The village of Stittsville was first settled in the early 1800s, primarily by Irish immigrants, and became a functioning settlement by around 1850. The town takes its name from founding father Jackson Stitt, also of Irish heritage, who served as the area’s Postmaster. The population at the time was about 100 people.
The original village was wiped out by a huge fire in 1870 that burned from Ottawa to Carleton Place, to as far as Smiths Falls. But new life came into the area a few years later when the Canadian Pacific Railway opened up from Ottawa to Carleton Place a major logging town at the time. That rail line was pulled up in 1989, and is today used as a section of the Trans Canada Trail.
Stittsville was officially incorporated as a village in 1961, and grew steadily on its own until being amalgamated into the City of Ottawa in 2001. The population has grown from around 500 people in the early 60s to nearly 30,000 residents today.
LIFE IN STITTSVILLE
Stittsville today presents an interesting dichotomy between the urban and the rural ways of life. At one end, a recently developed Hazeldean Road is dense with every modern retail amenity, and the other end has direct proximity to the great outdoors, with sweeping forests and quiet pathways. This is a neighbourhood where snowmobiles are a common sight in the winter, while you can still take OC Transpo straight from there to the Rideau Centre.
Glen Gower, an area resident who runs the news and community info website, Stitsville Central, says he has seen this duality strengthen as time goes on, “This is a rapidly changing neighbourhood. It’s really become an intersection of old and new.”
Old and new meet on Stittsville’s traditional main street, which wouldn’t look out of place if it were found deep in the Ottawa Valley. However, the old buildings are housing a new generation of businesses.
Jennifer McGahan, a Stittsville resident of 16 years, personifies this trend. Her new interior design studio is housed in a red brick home on Main Street that dates back over 100 years. The newly-renovated studio takes on a modern look, yet preserves elements of the original building in the solid wood moldings, floors and staircase.
“Main Street is undergoing a revitalization,” says Jennifer. “It has been a little dilapidated and behind the times in comparison to the community that surrounds it – the people who live here are not reflected in the main street as much right now, but it’s starting to improve.”
FOOD AND DRINK
Quitters Coffee is a name that will eventually come up in many conversations about Stittsville. Yes, it’s owned by musician Kathleen Edwards and she’s kind of a big deal, but there is more to it than that. Quitters has become a destination reason to make the trip into Stittsville, especially for those trekking by bike, as the shop has become a common goal for long-distance cyclists.
Saturday night trivia at Quitters is wildly popular with locals and musical performances here are regularly packed. Beyond just being a cool coffee shop owned by a rock star, it’s just a great place to spend time with people.
Stittsville’s newfound prominence on the culinary scene got off to a rocky start. The owners of the Wellington Gastropub intended to bring a similar high-end dining experience to an historic building on Main Street, but it caught fire while under construction in 2013 and the building was destroyed.Meanwhile, the restaurant NeXT has been a huge success on Hazeldean Road and is regarded as one of the best restaurants in the Ottawa area. Chef Michael Blackie offers up familiar Canadian dishes which he blends with influences from his experience with Asian and European cuisine.
This neighbourhood stands out as a place that people come to start families. Your dollar buys a bigger house and a bigger backyard than most other places inside the city limits. Thanks to a community development plan that limits new construction to four stories, the area has remained mostly low-rise, dominated by single family and semi-detached homes.
Deborah Denison from Tamarack Homes, notes that the market for semi-detached and townhouses has been especially hot recently, with intensification happening in Stittsville’s north end. Pool Creek, a joint project by Tamarack and Tartan Homes, located just west of Huntmar Drive and south of the Queensway, will have 450 new homes when completed.