July 16, 2015
by Canadian Architect
Urban planner and amateur historian Alain Miguelez is seeking crowdfuding to professionally publish his new book entitled Transforming Ottawa: Canada’s Capital in the Eyes of Jacques Gréber. This book was inspired by the rediscovery at the National Archives of a large collection of hauntingly beautiful street scenes of Ottawa in 1937-39, commissioned by Jacques Gréber, the French urban planner hired by the Prime Minister of the day (W.L. Mackenzie King) to prepare a master plan for the city. The book looks at the city as Gréber saw it in 1937, when he first set foot in Ottawa, describes his famous 1950 plan, and discusses its outcomes and effects on our city.
Now 65 years old, the Gréber Plan for the city was almost entirely implemented over the decades and, in many ways, has defined the city as we know it today. But what did Ottawa look like before the Gréber Plan? What did that Plan see as the city’s burning problems, and how did it propose to resolve them? In hindsight, how did the solutions play out?
The book contains about 300 of these incredibly sharp and crisp black-and-white Ottawa street scenes from the late 1930s, in high resolution. You will see photos of streets and corners that are now unrecognizable, and some that have stayed amazingly identical to how they looked 75 years ago.
This crowdfunding campaign will allow Miguelez to publish this book professionally, have it designed to be a beautiful work of art, and price it for as wide a readership as possible. The book itself is intended as a contribution to the ongoing conversation about the growing city of Ottawa, its planning history, and its present-day challenges. It’s important to know where we’ve been in order to better map out the future. Especially these days, with all the exciting projects that are taking place in Ottawa, the much stronger sense of civic identity emerging in the city, and the genuine interest in the stories and legends of its past; this book is intended to become a reference about the pivotal 1950 master plan by Jacques Gréber that changed the face of Ottawa in a number of ways.
Miguelez intends to publish this book by the end of 2015. His second book was published in 2004: A Theatre Near You: 150 Years of Going to the Show in Ottawa-Gatineau, a history of Ottawa-Gatineau theatres.
To learn more or to contribute to the fund, please visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/transforming-ottawa#/story and click on the PDF to the right.