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Ottawa Regional Fair
The Contributions of Small Rural Communities to Bytown (Ottawa) and Beyond
When one looks at the history of Ottawa, there might be a tendency to dismiss the many little towns that exist in the peripheral area. This project explores what some of these small pockets of communities have given to the greater Ottawa identity. And these lessons can be applied to rural/urban divides throughout Canada.
What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?
The small rural pockets supplied Ottawa with its produce, dairy and meat, via stagecoach, and railways. Today, some of those railway tracks have been replaced with bike paths, but as one starts to explore what was, compared to what is, we start to realize that Ottawa is not a metropolitan area with different degrees of sameness. There is a rich history of diversity and uniqueness.
What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?
All of the different cultural groups within the rural areas I researched have contributed to the greater Ottawa identity by bringing their skills, experiences and perspectives. The stories of rural people have a tendency to be repeated nationwide. Ottawa is a microcosm in that sense. And as we celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, that is a point we want to remember!
How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?
My project spans a long period, beginning with Confederation, so there have been many technological changes. I think today we "feel" that we live busy lives. Between school, and extracurricular activities and our social lives, we allow ourselves to be stressed out. But while we complain about being busy, we should take some time to remember how intensive the labour was in the past. For example, today we have refrigerators. It seems overwhelming to imagine cutting and trying to preserve river ice to do the same job!