Even Before the Glebe Report, Community News Had Its Champions

Glebe’s early community paper,
The Glebe Outlook

The Glebe News

Glebe’s early community paper,
The Glebe Outlook

By Andrew Elliott

According to the obituary of Joseph P. Dunne published in he Glebe Outlook, vol. 1, April 1, 1928, “Mr. Dunne was one of the earlier settlers in the Glebe at Melgund Avenue, where his home with his wife and family of one son and four daughters was a centre of much hospitality and friendship…. He was a staunch Roman Catholic and a faithful member of the Holy Name Society of Blessed Sacrament Church…. The Glebe Municipal Association particularly regrets the passing of its ever faithful and able vice-president.”

The man pictured in the accompanying photo, Joseph Patrick Dunne, was the co-founder and vice-president of the Glebe Municipal Association and co-publisher of the Glebe Outlook newspaper.

Just by chance, while I was researching something else at the City of Ottawa Archives, I stumbled across a copy of a newspaper that I knew nothing about: The Glebe Outlook from April 1, 1928. No joke!

“Let us develop our community spirit by patronizing our home places of business. Let us help our neighbours first,” urged the editor of The Glebe Outlook in this issue. Also, as you can see below, there was a brief commemoration of J.P. Dunne, who embodied this spirit.

Dunne was described as “being a kindly and altruistic spirit, identified with several charitable and fraternal organizations.” He was a charter member and first secretary of the Ottawa council of the Knights of Columbus; president of the board of St. Patrick’s Asylum (1925-28); and member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Ottawa Fish and Game Club, and the Ottawa Lawn Bowling Club. Also, the paper stated that he “took a deep interest in municipal questions.”

Dunne was born in Ireland on May 25, 1865, and came to Canada in 1879. In 1885, he started a job as a clerk in the Department of the Interior, and by the late 1890s was making $400 a month. A short while later, he became director of the Ordnance and Admiralty Branch, a position he would hold until his death in 1928 at age 62.

City directories show that in 1897, Dunne and his family moved from a house in Centretown to the Glebe. Initially, the house had an address of 27 John Street, but the name changed to Melgund Avenue a few years later. Still standing, it is a wonderful example of a late-Victorian red brick bay and gable home with fine detailing. The 1901 census of Canada notes that he was married to Margaret, aged 27, and they had three children: Anna (five), Victor (three) and Ellinore (one).

It is worth noting that the Ontario Municipal Association, formed in 1899, was interested in helping communities develop. Dunne himself appears to have always been interested in civic betterment, and perhaps this is why he felt compelled to help form the Glebe Municipal Association (GMA) in the 1920s (there is no indication as to when exactly the association started, but the suggestion from the Dunne obituary is perhaps 1925). The Glebe Outlook appears to have begun publishing in 1927. It was to be issued twice a month and delivered free to 3,000+ houses in the neighbourhood. In the archives was a copy of a second issue for 1927, a page of which was reproduced for readers in the 1973 Glebe Report.

As you can see, The Glebe Outlook was simple but effective: it generally had editorial content in the middle column and advertisements for Glebe businesses on the outside columns.

So far, no other copies of the paper have been found after this date, so it is hard to say how long it was in operation. There is a reference to the GMA in the Ottawa Citizen in 1931, so we know that the association was around for at least that long. But then there is a black hole related to community activities for nearly 40 years. If anyone has any further information about either The Glebe Outlook or the first association, or any neighbourhood civic activities that occurred between 1931 and 1967, I would love to hear about it.

The Glebe Community Association officially formed in 1967 and worked with The Glebe Business and Development Association to publish a short-lived newspaper called the Glebe News (see page 9). The Glebe Report began publishing in 1973.

For further information on Glebe heritage, go to GlebeSite at www.glebeheritageblog.wordpress.com.

Andrew Elliott is an archivist and architectural historian who can be reached at ajg.elliott@utoronto.ca.

