18. Protestant Children's Village

Construction: 1930  |  Demolished: 1984

Architect: John Albert Ewart

Location: 983 Carling Avenue, Ottawa

 

The Protestant Children’s Village, formerly the Protestant Orphans’ Home, was founded in 1865 by the Ladies’ Protestant Benevolent Association of Ottawa to provide “...the relief, support and education of orphans and other destitute children … .”

Ottawa’s Protestant Orphan’s Home was similar to homes established in many major cities in the mid-19th century by protestant middle class women. These privately funded and operated homes came under criticism in the early 20th century with the appearance of a professional class of trained social workers, and increased government regulation.

The Protestant Orphan’s Home outgrew a series of buildings on Bank, Albert and then Elgin streets in downtown Ottawa. After a successful fundraising campaign, a 4.6-acre wooded site on Carling Avenue near the Civic Hospital was acquired in 1924.

Ottawa architect J. Albert Ewart drew up plans for a new building based on the cottage unit system (a new approach that set institutions in park-like settings) with a number of cottage style buildings. The first of the buildings—and as it turns out the only one built—was constructed by Alex. I. Garvock and officially opened on December 30, 1930 as the Protestant Children’s Village. The new purpose-built facility focused on the treatment of emotionally disturbed children using psychological methods

The rambling two-storey brick and stucco structure was designed in a Tudor Revival style. Ewart used local fire-flashed red brick, which produced a rough but brilliant colour.

In 1935 a nursery school was added to the services provided. The organization became affiliated with the Children’s Aid Society, and in 1969 the building was adapted for use as a group daycare service.

Because of a cut in provincial funding and a growing deficit, the Protestant Children’s Village Day Care Service was forced to close in 1979. The day care service was transferred to Hilson Public School.

The threat to the preservation of the building intensified in October 1982, when the Protestant Children’s Village announced the sale of its property to Minto Construction.

In February 1983, Heritage Ottawa appealed to LACAC (Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee, forerunner of today's Built Heritage Subcommittee) in support of the local residents’ request to designate the building. The City voted against designation on the grounds that the building lacked sufficient architectural and associative value, and was not old enough.

The Protestant Children’s Village was demolished in mid-February 1984, and replaced by 116 condominium apartments and 14 row homes. Fortunately some of the trees were preserved.

The Children’s Village, a successor to the day care sevices of the Protestant Children’s Village, continues to operate a licensed home child care program, several school based child care centres, summer programs, a drop-in play group and other support services for parents and providers.