NCC James O’Connor Farm

NCC James O’Connor Farm

P1080725

Informations

Street or road #
1661
Street
Saint-Joseph
City
Orléans
Province
ON

Two-and-a-half storey brick house with hipped roof, old barn.

Type of building/structure/objectTwo-storey red brick farmhouse

Owners (original, former, current)James O’Connor was an Irish immigrant who, in 1850, had been hired as a contractor by the city of Ottawa (then Bytown). He purchased 200 acres of land, subdivided it into two 100-acre lots, and gave one to each of his two sons, Edward and Walter.

Walter wed Margaret Butler and they lived in a stone house next door with their five daughters.

Edward went on to operate the farm with his wife, Mary Gertrude Boyd, and their eight children. Gordon, their youngest son, took over the homestead and remained on the farm until the 1960s when the National Capital Commission began purchasing the farms located within the Greenbelt area.

Gertrude remained in the red brick house after Edward’s passing, whereas Gordon lived in a bungalow-style yellow brick house he had built to the east of the main house. Following his marriage and the sale of the property, Gordon, along with his wife Claire Dooner and their daughters Julie and Catherine, moved into a new house in Blackburn Hamlet.

Gertrude passed away without a will. The estate settlement that followed led to the purchase, by a neighbour named Joseph Drouin, of a 52.62-acre piece of land located on the northwest corner of the property.

Design or physical value (description of each structure, materials, anything unusual or rare, especially its architecture)

This cube-shaped farmhouse is known as an American Foursquare, an architectural style that dates to the late 1800s. Spacious, cost-efficient, and easy to build, this then new style of house revolutionized the housing industry. A Foursquare typically features a front dormer with paired windows, hipped roof, and large porch.

This two-storey red brick house features double windows on its facade and a door on its eastern side.

This beautiful house had been built very close to the road. When the latter was widened, raised and transformed into a four-lane boulevard, it almost completely hid the lower part of the house from view. However, the structure appears to remain in excellent condition. Its asphalt shingle roof and modern windows, with their stone sills and headings, are a testament to the quality of the architecture.

There is a door on the east side of the house, probably leading to the kitchen. Adjacent to this are a shed and a double garage that has a partially collapsed roof.

A now demolished large barn used to stand on the northeast corner of the property, clad in vertical, dark red wooden boards. It was used for storing crops and agricultural machinery. A section of the barn had also been converted first into a henhouse used for the breeding of turkeys, and later, into a stable for horses.

Tenants have been occupying the premises since the purchase of the property by the National Capital Commission.

Buildings of little heritage value on site

None

Historical or associative value (brief history or historical references)

The O’Connor family was very well known in the region. O’Connor Street, in downtown Ottawa, was named after contractor James O’Connor.

Members of the family were active in the Orléans community. Edward was on the School Board of the small English school located near Green’s Creek. This was the school attended by all the O’Connor children.

Edward also helped move stones used for the construction of the St-Joseph Church, which was where his oldest daughter Beatrice was married to Archibald Grace in 1924.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the O’Connor brothers owned a truck they used to transport stones for the Ottawa Valley Crushed Stone.

Edward’s oldest son was hired by Ayerst, McKenna & Harrison. He started out washing floors and ended up president of one of the company’s branches. It was founded in 1925 by W. Allen S. Ayerst, W. J. McKenna, and W. Harrison, one of whom had previously worked for the Charles E. Frosst & Co. They specialized in the production of vitamins, bacteriological products such as vaccines and serums, and antibiotics. In the early 1980s, it became the Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories.

Gordon’s wife Claire worked for the Liberal Party both on the provincial and federal stages. She also volunteered at Canadian Cancer Society fundraising events.

Contextual value (description of the surroundings: cultural or natural landscapes and landmarks)

Extending all the way to the Ottawa River, the farm was known for its exceptional wheat crops.

Due to its size and location, this lovely property was once one of the most important farms in the area. In the early 1900s, the Canadian Northern Railway track ran through it; today, the Regional Highway 174 has taken its place. Upon the property’s purchase by the National Capital Commission, the fields kept on being farmed by leaseholders requiring animal feed.

At one point, two of Edward’s sonsWilbert and the youngest, Gordonbegan raising turkeys. Despite their success, they moved on to horse breeding and became suppliers of urine from pregnant mares for a pharmaceutical company. What prompted them to make this decision was the announcement by the Canadian Government, in 1942, that the Canadian Armed Forces were in great need of antibiotics.

The part of the land located between St-Joseph Boulevard and the Regional Highway 174 was sold to the White Sands Golf Course & Practice Centre.

Comité des sites patrimoniaux : Colette Côté, Guy Legault, Françoise Miller

Auteure : Colette Côté (juin 2019)

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National Capital Commission