Ottawa Walks: Short virtual walks by Paul Weber

"As I’m out biking and walking a bit more than usual these days, I thought it would be fun to capture on my phone and talk about some of Ottawa’s more obscure historical landmarks. " —Paul Weber

To get some exercise and to pass the time during the pandemic, Paul Weber took walks around his neighbourhood and around Ottawa, eventually even venturing out toward Almonte and Aylmer Road (not all the way on foot!).   While on his jaunts, he uncovered tidbits of the past, and he turned these into a series of short videos to share his discoveries of our local history.   Most of the videos are between one and two minutes long.

Here are links to the individual videos, or you can go to a playlist of the entire series (see video window below).  Paul also has a YouTube channel, which you can find here.

Ottawa Walks:  The individual videos

The Billings Wall — a commemorative installation near the northeast corner of Bank and Riverside.  (0:44)

Slattery's Field — the first airfield in Ottawa is now a power substation where Riverdale meets Main St.  (1:12)

The Deschatelets Building — find out the secret of this heritage building  (1:15)

The Mystery Hands of Ottawa — a map where you can find drawings of hands carved into the sidewalks around downtown Ottawa  (1:24)

Rideau River Bridge Ruins — who built the bridge that crossed the Rideau at Stanley Park?  (1:18)

The Great Fire of 1870   150 years ago, a giant fire raged through woodland and towns, destroying places like Stittsville, Bell's Corners, and Manotick before jumping the Ottawa River and burning as far north as Wakefield.  The fire burned with such intensity that in some places that even the soil was burnt away.  It created a fierce wind, and, at times, the fire moved faster than a person could run.   If these videos tweaked your interest and you'd like to know more about the Great Fire, check out Terence Currie's book, The Ottawa Valley's Great Fire of 1870.

  1. Part 1 — The Spark near Almonte  (1:40)
  2. Part 2 — Surviving at Pinhey's Point (1:33)
  3. Part 3 — How Ottawa was saved  (1:27)
  4. 'The Great Fire of 1870' — The Paul Weber Trio performs his song about the Great Fire  (3:42)

In Search of the Chaud — The 'Chaud' was a night club and music venue between Hull and Aylmer in the mid-20th century  (2:45)

A Hidden Gem — Ottawa's oldest house  (1:11)

In Search of Gerry Barber — Gerry Barber was a local legend who left his mark on Ottawa and Hull/Aylmer in a number of ways  (10:33)


Thanks to Jane's Walk volunteer Cara Waters for bringing these videos to our attention! 

About the walk leader

Paul Weber is an Ottawa singer, songwriter, guitarist, and storyteller who has performed across Canada.  He is also an amateur video documentary maker.  Paul has been kicking around Ottawa since the early 1970s when his parents fled the U.S. in search of a calmer place to raise kids.  He has worked various jobs, from sweeping stairs and waiting tables to working in a homeless shelter and trouble-shooting rooming house issues for the City of Ottawa.  For the last decade he has been working for the federal government.  Over the years, Paul has led and managed several bands, including Cheza (1991–2012) and the Main Street Market Band (2013–2018).  His web site is

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Paul Weber

Paul Weber Paul Weber on stage. The plaque describing the Billings Wall (still from the video by Paul Weber). The plaque describing Slattery's Field, now a hydro substation at Main St and Riverdale (still from the video by Paul Weber). Mystery hand somewhere in downtown Ottawa (still from the video by Paul Weber). The stage and dance floor at 'The Chaud' (still from the video by Paul Weber).