My name is Alain Miguelez. I’m an urban planner and an amateur historian. I love my city, and I love researching its history. I’ve written a book titled Transforming Ottawa: Canada’s Capital in the Eyes of Jacques Gréber. This book was inspired by the rediscovery, at the National Archives, of a large collection of hauntingly beautiful street scenes of Ottawa in 1937-39, commissioned by Jacques Gréber, the French urban planner hired by the Prime Minister of the day (W.L. Mackenzie King) to prepare a master plan for our city. The book looks at the city as Gréber saw it in 1937, when he first set foot in Ottawa, describes his famous 1950 plan, and discusses its outcomes and effects on our city.
If you live in Ottawa, chances are you’ve heard of the Gréber Plan. Now 65 years old, this blueprint for our city was almost entirely implemented over the decades and, in many ways, has defined the city as we know it today. But what did Ottawa look like before the Gréber Plan? What did that Plan see as the city’s burning problems, and how did it propose to resolve them? In hindsight, how did the solutions play out?
The book contains about 300 of these incredibly sharp and crisp black-and-white Ottawa street scenes from the late 1930’s, in high resolution. You will see photos of streets and corners that are now unrecognizable, and some that have stayed amazingly identical to how they looked 75 years ago.
This crowd-funding campaign is to allow me to publish this book professionally, have it designed to be a beautiful work of art, and price it for as wide a readership as possible. The book itself is intended as a contribution to the ongoing conversation about our growing city, its planning history, and its present-day challenges. I feel that it’s important to know where we’ve been in order to better map out the future. Especially these days, with all the exciting projects that are taking place in Ottawa, the much stronger sense of civic identity emerging in our city, and the genuine interest in the stories and legends of our past, this book is intended to become a reference about the pivotal 1950 master plan by Jacques Gréber that changed the face of our city in a number of ways.
I intend to publish this book by the end of 2015 (it will be available in time for Christmas and will make a great gift for all those who are interested in our city’s history!).
This is my second book – in 2004, I published “A Theatre Near You: 150 years of going to the show in Ottawa-Gatineau”, a history of Ottawa-Gatineau theatres.
I am grateful for all contributions, and also very thankful to those who post, share, tweet or tell their friends and family about this crowd-funding.