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Heritage Matters

Heritage Matters

Recent Developments Around Rockcliffe Park

132 Lisgar Road

The City has approved additions to both sides of this Grade I house. The additions will be set back from the façade of the house, lower than the house, and similar in materials and expression. However, the south side addition will be only 4.9 feet from the property line when the by-law requires 11.5 feet. This is not in accord with our Heritage Plan that requires the preservation of generous spacing between buildings. We nonetheless supported this addition because of a truly exceptional circumstance – the house is set back from the road by a full 80 feet, providing a long vista to the house and significantly mitigating the impact of the much-reduced side-yard. The neighbour sharing the property line also supported the addition.

65 Acacia Avenue

A proposal to replace a house on the Lindenlea side of Acacia with a 12-unit, 5-storey apartment is being considered by the City. The proposal has provoked much opposition from Lindenlea, as well as from us. The proposed building–in scale, height, and reduced setbacks at the front, sides and back–would have a serious negative impact on the streetscape, which is characterized mainly by one- and two-storey houses. It is seen as setting a dangerous precedent for the lower part of Acacia. Because the proposed development is across the street from Rockcliffe Park – a heritage conservation district – the province does not permit any development that fails to conserve the heritage attributes of Rockcliffe Park.

Wildlife Notes

Wildlife Notes: June 2018

Foxes have been the talk of the western part of the Village, New Edinburgh and Lindenlea this season with many sightings of one or more handsome adults, hunting in daylight. On April 6, a fox was spotted running across MacKay into the grounds of Rideau Hall. Two days later Tazim Lal saw one carrying food from Pine Hill/Lisgar Road into the Princess side of the grounds. The next day Joni Hamlin’s children saw one carrying a squirrel on Springfield in the direction of St. Brigid’s School. Susan Sweeney Hermon saw one with a squirrel near the French embassy on April 18. Alison Green noticed a fox going through her yard at the south end of Manor on several occasions. Starting on April 19, Elise Aylen videoed a fox carrying a squirrel on Lindenlea Road sidewalk near Springfield on three occasions; each time trotting west in the direction of Rideau Hall. On another occasion the video shows the fox trotting along the sidewalk in the opposite direction – but not carrying anything. This is strong evidence for the den being west of Springfield, most likely in the grounds of Rideau Hall. John McPherson took the photo above of an adult carrying a squirrel on Wood Avenue on April 21. The food carrying would have been to provide for the young. The risks of hunting in broad daylight where there are people and dogs were evidently outweighed by the value of catching squirrels that are only available during the day.

On April 26, Lise Ouimet saw two foxes, one large the other quite small. On May 5, Adrienne Blair saw an adult with three young opposite the Princess gate of Rideau Hall. That clinched the evidence of successful breeding.

Ravens have been my highlight this spring. On March 13 I noticed that a pair had built a nest high in the communications tower above the public school: One bird was sitting, the second arrived and transferred something to the bill of the sitter. The next day the sitter repeatedly pulled at and rearranged the surrounding sticks. For the next month, each time I checked I could see a tail sticking up, so a bird was incubating. On April 14, two birds were present, one perched on the side of the nest, the other on the top of the tower. They reacted to our laying out tarpaulins to keep icy rain off the lawn where the Spring Book Sale tent was to go behind the Community Centre. Both birds called, the one on the nest made a shallow dive towards us, but swerved well above. The only sighting since then was of a bird above the nest on April 19. So the nesting attempt failed, approximately when hatching should have occurred. This may be only the second breeding attempt by Ravens in Rockcliffe. My observations started in 1969, and the first nesting I saw was in 2009, described in the May and July Wildlife Notes. That nest was on the front of 585 Acacia. It was abandoned between May 2 and 17. It is unlikely that these great birds of legend ever nested in the settlement of Rockcliffe prior to that year because they only began to breed in the Ottawa region after the 1960s. They now have many nesting sites within the City limits.

A flight of 11 Wood Duck males swung over the marsh and flooded trees on the east side of the lake on April 13, announcing their arrival with squealing calls before settling into the water below the trees – the only open water at that date. The lake was almost entirely ice covered until the 26th. Every first sighting in spring of these extraordinarily beautiful birds is a treasure. But those ducks were at a distance. On May 13, as I watched from the boardwalk overlooking the lake inlet, a male Magnolia Warbler appeared on a twig close to me, flitting for a moment into a shaft of strong early morning sunshine that lit up its striped yellow breast, a flare of colour against the dark background.

