By Laura Fraser
Did you know there are 8,000-year-old trails that used to run all the way through New Edinburgh and Rockcliffe Park to Northern Labrador, and then south to the Gulf of Mexico? My guess is probably not. These were the hunting grounds of Grand Chief Pinesi.
The first day of July this year marks 155 years since Canada became its own country. In recognition of Indigenous Peoples past and present, Chief Pinesi Day will be held on July 1, 2022, in New Edinburgh and Rockcliffe Park to celebrate the Algonquin Anishinaabe history of the area. It will be an opportunity for reconciliation, and to learn about of the past and present of the New Edinburgh and Rockcliffe Park area from an Algonquin Anishinaabe perspective.
The day will start off with a portage to Governor Bay on the Ottawa River (between 24 Sussex Dr. and the road through Rockcliffe Park) where settler and Algonquin canoeists will meet to walk together to Rideau Hall and hopefully meet the Governor General. This meeting between Chief Wendy Jocko and Governor General Mary Simon, should it take place, will make history, Chief Jocko is the first woman Chief of Pikwakanagan and a direct descendant of Chief Constant Pinesi. Pinesi was appointed Grand Chief by Governor General Simon’s antecedent in 1830. Mary Simon is the first Indigenous Governor General of Canada.
After this event, canoeists will portage to the Rideau River and paddle to the New Edinburgh Fieldhouse at 203 Stanley Ave., where most of the celebrations will take place.
Not a canoeist? No problem. There will be storytelling about the ways plant species (still resident here) were traditionally used, their Algonquin stories, and about Chief Pinesi. Medicine paddles and walking tours will also take place. The walking tours will start at 10:30 a.m. and run throughout the day. Some tours will be as short as 45 minutes; others will last up to two hours.
The main festivities will be held at the New Edinburgh Park Field House starting at 2 p.m. This will include the inauguration of the Kichi Sibi Trails’ trail markers. These markers will identify known active portage routes, as well as historic routes across eastern Ontario and western Quebec. The logo is being made by Algonquin Anishinaabe artist Simon Brascoupé. Other social events will include storytelling for people of all ages.
Also, a new ceramic mural will be unveiled. It will feature Chief Pinesi in symbolic form. The mural will describe some of the myths and animals that live in and around the hunting grounds along the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers, the great water panther, and Algonquin stories, including stories about Rockcliffe Park. The mural is being created by Doreen and Charlotte Stevens, artists from Kitigan Zibi First Nation.
There will also be an opportunity to meet many other descendants of Chief Pinesi who will be meeting each other for the first time on July 1. Noreen Kruzich, author of The Ancestors Are Arranging Things, will be signing copies of her book.
The event will also include traditional Anishinaabe drumming and powwow dancing. Organizers hope that Highland dancing will also take place, to represent the Highland Scottish side of Chief Jocko, and many of those who later settled New Edinburgh, like Thomas McKay.
The day will end off with a walk to view the Parliament Hill fireworks from Rideau Falls.
Learn more about Chief Pinesi Day on Facebook. Search for “Chief Pinesi Portage at Rockcliffe.”
By Karen Squires and Katherine Hall
Over the years the New Edinburgh Community Alliance (NECA) has worked with a group of volunteers to ensure the park area is preserved, kept clean and well-maintained, in collaboration with City team members.
While the park cleanup did not take place last year, the NECA parks group met with City staff members to discuss maintenance issues to do with the tennis courts, seasonal garbage bins, bench repairs, fencing and signage. As well, City staff have just confirmed that both the annual icebreaking program on the Rideau River and the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel (CSST) tunnel maintenance will be accessed by the broadened, newly resurfaced roadway entrance near the New Edinburgh Fieldhouse. Therefore, you will see the equipment required for the icebreaking coming through this area from late February to early March. We hope to provide an update on scheduling for the ongoing CSST tunnel maintenance, which will also access the park from the same location near the fieldhouse.
During 2021, LDD moths became a major issue, destroying tree leaves all around Ottawa. City staff have confirmed there is a budget in 2022 which includes a new, temporary, full- time employee joining the Forestry department for the express purpose of developing and implementing community support programming around LDD. This role will also support the development and implementation of an Urban Forest Outreach and Engagement Strategy which is a key recommendation of the Urban Forest Management Plan. One element of this program is a burlap distribution kit, more details of which we hope to provide in a future edition. We all want to ensure we are able to protect our trees against ongoing LDD invasion.
Prior to COVID-19’s ongoing public safety restrictions, residents (with Friends of the Park) were invited to come out and do a collective spring park cleanup each May. We are monitoring the situation now to determine how best to move forward in 2022 for potential spring and fall dates.
