The story of 142 Glebe Avenue – a house and her people

Marshall, Pat photo 142 Glebe Ave

142 Carling Avenue, (later Glebe Avenue), October 10, 1961
Photo: Courtesy of Andrews Norton Collection, City of Ottawa Archives

By Pat Marshall

If you had been turning west from Bank Street onto Glebe Avenue on Saturday, September 22, 1962, you would have noticed two unusual things: the street sign said Carling Avenue rather than Glebe, and outside number 142, a few houses up from St Matthew’s, an obviously special event was happening. An elegant white-haired woman and her Lady-in-Waiting entered the house. It was Madame Pauline Vanier, wife of the Governor General, Georges Vanier.

She presided as honorary president of the Canadian Mothercraft Society at the opening of its new headquarters, 142 Carling, which it had bought in June 1962 for $20,000. The Society had rented premises until then and this was their first permanent location. Elva Hewitt, the Ottawa Branch’s first nurse director for prenatal classes (1945–1968), had an apartment on the second floor. The advice rooms and offices were on the first floor, a used-clothing store was in the basement for the mothers, and the two attic rooms were rented. Eventually, Mothercraft outgrew the house and put it up for sale in 1973.

Number 142 Carling Avenue was built in 1914–15 by Edith Allan and sold in 1916 to Isabelle (Major) and Louis de Vere Bangs, whose family traces its North American roots to pilgrim ancestors. Louis’s first wife, Kate Merrill, had had six babies of whom William Merrill Louis was the only one who lived. She took rat poison and died after finding herself pregnant again. In 1894, Louis, who was with Mortimer’s Printing in Pakenham, married Isabelle, the stenographer, “a tall handsome woman with a hot temper, but who apparently made him a very good wife.”

Also living in the house in 1921 were Isabelle’s mother, Elizabeth Major, 85 (born in Ireland) and her sister Elizabeth, 45, a nurse. The Bangs were childless and had “no dog or bitch” according to the tax assessment rolls of 1935! Isabelle was a housekeeper and Louis worked as a printer and retired at the age of 80. Louis was well known in Ottawa as a champion ice curler and won many awards.

Louis de Vere Bangs died at home in 1952 at age 94 and is buried in Beechwood Cemetery. Four years later, in 1956, Isabelle Bangs sold the house to Alberte Gackowski (née Legault) for $18,500. Alberte Gackowski was married to Tadeusz Gackowski. They had one daughter, Marila.

Number 142 Carling was sold in 1962 to Mothercraft, which then sold it in 1973 to Gouhar Shemdin, a restoration architect. Gouhar married Richard Simison in 1973. Two years later, Gouhar was transferred to Quebec City and sold the house to Mary and Ian Buchan Campbell. Gouhar and Richard eventually returned to Ottawa and even bought a house on Glebe Avenue!

By this time the name of the street had changed to Glebe Avenue as part of the Glebe traffic calming plan put in place as a result of lobbying by Glebe residents led by Ottawa’s and Canada’s first woman mayor Charlotte Whitton and Douglas Fullerton, both residents of the Glebe.

Mary and Ian Campbell had two sons, Grant and Neal, and a daughter Debbie. Mary was a critical care nurse at the Civic Hospital and also worked for Public Health and the Red Cross. Ian worked for Health Canada dealing with food safety.

The Campbells sold the house in 1984 to Germain Vézina and Patricia Marshall (myself), whose children, Luc and Stephanie, were 10 and seven, respectively, at the time. Germain is a psychologist and worked for the Centre de Services Sociaux de l’Outaouais and I worked at Ottawa-Carleton Immigrant Services and then as a resettlement officer for the UN High Commission for Refugees. We are both now retired: Germain sculpts and I play the harp. Germain and I love the house and are still there, 31years later.

I attended a Glebe workshop several years ago at the Glebe Community Centre on tracing the history of your house. That put the wheels in motion and I have enjoyed researching the history of the house and its people. I hope that anyone reading this who may have photos of the house will contact me at marvezina@gmail.com.

Pat Marshall and her husband, Germain Vézina, have owned the house at 142 Glebe Avenue for 31 years. Her research on its history has only deepened her appreciation of the house and its people.

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