The communities of Nepean can best be compared to a patchwork quilt; each community has its own colourful identity, its own interesting people, its own attitude and feel.
As each patch is connected to another, each community’s unique qualities are on display. The community culture you encounter in Westboro is different from Barrhaven or Britannia. The houses you see in Bells Corners have a unique look to them which you won’t see in Hintonberg.
All of this is being showcased at the Nepean Museum until May, in an exhibit entitled Our neighbourhoods, Our Communities. The purpose of the exhibit is to show how the various communities that made up Nepean evolved and grew over the years. There were communities profiled that I had never even heard of before, such as Heart’s Desire, named after a young couple in love who bought land and built a house there.
The exhibit truly needs to be experienced, as a simple explanation will not do it justice. It was neat to see pictures of new buildings that are very old now. I was able to identify with the history of the communities because of buildings I had been in, or streets I had walked down.
Michelle, a museum employee who is originally from Cornwall, has trouble identifying with the historical significance.
“If I had grandparents living in Hintonberg that would be interesting, but I don’t,” she said.
Most of the communities and notable streets, parks, and buildings were named after people in those communities. Like Kingston contractor Mel Barr, who developed a large part of Barrhaven, the community that bears his name. Amusingly, Bells Corner’s is named after Hugh Bell, who owned the tavern in that community at the time it received a post office and had to adopt a name.
Strikingly, all these communities were annexed or amalgamated with Nepean and Ottawa at some point. But it is each community’s history which has given it identity, and enables it to preserve its unique characteristics . Much like a patchwork quilt.