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Discovering Ottawa’s francophone history

The Museum's signage welcomes you as you enter the museum. Be sure to look into the meaning behind it.

Did you know that there is a community museum in Vanier?

If not, you are not alone. Serving as Ottawa’s newest and least known museum, the Vanier Museopark documents the community’s rich francophone history. Located inside the Richelieu Center, the museum opened in 2008, is called a Museopark because of the adjacent park that houses North America’s only urban sugar shack. Unfortunately, it is yet another local museum that gets few visitors. This was demonstrated to me when I arrived, and the volunteer had to turn on video displays and projected images when I arrived.

“We only turn it on when people are here, to save electricity,” the volunteer said.

The museum is well worth the visit, and its free of charge. It permanent exhibit, Vanier-on-the-Ottawa, Today for Tomorrow, documents the history of Vanier and its French Canadian roots.

Vanier wasn’t always known by that name, only receiving the name in 1969 to honour George Vanier, the former Governor General to Canada. Present-day Vanier was originally three separate communities: Janeville, which was an english speaking community, and Clarkstown and Clandeboye, both french speaking. These communities joined to create the village of Eastview, which later became Vanier.

There was even a navy ship that served in the Atlantic during the Second World War, the HMCS Eastview. The Ship’s bell still sits inside the Vanier legion to this day.

The exhibit also documents the history of the Cummings bridge, which served as an important link between Ottawa and Vanier(which I’m saving for a future blog post). Did you know that École secondaire André-Laurendeau, which opened in 1969, was the first public francophone high school in Ontario? The exhibit also explores the interesting links between the community’s Roman Catholicism roots and education.

This is just some of the interesting history that the museum documents. Its worth the trip, and if you can’t seem to get there, you can check it out online at the museum’s link above. Its history just waiting to be discovered!

Check out the slide show below.

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About Greg Markey

Greg is a social media and digital marketing consultant who loves writing about business, technology, innovation and startups. He holds a degree in political science and history from St. Francis Xavier University, as well as a diploma in Journalism from Algonquin College. He lives in Edmonton with his wife and three kids..

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