Amid ‘astounding’ growth, rich history and country feel, many – including families – are choosing to call Stittsville home
When Gus Westra moved to Stittsville 27 years ago, he found himself living in a sleepy, rural community far from Ottawa, with a population of a few thousand.
Today, he finds himself living in the midst of a booming town that has since been amalgamated into the city he moved away from all those years ago.
“We moved out here because of the lower housing prices and space,” says Westra. “We have a nice home, backing onto an open field and there is lots of space.
“We love gardening and Stittsville gives you that country feel.”
Situated on the western edge of Ottawa, southwest of Stittsville is a textbook example of Ottawa’s growth outside the Greenbelt, but unlike the newer suburbs, the town has managed to retain its historic rural roots.
“Stittsville, to me, is a great historical town,” says Qadri. “It has a lot of history and it is actually one of the older towns in the city of Ottawa with a well-defined main street.”
While the growth created opportunity and prosperity for the town, change is never easy, and the town is facing its share of challenges.
“There’s a lot of the farmland along Hazeldean Road that’s being converted to big-box stores, housing and industrial park,” says Westra.
“A big issue is the traffic that goes through Main Street. There are people who want a ring road to preserve the centre of the village, and I think that is important too.”
But through it all, Stittsville remains special to its citizens, who cherish calling the area home for many reasons.
Westra points out the abundance of community events such as the annual Parade of Lights, which welcomes Santa’s arrival, as well as Artists and Authors in the park and Canada Day celebrations.
And Qadri says Stittsville’s rich history is attractive to many new residents.
“The feel of the community doesn’t come from buildings and roads,” says Qadri. “The feel comes from the people that live in the community, and I find that the new people moving in are very interested in the history of Stittsville.
“They see it as something that they can attach themselves to.”
Kanata, and about 31 kilometres from downtown Ottawa, the earliest records of the town date back to 1820, when soldiers from the War of 1812 settled there.
Until the Queensway was extended to the Stittsville area in the 1970s, it remained a municipality of less than 500 people.
Westra said the area’s growth has been nothing short of astounding, a sentiment echoed by many.
“Stittsville’s population is just over 27,000 and it is growing at rate of roughly 1,800 per year,” says Shad Qadri, Stittsville Ward councillor since 2006. “And the population is projected to be about 65,000 in the next 15-20 years.”
With all this growth has come improved public transit, more schools, a wide variety of local businesses and much prosperity for the town.
Today, Stittsville has no shortage of family-friendly features, including two public hockey rinks, and great golf at the Amberwood Village Golf Course and the Glen Mar Golf Club.
Stittsville also hosts the annual 9 Run Run half marathon, and Cabotto’s, a favourite local restaurant, was voted best Italian restaurant in Ottawa in 2011.
by Dan Neutel