Written by 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 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.