Ottawa-Gatineau History - The Post-War Years



War Memorial on Elgin Street The Second World War led to a massive growth in the civil service, as the government took control of the economy in this first "total war," that made C.D. Howe the "minister of everything" under prime minister Mackenzie King. Many temporary buildings were built around the city (many were still standing into the early 1980s). During the war, Ottawa provided a residence to the Dutch royal family (they lived at Rideau Hall), and just before the birth of the royal heir, an act of Parliament declaring the Civic hospital to be (temporarily) Dutch territory. In 1945, and area of 2,330 square kilometres on both sides of the river designated the "National Capital District." The Dutch Royal family began a tradition by donating 100,000 tulip bulbs to beautify the city's pathways and parks.

The 1946-1950 Greber Commission made a number of recommendations for the Ottawa area. These included the relocation of railways away from the core, the extension of the parkway network, the decentralization of the federal offices around the city, the creation of the greenbelt and the expansion of Gatineau Park. In 1959, the opening of a new passenger rail terminal near Alta Vista freed extensive railway land downtown and along the Rideau Canal, enabling the construction of Colonel By Drive and the National Arts Centre, and the conversion of Union Station into the Government Conference Centre. New government offices were constructed at Tunney's Pasture, Confederation Heights and at Dow's Lake. In the 1970s, the government began to build a number of office towers across the river in Hull at place du Portage, which by 1981 had 19,000 civil servants working in Quebec.

New City Hall for amalgamated City of Ottawa In 1969, a new regional government of Ottawa-Carleton was set up to govern to Ontario lands of the National Capital District. In Quebec, the Outauoais region was set up for the same purpose. In the late 1980's there were a number of government restructuring studies, reviewing the over 10 municipal level governments in the region. The new Mike Harris government in Ontario, forced all the municipalities to amalgamate into one single City of Ottawa municipality, which became effective with the municipal elections in 2000.

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