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April 26, 2014

Christopher Ryan: Ceappy’s Connor Court

A weekly feature by Christopher Ryan, a local photographer, blogger and researcher.

The entrance to the Connor Court Apartments, 250 O’Connor St. Photo: April 2014.

O’Connor Street today is not normally one where we stop and smell the roses. The one-way street tends to be much quicker than Metcalfe, its counterpart to the east and as much of the traffic is bound for the Queensway, speed is the key. As a result it’s easy to miss out on some of the gems.

I’ve been long interested in the construction of apartments in Centretown during the Depression and the Connor Court Apartment was another one of those projects. Charles Ceappy was a Centretown-based contractor. Previous to his construction of the Connor Court, Ceappy completed a number of smaller projects: mostly the subdivision of existing larger homes into apartments.

Ceappy took out his first building permit in May of 1936. Source: Ottawa Journal, May 14, 1936.

On May 14, 1936, Ceappy took out a building permit to construct an apartment building on the northwest corner of O’Connor and MacLaren at an estimated cost of $11,000. The following week, on May 19, he closed the purchase on the lot, previously the site of Dr. Mothersill’s surgery.

After he completed his purchase of the lot in 1936, Mothersill’s building was cleared and then nothing. Ceappy’s vision had grown in the interim and a new plan was submitted. Source: Ottawa Citizen, June 7, 1938.

William D’Aoust of Eastview was given the contract. It appears that Ceappy’s desires were more centred around ownership than they were around the continued toil of construction labour. In the time since he filed the original building permit in 1936, his vision for the property had grown from 11 units to 19.

As was custom, Ceappy took out a full-page ad in the Journal announcing the building. Source: Ottawa Journal, July 30, 1938.

As with most new apartments at the time, it attracted a number of respectable tenants, looking forward to taking advantage of the luxurious new digs. The process was quick, appears to have been relatively painless, and Ceappy was ready for more. Construction, as we’ve all seen, can be seductive.

In June of 1939, Ceappy took our another building permit. This time, for twin apartments at Frank and Metcalfe. Source: Ottawa Journal, June 17, 1939.

In the following year Ceappy was presented with another opportunity for construction and he seized upon it. In this case, it was the twin Metcalfe Terrace Apartments designed by architect Lucien Leblanc, who aside from a large number of buildings for the University of Ottawa, designed the Blackburn Apartments on Somerset.

The Metcalfe Terrace was set to open on September 15, 1939, just as World War 2 was becoming a reality. Source: Ottawa Journal, August 19, 1939.

The Metcalfe Terrace apartments today. You can see the Elphin Apartments to the left of the picture. Source: Bing Maps.

From there it appears that the development career of Charles Ceappy was cut short. As he was quite able to join the service (being 32 and otherwise healthy), he did and graduated from the Canadian Army Officers’ Training Centre in Brockville in the Fall of 1942.

Ceappy received the Efficiency Decoration: Source: Canadian Military Honours and Awards Citation Cards (Ancestry.ca)

From there, it does not appear as if he continued working in development. He died relatively young, at 56 in March 1964. By then, he and his wife Beatrice had moved out of their unit at the Connor Court Apartments, and into Jimmy Beach’s Russell Apartments at 255 Metcalfe.

-- Original photos & text by Christopher Ryan.
(See more on our blog from Christopher...)

See also: Ottawa History Guide
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