In Spring 2021, the New Edinburgh News asked for input from residents as to what they enjoyed about the park and what they’d like to see more of. Here’s a summary of what we learned. People:
- love to walk in nature – natural setting is a key theme!
- would like to see more garbage cans and recycling bins.
- want better signage to keep cyclists off the shoreline.
- are interested in the restoration of natural beauty and the addition of more benches.
- would like more cleanup initiatives.
- support more wildflowers, green space, and tree-planting to improve biodiversity.
- would like to see better care taken of seeded grass areas.
- want more native plant species planted to attract birds.
- support the possible expansion of the waterfront area to Porter Island, Bordeleau Park and Rideau Falls.
In November 2021, we were pleased to hear that the City will be switching to a cleaner grass mowing alternative, to cut down on fumes. We liaised with City staff, who have agreed to reduce the amount of mowing in the “regeneration area” of the park. A consistent theme is to keep the park natural and clean, and have places where people can stroll, sit, and enjoy the scenery including birds, wildflowers, trees, and the waterfront.
Members from the Crichton Community Council (CCC) manage the Fieldhouse, the skating rink, and children’s playground area in addition to such annual events as the plant sale, in and around the fieldhouse area. NECA continues to liaise with the CCC and to provide updates, through NEN’s event listings on what’s happening.
To conclude, while New Edinburgh and Stanley Park and nearby areas serve a diverse group of people, there are more people using the park year-round since COVID lockdowns and restrictions. We will increase our coordinated efforts with City staff to ensure we all work together for a clean, natural, and safe space to enjoy all year. As of January 2022, the City is aware of our requests and have approved the funds to do some repairs to the tennis courts and fencing near the fieldhouse. They have also noted our request for better signage for cyclists and the replacement of one bench near the tennis courts.
Karen Squires and Katherine Hall are members of the Friends of the Park committee at NECA. To learn more about Friends of the Park, please email email@example.com
Compiled by Christina Leadlay (this article originally appeared in the June 2021 edition of the New Edinburgh News)
New Edinburgh Park, Stanley Park…. Whatever you call it, the greenspace along the Rideau River from Sussex Drive to Beechwood Avenue is one of the top reasons we choose to live in this neighbourhood.
The New Edinburgh News presents a special feature on “the park” complete with maps, rules, history and stories about what makes this greenspace unique and worth protecting.
But first, let’s hear from local park users!
Every day throughout the year, a variety of people use New Edinburgh’s park for many different reasons. Some access the park multiple times a day; others use the park in many capacities – as pedestrians, cyclists, dog walkers or with their children. The New Edinburgh News reached out to residents via email and asked them:
1) What is your favourite thing about the park?
2) What would you like to improve about the park?
The following responses have been edited for length and content.
Karen McDonald, Crichton Street. Retired person, pedestrian, dog walker
I love walking my dog from our house, along the river path, past the play area and tennis courts, through the little woods, past the canine swimming hole, though the big off-leash area, and if it’s a nice day, around Rideau Hall and back home again. I love seeing all the people of different ages and family configurations enjoying the park.
Room for improvement: Somehow getting the litterers (including fellow dog walkers) to pick up after themselves. More garbage cans, perhaps? Also, keeping cyclists off the shoreline pedestrian path, especially now that there is a continuous paved bike path through the park. Would more signs help, or more barriers, such as big rocks, at strategic points to make it more difficult for [cyclists] to access the dirt path?
Kathy Kealey, Dufferin Road. Dog walker
The best thing about the park is its use by all residents, young and old, human and animal.
I’d like to see our park enhanced by the addition of a small, multi-use pavilion for yoga, small concerts, outdoor painting classes, and shelter from inclement weather. A few drinking fountains, cobblestone paths to cut down on muddy walkways, covered benches to shelter from the sun, and more garbage receptacles would make the park much more user friendly.
Frances Middleton, Stanley Avenue. Family with young child, dog walker
Our favourite thing about the park is its natural beauty; how it’s so green and has various types of vegetation. We also love the different views that the park has to offer, whether you’re taking it in from a bench or standing in the off-leash area and looking across Rideau River to Parliament.
As long as the flora and fauna wouldn’t be negatively impacted, it would be nice if the bank between the tennis courts and workout area and the Rideau River could be restored to something more natural. You can’t tell from the path itself, but from across the river the crumbling retaining wall is a bit of an eyesore. More benches along here could be nice!
Michele Carini Bruinsma, Stanley Avenue
What I love: that it’s an off-leash dog park with lots of green space.
