The Carlington Summit
by David Darwin.

Hey, I actually got feedback on some of these “From the archives” columns! It was from my eldest son, Matthew, but it counts anyway. Seems he was left wondering about the outcome of a few of the stories mentioned in previous columns. So, from now on, whenever I raise a issue from the past that stretches for a few months, or longer, I will endeavour to give the outcome. If it was reported in later editions of the paper, that is.

This month, the trip back through the Summit archives begins in February 1984. (I wanted to do March, but I have a hole in my collection, missing it and the April issue.) Maybe the winter of 1984 was a bit like this one - not wanting to end - so the paper presented “The Joys of Winter in Carlington.” This was a photo essay laid out by Clem McClemens showing skaters, skiers and tobogganers enjoying the Carlington Ski Hill and Alexander Park.

Right below the photos was a story about St. Elizabeth students visiting a “winter wonderland.” According to writer Kathryn Sendybyl, “thirty grade six students accompanied by teachers Mrs. Dean and Miss Tierney and a parent Mr. Ficner visited Brown’s Lake in Gatineau Park.” The students gained an awareness of nature and an appreciation of the winter environment.

Mixed in with the sports stories from Laurentian High School and the Bel-Air Atom’s hockey standings was an item about Lansdowne Park. The Ottawa Rough Riders were still playing there and the Summit reported that Alderman Jim Durrell was promoting artificial turf for the Park’s playing field. Nepean’s Sportsplex field was also getting the turf, according to Mayor Ben Franklin. Of local interest was the potential for amateur sports teams to make use of the field “at a minor cost.”

Taxi and garbage woes

Alderman Terry Denison’s column offered some interesting tidbits. A taxi zone was approved by City Council on Coldrey Avenue adjacent to St. Bonaventure School. Denison was hesitant about the wisdom of the move, stating “If these signs permit the taxis to stand at this location, I am opposed.” (Perhaps they can sit!?)

He noted the numerous complaints about garbage not being collected. His column says, “To ensure the collection of your garbage during winter conditions, By-law 190-75 requires that the items to be collected are placed at ground level in the cleared portion of your private walk or driveway as close as possible to the sidewalk or roadway without obstructing pedestrian traffic or snow removal operations. A convenient and unimpeded access to the refuse must be maintained by the occupant or property owner. Finally, ... the garbage to be collected must not be placed on top of, or at the side of, snowbanks.” Everybody got that?

He also wrote about the concern residents expressed about the “unusually high number of skunks.” A report by the Animal Advisory Committee had been forwarded to the Physical Environment Committee. (Future columns will give additional information on this odorous matter.)

The final item brought immediate memories of January 2001. Our new City of Ottawa councillors approved for themselves a raise in their office budgets in order to hire more staff.

Same thing happened in 1984. Here is how Denison put it. “Due to increased work loads in the Elected Representatives Section of City Hall a restructuring program has been adopted providing each alderman with a council assistant. Previously, a council assistant was shared by two aldermen but experience demonstrated that the needs of the constituents could not be effectively met through this arrangement.”

Other items covered in the paper included the mass eviction notices for occupants of Ottawa non-profit housing in Mooretown, lack of skating time for young kids on the Alexander rink, a brief history of St. Elizabeth church and Scout-Guide Week activities.

An Irish influence

Before leaving this 1984 edition, there is a link to the other two chosen for this column - March 1989 and March 1994. A wonderful Irish couple and their family have resided on Anna Avenue for many years. (Not the only Irish is this community I can assure you.) In 1984, Barb Robertson wrote a “happy love story” about a landed immigrant couple who “stood in front of a Canadian priest and said their vows in a strange land and with strangers as witnesses.” The story of this wonderful couple who have contributed so much to Carlington and beyond is an inspiration. Who are they? Anne and Jim McNeill.

If you have ever attended a West End Family Cinema production at Gowling, Fisher or Notre Dame schools you know the impact this family has had on the community. As the front page headline in March 1994 said, “An Irishman Brings 17 Years of Fun, Chips and Film to Carlington Kids.”

For years, including in March 1989, Jim McNeill wrote a column called Kidstuff. It was an eclectic column of jokes (some good, some terrible), contests for movie passes and (mostly) humourous stories about his family’s life.

Robertson’s profile of this couple concluded: “They are also evidence that love in a personal relationship spreads to family and community with fruitful results.”

Road warriors

The March 1989 Summit demonstrated a strong social consciousness. There were stories about parents helping teens avoid addictive habits, a campaign against poverty and a play for parents about parenting.

Picking up on a previously profiled item in this column, there was another story on the Merivale Road redevelopment. According to a photo caption, “Alderman Maloney hopes that a tour of Carlington’s beauty spot, the Merivale strip, has convinced Mayor Durrell to spend some money on sidewalks and curbs.” The story, authored by Lynne Crocker, said: “Durrell recognized the need to improve the appearance of Merivale Road and set up a task force.” (Sounds like a typical political stalling tactic, but as you drive down Merivale Road today you can see the result - at least once the snow has gone.)

The same edition of the paper provided some excellent March break ideas. One that caught my eye was to visit the Bookmobile for some reading material. The photo with the story shows the Bookmobile in front of Gowling school, a stop it no longer makes, unfortunately.

Still with the road theme, the front page of the March 1994 Summit carried a story about the formation of a new community group to fight roadblocks. The Carlington Ratepayers’ Association was established “to force the City to remove the traffic obstacles on the West side of Merivale.” This was to prove to be an extremely volatile subject in the months and years which followed.

It was nice to see some interest in the newspaper as demonstrated by the many letters to the editor which took up a good portion of an entire page. (Sure don’t see that today.)

Wait a minute. What’s this? Frances Tanner was writing a column called Ten years Ago in the Summit. I guess she had a copy of the March 1984 edition that I am missing.

In keeping with the Irish influence in March, Steve McLoughlin (the next door neighbour to the McNeills by the way) offered a tale called The Leprechaun’s Revenge. It was a St. Patrick’s day story for children of all ages.

The word budget appeared extensively throughout the paper. Member of Parliament Marlene Catterall and M.P.P. Evelyn Gigantes both offered their perspectives on the recent federal budget.

Meanwhile, I contributed a story about the budget woes at one of the area school boards.

That is it for this month. Once again, if you have some issue from the past you would like to know about, or a story or some photos you would like to share, please get in touch. I can be reached through email at ddarwin@ncf.ca or by directing a note to the postal box address shown on page 2.