Society News

The Society thanks Ron Elmer, Grace Lewis, Jennifer Stelzer, George Shirreff, and Erik Foisy for their years of service on the Board of Directors. The Society also welcomes the following new directors to the Board: Kathy Krywicki, Sharon Zoschke.

Mary Edwards is made an Honorary Life Member.

Joseph Herman Konst, born February 13, 1930 in Montreal, Quebec, the only child of Herman and Gladys Konst, passed away peacefully on March 11, 2019 surrounded by loved ones. Much loved husband of 62 years to Barbara. Cherished Dad of Brian (Gillian), the late Jim (d.1980), David and Jennifer. Proud grandfather of Terra (Dimitri), Kieran, Liam, Emma, Madeleine and besotted great-grandfather of Elias and Penelope. Joe loved God, the law, history, golf, boats, autumn colours, spontaneous digressions down country roads, oysters, anything sweet, single malt scotch, his Ottawa and Vancouver friends and, most of all, his family. A mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, March 23, 2019 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, 400 St. Laurent Blvd., Ottawa, for service at 11 am. A private family interment will be held in the spring. Arrangements entrusted to the Whelan Funeral Home tel. (613) 233-1488.

BURNS, Judith Mary (O'Halloran) September 21, 1922 - June 23, 2018

Judy, a gracious and charming lady passed away in her 96th year at the Montfort Hospital, Ottawa. Predeceased by her beloved husband, John, her sister, Anne Kirkpatrick-McKibbin and son-in-law, John Connor. Devoted and loving mother of Barbara Darragh (Kent) of Colorado and Pamela Burns (John Connor) of Ottawa. Proud and cherished Nannie to grandsons, Jordan Darragh (Bliss) and Patrick Darragh and great-grandsons, Caden and Brody Darragh. Loving aunt to Jane Taylor (John, predeceased), Joanne Kelly (Jim) and Rob Kirkpatrick (Jules Wilson) and many great and great-great-nieces and nephews. Judy was born and raised in Montreal and attended Trafalgar School for Girls and McGill University. Fondly remembered for her lifetime commitment to volunteer work beginning as a V.A.D. during the war. She held leadership roles with The May Court Club, Children's Aid Society, The Bytown Museum, The Historical Society of Ottawa, The Heritage Societies of Ottawa and Canada and many other organizations. She and Johnny retired to Perth to be close to their glorious islands on Otty Lake, where friends and family gathered for over 50 years. A love for history and geneology led Judy to produce an impressive legacy of family records. Judy was a passionate bridge player and attained the status of Life Master. She was an avid reader, lover of animals, consummate hostess and a friend to many, young and old. Her curious mind, her grace, her compassionate spirit and zest for life will be remembered by many. A Memorial Service will be held in the Sacred Space of Beechwood Cemetery and Funeral Services, 280 Beechwood Avenue, Ottawa on Sunday, July 8, 2018 at 11 a.m. Memorial contributions can be made to CNIB and The Bytown Museum.

Published in The Ottawa Citizen from June 30 to July 7, 2018

Karen Lynn Ouellette is acclaimed as the Society's President, filling a position that has been vacant since the retirement of George Neville in 2016. Dorothy Phillips and Randy Boswell are also acclaimed as new Directors. 

Alan McLay - Scholar and Gentleman.

Passed away peacefully on April 2, 2018, at the Salvation Army Grace Manor at the age of 86. Alan was the son of the late Alexander Boyd McLay and Catherine Lucy Drummond. He will be lovingly remembered by his wife Mary of 59 years, his children Anne, Carol (Ben), Sonia (Chris), and Eric (Cheryl); as well as his grandchildren Molly, Connor, Keira, Matthew, Jacob, Rachel and Logan. He was preceded in death by his beloved son Alexander McLay. Also survived by brother Dr. David McLay (Jean), and sisters Dr. Catherine McLay, and Elizabeth Scarlett; and by Charles Drummond (Christine). Alan received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin in English Literature. Teaching was Alan’s passion and he is fondly remembered as a distinguished Professor of English Literature at Carleton University. He was incredibly patient, kind, and brilliant with an encyclopedic memory. We didn’t have Google when we were kids but we had our dad. We are very grateful to the staff of the Salvation Army Grace Manor for their kindness, compassion and expert care of Alan during his illness. 

The portrait of John Scott, Ottawa's first Mayor, finds its way home to the Ottawa City Hall from the Historical Society of Ottawa. For more information, visit this link:

Margaret Beck, Mary Edwards and Ian Badgley retire while Karen Ouellette joins the Board.

