Ottawa East News
August 23, 2017
The Ottawa New Edinburgh Club has a history that goes back to 1883.
Its historic boathouse, which dates from 1922/23, has heritage designations from both the city of Ottawa and the federal government.
What is now the Ottawa New Edinburgh Club traces its own heritage back to 1883 when the Ottawa Canoe Club (OCC) was formed. Its first boathouse was a floating structure located at the foot of the Rideau Canal near Parliament Hill.
From 1894 to 1922, the OCC operated at this Governor’s Bay location. About 1912, it acquired a waterfront site at the end of the streetcar line which ran from downtown. A new boathouse was planned for that location, which is the site of the current boathouse, but the planned boathouse was not built due to the First World War and construction costs. However, during this time, tennis became quite the rage and was added to the sports offered by the OCC.
In 1922, construction began on the new boathouse, with the building designed in the Queen Anne recreational style by Ottawa architect C.P. Meredith. It was built on piles sunk 30 feet into the bed of the Ottawa River, with a solid steel supporting structure. The boathouse featured a large ballroom, decks offering views of the river, and top-floor locker rooms used by both canoeists and tennis players. Tennis courts were located close by on shore.
The new boathouse was inaugurated in 1923, coinciding with the holding of the Canadian Canoe Championships on the river.
The years 1923 to 1929 are considered the club’s “golden years during the roaring ’20s” with membership booming and members winning in canoeing and tennis competitions. The ballroom was in frequent use with dances attracting young singles.
Success in both tennis and canoeing continued through the 1940s.
Around 1955, the tennis courts of the club had to be relocated due to construction of the parkway. In relocating, the club added Euro-style clay courts, which are still being played on today.