BEACON HILL NORTH
by Elaine Garfinkel
I am a proud resident of Beacon Hill North. Little did I realize in 1968, when our family left Toronto to start a new life in Ottawa, that Beacon Hill North would be our home for almost fifty years. We have “originals” living here still and many children of our early residents have chosen to settle in this community. Our roots run deep.
At the outset, Beacon Hill North was a typical fledgling community with close to fifty homes occupied, model homes on site, and plans for schools and parks. These early residents wanted a community with a soul. They were like-minded in their aspirations for their children. They wanted to create a wonderful community where their children would grow and thrive.
To facilitate this, the Beacon Hill Community Association was formed to provide a platform for the residents from where they could identify the needs of their new community and share ideas.
An early initiative that improved their situation was the establishment of an early-morning bus service for residents who worked downtown. This was a volunteer-operated service. The Association paid for the bus rental and incidental expenses. Volunteers operated on the honor system. They collected the fares and turned the money into the Association. At the end of the first three months, this service had made a three thousand dollar profit. It was not long before O/C Transport provided regular bus service.
With the arrival of Summer, the need for a day camp was identified. A Day Camp Committee of volunteers established a well-attended camp. Local high school students were hired and trained to operate the camp on a self-sustaining financial basis.
Today, the City of Ottawa is responsible for stewardship and maintenance of all the trees on city property. In the early days, the beautiful trees we now enjoy came about through a three-way partnership: the developer Campeau, the Township of Gloucester, and the homeowners, who paid twelve dollars per tree. Campeau paid for the trees in the public areas. The Township selected appropriate locations, dug the holes and planted the young trees.
Back in the day, all the sports teams and leagues were organized by community volunteers: baseball, hockey, basketball, ringette and football. Initially, all of these activities had to be financially self-supporting. The Parks and Community Centre began with a partnership between the Township and local Parks Boards with the support of volunteers and staff from Gloucester Township. The Day Care Centre on Ogilvie Road, which today serves the needs of many residents, was initially a volunteer project.
The Gloucester Community Council, that has served as a model for the Community Schools Concept embraced by the Provincial government, was established by volunteers working in partnership with the Carleton School Board and local schools. The idea of opening the schools to adults as well as children; using these public spaces to enhance recreational and educational activities in the community was novel.
The Gloucester Community Council existed for twenty-five years. The Council generated an annual profit and these funds were invested in community activities and used to purchase equipment shared by the schools and the community. The tennis courts at Colonel By High School remain as part of the legacy left to the community by the Council.
The Beacon Hill North Association still exists supporting a number of activities, acting as a monitor for the community and advocating on important issues that impact the life of residents. I owe a debt of appreciation to those early members of our community, who gave so generously of their personal time and energy; who showed up for the meetings; who rose to the challenges; so that our kids could have the quality of life we envisioned when we moved to Beacon Hill North all those years ago.