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A Brief History of The Rockcliffe Park Foundation

The Rockcliffe Park Foundation had its start in the summer of 1996.  Its purpose was to preserve Rockcliffe's distinct character and nature when amalgamation with the City of Ottawa occurred. It began as an ad hoc committee called Rockcliffe 2001.  It pursue two initiatives: first, to apply for heritage conservation district status under the Ontario Heritage Act; and second, to establish an independent foundation aimed at protecting and nurturing the unique environment and community of Rockcliffe.

The village council and administration provided start-up funding for the Foundaton  to cover legal and other expenses. This process was completed in January 1997, retroactive to December 23, 1996. 

On December 9, 1997 what was to become the Rockcliffe Park Foundation, but was known at the time as the Friends of the Village of Rockcliffe Park Foundation, was granted charitable status. The Village Council offered to match funds raised in the community up to $50,000 and with that the Foundation's fundraising efforts were born.  A team of almost 40 volunteers distributed letters to the Village's 720 households, resulting in 104 donations.

Meanwhile the founding directors set up a nominating committee to establish a permanent, more democratic procedure for providing for the governance of the Village Foundation and proposed 10 directors for 1998/99.  The retiring founding directors were asked to nominate from among those 10 the officers for the year.

In 1998, the idea of a book chronicling and celebrating the history of the Village of Rockcliffe Park was proposed as a means to raise both funds and community awareness.  Also in 1998, the Village received official Heritage Designation.  This opened the possibility of qualifying for a grant to help with the book project as it was thought that a history would be an acceptible millennium project.  With the approval of the Village Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee (LACAC) a committee began working on the book.

A millennial grant of $20,000 was received and Rockcliffe Park: A History of the Village, by Martha Edmond, a Village resident, was published on December 5, 2005.  It was immediately hailed as both beautiful and authoritative.  Sales have long since repaid the initial investment and now generate modest revenues for the Village Foundation's endowment fund.

Rockcliffe Park: A History of the Village spans the two hundred year period from the first land grant in 1799 to the Village's amalgamation into the City of Ottawa in 2001. It may be purchased from Books on Beechwood at for $49.50 and tax.



















Just prior to amalgamation, the Rockcliffe ParkFoundation set a fund-raising goal of $300,000.  Several generous major gifts for community projects and continuing grants, and a final grant from the Village Council, resulted in pre-amalgamation Foundation assets of $430,000.

The Rockcliffe Park Residents Association (RPRA, was subsequently created with a mandate to provide and/or improve the following:

  • communications, which include The Rockcliffe News and the Welcome to Rockcliffe Park booklet;
  • tree planting on the street verges and green spaces;
  • protection of the natural environment;
  • children’s sports and recreation;
  • heritage and planning;
  • special events, such as the Christmas Tree Lighting and Carol Sing, Children's Christmas Party, a Garden Party, and the Speakers Program.

The Rockcliffe Park Foundation provides grants to the City of Ottawa or other qualified donees to support events/projects in the community. Most of these projects are proposed and organized by the Rockcliffe Park Residents Association (RPRA).

Seeking an ongoing source of revenue without the need for major campaigns the Foundation board launched the Dining with the Ambassadors event.  The first dinner was held in the autumn of 1999.  This biennial fundraising event is usually sold out and raises more than $20,000 each time for the Foundation.

The year 2000 was a very active period for the Rockcliffe Park Foundation as the Foundation supported the Village's many initiatives. These included the construction of the Pavilion, the development of the book, Rockcliffe Park: A History of the Village, and the planting of trees. An important step toward the preservation of the environment of the Village was the approval by the Village Council of the McKay Lake Management Plan. The plan was partially funded by the Foundation. Before the Village of Rockcliffe Park was dissolved, the Council passed on to the Village Foundation a substantial Trust Fund for the Village History Project and the Rockcliffe Park Library turned over to the Foundation its endowment fund as well as its accumulated restricted operating funds. The Foundation had become, in effect, the community banker.  Amalgamation with the City of Ottawa officially occurred on January 1, 2001.

In 2004 the operating mandate of the Rockcliffe Park Foundation was simplified; "to make cumulative annual distributions to 'qualified donees' (as defined in the Income Tax Act) of amounts not less than the minimun annual disbursement quota applicable to charitable foundations, for the purpose of assisting the donees of such funds to perform activities within the scope of their own objects and mandates which take place in, or have a substantial connection with, the Heritage District of the Village of Rockcliffe Park."

The Foundation is guided by this object and by the mission and policies that have been enunciated and comfirmed by the directors.



Making a Difference in the Community

The Rockcliffe Park Foundation has raised money for both an endowment fund and special projects. Before amalgamation, grants from The Village of Rockcliffe Park augmented the donations of residents and friends.

Residents are encouraged to make annual donations to the Rockcliffe Park Foundation and the proceeds of the Dining with the Ambassadors fundraiser, held every second year, are added to the endowment fund. There have been other fundraising events, including a tennis round-robin and a bridge party.

Four major gifts in the first couple of years were designated for significant community initiatives:

1. the Pavilion in the restored Jubilee Gardens, opened in October 2000;
2. the Library’s science collection for children;
3. tree planting on Village lands, carried out over a number of years;
4. the protection of the MacKay Lake area as a conservation zone and wildlife sanctuary. In 2000, the Village Foundation paid for the Mackay Lake Management Plan, which established principles for the guidance of the new City of Ottawa administration.

Another early initiative of the Rockcliffe Park Foundation, was Martha Edmond’s elegant, authoritative and very readable Rockcliffe Park: A History of the Village.  Its sale continues to contribute to the Foundation's efforts.

The Rockcliffe Park Foundation played an important role in the rebuilding of the sports field on the grounds of Rockcliffe Park Public School used by the Youth Lindenlea/Manor Park Soccer League. All donations were made through the Foundation, which held and invested them, then paid them out to cover the expenses of the project which was completed in the summer of 2001.

In 2008 the Rockcliffe Park Foundation contributed to the RPRA's project to restore and relocate to the Buchan Road entrance to Jubilee Gardens the handsome and historic Birkenfels Gates.  These gates originally graced the entrance to one of the first houses in the Village of Rockcliffe Park, built in 1864.

For a list of projects funded by the Rockcliffe Park Foundation by year,  go to "What We Fund".