Herbert Howard Sills December 28, 1919 - January 7, 2017 In the Ottawa Civic Hospital after a very short illness. Predeceased by his wife of 67 years, Fairlie. Survived by his daughters Elizabeth Sargent (John), Bottesford, England, and Margaret Berry (John), Ottawa. Sons Jeremy, Picton, and Dan (Jane), Kitchener. Also grandchildren, Charles Berry (Kristin), Brisbane, Australia, Peter Berry (Claire), Ottawa, Heather Dipraseuth (Shaykhan), Kitchener, Jennifer Snyder (Mat). And great-grandchildren Elliott Berry, Abigail and Amelia Dipraseuth, and Mason Sills. Herb enjoyed the last few years of his life living at Villagia-in-the-Glebe (formerly The Palisades) participating fully in a wide range of activities from choir to movie nights, dancing, lectures and excursions. Herb was a veteran of the Canadian army and finished his working career in the Civil Service. He loved to sing and over his lifetime sang in many choirs.

It's with great sadness that we have heard of the passing of George Toller. George was a longstanding pillar of the Society, and was a member of the Board of Directors from 2002-2008.

George Neville retires as the Society's President, but remains on the Board as Past President. The postion of President remains vacant. Grace Lewis has become Secretary, replacing Margaret Beck who is now a Director at Large. Erik Foisy has joined the Board as Treasurer, replacing Kery Peterson-Beaubien. Ed Bebee retires from Board.

An honorary life membership was awarded to Ed Bebee for his years of service to the Historical Society.

It is with great sadness that we hear of the passing of Dr Ruth M. Bell, C.M. Dr Bell was a political scientist, educator, and a volunteer to many agencies and organizations. Passionate about history, she was a long-time member of the Historical Society of Ottawa.

Ian Browness and Cynthia Coristine were awarded honorary one-year memberships for their work on the Bate Trilogy.

Three Board members retired: Alan McLay, a long-time member of the Society (30 years) and past president and member at large (12 years), Don Baxter, member at large (11 years), and Dave Mullington, Web liaison (7 years). The Society would like to thank the three for their tremendous contribution and service over the years. Four new directors, elected at the May Annual Meeting, took office: George Shirreff, Vice President (pro tem), Ian Badgley, Director at Large, Jennifer Stelzer, Director at Large, and James Powell, Web Liaison.

George Shirreff, actor, teacher, writer, and history buff, taught Film Studies, Media, and Civilization at Algonquin College where he also co-founded the Theatre Arts Program. George has strong ties with Ottawa, being a descendant of Charles Sherriff who was an early pioneer and friend of Colonel John By.

Ian Badgley, a specialist in northern archaeology and cultural adaptations, has worked for a number of academic institutions, consulting firms, and First Nations’ organizations, carrying out archaeological research and resource management projects throughout the Canadian Arctic and sub-Arctic. He joined the National Capital Commission in 2009 as its first archaeologist.

Jennifer Stelzer, a history enthusiast, was formerly a manager of the Vancouver Museum. She currently works at Statistics Canada doing field research.

James Powell, a retired senior officer with the Bank of Canada, has written a number of non-fiction, historical books, and currently writes an Ottawa history “blog” called Today in Ottawa’s History.

An honourary life membership was awarded to Katherine Ferguson for her many years of association with the HSO.

The Historical Society has three new honorary life members. Mary and Don Baxter and Ron Elmer were awarded the memberships by a unanimous vote of the HSO executive board at a recent meeting.

Mary and Don are both longtime members and Mary, whose family traces back to much earlier days in the city’s history, has brought a wealth of personal memories to the society’s discussions over the years. Don, meanwhile, has been our go-to guy when it comes to high tech. He established databases and spreadsheets for the Society’s former museum and library records, and he is a past secretary and membership chairman on the Society’s board of directors. He continues to contribute as a valued board member.

Ron Elmer was honored for his technical assistance in providing, setting up and operating our PowerPoint projector system.

Mary and Don have been members of the Society since 1989, but Mary’s family history in Ottawa goes back much further than that. Her great-grandfather was a Member of Parliament for Barrie in 1867 and the family has been around ever since. She attended Ottawa Ladies College and then worked in the public service before retirement. Since then, she has been active in various local organizations, especially the May Court Club.

Don was born in Toronto and raised in Fitzroy Harbour during the Second World War. He later graduated from the University of Toronto with an engineering degree and he too found work in the public service, first with the National Research Council and ending in the Office of the Auditor General. In between, he and Mary lived in California and worked at Stanford University for three years.

Mary and Don have two adult children and four grandchildren.

Ron was born in London, England and after leaving school he spent two years as a trainee pilot with the Royal Air Force. In 1957, he moved to Vancouver to work in the insurance field, but it was not to his liking so after a short time he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and served as a radio officer in Winnipeg. Other postings led him to Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Ontario, and in Ottawa he worked at the Canadian Forces’ computer centre at Tunney’s Pasture and as a nuclear safety officer at CFB Uplands.

