Sandy Hill was founded by a land developer (Louis-Théodore Besserer) and several leading representatives of Ottawa’s main businesses, including lumber, manufacturing, banking and retailing, once lived here. While most achieved social prominence in their day and a measure of notoriety, their private lives are not well-known today because few biographies have been written about them.


George Goodwin

1846 – 1915   Born in Ireland, George Goodwin arrived in Canada at the age of four, was educated at the College of Ottawa (now the University), worked in his uncle’s business and became a... Read More

Andrew Fleck

1848 – 1924   Born in Montreal, the son of a foundry owner, a modest and unassuming man, Andrew Walker Fleck was a businessman and philanthropist who worked in the lumber and transportation business for... Read More

Sam Berger

1900 – 1992   Lawyer, developer, businessman, politician and philanthropist, Sam Berger owned successively both the Ottawa Rough Riders and Montreal Alouettes football clubs leading them to several Grey Cups. He twice ran for mayor... Read More

Bertram Loeb

1916-2006   In the 1950s and 60s, Loeb transformed the small family wholesale tobacco and confectionary business into a retail giant by buying Canada’s first IGA franchise and becoming the second largest food retailer in... Read More

Ambrose O’Brien
| |

1885 – 1968 Ambrose O’Brien lived at 453 Laurier Ave. E. (now le Cordon Bleu) between 1923 and 1940. Before that, he had lived for six years down the street at 413 Laurier Ave. in... Read More

Louis Théodore Besserer

One of three original landowners in Ottawa proper (Nicholas Sparks and the British Ordnance were the other two), Besserer was a Quebec notary, politician and businessman who inherited his 124 acre property in Sandy Hill from... Read More

Sir Henry Newell Bate

Sir Henry Newell Bate 1828-1917   Bate was one of Ottawa’s most important businessmen, involved in wholesale imports and food retail (he became the main food purveyor to Rideau Hall). On his golden wedding anniversary,... Read More

Alphonse Desjardins

1854-1920   Desjardins is the founder of the Quebec-based credit union now known as Mouvement Desjardins. It is the largest cooperative financial institution in Canada with over $260 billion in financial assets in 2015.  ... Read More

James W. Woods

1863-1930   In 1885, Woods established himself as an outfitter of canvas supplies to lumbermen in the Ottawa Valley. He established his own manufacturing facility to produce tents, sleeping bags, and canvas bags. He invented... Read More

John Mather

1827-1907 Mather worked primarily in the lumber industry. Starting his working life in Scotland as a millwright and machinist before immigrating to Canada in 1857 to manage Gilmour’s lumber operations on the Gatineau and Ottawa... Read More