BARRACKS AT LANSDOWNE

Quick facts

Story kiosk location

  • Corner of Bank and Holmwood at Lansdowne Park

Important dates

  • (1888-2010) – The Central Canada Exhibition was held during this period.

Audiofile

  • No

What happened here?

  • During both world wars, Lansdowne Park (including the Pavilion) was used for military training and housing.

Look behind the shopping and residential development at Lansdowne Park...

Across the road stands the Aberdeen Pavilion, the last Victorian exhibition hall in Canada.

Soldiers in Lansdowne Barracks during World War One, Canadian War Museum 1992002-036

 

RCAF Records Group, Lansdowne Park c.1940, Library and Archives Canada MIKAN 3581634
Did you know that in the past Lansdowne Park was much more than a sports venue and exhibition space? During both the First and Second World Wars, Lansdowne Park was transformed into a training ground and barracks as seen here in these photographs from Library and Archives Canada and the Canadian War Museum. 

 

City of Ottawa Archives M397-E00355 Aberdeen Pavillion at Lansdowne Park, 17 June 1946

 

City of Ottawa Archives M397-E00354 Grandstand at Lansdowne Park, 17 June 1946

  

After the Second World War, the City of Ottawa decided to lease Lansdowne to the Central Canada Exhibition Association forcing the Canadian Army to vacate the site. Yet during the spring and summer of 1946, as the transition was being planned, Ottawa was facing a major housing crisis, with many returning veterans and their families living in dreadful conditions.

The Ottawa Journal, September 25, 1946
The Evening Citizen, October 11, 1946

 

Fed up with the lack of action, on September 24th, 1946, the Veterans’ Housing League, led by Franklin “Frank” Hanratty, broke into several former barracks locations around the city, including Lansdowne, and began moving people into the abandoned barracks. Families who had been living in chicken coops and self-made shelters at the dump found better homes in the former barracks. 

Hanratty was arrested, but public pressure forced officials to accept that there was a serious shortage of decent housing affecting those who had worked so hard for victory and the families were allowed to stay, and electricity and running water were re-connected. For some, Lansdowne would be home for almost two years: the last three families left the barracks in June 1948.  

Acknowledgements

 

This story was researched and developed by Kelly Ferguson and as a contribution to the Workers’ History Museum’s Capital History Kiosk’s project for Ottawa 2017. It formed part of her coursework for Professor David Dean’s graduate seminar on museums, national identity, and public memory (Department of History, Carleton University).  

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