Chunks of Old Buildings

Over the course of my local velo adventures I’ve happened upon a number of old architectural ruins selectively placed throughout the city. On Saturday I re-visited three of them. Here’s how the grand tour panned out.

The first, located behind the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, is this handsome entrance to what was once the E.C. Whitney Building. I can’t find a description of the original building, or who E.C. Whitney was, however there was a successful general manager of a wood mill in the township of South Algonquin community of Whitney by that name who appeared on the scene way back in 1895.

My route there was a bit convoluted because I thought the arch was located behind the Ottawa Civic Hospital a few blocks east until I realised my mistake.

What’s left of the E.C. Whitney Building

Next stop brought me to the edge of the Rideau River near Bank St where this commemorative wall is located. It is constructed of stones that formed part of a blacksmith’s fireplace dating back to 1814, which was disassembled in 1960 to make room for road construction. Two interpretive plaques are mounted on the wall, one facing the bike path which includes a rendering of the original fireplace. The other plaque is attached to the other side, and describes Braddish Billings on whose estate the blacksmith shop was situated.

Commemorative wall

The last bunch of ruins on this tour can be found in Rockcliffe Park just east of Acacia Avenue. They are my favorite.

This fountain is actually a faux ruin. It was designed by the sculptor René Bertrand Bouté 1912 to look like one. But who’s splitting hairs? I love it.

Soper’s Fountain in Rockcliffe Park

These columns come from the Carnegie Public Library, which was located at the corner of Laurier and Metcalfe from 1906 to the early 1970’s.

Carnegie columns

I think this tumbled column and the scattered capitals near the fountain come from the same building.

Tumbled columns and scattered capitals

This variation of a Corinthian capital, located away from the other ruins near Acacia Avenue, reminds me of the sad legend describing how this architectural order came to be. I’ve included Vitruvius‘ telling of the story below the photo.

Corinthian capital

“Now the first invention of that capital is related to have happened thus. A girl, a native of Corinth, already of age to be married, was attacked by disease and died. After her funeral, the goblets which delighted her when living, were put together in a basket by her nurse, carried to the monument, and placed on the top. That they might remain longer, exposed as they were to the weather, she covered the basket with a tile. As it happened the basket was placed upon the root of an acanthus. Meanwhile about spring time, the root of the acanthus, being pressed down in the middle by the weight, put forth leaves and shoots. The shoots grew up the sides of the basket, and, being pressed down at the angles by the force of the weight of the tile, were compelled to form the curves of volutes at the extreme parts. then Callimachus, who for the elegance and refinement of his marble carving was nick-named catatechnos by the Athenians, was passing the monument, perceived the basket and the young leaves growing up. Pleased with the style and novelty of the grouping, he made columns for the Corinthians on this model and fixed the proportions. thence he distributed the details of the Corinthian order throughout the work.”

Author: ottawavelo

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