The Smart House, 15 Linden Terrace


The house you see above was built in 1913 by the Glebe builder William D. Hopper.  In 1915, the house was sold to the Ottawa lawyer Russell Smart.  Smart was a self- made-lawyer who had joined the law firm of Featherstonehaugh in 1904 at age 19. He was called to the bar of Quebec in 1911 and made a partner in the law firm in 1913. The firm later became known as Smart and Biggar/Featherstonehaugh. Smart lived a restless life, living in no less than nine different houses, all in better parts of Ottawa as his career improved.  There was also a summer house on Kingsmere Lake, with Mackenzie King as a neighbour, as seen here at his Kingswood cottage in the early 1920s!

Russell Smart’s daughter  Elizabeth was born in 1913, and spent about four years of her early childhood, from 1915-1919, at 15 Linden Terrace. The house was large enough to hold large parties, and Elizabeth’s mother Louie obliged by holding some of the best, and so the household became know as “an oasis in a cultural desert” for people of all walks of life.  The house itself is an over the top rendition of the Georgian Revival, with large Gone -With-The-Wind columns supporting a second storey balcony over a central front entrance.

This street was right next to the Ottawa Improvement Commission’s Patterson Creek Park, and had been advertised as an ideal place to build in this 1911 ad in the Ottawa Citizen:

Here is the pagoda bridge that would have been one of the little girl’s views:

 Central Park would have been a wonderful place for a child to visit, under supervision from an adult:

And and here is what the street looked like from the Canal Driveway in the 1920s, shortly after the Smarts had moved on.

Despite the short time that Elizabeth was here, perhaps this beautified landscape had an impact on the later literary imagination of the writer. At age 11, an illness confined her to a bed for several months, and this is when she started writing, keeping a daily journal.  She would continue to keep journals all her life, recording the world as she saw it, and maybe the frequent moves as a child gave her special insight in seeing the human condition. Here is a copy of her journal from 1933.

At age 15, she compiled all her early poetry, stories,plays and illustrations into the following juvenalia work:

She was also a very good watercolour artist:

 Here is an iamge of Smart in 1942:

For as you may or may not know, Elizabeth is most famous for her first book, “By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept”, perhaps one of the memorable titles in modern literature.  Here is what the original cover page looked like when it came out in 1945:

Elizabeth Smart lived in many places until her death in 1986, and you can find out more about her literary career and manuscripts, at Library and Archives Canada.  Who knew that this celebrated writer not only lived in the Glebe, but also in an area that is still boasts one of the neighbourhood’s more beautiful streetscapes?!



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