The Tree Swallows are back and it looks as though at least one box in the east marsh and three on the west shore are being used.

Anthony Keith, 16 May 2018

Elmwood School News

Elmwood School News: June 2018

Elmwood Theatre Sweeps the Cappies Nominations

Nominations are in for the Cappies – Ottawa’s answer to the Oscars – and Elmwood Theatre is up for a record-breaking 13 awards for its recent production of “Oliver Twist”:

  1. Critic Team – Mentored by Teresa Marquis
  2. Cappies Critic – Jagnoor Saran
  3. Cappies Critic – Zaina Khan
  4. Marketing and Publicity – Abigail Butler, Zaina Khan, Jagnoor Saran, Stephanie Townsend
  5. Hair and Makeup –Caroline Capehart, Devon Keough, Stephanie Townsend, Tory Woodhead
  6. Lighting – Abigail Butler, Zaina Khan, Jagnoor Saran
  7. Costumes – Diya Dadlani, Carine Ladki, Cindy Li, Paige Saunders
  8. Stage Management – Reem Hamzah, Lily-Anne Villemaire
  9. Ensemble – Bronte Assadzadeh, Jacqueline Law
  10. Comic Actress – Bronte Assadzadeh
  11. Supporting Actress – Leen Zaghloul
  12. Lead Actress – Orla Kelly
  13. Best Play – Directed by Angela Boychuk

We are so proud of our cast and crew for this wonderful achievement. Break a leg!

Elmwood Middle School Students Make Over 900 Sandwiches for the Shepherds of Good Hope

Led by Grade Eight student Avery Parkinson, Elmwood’s Middle School students spent a lunch hour making a whopping 912 sandwiches to donate to the Shepherds of Good Hope. This is the second sandwich-making party this year, and we are so proud of our students for giving back to their community.

Limited Spaces Available for Elmwood Summer Camp

We are thrilled to be offering a full slate of camps this summer, including our popular Discovery Camps, as well as our Elmwood Skills Academy.

Discovery Camps

With exciting new weekly themes such as Robot Academy, music camp, “Lab Rats” chemistry camp and Sleuth Academy, girls from Kindergarten to Grade Six will discover new challenges, develop lasting friendships and enjoy a dynamic range of hands-on, interactive activities. Led by skilled and experienced educators, our camps have the perfect blend of learning, active play and creative exploration, all within Elmwood’s beautiful and safe campus.

Elmwood Skills Academy

Elmwood’s Skills Academy offers an outstanding range of academic and special interest programs. Taught either by Elmwood’s talented faculty or by other experts in their field, our Skills Academy combines superb instruction with dynamic activities, sure to appeal to girls of all ages and skill levels.

Visit or call 613 749-6761 for details and registration.

Considering Elmwood for your Daughter?

We invite you to visit the school for a private tour to learn more about our unique approach to educating girls and young women. For more information visit or contact the Admissions Office at 613 744-7783.

Ashbury College News

Ashbury College News: June 2018

Springfest 2018

Ashbury’s campus came alive in mid-May with our annual Springfest celebration, a sun-filled day to usher in the season!

The morning started off with the Guild Plant Sale and our now-famous Colour Run. Students, staff, alumni and our Head of School all participated in this fun and colourful activity around Rockcliffe Park and Ashbury’s campus.

Rugby rounded out the afternoon with games from our Junior School, Varsity girls, Junior and Senior boys teams. Visitors enjoyed another delicious BBQ lunch and the Guild-run canteen. A reception followed, where alumni and parents enjoyed catching up after an exciting day. Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate!

Welcoming the World

Ashbury will welcome more than 350 teachers and students from 75 schools around the world to its campus from September 27 to October 3, 2018 as we host the Round Square International Conference.

Ashbury is one of 180 schools in the global Round Square network, all sharing a passion for experiential learning and character education. Each year, Round Square schools send students between the ages of 15 to 17 to a leadership conference where they discuss issues facing their generation and experience a program that embraces both adventure and service.

Final plans are now underway for this year’s conference, with its theme of “Bring Your Difference.” The schedule includes engaging speakers, community service projects and outdoor excursions, providing visitors with the opportunity to experience all the National Capital Region has to offer.

Summer at Ashbury

There are still spots left for summer programs at Ashbury, but they’re filling up fast. Academic credit and prep courses are available, along with week-long summer camp options including soccer, art, multi-sports, tech and tools, and more. Programs are suitable for children aged 5 to 17.

