Strathcona Heights, south of Mann Ave., was the last area of Sandy Hill to be developed for residential living. Formerly the site of government telecommunications towers, the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) developed it immediately after the Second World War as housing for returning veterans and their families. Composed of largely-identical three-storey walk-up apartment buildings that housed over 2,000 people, the project on 27 acres of land was large enough to be dubbed “New Town” when it was completed in May 1949.
A coal-fired central heating plant located at the southeast corner of the project area provided heat for all the apartments. The CMHC bulletin on the project described it at the time as “a striking example of modem community planning within a metropolitan area”. Although the original plan made provision for a central shopping centre, it was never built. It was its absence that led to the growth of the small commercial strip along Mann Ave.
CMHC sold Strathcona Heights to the City of Ottawa Non-Profit Housing Corporation (now Ottawa Community Housing) in 1982. The Corporation redeveloped the site starting in 1989 and increased the number of units into the complex we know today.
One of Strathcona Heights’ new landowners is the Conservation Co-op, an environmentally conscious co-operative housing community that has been in operation since 1995. One of four housing co-ops in Sandy Hill, the Conservation Co-op is committed to environmentally-sustainable living by reducing energy use, promoting recycling and water conservation, waste reduction, material re-use and active transportation.
Just down the hill from Strathcona Heights along the Rideau River is Dutchy’s Hole, so named after a popular Sandy Hill athlete from between the wars named Charles Haake. It is a reminder that swimming used to take place along the river in Sandy Hill.
Central Housing and Mortgage Corporation Bulletin No 4, Mann Avenue (circa 1949)
“Canada. CMHC. Repair, Retrofit, and Renovation of Strathcona Heights, Ottawa. Ottawa: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, n.d.;
City Living Ottawa. Strathcona Heights: A Community Renewed. Ottawa: City Living Ottawa, 1994;
Barry Padolsky. Strathcona Heights: Master Plan. Ottawa: City Living Ottawa, 1988.”
Ottawa Citizen, 14 September 1965 “Parks body proposes name changes”, p 4