The Ryan / Clarke Saga I : It Begins

As a cabman in Ottawa in the late 1800s Roderick Ryan would certainly have known about Britannia, but he may never have actually ever visited it. Even so, with him begins four generations and over a century of Britannia history that is still continuing, so he’s a logical person to start our story with.

Roderick was born in 1852 in Tipperary and sailed from Liverpool 1871 when he was 19 years old.  He came to North  America via New York with an uncle or brother, and somehow made his way to Ottawa where he stayed for the rest his life.

Bridget, Margaret and Rose c.1916
Rose (right) c 1916

At some point Roderick met and married Rose Boucher. We don’t know much about Rose; her parents were Louis Boucher and Christina Villeneuv, and she had at least three brothers, Louis, Joseph Albert, and Hormidas, and that’s about all we know for certain.

In 1901 Roderick had an accident when his sleigh overturned and he was invalided. One consequence was the family had to move from their York St home to 43 College St in Vanier.

Roderick died in 1904 from internal haemorrhaging thought to have been related to his accident three years prior. Ryan’s funeral was well attended as he was apparently a well known and popular figure in the community.

Rod Ryan† – Rose Boucher

  • Bridget Ann Ryan (employed, Government Printing Bureau)
  • Mary E (Molly) Ryan (employed, Crown Lithographing Co, Sparks St)
  • Charles Ryan   (employed,  Albert St Conductor Ottawa Electric Railway)
  • Edith Mary Ryan
  • Roderick (Roddy) J. Ryan
  • Florence (Boly) Ryan
  • Patrick J. Ryan
  • Michael G Ryan
  • Loretta Ryan (infant)

As you can see, two of the daughters and one of the sons were adults and employed at the time of Rod’s death, but the rest were still children so it must have been very hard indeed.

Charles had obviously already married Catherine Waggoner as she is mentioned in Roderick’s obituary. Catherine is possibly from the Collingwood area in Welland, but that is not certain.

Around 1905 daughter Bridget Ann marries Stewart Augustus Clarke and they begin a family of their own, but continue to live with the rest of the Ryan clan.

A Summer Day c.1900
The Ryan c. 1906
Ryans c. 1906, possibly in Britannia

In 1907 the then 56 yr old  Samuel McKenna of Bathhurst NB arrives in Ottawa to work with Public Works Canada. By the following year he has met and married the widow Rose Ryan and accepted her 9 children.

Samuel McKenna
Samuel McKenna

In 1908 daughter Mary E (Molly) marries John Jack Rooney, and the entire clan resides at 35 and 35a Henderson Ave in Sandy Hill. That’s something like 15 or 16 people in the one building; those older houses were big, but still.

 On Apr 24th, 1910 Charles and Catherine had a son, Ransom Roderick Ryan.

In 1911 Florence (Boly) Ryan marries the 29 year old Albert Edward Macartney. Originally from Toronto Albert came to Ottawa to work at the Crown Lithographing Co, which is presumably where he would have gotten to know Mary, and through her, Florence.

Also in 1911 the family is reported as “usually summering in ‘Bay View’ cottage in Britannia Village”, but for the year 1911 the family would reside in “Upper Britannia” (Loma Park?). Not long after this the family  purchases 142 Britannia Road at the corner of Jamieson.

The family lore is that 142 had been a sort of bunk house for river workers and run by a Mrs. Murphy. Presumably that would have been one of the William Murphy family, who may even have built 142 as they did so many others in Britannia.

I am also going to assume that “river workers” actually refers  to mill workers, as the Saw and Grist Mills were just a few minutes walk away. The collapse of the milled lumber trade in the late 19th century and closure of the mills would have explained the conversion from workers’ housing to summer cottage.

The Ryan Men c. 1914
The Ryan Men c. 1914

In the family, 142 Britannia became known  as “Mac’s Rest”. Above we see Samuel with four step-sons and two sons-in-law on the south lawn of “Mac’s Rest.” Behind them is Jamieson St (Britannia Rd to the left) and “Shennamere” aka the “Charles Robinson House” at 154 Britannia Road.

Coming Next: The War Years


The Ottawa Journal

  1. 27 Jul 1904, Wed
  2. 28 Jul 1904, Thu
  3. 13 May 1911, Sat
  4. 20 Feb 1932, Sat
  5. 24 Apr 1935, Wed

Private communication with Stephen Clarke, great grandson of Roderick Ryan.






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