a peek inside the fishbowl

25 Jan, 2007

Wish me luck. :)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Westboro

ETA: The Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee meeting scheduled for 6 p.m tonight HAS BEEN MOVED TO THE CHAMPLAIN ROOM at Ottawa City Hall.

There is still so much to do. I’m not even sure what I’m doing here. :)

Dagne and I, as well as an unknown quantity of local residents are heading over to City Hall to speak at the Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee (LACAC) meeting tonight.

We’ve been working on a speech. We have five minutes to fill. Surprisingly, I am not too nervous. I am, however, worried that I’m going to cry while I’m up there. Isn’t that silly? It’s just that I’ve been thinking and talking and thinking about this issue for months. And we’ve finally gotten somewhere.

Maison Jeanne D'arc - WestboroI’ve been talking to my mother a lot about the proposed development of the convent at 360 Kenwood. She’s been very supportive, which has been great.

The other day I realized that I wasn’t sure if she knew what buildings I’ve been writing about, so I went out and took some photos. Not of the Maison, but the Barry Hobin buildings across the street. That clump of housings are called the Ogilvy homes, because they surround the 1920s home formerly owned by the Ogilvy of Ottawa department-store fame. Looking at these homes – so looming and uniform – will give you an idea of what it would look like without la Maison Jeanne D’Arc.

I was going to email the photos to my mom, but then decided to share them here instead. Sometimes it’s easier to make a connection with something visual rather than with something written.

Click here for the Flickr set.

I also thought I’d copy over some of the history of the building. I should have done that much earlier. It is interesting stuff.

This is from the report I linked to from previous posts:

Maison Jeanne D’Arc is a two and a half storey religious institution, located at the north west corner of Kenwood Avenue and Edison Avenue, in the Westboro neighbourhood of Ottawa.Maison Jeanne D’Arc’s cultural heritage value lies in its association with the Institut Jeanne D’Arc and its mother superior for many years, Mere Marie Thomas D’Aquin

The Institut was founded in 1914 and Marie Thomas D’Aquin was the Mother Superior for most of the period from 1919-43. Its primary mission was to offer safe, inexpensive accommodation to young women moving to the city.

It also operated schools and offered courses to young women interested in passing the public service exam. The Institut Jeanne D’Arc was also a leader in French language training and it taught French to English bureaucrats and community leaders long before the public service had formal French language training

Mère Marie Thomas D’Aquin, founder of the Institut Jeanne D’Arc was associated with the Institut from her arrival in Ottawa in 1914 until her death in 1963. For much of that time, she could be described as the leading Roman Catholic nun in the City. She was decorated with the French “Croix de Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur” in 1956 for her service to the community. The work of the Institut Jeanne D’Arc took place in a number of buildings throughout Ottawa, with the block-long building at 489 Sussex Drive serving as the headquarters of the Insitut for many years.The building on Kenwood became the Mother House in 1954.

Maison Jeanne D’Arc’s cultural heritage value also lies in status as the only building designed by Mere Thomas D’Aquin. An artist and a poet, Mere Thomas D’Aquin designed this building in 1933 in what she described as “le style Roman.” Its proportions and design are similar to the houses in Brittany with which she would have been familiar during her childhood in France.

The Institut Jeanne D’Arc built the structure at 360 Kenwood Avenue in 1934 to serve as a home for handicapped children, although it soon became a boarding house and school.  The Institut was founded in 1914 and Marie Thomas D’Aquin was its Mother Superior from 1919-43. Its primary mission was to offer lodging to young women moving to the capital. 360 Kenwood Avenue was one of a number of buildings owned by the Insitut throughout Ottawa that served similar functions.  These structures reflect the changing role of women in the early 20th century when many young women moved to the City from rural communities to find employment.  These women needed safe, inexpensive accommodation and the Institut’s boarding facilities met this need.The Institut Jeanne D’Arc was a leader in French language training and offered courses to English bureaucrats and community leaders long before the public service had formal French language training.  In addition, it offered basic secretarial courses designed for women interested in taking the civil service exam. These services show that the Institut was a forward-looking organization that was ahead of its time in acknowledging the importance of bilingualism and a professional public service.  

Mère Marie Thomas D’Aquin, founder of the Institut Jeanne D’Arc as associated with the Institut from her arrival in Ottawa in 1914 until her death in 1963.  As such, she directed an ever-increasing number of buildings where young women, newly arrived in Ottawa could board, have dinner, or attend a social event, organized schools for children and young adults, taught French to many of Ottawa’s political and social leaders and founded and contributed to the Revue Jeanne D’Arc. In addition to the work that she did for the Church, she was also a painter and a poet.  She wrote under the name of Marie Sylvia and was a member of the Société des Poètes Canadiens-français, Canadian Author’s Association , the Canadian Women’s Press Club, among other authors’ groups.  A volume of her poetry in translation was published in 1929 and was well-reviewed in English Canadian newspapers. 

As a leader of the Roman Catholic community, Mère Thomas D’Aquin was well known throughout Ottawa.  In the last years of her life, her contributions were widely acknowledged and she received the French Croix de la Légion d’Honneur in 1956.  As a leader of the Roman Catholic community she met regularly with many of the political, religious and social leaders of the era.  

La Maison Jeanne D’Arc, 360 Kenwood Avenue, is associated with the Institut Jeanne D’Arc, an important Roman Catholic organization if Ottawa. The Institut  offered room and board to young women arriving from the country to work in Ottawa and evolved into an organization that ran a number of boarding facilities, schools and facilities for the aged.

The Institut was initially located on Water Street and moved to 489 Sussex Drive in the 1920s, staying at that site until 1989.  360 Kenwood became the Maison-Mère for the Order in 1954. 

360 Kenwood is also one of at least four buildings that still exist throughout Ottawa associated with the Institut Jeanne D’Arc.  The others include its long time headquarters at 489 Sussex Drive that has been converted to condominiums, 119 Daly Avenue, 118 Empress Avenue and 293 Stewart Street.               .

Mère Marie Thomas D’Aquin played an important role in the history of the Roman Catholic Francophone community in Ottawa for much of the 20th century. Her actual direct association with La Maison Jeanne D’Arc, 360 Kenwood Avenue may have been quite limited, as it appears that she lived most of her life on Sussex Drive.

The work of the Institut Jeanne D’Arc took place in a number of buildings throughout Ottawa, with the block-long building on Sussex Drive serving as the headquarters of the Insitut for many years.  Since this building was associated for the longest period with the Institut and the work of Mère Marie Thomas D’Aquin, and was her home and office for most of her career, it best represents her life and career in Ottawa.  It was sold in 1989 and converted to condominiums.  The building on Kenwood became the Mother House in 1954, and has thus played an important role in the life of Institut since then.


1 Response to "Wish me luck. :)"

1 | Marla

January 25th, 2007 at 11:35 am

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Good luck…as you know, we’re having our fight here with the building going up next door to us, and it’s going to the OMB in May. We’ve had so many meetings with the developer, and it turns out the city’s wishes for Urban Design are our greatest advocate. Even though we conceded to certain restrictions, it turns out we’re getting more than we hoped for from the city – now we can work from there!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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