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Blackburn Hamlet within the City of Ottawa
Blackburn Hamlet is a suburban community in Innes Ward, in the east end of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Before the 2001 amalgamation of the city of Ottawa, it was in the city of Gloucester. It is surrounded by rural areas and contains several older and newer areas of settlement. According to the Canada 2011 Census, its population was 8,237.
Often referred to by the locals as simply "Blackburn," it is one of only two suburban areas (the other being Bells Corners) surrounded by National Capital Commission (NCC) Greenbelt lands as well as Canadian Federal Conservation Authority lands and Lands owned by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) which were formerly the National Defence Proving Grounds. Together, these lands form part of Ottawa's "Greenbelt" and provide Blackburn Hamlet residents and visitors with over 250 km of hiking and cross country skiing trails.
These areas additionally house one of the region's most sought after toboggan hills at Green's Creek, a series of outdoor soccer fields, known collectively as the Hornet's Nest, which host international soccer tournaments and a cooperative garden maintained by residents for over 25 years. The Hornet's Nest includes an air-supported indoor recreation dome, called the SuperDome. The SuperDome is set in the middle of the beautiful fields and woods of the Hornet's Nest. A private, for-profit business, the SuperDome was constructed in cooperation with the city of Ottawa. Blackburn Hamlet's French public high school, Louis Riel, is home to North America’s largest air-supported fabric structure indoor recreation facility, at 12,422 square meters (133,705 square feet). Louis Riel's more discreetly located facility was planned and initiated before the SuperDome.
Blackburn is closer to downtown Ottawa than almost all the "new" suburbs (only a 10-minute drive), yet offers an old-fashioned country village feeling rarely found in neighbourhoods today. Connected end to end via a series of treed parks and bike paths, Blackburn is pedestrian friendly. Blackburn offers all modern amenities within no more than a 10-minute walk from most homes. Those include: grocery store, medical, dental & legal practices, 3 drug stores, several pubs and restaurants, 2 banks, service stations, convenience stores, pizza delivery, dry cleaners, pawn shop, seniors residences, public, Catholic and French schools, private schools and day-cares, many baseball diamonds, soccer fields, indoor arena and several outdoor rinks, large community centre, public library, outdoor pool, tennis courts, 11 children's play parks, and access to the Ottawa Regional bike paths. There is a host of activities and amateur intramural sports available as well.
Blackburn is represented at city council but there is active community volunteer involvement as well through the Blackburn Community Association (BCA). Many activities, clubs, events and committees are run through the BCA.
The earliest settlers to the area arrived between 1803 and 1811, most of whom were of English or Irish descent, along with a few French and Scottish.
In the early 19th century, the area was called "Green's Creek" after Robert Green who operated a sawmill on the creek. As the timber was exhausted the government lands were sold to farmers who began to settle in the area. These people had to clear their own land and build their own roads and schools. The area was subsequently called "Daggsville" after three families that settled here in the 1850s. Richard Dagg donated the land for the first school in Blackburn.
John Kemp and his family were one of the early settlers and four generations farmed the homestead. When the first school burned down, a second school was built on the Kemp property where Blackburn Public School was located. Agnes Purdy and her husband William settled on Lot 9 across from St Mary the Virgin Anglican Church on Navan Road. Four generations of Purdys farmed the land until the NCC expropriated the farm for the Greenbelt. Agnes was significant as a major fundraiser for the church and as school board secretary for 20 years.
Innes Road running through the Hamlet was named after Alexander Innes who owned a farm further west than Blackburn Hamlet. He also ran the toll road -Russell Rd. heading east from St. Laurent Blvd. He was survived by John Innes who was reeve of Gloucester Township. Isaiah Scharfe settled on a lot near Emily Carr School, four generations lived in Blackburn on what is now Innes Road. Some of the hamlet streets are named after these, and other early settlers, Kemp, Cleroux, Tauvette.
In 1858, Joshua Bradley settled in Blackburn. It was through the efforts of his son William Bradley and Robert Blackburn, (Reeve in 1864, then MP) that a post office was secured and it was then that the area became known as "Blackburn". The settlement during these times was divided in two, the area of "Blackburn Corners", located around the existing intersection of Navan and Innes Rds; and "Blackburn Station", the area around the existing intersection of Anderson and Innes Rds.
In 1958, the government gave authority to the NCC to establish a Greenbelt. Michael Budd and Costain Estates Ltd, were key players in the creation of the community as it is today, and it was renamed "Blackburn Hamlet". In 1967 the first residents moved in. Budd Gardens is operated by Budd's two sons on land now rented from the NCC and both families live in Blackburn.
Bob MacQuarrie was a Gloucester Councillor from 1958 to 1966 and was instrumental in providing to the Council and the NCC the feasibility of installing services to the Hamlet. MacQuarrie served as Deputy Reeve and Reeve 1969 to 1978 and as MPP 1981–85.
Most of the homes were built in the 1960s and 1970s.