This is a database composed of numerous business listings drawn from City Directories and various other sources, listed below. It doesn’t cover every year, but captures a good spectrum of Ottawa business history. Nowadays, to list a business as a business owner, you will most likely use Google My Business – although you will need to verify your business to do this. However, businesses used to be listed solely in City Directories.
The most popular categories or types of businesses are listed at the right of this page. You can see all categories here. New resources are being added to this database, so it will slowly grow larger and even more useful.
In order to explore this database, you can enter into the search box above either (1) the surname of a businessperson; (2) a category of business, or (3) an address via a text search. So if a relative had several businesses over his or her lifetime, they all should be drawn together by the surname. The business category will identify the database total for that business over time. Needless to say, there were harness shops in the 19th century, gas stations in the 20th, and computer stores in the late 20th and 21st centuries. Be sure to check the People topic’s surname index too if you are searching for a particular surname. If it is your surname that you are searching for, in the likely event you are researching the businesses in your family history for example, you may also want to look into the surname meaning as well. This may allow you to learn new details of your genealogy. As for an address, that will give a profile of all the businesses that operated in that building over time.
This database has been under construction for several years by volunteers for the FCHS. Eric Anderson helped compile the category list. The lead worker has been FCHS trustee Greg Kendall. We think that this database will be a useful addition to our portal website.
Resources used to produce this listing as of March 10. 2013: Business ads in the Western Home Journal newspaper for Dec. 7, 1965, Dec. 20, 1866, and Dec. 24, 1868; 1898 Ottawa Republican special issue on businesses in Ottawa; an undated 1909 or ’10 Souvenir of Ottawa; and City Directories from 1873, 1905, 1916, 1921, 1930, 1936, 1941, 1950 and 1960.