“Lost Ottawa” Facebook group

If you’re on Facebook and you’re interested in Ottawa local history, you should definitely subscribe to “Lost Ottawa,” which bills itself as “a Facebook research community devoted to images of Ottawa and the Outouais up to the year 2000.”

I have to say that, much as I enjoy seeing “Lost Ottawa” images turn up in my Facebook feed, I sometimes find it rather depressing. In the 1960s and 1970s, Ottawa lost so many of its beautiful older (19th- to early 20th-century) buildings to “progress,” and “development,” and ugly, utilitarian, Stalinist-style architecture.

Okay, “Stalinist-style” is admittedly a tad hyperbolic, but still. It is sad to see what Ottawa has lost of its built environment, through lack of respect for/attention to the principles of sane and sound historic preservation. No, we cannot save every building, and some older buildings are probably not worth saving. But this does not mean that we should tear down any old building whatsoever, in order to make way for the construction of yet another condo complex. And yes, times change, and the original purposes of older buildings become obsolete. But from this concession to the imperatives of change, it absolutely does not follow that older buildings are, by definition, useless obstacles to the realization of contemporary needs and goals. Many older buildings can and should be refurbished to meet new purposes, instead of bulldozed into the ground to make way for soulless concrete blocks.

Anyone with a Facebook account can join “Lost Ottawa” by clicking “Like” on its front page.