Britanniaville: Of mice and men

britanniaville

Despite it’s appearance in the 1879 “Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of Carleton including Ottawa ” (at right) “Britanniaville” seems to have been no more than an idea, never a reality.

According to Eva Taylor1 “Britanniaville” was the brainchild of John LeBreton Ross, the grand-nephew of Britannia’s founder John Lebreton, and Trustee for the Estate’s heirs.

Ross parceled up the remaining undeveloped land from the original Lot 20, which was the area now bounded by Britannia Park, Britannia Road, Howe St and Carling Ave, and dubbed it “Britanniaville” in his sub-division plan.

The map at left treats both the existing Britannia Village and the proposed development as a single community called Britanniaville, but it was not to be. The streets were never laid and the land was not sub-divided as Ross had planned.

For most of the streets only the sections east of Britannia would eventually be created, and not exactly where Ross planned as the lot sizes proposed in 1879 were larger than those created by Louis Poulin in 1905. Where Ross planned 5 cross streets for 7 blocks of lots, Poulin created 7 streets for 9 blocks.

As a result, most of Ross’s proposed street names, ie Dufferin (approximately Howe St), Fletcher, Queen, Princess, Ottawa,  Chaudiere, Centre, West, and Britannia St were never used.

The name Dufferin was used until it became Howe St in 1950, and “Britannia St” would actually be named “Louis Ave” around 1905, only becoming “Britannia Road” in 1950. The decision to name it “Britannia Road” may have been based on an 1873 subdivision plan by J. McAmmond rather than LeBreton Ross’s proposal, see “Britannia Road.”

It is a touch of historic irony that when it was eventually created the street that lay roughly where “Queen St” would have been was named “Regina”, ie the Latin word for “Queen.” However, it was actually named after Louis Poulin’s daughter Julia Regina, and as far as we know had nothing to do with the original proposed name.

In the same Atlas as the map of Britanniaville (pg 31), the map of Nepean Township itself (pgs 14-15)  calls the community “Britannia”, although it shows the streets and layout of “Britanniaville” as if they existed.

county-map

It’s possible that the names “Britannia Village” and “Britanniaville co-existed for a time, as they do for Britannia Village/Britanniaville, MA, USA, but it was obviously never popular and the name “Britanniaville” in Nepean Twnship quickly passed into obscurity. Even so, the name still pops up now and then (eg here and here), so a clarification seemed warranted.

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1Ottawa’s Britannia by Eva Taylor

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