Ottawa Builders: A Tribute
This week gives us a small history lesson, on the few families that built Ottawa’s homes after WWII. One of the most important blogs to date!
In the 1950s, Robert Campeau arrived in Ottawa and took on various odd jobs to provide for his family, but soon became immersed in the real estate market because he noticed that it was an industry that was growing rapidly. Starting from Kanata, Campeau went on to build over 25,000 houses across the city. You might be living in one of the homes he built! However, it wasn’t just about homes he built, he inspired the growth of neighborhoods and communities that are important to the city even until today. Schools, churches and community centers complemented his achievements.
One architect, George Bemi, worked on many of Campeau’s projects, and spoke very highly of him; “Any project I did for him, I always had another project in line.” His business, Campeau Corp., has had a significant impact on what Ottawa looks like today as a city.
Sadly, Robert passed away a few months ago at the age of 93, but his legacy will live on forever in the Ottawa real estate community. Thank you Mr. Campeau!
William (Bill) Teron was an architectural designer and founded the Teron group after 1955. He educated himself on housing development by traveling the world to get some inspiration. One of his friends, Elliott, said Teron always had innovative ideas, and took his money from real estate investments and and developed an upscale residential area in Kanata, in 1964.
Kanata new town was initially a ‘garden city’, and was very careful in the way he built the area. Elliott added that people in Kanata had to “fold their snow”.
The houses were clustered and divided by green spaces and pedestrian paths, so children would not have to walk alongside roads to get to school. “He built the idealized lifestyles for families at that time,” says Debanne. “The houses weren’t isolated entities, they were part of a package coming from his neighbourhood vision.”
William also built hotels, office buildings and housing projects in Canada, the United States and Europe. His buildings have won a number of design awards. Teron also leaves a grand legacy behind!
In the early 1900s, The Shenkman family was active in real estate, with the main man behind it all being Wolf Shenkman. It grew into the Shenkman Corporation after a few generations of family efforts
Wolf Shenkman kept his projects going during the toughest of economic times, such as the Great Depression. Most of his earlier real estate projects were apartment buildings.
Christopher Ryan, a Carleton University art history Master’s student who researched Shenkman, was impressed that Wolf kept all his residential projects going, because Montreal and Toronto had cancelled everything.
Wolf’s son, Harold, joined the business in the 1930s and worked for 60 years until his retirement. He was one of the most successful developers in Ottawa, helping with most of Kanata, Gloucester City Centre, Brookmill Estates and others.
Harold eventually went into commercial and industrial properties and built the first shopping centre in Ottawa in 1955, Westgate Shopping Centre. It became an historic symbol of growth in the city.
Since William Shenkman has been running the business, developments projects have changed, but the operation stays the same.
One of William’s most recent projects involved bringing a Canadian Football League team back to Ottawa, today known as the Ottawa RedBlacks, who also won the Grey Cup in 2016! He did this in a partnership with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG). All of this turned into a $250 million partnership between OSEG and the city of Ottawa to restore the Frank Clair Stadium and revitalize Lansdowne Park. The Ottawa population has certainly been enjoying that, with the RBs breathing new life into an ever developing city.
Bill Malhotra immigrated from India in the early 1970s. He founded the popular Claridge Homes in 1986 and is one of the largest modern home-builders and real estate developers in the city.
“He is one of a number of entrepreneurs who are developing Ottawa at the moment, but he is definitely behind many of the tallest condo proposals,” Elliott says. Some of Claridge’s major developments include 700 Sussex Drive, the Andaz hotel on Dalhousie Street, and the Claridge Icon, currently being built in Little Italy. The company also has made ambitious proposals for LeBreton Flats. They are just getting started…