The names of Lowertown’s main arteries reflect Canada’s history. Dalhousie and George streets are the main shopping thoroughfares in the neighbourhood, while Sussex Drive delineates the western edge of Lowertown, and King Edward Avenue runs through the centre. Some streets, however, are named in honour of Francophones who left their mark on the neighbourhood’s history: Guigues, Bruyère, Myrand and Gilberte-Paquette. They are community builders who shaped the face of French-speaking Ottawa.
Bruyère Street pays tribute to Sister Élisabeth Bruyère, founder of the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa. She is credited with creating the first hospital in Bytown, which opens on May 10, 1845. It eventually becomes the Ottawa General Hospital. In the same Lowertown quadrangle, Guigues Avenue commemorates Msgr Joseph-Eugène-Bruno Guigues, the first bishop of the Diocese of Bytown, appointed on July 9, 1847. An excellent administrator, Bishop Guigues manages to build a flourishing church from almost nothing, save a bit of time. He also establishes the College of Bytown, which goes on to become the University of Ottawa.
Beausoleil Drive and Myrand Avenue honour the memory of two Sainte-Anne parish priests. Alexandre Beausoleil, the parish priest from 1897 to 1903, is remembered as a patriotic man who organizes the first of many great French-Canadian rallies to mark the history of the country. Msgr Joseph-Alfred Myrand follows as parish priest of Sainte-Anne, serving from 1903 to 1949. His rectory is said to be “one of the centres of Franco-Ontarian resistance between 1914 and 1927.”1
Myrand Avenue is situated opposite Jules-Morin Park, named as a mark of respect for the contribution of Jules Morin, who serves as an Ottawa City Councillor for over thirty years, from 1944 to 1974. He represents Lowertown during the tribulations of the vast urban renewal project that deeply impacts the history and future of the neighbourhood. In 2016, the stretch of Parent Avenue between Boteler and Cathcart streets is renamed Gilberte-Paquette Avenue. Sister Gilberte manages the Ottawa General Hospital before establishing the Élisabeth Bruyère Health Centre in the early 1980s. In 1983, she establishes the first regional palliative care unit in Ontario.
1 Pierre Savard, “Relations avec le Québec,” in Cornelius J. Jaenen, Les Franco-Ontariens, Ottawa, University of Ottawa Press, 1993, p. 245 (translated from the original).