Society News

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. 

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.

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.”

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.