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by Richard Vincent

with update and Photo collection & captions by John Moore and Alan McCullough

click on the photos for an expanded view and additional information

The Ottawa New Edinburgh Club (ONEC or ONEC Sports) is one of the oldest multi-sport clubs in Canada with a historic Boathouse that is one of only four of its kind in Canada. Its history is interwoven with that of the City of Ottawa itself and continues to play a role in the social and athletic development of our community. Its colours — red, white, and black — have been proudly worn by many of Ottawa’s illustrious sports teams.  It has long been a meeting place for Ottawa’s sportspeople.
ONEC was established in 1883 as the Ottawa Canoe Club (OCC) on the banks of the mighty Ottawa River. The first boathouse was a floating structure and was moored at the foot of the Rideau Canal locks, near Parliament Hill. Sawdust in the water from Chaudière Falls’ mills provided a navigational deterrent, so in 1894, the Club relocated two miles downstream to Governor’s Bay, near the Governor General’s residence. For a generation until 1922, the club operated here, where OCC members stored their canoes, set forth on expeditions to adjacent rivers, raced in regattas, and swam.
Just before the First World War, the Club acquired a water lot further downstream adjacent to flat land. This semi-rural location amongst tall white pines was at the end of a streetcar line connecting it to the downtown. Tennis was all the rage and the feeling was that tennis would attract more members. Buoyed by the prospect of a new boathouse situated beside a straight three mile racing course, the members of the New Edinburgh Canoe Club (NECC) decided to merge with the Ottawa Canoe Club (OCC) to form the Ottawa New Edinburgh Canoe Club (ONECC). Because of the Great War and construction costs, it took many years before the new structure was built.
The new Boathouse was a marvel sunk on piles thirty feet into the riverbed. It was steel framed; a concrete breakwater was added in the late 1920s. Ottawa architect C.P. Meredith designed the Boathouse in the Queen Anne recreational style. Features of the structure include a magnificently proportioned ballroom that suited the “roaring twenties” and a two level deck that commands superb views of the Ottawa River.  The building was also functional.  It contained a boat storage facility below and was the clubhouse for the entire club:  the top story locker rooms were used by both canoeists and tennis players.  The entrance to the courts was situated immediately across from the Boathouse tower.