The Glebe is an odd name for a neighbourhood. It sounds fun, and rolls off the tongue nicely, but it’s not readily apparent what the word refers to or means. While glebe is an old English word that we don’t use conversationally anymore, it basically just means church land.
The area’s history began in 1837 when it was known as The Glebe Lands of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church – quite a mouthful of a name. In 1870, the land was opened up for development and Ottawa real estate agents of the time took to shortening the title to The Glebe.
The area was quickly developed into one of Ottawa’s first suburban neighbourhoods. At the same time, Lansdowne Park began to take shape, and soon hosted the first annual Central Canada Exhibition in 1888. This established the area as a destination neighbourhood.
The Glebe is bordered on the south and east by the Rideau Canal, by the Queensway on the north and Bronson Avenue to the west. It’s best known now as a hub for shopping and entertainment, and for being home to some of the city’s wealthiest residents.
Business in the Glebe consists of two experiences: a traditional main street along Bank, and the newly-constructed Lansdowne Park.
Along Bank Street, a unique collection of small businesses provide everything from health and wellness to fashion and fine dining. The vibe is very traditional, with elegant store fronts and signage, and shops that cater to both the luxurious and niche markets.
Lansdowne offers exciting options with something for everyone packed into a very small footprint. A football stadium, hockey arena and movie theatre draw crowds on a regular basis, and an array of retail and restaurant businesses keep those crowds satisfied. The complex plays host to the City Folk and Escapade music festivals, along with a rotation of unique markets and community events.
PEOPLE AND HOUSING
This is where the Glebe gets very unique! While many people from all over the city visit the neighbourhood for a football game, and to shop or eat, there is one overwhelming demographic of Glebe – many residents are wealthy. While most urban neighbourhoods present a mixed bag of people from differing economic classes, the Glebe boasts a median household income of $208,275, compared to a city wide average of $118,388. The dominant professions of Glebe residents are education, law and government service. And over 80% are university educated.
Real estate agent Ian Charlebois, whose office is located in the Glebe, says people are drawn to the neighbourhood for its feeling of elegance and prestige. “People want to have the lifestyle of living downtown, while having three or four bedrooms, a finished basement, a backyard that’s large enough to have a nice deck, even a pool.”
The neighbourhood gels with active residents, everything is walkable and the nearby Rideau Canal and Paterson’s Creek offer some of the finest green space available inside the city centre. O’Connor Street has recently been updated with cycling infrastructure through to Fifth Avenue.
Driving this sense of elegance is the unique housing offered by the Glebe. Because the area was originally built as a suburb, the lots are larger than in some other central communities and the houses tend to be bigger as well. “Typically the Glebe has those big frontages and depth of lots,” says Ian. “The frontages, in comparison to other areas downtown, are second to none.”
Of course, prestige comes at a price, with the current housing prices ranging from $850,000 and $930,000, according to Ian. For many, life in the Glebe is about having the luxuries and convenience of living in the heart of the city, without the sacrifices some associate with urban dwelling.