For years, Beechwood Avenue has been on the outermost edges of New Edinburgh and Vanier, dividing the two Ottawa neighbourhoods along geographic and socio-economic lines, yet not really belonging to either. A vibrant commercially viable avenue, Beechwood has always been a place where people found fun and leisure mixed with nightlife and excitement. It caters for both weekday strollers as well as weekend nightcrawlers.
Residents, businesses and real estate professionals have kicked around the idea of a “Beechwood Village” as a separate quarter for some time. As of yet, there are no legal descriptions or boundaries so for now, Beechwood Village remains an ideal, a feel, an ambition that highlights the inclusivity and trendiness of what is organically evolving on the outer edges of the two historic neighbourhoods.
Francophone Canadians who established themselves in Ottawa traditionally occupied the area. They also brought with them their art and architecture along with their now famed street names. Even today, the Vanier area has a prevailing French Canadian feel to it, resembling the province of Quebec in many aspects. St. Charles Church, located midway along Beechwood Avenue and on St. Charles Street, is an epitome of early 20th century Francophone Architecture and traditions.
Designed and built in 1908 by Charles Brodeur, St. Charles Church has always played a central role in the area. With its neoclassical clean and elegant lines holding up the tall bell tower, the buildings is a looming proclamation by the Quebecois architect, and one which brought the locals together. The building was used as a church until as recently as 2010, with complete deconsecration taking effect in 2013.
ModBox acquired the building in 2014 and endeavoured to keep it as a hub for local gatherings, entertainment and markets. It remained as an important part of the community and went a long way in bringing some historical beauty and architectural refinement to the ever-modernizing neighbourhood over the years. The Sunday markets, Shakespeare in the Park and Pride gathering were in particular noteworthy for their dynamism and success.
ModBox, linebox and The Lake Partnership INC are now turning the iconic building into St. Charles Market. The plan is to repurpose the church in an adaptive reuse architectural fashion, while draping it with high-end living units and townhouses on one side, keeping the main street front side of the church open to preserve its timeless beauty.
The living spaces are being designed with a mix of timeless chic and contemporary industrial feel, using the latest technology and finishes to add distinction. Local artisans and decorators are being consulted and employed to provide the new occupants with an authentic and thorough understanding of the community. The Church itself will now house a restaurant and a socializing spot, keeping it as a hub for the visitors and residents to congregate.
The fast evolving Beechwood Village is seeing far more diversity than it has experienced in the past, and one has to admire the goal to remind residents of the neighbourhood’s history and traditions, while providing them with all the contemporary, advanced and exciting means to socialise, intermingle and live in style.