Learn more or register online at

Ashbury College History

Ashbury College was founded in 1891 by George Penrose Woollcombe, an Oxford University graduate and a new Canadian, who served as Ashbury’s Headmaster for 42 years. The three-room school for boys was originally located on Wellington Street in downtown Ottawa, moving to larger quarters also on Wellington Street and then to Argyle Street in 1890 near the present Museum of Nature. In 1910, the school – called Ashbury College after Woollcombe’s English home – moved to its current 13-acre location in the heart of Rockcliffe Park. With the support of benefactors, a new building was constructed for the 115 students, 48 of whom were boarders. Since the 1970s, multiple additions have been made to accommodate the growing number of students, including, in 1982, when girls were first enrolled in the senior school. Today, Ashbury has 170 boys and girls in the Junior School and 515 young men and women, 100 of whom are boarding in the Senior School.

Go to for more information on the history of Ashbury College, or check out the recent publication by Stephen Woollcombe entitled The Life and Times of George Penrose Woollcombe: Educator, available at Books on Beechwood.

Wildlife Notes: April 2018

Wildlife Notes: April 2018

Following my note in January about focusing on Tree Swallow nesting boxes around the lake, Iola and I have just installed two new boxes on poles in the east marsh. We were most kindly helped in installing a new pole by ice-fishers Michael and his son Lucas. A box in the marsh has always been a swallow favourite. Swallow nest box location and construction have to be done with consideration for nest predators and competitors. The predators in our area are Red Squirrels and Raccoons. The competitors are Chickadees that will start nesting activities, establishing box ownership, before the swallows return. Boxes on poles in the marsh are too far from trees for Chickadees and squirrels, and have not attracted Raccoons. Swallow boxes near the lake edge on the west side require special counter measures.

The first really strong and repeated Cardinal songs that I noticed were on February 20, and some singers have continued sporadically on sunny days. Stepping out of the door on February 28, a Robin’s distinctive chuckle call came from the garden. There were a few patches of snow-free ground that day, the usual harbinger of Robin migrants. Yet I suspect this was an over-wintering bird because I’ve not heard or seen one since. The Crows don’t appear to be arguing about territories yet, though there are always a few about, perhaps prospecting tall conifers for nest sites. A Downy Woodpecker has been drumming near Mariposa/Fairview the past week, responding to lengthening days. This is still a quiet period for birds. On a half-hour walk on the morning of March 10, the only sounds were one drum roll from the Downy near Fairview and one Chickadee call near Hillsdale at Sandridge.

On the morning of March 9, after light snow, the first Chipmunk I’ve seen this season came up out of the snow between hemlocks and a butternut. Hopping across the surface proved challenging. Its body, unlike a tree squirrel’s, isn’t designed for leaping; at each short hop its body sank well in to the snow. So it gave that up and dived down to tunnel under the snow, reappearing some eight metres away where it could access a fence and a tree. Early this morning there are three Chipmunks in the same area–dashing about on the wooden fence tops in the falling snow, trying to drive each other away from the woodshed below. There are tree seeds amongst the logs there, and no snow.

Unlike our Red and Grey Squirrels, Eastern Chipmunks dig substantial underground burrows in which they store food and spend the winter in “intermittent hibernation, waking every four to six days to eat from their larder” (Donna Naughton. The Natural History of Canadian Mammals. Canadian Museum of Nature, 2012).

The lake is still solidly frozen, as it has been since mid-December. But there is enough open water now on the Ottawa River to encourage small parties of Canada Geese to fly along it.

Anthony Keith, 13 March 2018

Elmwood School News: April 2018

Elmwood School News: April 2018

Magnificent Musicians!

Elmwood was well represented at the Capital Region Musicfest and our musicians came away with outstanding commendations. Our 7 and 8 Concert Bands each earned silver awards and the Senior Concert Band was unanimously awarded gold for their musical and mature performance by the panel of judges. In addition, a number of Elmwood musicians have been named to the Eastern Ontario Elementary Honour Band for 2018: Naila Moloo, Madighan Ryan, Sophia Moloo, Serena Chen, Bianca Ruta, Ariana Kubelik, Zahra Robertson and Sonja Swettenham. Congratulations to our musicians and their conductor, Elmwood Director of Music Cristien Lyons.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day in Elmwood’s Senior School was marked with a careers conference featuring a wide range of inspiring female speakers, including Catherine Clark, Stacey Bafi-Yeboa, Victoria Lennox, Jessika-Kina Ouimet, Cathy Imbriglio, Vicky Iverson, Jennifer Francis and Audrey Grandmaison. In the Middle School, we held our first-ever Elmwood Dragons’ Den! After much deliberation, the pitch by Nicole Watt and Emelyn Lantos was deemed victorious! And thanks to our esteemed “Dragons”: Melissa Smith, Krista Norris, Susy Imbriglio, Charlotte Burke and Kate Karn. Thanks also to StartUp Canada for helping us make this a day to remember!

