The Museopark’s exhibitions and interpretive tours
In October 2006 the Vanier Museopark opened its first permanent exhibition which covers 400 years of history, the time of the First Nations until today’s ordeals, passing by the French explorers, the fur traders and the many educational institutions which religious missionaries opened in Vanier. This first exhibition paved the way for a new version which covers Vanier’s history from mid-19th century up until today. We discuss topics such as the arrival of the first colonizers, economic life, politics, and defense of the francophonie. Our temporary exhibitions also discuss topics such as today’s French-speaking communities in the City of Ottawa.
The Museopark also proposes 4 urban circuits which allow you to discover Vanier’s heritage and main memorable places. The Richelieu Park circuit will let you explore the vast terrain which once belonged to the White Fathers of Africa and which is now home to an urban sugar bush. The Beechwood Avenue circuit will allow you to discover the Saint-Charles church, built in 1908, as well as the impact the establishment of the parish had in tying francophones to Vanier. It is in the presbytery of this church that the Order of Commanders of Jacques-Cartier was born.
The Montreal Road circuit, the economic and historical heart of the district, extends from Cummings Bridge until Notre-Dame cemetery. And finally, the McArthur circuit, which explores the ancient grounds of the McArthur family, amongst the region’s first pioneers.
Besides public talks and CreActivity Club workshops for children, the Eastview Breakfasts – Eastview being Vanier’s old name – are of great interest. Once a month, people who grew up in the area are invited to tell anecdotes of experiences they have lived, with varying topics such as sports, commerce, taverns, and the turpitudes of a memorable priest or the rivalries between parishes. These conversations are recorded and help to create new exhibitions which take advantage of this precious intangible heritage. The Museopark also prepares for the future by valuing the past.
The Vanier district, a tenacious francophone center
It is at the beginning of the 19th century that some francophone families began to settle along Montreal Road, in a village called Janeville. Even if anglophone predominance was important the francophone population grew and encouraged the creation of the Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes parish by the religious congregations of the Montfortains and the Daughters of Wisdom.
At the same time, many francophone families settled a little up north, in the village of Clarkstown. In 1909, Janeville and Clarkstown as well as Clandeboye united to create Eastview. The growth of the parishes of Saint-Charles and Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes as well as the affordability of rent and properties attracted many French-speaking families which have transformed the city of Eastview (now Vanier) into a french-speaking stronghold.
In 1926, the secret society of Commanders of the Jacques-Cartier Order was born at the initiative of priest Francois-Xavier Barrette and French-Canadian officials who gave themselves the mandate of “ensuring the common good of French-speaking Catholics in Canada by training militant elite”. This society shone across Canada from Eastview, the future city of Vanier.
By 1969, when Eastview took on the name of Vanier in honor of Georges-Phillias Vanier, Canada’s first French-speaking Governor General, over 60% of the 20 000 inhabitants of the city were francophones. In 1971, the census counted 67% of francophones in Vanier and that of 1991 counted 55%. By 2001, last year with official records before the merging of Vanier and Ottawa, 49% of the population spoke French as their first language. Despite the decline Vanier remains an important francophone centre in Ottawa and even in Ontario. Recent studies show that the French-speaking population has become more mobile, leaving Vanier to live in other districts. Ottawa has the largest proportion of francophones outside of Québec and New Brunswick, with 16.6% of its 980 275 inhabitants speaking French as their first language, according to 2016’s census.