Room for improvement: More rubbish bins, plus replacing the broken ones. How about recycling bins for glass, plastic, and trash and one specifically for dog poop, which are standard in European public parks and now even in Kitchener, Ont.
Saman and Dorothy, Crichton Street. Recreational users and nature lovers
What we love: The proximity to the river, the green landscape, the wildlife (particularly birds), the change of use and landscape over the different seasons.
To improve: More frequent garbage collection from the bins; complete the planting of grass near the water storage tank facility; maybe have more volunteer cleaning drives for the banks of the river.
The Shepherd Family, MacKay Street
I’d like to see many more wildflowers to attract the monarchs. The old monarch garden seems to have disappeared. I’d also like to see more “NO BIKES ON THIS STRICTLY WALKING PATH” signs. It is most irritating to have bikes roaring past on the walking path.
Karen Squires and Richard Aubry, River Lane
I love how the park brings our community together, right in the heart of our beautiful city. I think everyone benefits from this amazing green space and I’m so pleased that it’s now back in full use again [after years of infrastructure work]. We must continue to protect our green spaces to ensure they are natural, clean, and safe for everyone.
I think more effort in keeping the entire park area clean is very important. There is still a considerable amount of garbage left behind on Stanley in and around the park. There needs to be more accountability when groups use the park for events to ensure there is zero “garbage footprint” left behind. With more people using this limited space, there should be more support to ensure green space is protected and clean. We continue to lose trees for a variety of reasons (i.e., climate change) so trees and bushes need to be replanted to ensure we maintain our limited green space, moving forward, for all to enjoy.
Eileen Olexiuk, River Lane. Senior, retired person, pedestrian
I love the river, the trees, the birds, and other small animals that live there: the peacefulness of nature. I also love the activities, especially for young people: cycling, soccer, baseball, skating or just playing on the equipment.
What I would like to see improved is restricting cyclists to using the bike lanes, and not taking the walking paths along the river. We need better signage strategically placed and visits by bylaw officers until such time as respect for all users is recognized.
Jill Nowell, Dufferin Road
I think that finally the city has built us a wonderful new park for our neighbourhood. I love all the trees that have been planted and keep finding new paths to wander about while walking my dog.
However, it is taking a very long time for the seeded grass areas to grow and as a result we get very muddy areas when it rains, and this destroys the new grass trying to grow. The areas now need to be covered with sod.
Deepee Khosla, River Lane
My favourite thing(s): I love going for walks along the river. In the winter, the skating rink is a blast.
It would be nice to have a section of the park planted with native [species] to encourage more wildlife. Perhaps something similar to what’s been done at Remic Rapids.
Raewyn Khosla, River Lane. Nature Lover
I love walking through the park watching the trees go through the seasons.
I’d love to see an area of the park dedicated to native plants, a rewilding project with an urban meadow theme using native flowers, trees and grasses that will attract more diverse insects, birds, and wildlife. This is something that is happening internationally in cities as biodiversity is threatened and development and agriculture eat up natural habitats.
Justin Swan, River Lane. Family with young children, cyclist, pedestrian, sports & rec user[I love] the waterfront. It provides great views of the downtown, Parliament, and Minto Bridges – a unique perspective of our capital. [I would make improvements] to evolve Stanley Park into one that is internationally renowned and a top-three destination in the capital. This would include expansion of the park through amalgamating Porter Island, Bordeleau Park, the Rideau Falls, and Stanley Park via a new pedestrian pathway “loop.” The loop would connect new destinations within the park as well – a small outdoor theatre on Maple Island, a seated patio at the new junction framing the view of the Parliament, a canoe dock, and a new and expanded fieldhouse worthy of hosting a variety of events and programming. Let’s be bold!
Since early November 2016, NECA’s Task Force has been working hard to learn more about the forthcoming Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel (CSST) project and what the community can do to prevent being used as the main extraction site, or to mitigate the impacts of such construction. (Visit the Task Force on Facebook).
This page features information on the CSST for New Edinburgh residents, to help better understand the scope and scale of the project, what we know about it, and to get the community thinking about what we can do to help mitigate the project’s impact on our neighbourhood.
In February 2017, a Community Construction Monitoring Committee was created to liaise between the CSST team and New Edinburgh residents.
Latest CSST-related news
- Feb. 27, 2017: NECA releases statement on Feb. 22 CSST East-West Tunnel Trucking Options Consultation.
Recent events and actions
- Feb. 22, 2017 The City of Ottawa held an Open House on CSST Trucking Routes. Stantec’s “Technical Memorandum: Review Alternative Trucking Routes for Site 5 / Stanley Park” was presented. Read it here.
