Westboro has grown from a struggling, downgrade region to a thriving, gentrified centre west of Chinatown and the downtown core. Chic clothing stores, hip coffee shops, fancy eateries and high-end condo developments dot the main drag of Wellington West. Westboro is definitely now giving the Glebe a run for its trendy money.
Located along the Ottawa River, the neighbourhood is bordered on the east by Island Park Drive, and on the west by Woodroffe Avenue. The Southern border can be stretched up to Carling Avenue. Westboro’s northern border is defined by the Ottawa River.
Its community association boundaries are the Transitway to the north, Tweedsmuir Avenue to the east, Carling Avenue to the south and Denbury Avenue to the west. This area excludes the neighbourhood of Westboro Beach, whose community association borders include the area immediately north of Westboro, west of Island Park Drive.
The neighbourhood got its start in the late nineteenth century, when flyers were published proclaiming ‘Move to Westboro,’ and offering prospective residents ‘views of the Laurentian Mountains.’ This slightly creative name for the distant geological formation along the Eardley escarpment is now better known as the Gatineau Hills. The Gatineau Hills can be seen across the Ottawa River.
Nineteenth-century descriptions of the neighbourhood refer to its location along the Macadam Road to Bells Corners. That road is now known as Richmond Road, and where it slices through Westboro it is the commercial heart of the village-like neighbourhood, once the centre of the old Nepean Township. The old Town Hall on Richmond Road used to house the bell that later became the symbol of the former city of Nepean, now a part of the city of Ottawa. The Maplelawn Garden, boasting the second oldest building in Ottawa (built in 1831) and designated a National Historic Site, is located at the western edge of the village.
The other prominent street in Westboro Village is Churchill Avenue. This street was known as Main Street, but was renamed in honour of Winston Churchill following World War II. A few blocks to the west, another street was originally named River Road since it bisected the neighbourhood and led down to the beach on the Ottawa River. That street was renamed Roosevelt Avenue for similar post-war reasons. The renaming was also due to Westboro’s integration into Ottawa and that there were already streets named River Road and Main Street. One of the secondary streets in Westboro is Dovercourt Avenue; it starts at Kirkwood in Hampton Park and ends at Black Friars Drive near Carlingwood.
Westboro existed as a police village from 1903 to 1949 when it was annexed by Ottawa. An Ottawa streetcar line used to run along what is now a narrow grass strip along Byron Avenue, bringing Ottawa residents to an area once considered cottage country. Many cottage-like residences still exist today, especially by the Ottawa River north of Scott Street.
Westboro is a thriving community with a lively street scene. Several condominium projects are encouraging densification and promising to bring more people to the neighbourhood. The village features murals painted by a local artist. The neighbourhood also boasts a concentration of outdoors and sport stores including Mountain Equipment Co-op, Vancouver-based trendy lululemon athletica, Bushtukah, The Expedition Shoppe and Trailhead and is close to cycling trails and whitewater rapids in the Ottawa River. Boutiques, restaurants and coffee shops on Richmond Road have helped turn Westboro into a trendy neighbourhood.
The neighbourhood is served by two OC Transpo stations: Westboro and Dominion, as well as Route 2, which provides frequent local service along Richmond Road.
Westfest, a free Canadian arts and music festival, is held every year during the second weekend in June, and features a variety of local and national performers.