Elmwood Summer Camp Registration Now Open

We are thrilled to be offering a full slate of camps again this summer, including our popular Discovery Camps and our Elmwood Skills Academy!

With exciting new weekly themes such as Robot Academy, music camp, “Lab Rats” chemistry camp and Sleuth Academy, girls from Kindergarten to Grade Six will discover new challenges, develop lasting friendships and enjoy a dynamic range of hands-on, interactive activities. Led by skilled and experienced educators, our camps have the perfect blend of learning, active play and creative exploration, all within Elmwood’s beautiful and safe campus, located here in Rockcliffe Park.

Our Skills Academy offers an outstanding range of academic and special interest programs. Taught either by Elmwood’s talented faculty or by other experts in their field, these camps combine superb instruction with dynamic activities, sure to appeal to girls of all ages and skill levels.

Visit or call 613 749-6761 for details and registration.

Heritage Matters: April 2018

Heritage Matters

The RPRA and its Heritage Committee have started a series of events to engage Rockclifffe Park residents and other Heritage Conservation Districts in Ottawa in a dialogue on heritage issues. This started with a talk by Julian Smith–internationally recognized expert in heritage architecture, planning, and conservation – at our Community Hall on March 14. If heritage communities are to survive, he calls for a paradigm shift in the way cities think about heritage conservation, and stated that cities on the west coast in both Canada and the United States are a generation ahead of us.

He noted the importance of the fact that Ontario prescribes the conservation of not only significant heritage buildings, but also significant “cultural heritage landscapes.” However, Ottawa, and others, have failed to understand or embrace what this means–namely that the natural environment, the built environment, and the cultural practices that connect them, must be dealt with as a whole. To succeed in this, he said that it is critical that the community–usually dismissed as ‘non-experts’ in contrast to salaried staff, paid consultants and the OMB–be given priority in decision-making.

Only the communities themselves carry the direct experience and accumulated knowledge of these cultural heritage landscapes. Without them, it is not possible to sustain the core principles that have shaped these communities over time. The next evening, we invited representatives of other Heritage Conservation Districts in Ottawa–New Edinburgh, The Glebe, Lowertown, Centretown, Sandy Hill, and Briarcliffe—and Heritage Ottawa to join us for a workshop with Julian Smith to explore issues we share in common, and how we can work together to better protect Ottawa’s heritage. We are planning further initiatives to follow up on this and to engage City councillors and City staff.

Ashbury College News: April 2018

Ashbury College News: April 2018

Ashbury Travels

Ashbury students have been actively living the school’s ‘international engagement’ value as they participate in various school trips around the world. Grade 6 and 7 students recently participated in a cultural and linguistic exchange in Cuernavaca, Mexico, while other Grade 8, 9, and 10 girls attended an engineering workshop at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Over the March Break, students travelled to New Zealand for a girls’ rugby trip, to Peru for environmental science studies, to France on an “échange linguistique,” and to Spain for an FC Barcelona soccer camp. The world certainly does start at Ashbury.

OFSSA Success

Congratulations to Ashbury’s swim team, whose junior boys medley relay team made the podium at OFSAA in February. Nic Gauthier (backstroke), Alex Bui (breaststroke), Aprateem Chatterjee (butterfly) and Dom Salas (freestyle) inched out the competitors by just 0.17 seconds to win the bronze medal. Our senior girls 4×100 freestyle relay team of Kat Auster (in her last OFSAA) race, Mirella Deng, Hilary Sinclair, and Laila El Danasoury clocked in at a time of 4:03.33 to earn the OFSAA silver medal. Brothers Luke and Tyler Allan (pictured) both captured OFSAA gold at the Nordic ski championships. In a 5 km race, Luke tied for first with a time of 12 minutes, 38.5 seconds. Tyler had a race time of 15 minutes, 0.7 seconds in his 7.5 km race. Congratulations to all our students and teams on their outstanding achievements!

