Must ❤️ Westboro Beach!

WESTBORO BEACH: A STORY OF RECREATION AND NATURE WORKING TOGETHER

Wooden Slide at the Beach 1920s

Westboro Beach has been a gathering place for people along the river for thousands of years during which time it has undergone many changes. Once it was a stopping place for Algonquin Anishinabe as they rested on their trading route. Later, loggers managed the flow of large logs to the mills downriver.   Ahead of them lay Remic Rapids and the Chaudière Falls so the natural beach was a place to prepare for what lay ahead.  Then it became a place to enjoy summer.  By the mid 20th century, we had learned that recreational enjoyment can be enhanced with improved water quality and a more bio diversified shoreline.  These became community driven goals and the Westboro Beach community became actively involved in influencing a better future for our section of one of Canada’s most historically important rivers.

Points of Interest 1960s: A and B Log booms on the River, C – Pavilions Brutalist Architectural , D – Beach

Work began in earnest in the late 1970s when a Westboro community study identified the need for a closer connection with the river.  One of the first actions was to connect the community to the river by replacing the city operated Westboro Community Centre with the community operated Dovercourt Recreation Centre and hiring as director, John Rapp, who had good community development skills and an aquatic background.  In addition, the community newspaper, a skills exchange program and a community animator funded by the City helped raise interest in new community recreational opportunities focusing on Westboro Beach.

Skating on the River 1981-83

Algonquin College’s Recreation Facility Management and Community Development programs provided resource support to the Dovercourt Recreation Centre especially in the redesign and construction of the beach pavilion and the introduction of new aquatic beach activities.  Summer beach programs were expanded by using various federal and provincial summer student grant programs to hire students as play and program leaders.  For two winters (1981-83), Court Ordered Community Service participants operated the pumps to flood the hockey rink and skating labyrinth right on the frozen river. In the 1980s, local businesses began donating their products and services to develop the kitchen and cafe, and to provide canoes and kayaks. They also sponsored and supported shoreline cleanups on both sides of the river from Britannia to the Chaudière Bridge.  Overall, this was a successful demonstration of co-operation among government agencies, interested organizations and the community.  Local volunteers worked hard in their efforts to advocate for the restoration of the beach and to prepare it for future generations. They became skilled at writing grant applications for funding of much needed work.

While there was and still is lots of discussion on what should or shouldn’t happen at the beach, there has always been agreement on the importance of reducing vandalism and improving river water quality.  In the 1970s it was not unusual for high E.coli counts to shut down swimming for over 20 days each summer. Westboro Beach community members came together as Friends of the Beach and began pushing for a solution to reduce the number of posted closed days. It was obvious that daily monitoring  of the water would eliminate the problem of shutting down weekend swimming.  It involved a great deal of effort to get the City staff to get on board, but it finally worked. Since that time, all City beaches are monitored daily. Awareness of water quality is now top of mind. The number of posted days has been reduced to about 10 to 12 days per summer.  

In 2002, Ottawa Riverkeeper was formed and led the way to developing the Ottawa River Action Plan. This has played a prominent role in improving water quality along the river and built on the foundational work done by the community association and its volunteers.  

One of the very hands-on things that members of the Westboro Beach Community Association did was contribute to the City’s Pinecrest Creek/Westboro Retrofit Study that tried to reduce  and improve the quality of runoff flowing from the 6 stormwater outfalls up-river from the beach. This involved having community association volunteers twice daily entering the major sewer outlets and taking water readings. It was a memorable experience.  

These volunteers were known as Beach Friends. Later, the group evolved into Riverwatchers for Ottawa Riverkeeper by helping to monitor river water and organizing and participating in shoreline cleanups.  Currently some Beach Friends are involved with broader water issues like opposing the shoreline nuclear dump being proposed for Chalk River. Beach Friends are well represented in the Westboro Beach Community Association and play a major role in shaping its agenda and long term plans.

