Glebe Introduction

Written by Bytown Museum on 03/Dec/2009

A photograph of Patterson's Creek in the Glebe, 1892
A video of a Glebe resident speaking about her community

Like the rest of Ottawa, the area that would become known as the Glebe was originally a hunting territory for Anishnabe (Algonquin) tribes, principally the Odawa, whose name is commemorated in the name of the Ottawa River and the city itself.

In 1826, George Patterson, Chief of the Canal Commissariat, acquired land next to the creek that today bears his name. He was likely the Glebe's first legitimate settler; Irish and French squatters had settled there before him.

In 1836, the Church of Scotland at Bytown (today St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church) was granted 178 acres to help support the church. The land was initially leased to farmers and was eventually sold. The “glebe” lot (bounded by Bronson, Fifth and Glebe Avenues and Main Street) marked the beginning of the Glebe community.

In the late 19th century, the Glebe was the place to go for sporting events. In addition to the Agricultural Fair at Lansdowne Park, there was a trotting park and the occasional circus. In 1893, Buffalo Bill Cody put on his Wild West Show at the Metropolitan Athletic Grounds at the intersection of O'Connor and Strathcona Avenues.

Between the 1890s and 1920s, the Glebe experienced a building boom that transformed it into an urban community. Along with an increase in housing, landmarks such as the Aberdeen Pavilion, Glebe Collegiate, Queale Terrace and First Avenue Public School were all built during this period.

Following the depression, World War II and the exodus to the suburbs, the Glebe became somewhat run-down and housing prices dropped. Since then, many residents who bought their homes in the 1960s and ’70s have seen their property values increase tremendously, as the Glebe again became a trendy downtown neighbourhood with a distinct character much-loved by its residents. Today, the Glebe is known for the great shops and restaurants along Bank Street, the beauty of Central Park and, of course, the Great Glebe Garage Sale!

As you explore the Glebe map, you will discover many heritage buildings that have been renovated and re-purposed, including the Avalon Theatre, where Ottawa's first talking movie was played, the Ottawa Ladies' College, where girls learned mathematics and practical cooking, and Abbotsford House, named for the birthplace of Sir Walter Scott.

Do you have a favourite memory, spot or shop in the Glebe? Share your story with us.

post a comment Story Comments


From 1965 to about 1977, I grew up first on the corner of Third Ave and Bank in a row house behind Davidsons jewellers. I attended Mutchmore School. We then moved to Fourth Ave and Bank. I have many fond memories of the Glebe. We parked cars in our huge back yard for a $1.00 a car, all day parking, in the days of the Ottawa Exhibition! We would make a few dollars and spend the whole day at the Ex the next day. My grandfather Harvey Hyde ran a Butcher Shop in the early 1900's apparently dear Regent Ave and Bank Street. We played daily at Patterson Creek collecting crayfish! Many a cut foot in that pond! And I especially remember going to a little old church on Fifth Ave. between Bank Street and O'Conner for a Friday evening sing song for kids. I believe it was called "Happy Hour?" I still miss those days. So many friends that I still have today.

Donna Farrell, Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Post a comment

Bytown Museum


Like the rest of Ottawa, the area that would become known as the Glebe was originally a hunting territory for Anishnabe (Algonquin) tribes, principally the Odawa, whose name is commemorated ... read more