A Brief History of Bells Corners

Bells Corners is a suburban community in west Ottawa that us older than Canada itself. The location was selected because it was the midway point between the town of Bytown (now Ottawa) and the military settlement at Richmond. A road west led to the Hazeldean neighbourhood in neighbouring Gouibourn Township.

In 1832 the commercial strip consisted of several taverns and shops that catered to both the locals and travelers.

In 1841 the Carleton County Agricultural Society began holding its annual exhibition in Bells Corners an annual event that continued for 54 years before it was eventually moved to Richmond and continues to this day as the Richmond Fair.

In 1850 Bells Corners had a population of 70 and became a part of Nepean Township. 

 
A portion of the 1879 Belden map of Nepean Township showing the area of Bells Corners.

The Great Fire of 1870

In 1870 a fire destroyed most of Bells Corners. Started August 17, 1970 by workers burning bush for the Central Canada Railroad near Amonte soon lost control of the fire. It was a windy day and there had been no rain for several months so the fire spread quickly destroying not only Bells Corners and Carleton County but reached as far as Rochesterville (now Little Italy) and would likely have destroyed Ottawa if not for the decision dig a channel and then flood the area by opening the St Louis Dam. The flood created a 270 meter wide moat that protected Ottawa from the fire but Bells Corners was not as lucky. The oldest building in Bells Corners today– Hartlin’s Hotel– was built in 1870 after the fire.

Modern Bells Corners

The transformation from a rural community to suburban nieghbourhood began in the 1950s with the development of Lynwood Village. Lloyd Francis and Donald Sim brought in Bill Teron in 1958 to build an entire subdivision and by 1960 four hundred families were living in Lynwood Village. Development in Lynwood Village continued in staged until 1966 and now there are 1700 homes.

Development in west Bells Corners known as Westcliffe Estates began in 1969. The first homes were built by Assaly Construction with subsequent homes being built by Minto and Campeau. The community grew to 2000 homes by 1986.

The third major development in Bells Corners was Bellwood Estates which is a mobile home park consisting of 256 homes that was opened by Ken Hughes in 1959. 

 

 

Hartin’s Hotel — 1993 Robertson RD

Currently, the home of the East Indian Company the building at 1993 Robertson Rd was built in 1870 by David Hartin a farmer and businessman in 19th-century Goulbourn Township. Originally the building was a hotel strategically located at the junction of Robertson Road and Old Richmond. Over the years the building has been a bank and several different restaurants — in 2014 it was designated a heritage building by the City of Ottawa. The building is the oldest building in Bells Corners.