Who could have imagined 50 years ago the important advocacy role the Westboro Beach community would play for the enhancement and protection of water and shoreline along the Ottawa River?  

1966 – 1978

The river still showing its economic scars of the past: beach logs, boom cradles and sheds. 

Changes started to come with the building of the new pavilions and the closing down of the log drives. 

A made over pavilion with kitchen replacing lifeguards’ room, a paved patio with a foundation, a hillside with roses and flowers.  Westboro Beach was also the first beach in the area with a paved pathway to the water’s edge for wheelchairs.  Funding for many of these projects was awarded to some of the many grant applications submitted to the City, and the NCC.  

 Winter at the Beach

In the winters of 1981-83 a heated trailer was placed on the beach to support greater use of the beach as a year round facility. A cross-country trail was set up from Westboro Beach to Britannia using the river embankment to add slopes for greater enjoyment and interest. On the river, a pump was used to flood a hockey and broomball rink as well as for a skating labyrinth. A shortage of volunteers and safety concerns led to this initiative fading away. In the 21st century, it has been replaced by the SJAM Trail which allows thousands to enjoy the river side.  Thanks to Groomer Dave Adams and team for all their hard work.  

SJAM Winter Trail

The Millennium Restart

WBCA pitched in to make the Beach more welcoming.  One project was planting local bushes and wild roses on the hill side just east of the pavilions. 

A paddling oasis with no motorboats as above Deschenes and below the Chaudiere.  For two summers there was a children’s boat camp (sailing, canoeing, kayaking the  Remic Rapids and rowing).

Addendum

Thank you from the Westboro Beach Community Association

While many members of the Westboro Beach Community Association and of the Westboro Beach neighbourhood have contributed financially, and through their time and hard work to bringing back the beach to being a very important resource, no one has done more for this project than John Almstedt and Don Paskovich.  Their work covers decades and includes both large and small tasks done with commitment and conviction.  Without them, Westboro Beach might have suffered the fate of the two neighbouring beaches at Woodroffe and Remic Rapids and simply disappeared.  Instead, all of us now enjoy a jewel. They are both neighbourhood heroes.

February is our fundraising month! Make you donation via e-transfer:

infowestborobeach@gmail.com

Must ❤️ Westboro Beach -Proud To Live Here!

By Bonnie Campbell

Christmas Gift Cards

Pandemic Cooking

Westboro Beach Community – you deserve a big thank you for reaching out to your most vulnerable neighbours through shared meals. On an almost monthly basis over the past five years, we held a community kitchen and shared a community meal with everyone welcome to join in.

When the pandemic hit in 2020 and gatherings were no longer permitted, we did not feel comfortable abandoning the 100 or so people who attended every month. We called participants to find out how they were doing. Many live with serious health challenges and several are food insecure. The combination of the two is very tough on overall health especially during a time when anxiety about COVID-19 19 is high. We realized that we needed to respond.  In late July, 2020 we started to cook about 90 meals every two weeks that could be delivered to participants while respecting all distancing protocols.   A prepared meal is a welcome treat to those trying to juggle front line work with homeschooling in small apartments.

We also deliver to the Richmond Plaza Motel on Tweedsmuir Avenue which is a homeless shelter with no cooking facilities. At Christmas, we cooked a traditional turkey meal for all participants and the Carlington Community Health Centre delivered a second one cooked by the Food for Thought Net Café. Our bakers spent two days making cookies to accompany small gifts that were delivered just before Christmas.  Thanks to the generosity of the Westboro Neighbours group, we were able to deliver gift cards, presents and Christmas cards to everyone on our list.

We live in a visibly affluent neighbourhood. Often hidden are those people who are struggling to get by.  We hope that this effort by our cooks at the Field House on Van Lang Private will send a message during these difficult times that we are in this together as we face the pandemic. We could not do it without Zaineb, our community developer from the Carlington Community Health Centre and our two trusty wagons that have hauled so many meals in the last few months since the pandemic shutdown started in March, 2020 and which will continue to until the end of February.

