Last month we learned that Stittsville’s population is now estimated to top 30,000 residents, en route to 70,000 in the next few decades.
That reminded me of an article from February 3, 1960 in the Ottawa Citizen: Stittsville Goes Zoom. I came across it recently when I was doing some research on a related topic. It’s a fascinating look back at how the community struggled with many of the same issues we continue to deal with today.
“The almost explosive growth of this once tiny hamlet 18 miles west of Ottawa has been so fantastic that major steps are being taken to cope with the resultant problems,” reported Fred Inglis. “New subdivisions have created problems of new streets, drainage and street lights.”
“Stittsville since the war has become the home of several large construction firms but in recent years has blossomed into a dormitory town for hundreds of people who work in Ottawa. Its population has doubled in the past two or three years. It has more than trebled from the 400 it had in 1955 to nearly 1,500 today. Almost 100 building permits – mostly for homes – were issued last year.”
The article described not just homes, but business too. The IGA store was building a “modern new shopping center”, and the Bell Telephone was moving in, including new automatic dialing. The Stittsville News had recently been established.
In 1947, Stittsville’s school board built Ontario’s first modern post-war school. Originally built with two rooms, they added another two in 1951. By 1955 when the article was written, three more classrooms were under construction with plans underway for another four more. (The school is now home to Frederick Banting Secondary School.)
Expected enrolment that fall was 420 students, and it was so crowded that Grade 1 and 2 students went to school in shifts, and the Orange Hall – now the Stittsville Legion – had an extra classroom in the basement.
“By January 1, 1961, Stittsville should be a full-fledged village with its own reeve and councilors and have complete control of its affairs,” wrote Inglis. “Meanwhile, the trustees have arranged to put up $900 worth of street signs — raised the amount from an original $400, and increased the town’s 10 existing street lights by an additional 33 lights.”
“With the opening of Ottawa’s new Queensway as a high speed expressway, Stittsville in a few short years will become even closer, in travelling time, to the nation’s capital.”