Memorial Bench Installed on Pontiac Street to Remember Longtime Residents of Cowley Avenue, Steve and Kay Kot
If you are walking or biking along the unpaved section of Pontiac Street between Cowley Ave. and Carleton Ave. you will see that the City has installed a new bench facing Champlain Park. The following reflection on the history of her parents and of growing up across the street from Champlain Park during the 1960’s and 1970’s was contributed by Mary Ellen Kot:
The Kot family, (Mary Ellen, Kathleen, Patricia, Theresa, James and Stephen) is happy to donate a bench to the Champlain Park Community, in memory of our parents, Kay and Steve Kot. Mom (Kathleen Bull) spent all her life (1927-2020) in the west end of Ottawa. She lived at 45 Barrington (later re-named 311 Spencer St.), with her mother and brothers. Dad was from a farming family in Saskatchewan. He came to Ottawa in 1948 to work for the Patent Office of the federal government. His first office was in the Langevin Building where he enjoyed a view of the Parliament buildings. After they married in 1952, Dad joined Mom’s family on Spencer St.
On September 1, 1956, our family moved to 124 Cowley Avenue. The purchase price of the house was $12,500.00 The Thick brothers built 124 and the house beside it, at the corner of Pontiac, in 1905. 124 was centred on two bur oak trees. One of the trees died in the 1990’s.
When we moved to Champlain Park there were still houses north of Pontiac St. Mom would tell us stories of her youth, when there were also tennis courts and a dance hall at the river, which was known then as Riverside Beach.
As a young girl Mom loved to play outdoors, whether it was sledding down the hill on Mayfair and Western Avenues or biking down the Carleton Avenue hill, sometimes on the handlebars of a friend’s bike. She used to carry her skis across the Champlain Bridge, to ski near the lower Aylmer Road. Swimming at The Point, on the Ottawa River, was a favourite pastime, especially playing tag on the booms there.
Mom and Dad loved living across from Champlain Park. As kids we were always at the park, playing all day and swimming in the pool. At one time, Dad played in a softball league at the park. Later, he enjoyed watching the games from the comfort of his swinging bed on the front verandah. We spent countless hours skating at the rink. Mom would warm our frozen toes when we finally came home. In later years Jim served as the rink coordinator. One of the highlights of our childhood was in the winter of 1971, when the record-breaking snowfall made it possible to enjoy sliding off our verandah roof.
Mom and Dad appreciated all the efforts made by the Champlain Park Community Association. Every year they would attend the Winter Festival and enjoy the food, music, sleigh rides and the chance to meet up with their neighbours.
Dad and Mom both died at home. (Dad, on March 29, 2018. Mom, on September 29, 2020.) Among the many thoughtful letters we received, at the time of Mom’s passing was this kind observation: “Both of your parents were an anchor in our little community of Champlain Park.” We are happy that this bench will serve as a memorial of their time in the Champlain Park community.