Christmas Baking Ready to be Delivered!

Make a difference in your community – send in your donation to the Westboro Beach Community Kitchen or Westboro Beach Community Association.

Send your donation via e-transfer to:

infowestborobeach@gmail.com

I ❤️ Westboro Beach Community Association!

Moody sky at Westboro Beach

For the past 10 months, the world has been redefining our new “normal”.

We are unable to gather with friends and family to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or any other event; we cannot hug those close to us who are in need. 

With the recent edict to “stay at home”, it would be easy to focus on the negative and all the things I cannot do right now. 

Instead of focusing on what is temporarily out of reach – because I KNOW better times are coming – I like to acknowledge all I that do have…   I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, friends I can call.  I also notice that random acts of kindness are all around me, if I take the time to look.  And yes, my local grocery stores and drug stores are still stocking toilet paper.  Good times….

The WBCA continues to look after me, trying to make the best of a challenging situation.  They are hosting safe outdoor and virtual events, representing my community at council meetings (remotely of course), writing letters to help preserve the beauty of my community and the place I call home.  I begin my days walking to the beach …  Right there, how many people can say that they can walk to the beach in the morning before going to work?    I love this area and am grateful for all the work that the WBCA is doing to protect it. 

#GRATITUDE #WBCA

Show your gratitude for the WBCA by donating what you can support community events and projects!

Send you donation via e-transfer to:

infowestborobeach@gmail.com

I ❤️ Westboro Beach Community Association!

Are you new to Westboro Beach? See what a new resident has to say!

Winter Carnival 2020- building a snow fort

When we first moved to Ottawa, we rented a house in Westboro Beach.  We wanted time to investigate various areas of Ottawa before we committed to buying a house.  Not being from around here we were not certain into which neighbourhood our family of 5 should settle.  After a very, very, very short time we knew it had to be Westboro Beach as we pretty quickly realized all the great things it has to offer.  We loved its proximity to the river and were thrilled that we could walk to nearby shops and restaurants in just a few minutes.  Prior to moving to Ottawa, we had lived in a town where you had to drive to just about every location, so now being able to walk or take transpo to anywhere within Ottawa was awesome.  We ended up buying a home here and our enjoyment of Westboro Beach and all the things it has to offer has not diminished.   In addition to finding a great location to settle, we have fantastic neighbours and have a real sense of community here. That community feel is in large part to the efforts of the WBCA, even during these difficult times.  

Summer Sunset at Westboro Beach 2020

Due to COVID disruptions this year, the WBCA has not been able to hold our usual fundraising events. Please donate what you can so that we can continue to provide inclusive and free programming to all community members.

Donate via bank e-transfer. Send your donation to:

infowestborobeach@gmail.com

Why I ❤️ Westboro Beach!

Wooden slide at Westboro Beach circa 1920s

Westboro Beach has an interesting past, some of which will surprise you. Coming up soon is a chance to hear it from a local expert, Bob Grainger who wrote a book on Westboro Beach. The Westboro Beach Community Association (WBCA) is hosting a free webinar on Wednesday, February 17 at 7:30pm. Register here for this free event!  You can also register for this event via our Westboro Beach Community page on Facebook.

Bob has graciously made a number of copies available to be sold as part of the WBCA 2021 fundraising campaign. There are limited copies available. You can purchase a copy of this book for $40 in advance. Send a note to infowestborobeach@gmail.com to reserve your copy of this book!

Book cover

Why I ❤️ Westboro Beach!

My Perspective as a Mom of Young Children

As a mom with young kids, I’ve struggled to find fun and safe activities for my family during this past year of COVID-related restrictions. Westboro Beach Community Association (WBCA) has helped us stay close to home, while staying safe and sane! 

