to our mailing list, using the link below.

In our next post we’ll explain more about what we did to create the book! 

Meanwhile, you can read a detailed description and see more sample images on the book page.