The community of Bayshore was developed by Minto in 1963. However, the history of settlement in the area spans back much further. In 1823, William Bell settled with his family in the area that would become Bayshore.
The importance of the Bell family and their homestead, locally known as Fairfields, is directly tied to the families significant impact on the growth and progress of Nepean. Since William Bell’s arrival in Carleton County in 1823 the Bell family have, through their successful farming ventures, real estate prowess and political involvement, been seen as likely catalysts for the influx of city dwellers to Nepean Township and its ultimate suburbanization.
For nearly 175 years the family have lived on the same lot, Lot 18 Concession 2. It was here along Richmond Road that William Bell established what is now known as Fairfields. The home itself began as a humble log cabin from which he operated his “Scooped Roof Shanty” tavern. By the mid 19th Century the home had been transformed into a solid stone home built from locally quarried stone. The home remained unchanged until 1870 when it was devastated by fire; all that remained were its stone walls. The Bell family rebuilt the home in a year and it transformed yet again into the majestic farmhouse that we see today located at 3080 Richmond Road. Today the home sits on 1.84 acres of the original 660 acres that William Bell had acquired. Once rich with crops and woodlands stretching from Baseline Road to the Ottawa River these former fields now host countless developments, suburbs, parks, recreational areas and so on. Were it not for the Bell family these developments would likely not exist today.
William Bell had originally established the farm as a mixed farming operation but later generations of Bells believed that Dairy farming was a far more lucrative industry, especially in Nepean and Ottawa with the establishment of the Ottawa Dairy Company in 1900. William Nicholson Bell and his brother Richard Bell subdivided their fathers land and expanded the farm by building milking barns and other outbuildings. As a result the Bell farm became one of the most prosperous farms in the region selling nearly 35 Gallons of milk a day to the Ottawa Dairy Company. The remainder of the subdivided property was sold to developers including the Ottawa Electric Railway who would later use this land to build Britannia on the Bay, a recreational area for city dwellers to escape from the city. This ultimately resulted in the suburbanization of the Nepean Township as more and more individuals found that Nepean was the perfect place to settle. The Bell brothers seeing this as an opportunity established Belltown where they sold land plots to city dwellers and cottagers looking to settle down. The brothers continued to farm until 1910 after which William Nicholson Bell passed the farm onto his son William Fredrick Bell (Fred Bell) who continued to operate a very successful business until the 1940s. Nearly a decade later, farming had become less popular in Nepean and the family along with the rest of region was becoming more involved in other interest including Politics.
William Nicholson Bell and his son Fred Bell were among the last farmers to serve on the Carleton County Council. Both, throughout their time on Council held many positions including that of Secretary, Deputy Reeve and Reeve. As they became more involved in Politics the home and property began to transform. Fred Bell further subdivided the property and sold off much of the land to developers. Many of the outbuildings were torn down and the house was outfitted with electricity and plumbing so the family could live with the comforts of those who lived in the city. Fred Bell retreated from Politics as his children grew up but his interest in Politics was inherited by his children primarily Richard Albert Bell (Dick Bell). Dick Bell became the most politically renowned member of the Bell family. He, like his ancestors was instrumental in improving schools and other amenities in Nepean during his time on Council. With successes such as establishing Bell High School, Dick Bell became a very successful lawyer and politician and was appointed in 1963 by Prime Minister Diefenbaker as the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. In that same year Dick Bell married Ruth Bell and they continued to live in the home until Dick’s death in 1988. Ruth Bell continued to live in the home until 1994 when Dick Bell`s daughter Judith Bell, from his first marriage, took up residence at Fairfields. She lived in the home until her death in 2000 after which Ruth Bell donated the home to the City of Nepean. Following amalgamation the ownership of the home was transferred to the City of Ottawa and now serves as a monument and reminder of the Bell family legacy and their impact on Nepean’s progress and history.
Map of Bayshore
Bayshore Construction, c. 1960s, Nepean Museum
Bayshore Shopping Centre before the addition of the third floor, 1987, Clarion