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Photos by Dave Weatherall (IG: @davyjo)

Pop-up history: Turning Ottawa’s streetscapes into museum exhibits

By Apartment613 on November 23, 2017


By Dave Weatherall

Ottawa has a rich urban history and thanks to a new project led by the Worker’s History Museum, Carleton University and Chapter One Studio, it’s popping up all over the city.

Seventeen mechanical boxes owned by the city, usually cloaked in dull grey paint and countless tags, have been reimagined with vivid images of their neighbourhood’s local history. The vignettes range from Lansdowne’s lacrosse teams in the late 1890s to the role played by Hintonburg and Westboro women school teachers in the push for higher salaries.

“The idea was to turn Ottawa’s streetscapes into museum exhibits,” said museum treasurer Barb Stewart. “Because we are a museum without walls, this was our way of bringing the museum to Ottawa’s citizens.”

Each installation has a QR code taking visitors to where they can learn more about each story. Created in partnership with Ottawa 2017, Capital History kiosks’ stories were funded by the Ottawa 2017’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Program (stewarded by AOE Arts Council, Ottawa Arts Council and Council of Heritage Organizations in Ottawa).

“One of the great aspects of this project was the student involvement,” said project lead David Dean from Carleton University’s history department. “Seeing the students engage in Ottawa’s history and then work with our community partners to communicate their discoveries was incredibly rewarding.”

The locations currently stretch from Barrhaven to Centretown, with more planned. You can open a map with all of the locations here. For more information on the project, contact Professor David Dean, Carleton University at <>.