The area of present-day Vanier was first settled in the 1820s by a group that included the notable Ottawa families of McArthur, Sparks, Clarke and Cummings.
The village of Eastview was the first official title given to this community, established in 1909 with a population of 3,000 people. The working-class village adopted their own coat of arms, which featured the rising sun of the East, a schoolhouse to represent knowledge, and a black hammer crossed over a silver feather to represent skill. The village motto was “Labore et Honore” which translates to “Work and Honour.”
In 1969, the village of Eastview took on the current name of Vanier to reflect the Francophone majority and was named after Georges-Philéas Vanier, who was Canada’s first French-Canadian Governor General. At the time, two- thirds of the city’s population identified as Francophone. The city of Vanier was absorbed into the greater City of Ottawa in the amalgamation of 2001.
Vanier is currently regarded as a major “up and coming” part of the city, especially with the development of Beechwood Avenue which is divided into two neighborhoods served by the Quartier Vanier BIA; the north side of Beechwood is in New Edinburgh and the south is in Vanier. Rideau-Vanier city councilor Mathieu Fleury says, “The objective is to make Beechwood Avenue a safe main street where businesses can thrive, where people feel that it is friendly to walk and where it is safe for cars and bicycles.”
It is one of the last traditional main streets to be developed in the city, and is set to take on the “complete street” model with raised cycling tracks, widened sidewalks and narrowed traffic lanes.
Looking to the Montreal Road side of the ‘hood, this strip is set to receive its own makeover starting in 2018. Councilor Fleury notes that the renewal plan for the street is a major departure from the current design, especially in regards to housing.
“In the old city of Vanier bylaws, you couldn’t build more that 30 per cent residential along Montreal road. What we’re looking at now is ground-floor commercial with residential up above that could be in the ranges of 80 per cent residential.”
PEOPLE & HOUSES
As of 2011, the population of Vanier sits at just over 16,000 people. Interestingly, the Francophone population has fallen considerably, from over 60 per cent in the 1980s to less than 40 percent today.
With an abundance of relatively inexpensive housing and its close proximity to downtown, Councilor Fleury has seen an increasing number of young, first- time homeowners in the neighbourhhod and notes, “If we look at the schools in the area, Trille Des Bois for example, there’s a long waiting list, and for me that’s a sign of stability. When you have schools that are well populated, you don’t have high turnover, you have established families.”
Available housing in Vanier is mixed with plenty of older, detached homes, and an increasing number of new infill homes that reflect the modern and minimalist open-concept design. A unique aspect of the area is the amount of space still available for development with more land up-for-grabs in Vanier than any other central neighbourhood. New housing projects indicate the start of a boom in residential building.
FOOD & DRINK
Vanier has developed into a garden for start-up restaurants, with chefs bringing exciting new menus that draw on creativity and the highest quality of ingredients. Restaurateur Ion Aimers launched the famous Works burger franchise on Beechwood 15 years ago, and recently opened Muckleston & Brockwell, a fine butcher shop on that same strip.
“As someone who lives here (Beechwood), I really welcome the continued explosion of food business,” says Ion. “We’ve got some real leaders on this street, Sue Jacobson (Jacobson Gourmet Concepts) who’s been here a long time, and new people like Lauren Power who opened the Red Door.”
Coffee is the real queen of Beechwood, with a number of cafes dotting the streetscape. Locally owned Bridgehead Coffeehouse has a prominent spot on the New Edinburgh side of Beechwood as do Scone Witch, a delicious coffee and lunch spot and newcomer Red Door Provisions offers high-end boutique coffee, a beautiful selection of preserved fruits and vegetables, as well as fresh-baked goods.
Long-standing pizza place Louis Pizza on McArthur road has recently been dressed with one of the notable Vanier Murals to capture attention and pay tribute to the multicultural aspect of the community. Find a number of wall murals in the Vanier area depicting the history and diversity of the community, just another eye-catching aspect of this up-and-coming area.