The Glebe News

By Julie Houle Cezer

Photo of Wayne Carroll and Robert Sabourin
Businessmen Wayne Carroll and Robert Sabourin were publishers of the Glebe news, precursor of the Glebe repor

Pursuing research on the history of The Glebe Report, I discovered that a part of the community story includes an important, albeit short-lived, monthly newspaper called The Glebe News that predated the founding of The Glebe Report by several years. First launched in October 1970, this 8-page paper was published by two local businessmen, Wayne Carroll and Robert Sabourin, and endorsed by the Glebe Business and Development Association and the Glebe Community Association (GCA). Library and Archives Canada records indicate that by October of 1972, the paper had been absorbed by the bimonthly, The Bytowner, published by Ottawa Executive Public Relations and Advertising Ltd. The circulation of the paper ranged from 8,000 to 11,000 during its life. Distribution certainly seemed to reflect an interest in community issues and to justify the effort of providing “a forum in which community news and comment will be published and discussed.”

From the outset, the newspaper’s content was to include an account of GCA issues and activities as well as to provide commentary on the activities of various levels of government that might have an impact on the Glebe. In the January 1971 issue, GCA reporting on its committees indicates that there was a direct linkage between the GCA and editorial content of The Glebe News. It appears that the GCA’s Editorial and Information Committee under the chairmanship of Mrs. Sandra Parsons of Powell Avenue was tasked to: “a) collect and edit all material for publication in The Glebe News b) solicit and receive articles for The Glebe News from all residents of the Glebe, as well as c) issue notices of meetings to news media and d) general reporting of Glebe events.” Since the most recent issue that I have been able to read is dated September 1971, I have no information on the reason for the subsequent demise of the paper in 1972, and I would welcome hearing from any readers with insights on the subject. However, I can point out that The Glebe Report, as constituted in 1973, was organizationally and operationally separate from the GCA and drew only on advertising revenue to pay its bills, and on freelance journalists and community residents to provide editorial content.

After its founding, The Glebe Report quickly began expanding its range of subjects and number of pages. However, what remained remarkably consistent with The Glebe News experience was the public support expressed by a large number of community-minded businessmen in the Glebe. As well, the content has shown remarkable consistency, focusing on emerging or current community issues such as the Glebe Development Plan, Lansdowne Park (parking, noise pollution and impact on adjacent streets), zoning, arterial roads, the volume and speed of cut-through traffic, safety and the dearth of recreation facilities, parks and basic services.

While the GCA devoted its efforts to “the improvement and development of the Glebe District of Ottawa,” the Glebe Business and Development Association (a hundred or more stores) took an unequivocal position, from its startup in 1970, that it was to “provide liaison with the other community associations and organizations and keep a keen eye on the new projects and proposals of the municipal governments affecting our area.” In keeping with the aim of making common cause with residents and the GCA, The Glebe News editorials urged individual businessmen to “measure profits by the friends you make as well as the money you bank,” and to get involved in community events and use even a small portion of their time to “make this community a better place in which to live.”

Picture of the front page of the Glebe News
Front page of the Glebe News
The monthly reports and features on the “Community Quality” crisis drew attention to issues pertaining to schools, zoning and planning, traffic trouble spots, the building of the fire hall at Fifth Avenue and O’Connor Street, and even the spring cleanup on Bank Street. Co-operation and ongoing communication between the GCA and the Glebe Business and Development Association were actively encouraged, and participation in the community was seen as a civic duty. Would it be an overstatement to say that cultivating an appreciation of the intrinsic and practical value of involvement in community life really did inspire residents and business people to take positive action over several decades, thereby weaving a spirit of community and shaping the identity of the Glebe?

I would like to express my gratitude to Danielle Sabourin, long-time owner of Metro Music, whose community-minded father, Robert, helped launch The Glebe News. She generously provided me with her personal copies of the newspaper for review.

Share this