WBCA put on an awesome winter holiday parade and food drive (complete with Santa Claus). They supported the establishment of a pollinator garden, where we went to connect with nature and learn about pollinators. They organized a fun sidewalk chalk art festival. 

Over this past year – which has been full of anxiety and isolation – the WBCA has provided community information and events which have made us feel connected to something beyond our family bubble. Thanks to WBCA, for fostering a sense of community, for championing nature, and for keeping us connected. 

Getting involved in the waterfront clean up!

Please help us continue to provide our programming! Send your donation via e-transfer to:

inforwestborobeach@gmail.com

I ❤️Westboro Beach Community Association!

Winter sunsets…

February is the month of love, and this month we are asking the community to show a bit of love for the Westboro Beach Community Association (WBCA). We have not been able to hold our usual events – Beach Opening, Beach Closing and our Winter Carnival due to Covid restrictions. As a result we have not been able to do any fundraising, and our modest bank account is running very low.

During the month of February, we would like to raise $1000.00 for our community association so that we can continue to host events and advocate on behalf of the community.

Setting tracks on the SJAM

Westboro Beach residents will be telling us why they love Westboro Beach and how WBCA has enriched their life, especially this year! We also have a perspective of a long time resident who has seen many changes over the past 40 years. Watch this space and our Twitter and Instagram accounts for more fascinating insights into life at Westboro Beach.

You can donate to the WBCA by sending an e-transfer to:

infowestborobeach@gmail.com ❤️

Check Out What is Happening at the Field House on Van Lang…

Take-out Turkey Dinners and Holiday Baking Delivered to Neighbours in Need!

Westboro Community Kitchen

The Westboro Community Kitchen began in 2015 and was held on the last Monday of the month. Initially, it used another location in Westboro but relocated as soon as the Field House on Van Lang became available.  In 2020, new approaches had to be developed and adopted. The kitchen crew pivoted to a takeout model and began preparing about 80 meals every second Friday. The means are then picked up by recipients or delivered to people in the catchment area who were past users of the community kitchen program or the Dinner in Van Lang program which was held monthly. For more information, please call  Hilary Rose at the Carlington Community Health Centre 613.722.4000 ext. 204hrose@carlington.ochc.org

After the Bell

The After the Bell program is held on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays during the school year for Grades 2, 4, 5 and 6.  It provides help with homework, develops self-esteem,  and encourages critical thinking and problem solving, leadership, and team work skills while offering healthy snacks. Currently, students can attend in person on Monday and online Thursday and Friday. For more information, please call Natasha at 613-722-4000 extension 322

Mothercraft

As of December 3, 2020 Mothercraft Early On Years Program is offering free monthly activity kits that can be picked up at the Field House on Van Lang on Thursdays between 1:00 and 1:30. To register, email Maggie Gomez at Maggie.gomez@mothercraft.com  or call 6130728-1839 extension 290.

COVID Times – Programs Postponed Until Further Notice

Dinner with your Neighbours (last Wednesday of the month)

Coffee Time (four morning a week) hosted by the Van Lang Tenants Group

Baking with Donna (Friday evenings)

Leaders in Training (was held Tuesday and Wednesday evening) Sponsored by Christie Lake Kids

Checkout the activities going on at our neighbourhood field house on their Facebook page.

Light it up!

Brighten Up the Neighbourhood with Your Holiday Lights!

We can all use a bit more brightest these days. The 2020 holiday season will be different this year, but we can still be festive and celebrate with style! Get outside and stroll down the streets in our neighbourhood and let us know which house has your favourite light display. It can be simple and elegant or funky and fun. Send us a note (infowestborobeach@gmail.com) with your name and address and the address of your favourite light display.

Did I mention that there will be a prize? The address that gets the most votes will win a $50 gift certificate! The prize will be awarded on December 26.

So bundle up the kids, get outside and walk through our beautiful neighborhood and marvel at the light displays. Maybe some post -walk hot chocolate and cookies?