Old Ottawa South is bounded roughly by Bronson Avenue on the west, the Rideau Canal on the north, and the Rideau River to the south and east.
The first European residents settled along the north shore of the Rideau River (today’s Windsor Park) in the 1810s. Over the next few decades, a small community evolved, including a hotel, church, mill and school. However, it was still considered far from Bytown until Bank Street was extended over the canal on a wooden bridge in 1866. In the latter half of the 1800s, suburbs were laid out west of Bank Street.
Things really took off after the City of Ottawa annexed the neighbourhood (1907), built the sturdier Bank Street Canal Bridge (1912) and extended the streetcar line across the canal along Bank Street (1913). Growth continued steadily, spurred when Carleton University moved to its current campus in 1959. Once a popular student neighbourhood, Old Ottawa South began gentrifying in the 1970s and 1980s. Compared to many other central neighbourhoods, it has seen relatively little condo or high-rise development, but modern infills are increasingly common, and pedestrian-friendly Bank Street is now lined with independent shops and restaurants.
Claim to fame
The Mayfair Theatre, near the corner of Bank Street and Sunnyside Avenue, is Ottawa’s oldest surviving cinema. Built in 1932 in the Spanish Revival style, it screens indie, art, children’s, second-run and classic movies. Most days include an afternoon matinée and two evening shows, along with occasional late-night screenings. The City of Ottawa designated the Mayfair a heritage building in 2008.
Old Ottawa South neighbourhoods
Statistics Canada and some mapmakers call the area west of Bank Street “Old Ottawa South” and the area east of Bank Street “Rideau Gardens.” However, the community association serves residents on both sides of Bank, who all consider themselves part of Old Ottawa South.
Who’s building where
- Stone Abbey: Windmill Development Group
In the area
Old Ottawa South appeals to home buyers who like heritage homes, mature trees and the opportunity to walk, cycle or bus to work downtown or at Carleton University. Attractions include:
- Rideau Canal
- Rideau River
- Windsor Park
- Brewer Park
- Pedestrian/cycling-friendly routes
- Coffee shops/restaurants
- Boutique shopping
There is one English public elementary school in the neighbourhood, Hopewell Public School. North of the canal in the Glebe, you’ll find an English public high school (Glebe Collegiate Institute). The nearest English Catholic high school is in Old Ottawa East (Immaculata High School). French public and Catholic schools are further away.
- English public: Ottawa Carleton District School Board school locator
- English Catholic: Ottawa Catholic School Board school locator
- French public: Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario school locator
- French Catholic: Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est school locator
The neighbourhood is also home to the private Astolot Educational Centre.
Old Ottawa South has a good selection of independent restaurants and shops, particularly decor stores and cafés. Businesses include:
- House of Targ
- Boomerang Kids
- Black Squirrel Books and Espresso Bar
- Stella Luna Gelato Café
- The Cyclery
- Ottawa Antique Market
- Life of Pie
- Oat Couture Oatmeal Café
- Planet of Sound
- Cedars and Company Food Market
- The Belmont
- Patty’s Pub
- C.A. Paradis
- Burrito Shack
The neighbourhood has soccer fields, baseball diamonds, basketball courts, tennis courts and off-leash dog parks. In season, you’ll also find docks on the Rideau River and access stairs for skating on the Rideau Canal.
Within or close to Old Ottawa South, amenities include:
- Brewer Arena
- Brewer Pool
- Brewer Park splash pad
- Ottawa Tennis and Lawn Bowling Club
- Ottawa Public Library (Sunnyside branch)
- Firehall community centre (includes a fitness room and pottery studio)
- Lansdowne Park
- Billings Bridge Transitway station
- Billings Bridge Shopping Centre
Old Ottawa South has a range of services, including salons, churches, dry cleaners, a florist, a bank, an animal hospital and a dental office.
The Ottawa South Community Association runs programs at the Firehall community centre and organizes many local events.
Old Ottawa South is served by OC Transpo routes connecting it to Centretown, South Keys and points beyond. The nearest Transitway station is at Billings Bridge, just across the Rideau River. The Queensway is roughly 1.5 km north of Old Ottawa South. Colonel By Drive and the adjacent recreational pathway provide a route for drivers and cyclists to the ByWard Market and, through it, to Gatineau. The area offers convenient access to Ottawa International Airport along the Airport Parkway.