275 Second Avenue – the end of an era

275 Second Avenue, a David Younghusband centre-hall design, was in the Peckham family for 93 years.

By Michael Peckham

The house at 275 Second Avenue holds a great deal of history and meaning for the Peckham family. The house, designed by David Younghusband, a well-respected builder of many homes in the Glebe, was commissioned by Frederick Coleman Peckham for his family in approximately 1926. Family members have been the only owners to date, which is very unusual in the Glebe or in any community for that matter. But the Peckham era that has lasted almost a century is about to end – the family home is for sale.

The house is a classic Younghusband centre-hall plan but was customized with an added sunroom on the right side of the house. With five bedrooms and two fireplaces, the house is two and a half storeys and is clad in red brick. The addition on the back (originally a potting shed) is divided for use as a family room and a laundry room and opens to a private deck.

The Peckham family were devout Catholics and worshipped at Blessed Sacrament Church on Fourth Avenue.

Frederick C. Peckham, his wife Marie Adele Rougier and their six children moved into the home in 1927, and members of the family have lived there ever since for 93 years. Frederick was a principal in Gorman & Peckham, a civil engineering firm, along with his partner Tom Gorman. Frederick died on a job site in Quebec in 1928, when a partially constructed bridge collapsed as he was inspecting it.

Of the six children, the first two, a son and daughter, eventually married, but the other four daughters never did. Three of them – Marjorie, Patricia and Gloria – stayed with their mother until she died in 1963 and continued to live in the house afterwards.

The youngest daughter, Eileen, went to Toronto for about 10 years, then moved into an apartment on Queen Elizabeth Drive when she returned to Ottawa. When Marjorie passed away in 1987, Eileen moved back into 275 Second with her two sisters – she was the only one of the three who could drive.

All four women had successful careers.

Marjorie was executive assistant to the president of the Northern Electric Company. She was a fashionista known for the classy cars she drove.

Patricia, better known as Patsy, was executive assistant to two senators in the 1970s and 80s; one of them was Charles R. McElman, who spent 24 years in the Senate. Patsy died in 1997.

Gloria was the head librarian for the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources and later for the Canada Centre for Mineral and Energy Technology on Booth Street. She died in 2008.

Eileen was one of the first industrial nurses in Ontario, working for the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Occupational Health Branch. She was certified as an occupational health nurse in 1989, after previously working as an industrial health nurse. She was the last surviving child, the last one living at 275 Second. When she died earlier this year, the family house was put up for sale.

These successful women were simply “the girls” to my brother Peter and me, their nephews. They helped raise us, and we adored them. They took us to Scott’s Green Valley Restaurant before it was popular for families to eat out. They rented cottages in Constance Bay and always had one or more of their nieces and nephews up for the week. They went to Montreal Canadien hockey games and Ottawa Rough Rider football games in the 1950s and 1960s, following players to restaurants after the game to get autographs for us.

Even though this is the end of a generation and of an era in the Glebe, our fond memories will live on for many years to come.

Michael Peckham, now living in Arizona, is one of five nieces and nephews of the Peckham family of 275 Second Avenue.

The Peckham “girls”: Eileen, Gloria, grand-niece Allison, Patricia, grand-niece Amy, their mother Francine (wife of author Michael Peckham) Photos: courtesy of author

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