When Queen Victoria makes Ottawa the capital of Canada in 1857, she unwittingly gives a powerful boost to the development of its Francophone institutional space. The intense activity that ensues attracts not only politicians, but also numerous civil servants, journalists, intellectuals and educators, not to mention the professionals who join the increasingly dynamic Francophone community that, by 1852, has already created the Institut canadien-français. This elite lays the groundwork for cultural and patriotic associations – first at the local level, then at the provincial and even national levels – making Ottawa one of French Canada’s major regional metropolises. Many of the institutions are still active today.
When Ottawa is promoted to the rank of capital, religious communities have been at work there for over a decade, setting up a hospital, schools, a boarding school and caring for orphans. They had established parishes, with others founded over time to become hubs around which community life is organized. Francophones in Ottawa endow themselves with a school system in their image, and establish many other religious, cultural and social institutions under their auspices. When the social frameworks of the Church weaken in the 1960s, French Canadians turn to the State to ensure their development, particularly in areas of education and health. Ottawa’s influence, through these institutions, reaches well beyond its own borders.
Bowling League of the Association de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne (AJFO), Ottawa, 1958. Photo: Champlain Marcil, Le Droit
Source : University of Ottawa, CRCCF, Fonds L'Association de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne (C9), Ph74-13b.