- Feb. 6, 2017 The Task Force held a “Call to Action” at City Hall to show the Mayor we mean business and to support the community delegation’s meeting with the Mayor. The delegation included Tim Plumptre, Joe Chouinard, Sean Flynn, Sonny Dhanani, Pamela Howson and Marta Klepaczek. Read the press release here. The delegation’s report on the meeting is available here.
- Feb. 4, 2017 The New Edinburgh Task Force hosted an open meeting to discuss and share information on CSST developments and plans. Read the pre-meeting letter to the mayor and view a Site 5 construction sequencing document here.
- Jan. 30, 2017 See the latest correspondence between the Task Force and City officials here.
- Jan. 25, 2017 The Task Force held a demonstration at City Hall calling for the CSST main extraction site to be moved to LeBreton Flats. Details here. Residents presented the mayor with a petition (at the time featuring over 600 signatures) concerning CSST main staging site. You can sign the petition online.
- Jan. 16, 2017 The City of Ottawa held a meeting for New Edinburgh residents who will be most affected by construction at Site 5c (Queen Victoria Ave and River Lane) and residents/property owners in close proximity to this site who will be most affected by the construction.
- Jan. 6, 2017 The Task Force’s Heritage Working Group submitted a report.
- Jan. 3, 2017 The Task Force’s Health, Safety and Environment team put together a report .
How did we get here?
- Oct. 27, 2016, the City of Ottawa held an info session for New Edinburgh residents on the forthcoming CSST project and how it will affect the community. Residents felt they were not consulted on this project and have serious concerns about the traffic and environmental impact it will have over a 30-month period on Stanley (New Edinburgh) Park as well as the surrounding residential neighbourhood.
- Nov. 2, 2016 a group of residents met with City of Ottawa officials to gain a better understanding of the project. The final report from that meeting is available here.
- Nov. 10, 2016 NECA’s board of directors held an emergency meeting to discuss the community’s response to the CSST project. The meeting minutes are available here.
- Nov. 16, 2016 City Councillor Tobi Nussbaum hosted a second information session for New Edinburgh residents with the CSST project team.
- Dec. 24, 2016 The Task Force sent a letter to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. Learn more about how you can tell the mayor of the CSST in New Edinburgh here! The Task Force has also sent letters to MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers and then-Chief Government Whip Andrew Leslie.
- Documents indicate that the City’s own consultants say it is feasible/doable to move the extraction site elsewhere. The next step is to follow-up with the Mayor and City Council expressing your own individual concerns/messages to the politicians.
A message from the Task Force
- It is feasible to move the primary mucking site from the park. It won’t stop the rape of the park, but it will help to reduce the impacts of this massive project on our community. It will take some additional incremental funding from each of the three levels of government. But, more importantly, it will require the political will by our elected officials to make it happen, as the City’s bureaucrats are still recommending that the primary site remain in the
- The Task Force is also concerned about the lack of community consultation on the CSST issue. Read their full message here.
- Noise analysis based on Leq, by Hugh Williamson Assoc., March 2017
- Explotech Noise Control Plan for CSST Site 5, February 2017
- Stantec’s revised general soil management plan, December 2016
- Stantec’s Environmental Site Assessment Report for CSST, June 2015
- City Councillor Tobi Nussbaum: “CSST: How We Got Here”
- Nussbaum’s January 2017 update on CSST
- City of Ottawa Key Plan for CSST Environmental Assessment Addendum
- Stantec’s Environmental Effects Evaluation for City of Ottawa’s CSST, March 2015
- Whole Appendices to the Stantec March 2015 Report
- City of Ottawa CSST Map (on display at Oct 27 info session)
CSST in the news
- Feb. 11 op-ed by Emilie Taman, Ottawa Sun: “Secrecy around Ottawa’s sewage tunnel stinks”
- Feb. 6 2017 Ricarda McFalls and Richard Palmer on the Carol Anne Meehan Show
- February 2017 edition of the New Edinburgh News
- Ottawa Citizen coverage of Jan. 25 demonstration at City Hall
- CBC Ottawa coverage of Jan. 25 demonstration at City Hall
- Ottawa East News Jan. 19 story: “New Edinburgh says sewer project stinks”
- December 2016 edition of the New Edinburgh News
- CBC News, Oct. 11, 2016: “Ottawa politicians to break ground today on $232M sewage tunnel project”
- Daily Commercial News, Nov. 2, 2016: “Ottawa’s new sewage storage tunnel key to river action plan”