March 2016: For the last 25 years on my drive to work I passed the corner of Island Park Drive and Richmond Road. Over the last few years the site on the southwest corner has been fenced, and the building boarded up.
The former gas station, built in 1934 is a reminder of days gone by. Initially owned by Benzonlene, it was designed as per the trend at the time, to resemble the neighbourhood. The Station was sold in 1937 to Champlain Oil Products. The company operated a chain of gas stations throughout Montreal and Ottawa during the 1930s and 40s and was owned by former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s father, Charles Emile Trudeau.
Did you know that from 1929 until 1957, the intersection of Island Park Drive and Richmond Road had no traffic lights, or stop signs but instead was controlled by a traffic circle? The “West End Driveway”- or Island Park Drive only went as far as the river. The Champlain bridge when it was first opened in 1927, only went as far as the three islands. 1928 saw the Bridge opened to the Quebec side.
With the growth of the motor car industry, the gas station at 70 Richmond Road was busy servicing main arteries of the City, especially for those heading west. The gas station was eventually sold and continued as a used car lot before shutting its doors in August 2014. Most recently 70 Richmond Road is facing challenges. The traffic calming circle is gone, and new condominiums line the once tree-lined east west artery. The City of Ottawa supports the former gas station’s role in the history of the City, with heritage recognition. What will be the future?
Photo- Ottawa Citizen March 2016