He retired from the armed forces in 1982, and turned to computer programming at the Department of Public Works for the next decade. In retirement, he enjoys photography and converting old video and sound recordings onto DVDs.
He and his wife Diane are married 55 years and have three children and four grandchildren.

The Historical Society presented its annual student awards at our Christmas Luncheon on December 3 at St. Richard’s Anglican Church.

Stephanie Miles of Algonquin College’s Applied Museum Studies Program was on hand to receive The Algonquin College Award, while Mary McGregor, a Master’s student in Carleton University’s Arts department, was unable to appear due to attendance at classes that day. In Mary’s place, her prize, The Colonel John By Award, was accepted by Carleton history professor Bruce Elliott.

The title of Mary’s term paper was: “From Garden Suburb to Garden Dump: Thomas Adams’ Forgotten Plan for Old Ottawa South.”

The paper was written for Dr. Elliott’s third-year urban history course on Ottawa neighbourhoods, and was described by a Carelton adjudicator as “a well written, carefully researched account of land speculation and suburban development in Ottawa that sheds new light on the evolution of urban planning in Canada.”

Charles Scott passed away peacefully at home on November 9, 2014, in his 95th year. He was the son of Charles Fremont Scott and Ruby Ann (Blake) Scott, whose ancestors moved to the Ottawa area in the mid-1800s. He is survived by his wife of over 68 years, Pauline (née Hill), his three sons Charles (Catherine) of Toronto, Andrew (Erika) of Vancouver and Paul of Ottawa, his seven grandchildren Dr. Charles Scott (Laura) of Kingston, Heather Davidson (Adam) of Vancouver and Jennifer Wellman (Michael) of Toronto, Elizabeth Scott of New Haven, Katherine Scott (Bradley Boehringer) of Boston, Caroline Scott of Vancouver and Christine Scott of Ottawa and his seven great- grandchildren Alexander, Sabrina and Orion Scott, Olivia and Riley Wellman, and Bailey and Jake Davidson. He was educated in the public schools and Lisgar Collegiate in Ottawa and studied law at the University of Toronto, graduating in 1943. After articling with the Mason, Foulds firm in Toronto, he returned to Ottawa, initially practising with McIlraith, McIlraith & Scott and subsequently with Gowling MacTavish Osborne & Henderson (now Gowlings). His fields of practice were corporate/ commercial law and medical and non-profit organizations. He became General Counsel to the Canadian Medical Protective Association, to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (Canada) and the Medical Council of Canada, as well as numerous corporations and other organizations. He was a founding member and Secretary-Treasurer of the Trust that conceived and built the Fathers of Confederation Memorial Buildings in Charlottetown, PEI. His family was among those that established Dominion Methodist Church in Ottawa in the 1860s and he was several times Chair of the Board of Trustees of Dominion (and later Dominion- Chalmers) United Church. He was also a legal advisor to the Salvation Army in Ottawa for many years and was later on the Board of the Rideau Canal Museum and President of the Ottawa Historical Board. At the time of his death and for several years before, he was the longest-standing member of The Rideau Club, Ottawa. For his work with the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada, he was designated an Honorary Fellow of that Society in 1979. He played a key role in finding safe accommodation in Ottawa for the family of Igor Gouzenko, following his defection to Canada in the 1940s. Mr. Scott enjoyed many wonderful years with his family at the cottage on Big Rideau Lake. The family wishes to recognize the outstanding dedication of Dr. Lisa Cross and her colleagues and of the staff of Retire at Home, who made his last years as pleasant as possible with in-home medical and personal care. 

Our new treasurer, Kery Peterson-Beaubien, was asked to provide an introduction of herself for our members, and, in a spirit of whimsical modesty, replied with the following:

“Some time ago (no one is sure exactly when unless she tells them, but even then it’s anybody’s guess because she could just as easily be lying), Kery was born.

“For an extended period of time, she grew continually older, but she’s since decided she doesn’t believe in aging, and so now indefinitely remains at a stable and enduring age.

“In the spare time that she doesn’t have, she writes songs and sings them for people whether they want to hear them or not.

“She also teaches music to anyone who cares to learn about it, and rehearses with several collective conglomerates of musically-minded individuals.”

Grace Lewis was born and raised in the small Ontario farming community of Riceville, amid its extensive Scottish/English heritage.

She worked for the federal government for 35 years, first in Agriculture Canada then in Health Canada.

She also assisted her husband Al as he developed the popular web site They now live in Barrhaven and Grace is Librarian for the Ottawa Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society.

She joined the Historical Society of Ottawa a couple of years ago and enjoys the monthly talks and expanding her knowledge of the city’s history.