Our Story

Capital History started in Carleton’s Centre for Public History

Led by Professor David Dean, CapitalHistory.ca is an ongoing history and heritage project that links Ottawa history with the city’s built environment.  


CapitalHistory.ca has seen collaborations between faculty and students at Carleton University with a great number of community partners, individuals, and corporations. The project would not be possible without the collaboration of André Mersereau, his design firm Chapter One Studio, and the City of Ottawa. We hope you enjoy engaging with these stories about employees and employers, about customers and passers-by, about buildings and neighbourhoods and so much more.

Shedding light on Ottawa’s little-known histories

To date, we have told these stories visually by wrapping about 50 traffic control boxes across the city with archival images or original artwork. Each box includes a QR code taking visitors to CapitalHistory.ca to learn more about the history of that location.


Our mission is not to bring the past to life simply for its own sake, but to close the distance between past and present by inviting conversations about where we have been, where we are, and where we are going.


We are committed to telling stories in both official languages and making our work as accessible as possible.

Combining historical research and digital storytelling

Once a project has been commissioned and sites have been determined, stories are researched by Carleton students as part of their coursework, by student interns and work study placements, and by volunteers. Archival images are discovered and, where appropriate, original artwork commissioned.


Once all the visual and textual assets are obtained, Chapter One’s designers then create a prototype for each installation which reviewed by project partners and submitted to the City of Ottawa for approval.


Every story is revisited and reshaped over time, which is why we encourage you to get in touch with us with comments, suggestions, and of course ideas for new stories.