David Scott, 1936-2019, loved Sandy Hill
Years ago, at a large gathering I met a lawyer who told me he was a close friend of my brother, David Scott—a prominent lawyer then acting for the Hon. Jean Chretien in the Gomery Inquiry. (AKA The Sponsorship Scandal). In the course of the chat, I referred to David’s home in Sandy Hill. “Oh no,” he said, “David does not live in Sandy Hill, he lives in Rockcliffe Park. I know this for certain.” But as his sister, I knew for more certain that he did indeed live in Sandy Hill. He insisted and I drifted—away from this expert!
David William Scott (1936-2019) died on March 21 after a short illness. He is survived by his wife Alison, four children and four grandchildren. He had a brilliant legal career, a rich family and social life and was involved in many philanthropic causes. His was a life well lived.
As I thought about what to write here it seems fitting to write about his long love of and life in Sandy Hill. It is a neighbourhood he loved from his earliest days as had his forefathers before him.
When my parents married in 1933, they first lived in an apartment on Laurier (now demolished for a student residence). As children arrived, they moved to 587 Besserer Street, where David was born and where he began his attachment to the neighbourhood. It was a family block. Next door Colonel S. Hill, although older and retired when my brothers arrived, was a big figure. Broken toys and sporting goods placed on his driveway were found the next day repaired and ready to go back into service. A memory in the Guest Book following the Ottawa Citizen obituary, describes David teaching the writer to ride a bike. These were halcyon days!
A move to Rockcliffe followed in about 1948; then University and a family of his own. His children were brought up in Manor Park. As the children began to leave the nest David and Alison did an extraordinary thing. They purchased 383 Daly Avenue from the City of Ottawa in about 1980. This end unit of Philomène Terrace had been a Catholic home for unwed mothers and had fallen into near fatal disrepair. The City repaired it but did a poor job. A great deal more repair on the house was necessary and David set to work restoring it lovingly. The empty nesters loved the house and lived in it until about 10 years ago. Downsizing and a wish to be steps away from the grandchildren’s school forced a relocation to First Avenue.
Our family lived in Sandy Hill, with only a few gaps, until last year. We hadn’t thought of the long chain we were breaking until recently.
Sir Richard Scott (1825-1913), a lawyer and Mayor of Bytown, credited with convincing Queen Victoria to make Bytown the Capital of Canada, lived on Daly Avenue—the Former Elizabeth Residence now converted to condominiums. His son, W.L. Scott (1862-1947) also a lawyer brought up his family of three children at the property where the Rio Vista apartments now stand at 400 Stewart Street on the Rideau River. The rambling house included a huge vegetable garden and the stories of bumper crops of tomatoes continue in our family. David remembered with great fondness visiting his grandparents there.
With David’s recent death, the tradition of Scott lawyers has now been interrupted. Scotts were practicing law from 1848 to 2019, 171 uninterrupted years in Ottawa; a remarkable piece of continuity. I do not know where Sir Richard Scott began Ottawa life, if not on Daly Avenue; but for most of those 171 years Scotts were happily living in Sandy Hill.
David was the family historian and wrote a family history which was published just a year ago. No one had a finer appreciation for roots and their ability to create wings.
John Billingsley, 1941-2019
If something seems missing along Charlotte St. these days, it is likely the slow, cheerful and steady presence of John Billingsley — a daily sight on Sandy Hill streets for more than 40 years. A resident of Rideau Place-on-the-River and a great walker, John previously resided at Rideau Gardens and the Sandy Hill Residence on Friel. He often stopped for a Big Gulp at Mac’s (when it was Mac’s) or a service and social events at All Saints Sandy Hill. He is missed.
IMAGE welcomes contributions to this Requiem column about people who were until recently a part of the life of our neighbourhood. If there is someone you wish us to remember, please send a photo and text to: firstname.lastname@example.org.