Ottawa’s Lowertown in the time of expropriation: what were the most serious consequences for Francophones?


Learning objectives

The student will:

  • Use the inquiry process to identify the most significant consequences of the expropriation of Ottawa’s Lowertown residents during the second half of the 1960s
  • Explain the direct and indirect impacts of the expropriations on the lives of Francophones in Lowertown
  • Present a solution to the current redevelopment of LeBreton Flats
  • Clearly communicate ideas through teamwork and group discussions.


SPACE component: Ottawa’s Lowertown in the time of expropriation



The city of Ottawa has experienced significant transformations in recent history. In the second half of the 1960s, many Francophone families were expropriated: they were forced to give up their homes in Lowertown so that the City could modernize the neighborhood. This was not the original plan. On March 22, 1966, the newspaper Le Droit reported that the urban redevelopment project for Lower East Ottawa was designed to “displace virtually none of the 9,363 residents living in the area.” The project as such respected the wishes of the majority of residents who had expressed a clear desire not to move. But the detailed plan, presented some 18 months later, left no doubt as to the extent of the changes: the target area had more than doubled, and 1,400 families were to be displaced. The consequences of these transformations had repercussions for the entire local Francophone population, and even beyond.

Based on an analysis of the theme “Lowertown in the time of expropriation,” what were the most serious consequences of modernizing the Lowertown neighbourhood? Answer this historical analysis question in the form of a virtual inquiry.


Activity description


The teacher reviews with students the process of inquiry necessary to complete the activity. This process seeks to guide students in responding to the analytical question presented in the activity, using their critical sense. The process includes the following steps:

  • Formulate analytical questions (What is my initial question? What should I address?)
  • Collect sources and organize information (What sources and data are available?)
  • Analyze and interpret the information collected (What do the sources reveal? What is the evidence?)
  • Evaluate and draw conclusions (What conclusions can be drawn from this analysis?)
  • Communicate the inquiry results (What is my response to the question?)



The teacher tells students about the work to be completed during the activity, which is determine the most serious consequences of modernizing the Lowertown neighbourhood following the redevelopment of that part of Ottawa.

The teacher explains the concepts of direct consequences and indirect consequences on people's lives, using concrete examples. Direct consequences are the immediate results of a gesture (e.g. falling to the ground and tearing your pants are the direct result of falling from a bicycle), while indirect consequences emerge as a result of subsequent effects (e.g. having to sew up a rip in your pants is an indirect consequence of falling from a bicycle).

Using concrete examples, the teacher also points out how human consequences (e.g. getting up late) can lead to subsequent effects that were not expected at the outset (e.g. you skip breakfast, miss your bus, are late for school, etc.).

The teacher also explains to students that these consequences are the results of decisions made by actors and decision-makers. For this reason it is useful to examine alternatives to determine whether the actual decisions were the best ones. I can be helpful to look at other stories in the context of the event under investigation. Reviewing alternatives makes it possible to evaluate the probabilities, and the various consequences that different actions could have had on the course of history, and on the choices which were offered to decision-makers.

It is also very important to remind students of the importance of chronology – the sequence of successive events – because in history events happen one after the other. This means that indirect consequences occur after direct consequences.



The teacher:

  • Explains to students the work to be completed during this activity, which involves analyzing the impact that that modernization of Ottawa’s Lowertown in the second half of the 1960s had on the lives of Francophone residents. After analyzing the consequences presented in the virtual exhibition, students are invited to make suggestions for the current redevelopment of LeBreton Flats, and the inclusion of Francophones.
  • Divides the students into teams, ensuring that each team has access to a computer.
  • Provides each team with Worksheet 1: Analyzing consequences, which will be used to organize and analyze the information collected by the students.
  • Explains that their work to analyze the impact of the modernization of Ottawa’s Lowertown on the lives of Francophone residents must take into account:
    • direct consequences (what were the immediate repercussions of modernization on Francophones?)
    • indirect consequences (what were the subsequent repercussions of the decision to modernize Lowertown?)
  • Invites students to visit the virtual exhibition section, “Lowertown in the time of expropriation.”
  • Observes and guides student work in analyzing information and data from the virtual exhibition.
  • Encourages students to read and make sense of the historical sources included in the virtual exhibition to find relevant information and evidence to support their analysis.
  • Ensures that each team completes the worksheet and provides a detailed answer to the inquiry question.



The teacher:

  • Asks each team to choose a spokesperson.
  • Invites the spokespeople to present their findings based on their team’s responses to Worksheet 1.
  • Facilitates an exchange within the class based on the answers presented and the alternatives proposed to determine which consequences are most serious and for what reasons.
  • Collects worksheets and provides written feedback to the teams.

Suggestions to encourage learning 

The teacher:  

  • Asks students to consider the current issues surrounding the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats in light of the virtual exhibition section, “LeBreton Flats ill-treated by history.”
  • Asks each student to answer the following question, using Worksheet 2: Alternative solution: What suggestions would you make for redeveloping LeBreton Flats? (e.g. how to better include Francophones, local history, diversity, etc.).