Senator Speaks at Black History Month Assembly

Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard visited Ashbury recently to speak to students about her role as Canada’s first African Nova Scotian woman to serve in the Senate. She recounted her childhood love of books and told students that she has retained her love of reading to this day. The Senator spoke about the importance Canada’s new $10 bill, featuring another Nova Scotian trailblazer, Viola Desmond, and she encouraged students to keep one of these new bills as a reminder of our country’s past and what is possible for our future.

Rockcliffe Park Public School News: April 2018

Rockcliffe Park Public School News: April 2018

The Kids’ Lit quiz has been running for 27 years and was started by a man named Wayne Mills, the Quizmaster. Rockcliffe Park Public School had three teams entered into this amazing competition.

Eighteen other teams from schools in the Ottawa area also competed. Something amazing happened for the first time in 27 years of the competition: three teams in a single city tied in first place: RPPS, Turnbull Private and Fisher Park PS. To find out who won, Mr. Mills asked a tie-breaking question related to which book talked about the first place of residence for an adopted red-haired girl (hint: Anne of Green Gables). If one team got it right, they would be the winner. The next questions would be asked to the two teams that were left to determine the second and third place winners.

One of the RPPS girls, Sylvia (Grade 6) answered this question correctly, which meant that her team won the competition in Ottawa and went to Toronto for the Canadian Nationals on February 8! The four girls–Amélie, Olivia, Sylvia and Anna (all Grade 6)–won third place at the national competition in Toronto. They competed against eight teams, which were either in Grade 7 or Grade 8! Way to go, Rockcliffe! And good luck to the Canadian team that will be going to New Zealand in June!!

Emilia Wesolkowski, Grade 6
Editor in Chief of the school newsletter
Rockcliffe Park Public School

Wildlife Notes: February 2018

Wildlife Notes: February 2018

Returning from an awards ceremony at Rideau Hall in the dark of the evening of November 29, Bethany and Sarah Simison drove out of the back gate at Princess and Lisgar and in the headlights saw a large wolf-like canid at the edge of Pine Hill. Sarah is familiar with Coyotes around Moose Jaw where she lives and at once realized this animal was larger than Saskatchewan Coyotes. That fits; eastern Coyotes are larger than prairie ones, and from studies by the NCC in Gatineau Park we know that there are a number of Coyote/eastern wolf hybrids in our area. These hybrids are substantially larger than eastern Coyotes. The eastern wolf population appears to be centered in Algonquin Park and is genetically distinct from the larger Grey Wolf of the north country.

I’ve been expecting Coyotes or coywolves to penetrate the Village since Brian Dickson reported sightings just east of us several years ago, in the open scrub land south of the Rockcliffe airfield. So, with the familiar Red Fox, we now have a second wild canid in the Rockcliffe fauna. But Coyotes are predators of foxes, so their presence could lead to fewer fox sightings. Coyotes have now adapted to making a living in areas as urban as downtown Chicago and Toronto and in suburbs throughout eastern North America.

Since the 1970s I’ve maintained nesting boxes for ducks around McKay Lake because, while having many of the qualities of a woodland lake, there were few natural cavities in the surrounding trees. But I am now taking the boxes down. Initially, one or a few boxes were used each spring, by either Wood Ducks or Hooded Mergansers. As the summer advanced, one could see the resultant broods of ducklings. Always the numbers of ducklings were reduced by predation during the summer, but some survived and flew. The same was true for Mallards that don’t use nest boxes. But in recent years, the few broods that have appeared with their mothers in the spring have ended with zero flying young. In this situation, it doesn’t improve duck numbers to entice them to nest at a site where their young do not survive.

The likely duckling predators are Ring-billed Gulls (when the ducklings are really small), Great Blue Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons and Snapping Turtles. The gulls, Great Blues and the turtles have all been present during this whole period. The night herons are more recent arrivals.

The other nesting boxes I’ve installed for years around the lake are for Tree Swallows. In a natural setting, they too depend on holes in trees. They take readily to boxes. Unlike duck numbers that have long been healthy, Tree Swallow populations have crashed in much of Eastern North America, as have some other bird species that feed exclusively on insects taken in flight. I am now concentrating on putting up more boxes for swallows, providing nesting opportunities for a species in trouble. The use of these boxes has recently increased: Swallow broods successfully fledged from two boxes each year from 2012 to 2015, three in 2016, and four last summer.

Anthony Keith
15 January 2018

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