Keriana H.

Ottawa, Ontario

Ottawa Regional Fair

A Connection to Nature: Lessons Learned from Ottawa’s History of Disasters

In exploring the historical timeline of disasters in Ottawa from 1900 onward and lessons learned from each of them, what are the potential implications for our city’s future concerning climate change and disasters?



What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

The most interesting thing I learned about my topic is that, when lessons aren’t learned after disasters, history can repeat itself. For example, after the Great Fire of 1900, homes were quickly rebuilt with no change in building practices. Three years later, another fire destroyed 750 of these newly built homes because we did not learn from the disaster.

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

Overarching Summary of Key Lessons Learned: - Advanced planning saves societal costs - Sufficient personnel and good communication are critical - Communities banding together maintain positive mental health - Good building codes and practices are important - Keeping a supply of essential items at home is helpful - Oversight boards can create standards to prevent disasters - Ottawa’s economy, society and our lives have historically and currently depend on nature - Ottawa can learn from its history of disasters to connect in a positive way with nature, adapt to our changing climate, and be prepared for its challenges

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

Compared to the people who experienced disasters in the early- to mid-1900s, I feel privileged that, because of what we have learned from history, we are more prepared for future disasters. Since mental health is talked about in today’s society, people can potentially be more supported than those who faced Ottawa’s historical disasters.