The following map identifies historical points of interest in the Westboro Beach area. (The red circles are not clickable.)
Skead’s Mills was one of several industrial villages that developed along the new Canada Central Railway which opened in September of 1870 between LeBreton Flats and Carleton Place. In 1869 Senator Skead bought from the Thomsons, who owned Maplelawn, an extensive block of land between the railway (the present transit route) and the river and adjoining his extensive farm which was located in the present Kirkwood – Richmond Rd area.
He built a steam sawmill just down river from the current Westboro Beach the foundations which can be seen from the NCC parking lot. The mill was connected to the railway by a spur line. The mill burned in 1871 but was rebuilt by 1873.1
The mill employed 30 to 40 men and cut 15 million board feet per year as well as half a million shingles and a similar number of laths.
Skead erected a boarding house but but provided no accommodation for families. His neighbour John Birch registered a subdivision plan consisting of two streets with lots on his farm intended for the mill-hands. By 1874 a number of houses had been built on these lots and a Skead’s Mills post office had even been opened in Pratt’s grocery.
A depression in the early-70s resulted in Skead going bankrupt. In 1880 he lost his mill, timber limits, residence and most of his farm to his creditors who sold most of it to E.B. Eddy.
By 1880, little had changed in Skead’s Mills. John Birch’s two streets were in the hands of an Ottawa real estate agent, with only Birch, a mill labourer and a mill foreman living at the west end of John St. No additional dwellings would be built until around 1910.2 The mill had changed little since the Eddy takeover, still employing approximately 30 people.
By 1900, little had changed on the former mill property. Most was owned by the C.P.R. and some of the Skead farm on lot 31 was now owned by neighbourhood cattle dealer James Magee who ran steers over the imaginary streets near the ruins of the mill.3
A 1950′s view of the treed area behind the beach in the vicinity of the current parkway, the Quebec shoreline can be seen through the trees at the right side corner of the house. The house was located on the Ottawa Improvement Commission Driveway but was moved to its existing location at 267 Kirchoffer Ave in the early 1960s.
The opening of the streetcar line from Ottawa to Britannia on the south side of Richmond Rd in 1900 stimulated land development along the route. One of these subdivisions was the area bounded by the current rapid transit route to the river and eastward to include a few lots on the east side of Churchill. With the exception of the east side Churchill lots the subdivision was known as Clarella Park.
A description of the circumstances associated with Clarella Park is described in Bruce Elliott’s book The City Beyond, (page 194) and reads as follows:
Clarella and Summerland plan
When mail service was extended from Ottawa into some areas south of the CPR tracks in 1942, the Canadian Post Office Department required that streets with conflicting names be re-named. Consequently, wartime patriotism showed in the new names, Main became Churchill, Victoria became Roosevelt and Tweedsmuir was also named. However, the Post Office refused to deliver north of the tracks until sometime later than 1947. (page 238, The City Beyond)
Senator Skead’s mill by Westboro Beach was the first industrial development in the neighbourhood. It was built in 1869, and was the result of the opening of the Canada Central Railway in Sept. 1870 which greatly facilitated the transportation of the lumber, shingles and lath.
(5) In 1911, M.N. Cummings planning mill at the northeast corner of Scott and Churchill was opened. It remained open until the 1950s. A housing complex was developed on the site in the late ’80s – early ’90s.
(6) In 1920, Independent Coal & Lumber, a planing mill, sash and door factory, coal, fuel oil was opened. It remained open until the 1970s.
Westboro Newspapers (page 240, The City Beyond)