Lansdowne's Coliseum demolition begins

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CBC News

Demolition of the Coliseum building at Lansdowne Park began on Monday, marking the end of a landmark that has stood, in one form or another, for more than 100 years.

Work crews will first remove the back pavilion. The front section along Bank Street that was home to the Ottawa 67's ticket office is to be torn down in about two weeks.

City workers have sealed the building and plan to vacuum any particulate out as they chip away at the Coliseum walls to keep asbestos in the walls from circulating in the air.

The first building at the site of the Coliseum was built in 1903 as a show building for livestock.

In both 1904 and 1905 its roof collapsed under the heavy weight of snow. Later it was expanded to include an auditorium called Howick Hall, but in 1914 the boiler in the basement exploded during the Ottawa Winter Fair, killing 3 men, injuring 20 people and killing 20 horse and hundreds of poultry. A huge hole was also blown through the roof.

In 1926 the building was expanded and refurbished, keeping Howick Hall but replacing much of the remainder of the building. This refurbishing also brought a new fronting to the building on Bank Street that stands today.

Building hosted conventions, trade shows

At its height, the Coliseum was host to trade and livestock shows and political conventions that crowned prominent leaders such as John Diefenbaker, Lester B. Pearson and Tommy Douglas.

The prominence of the Coliseum waned after the Civic Centre was built in 1967. Most people today know 1015 Bank Street as the Ottawa 67's ticket office, while the exhibition hall behind hosted trade shows, and in the winter, indoor soccer.

The demolition of the Coliseum is part of the $300 million redevelopment of Lansdowne Park.

The Horticulture Building will also be moved and Frank Clair Stadium is set to be refurbished as part of the redevelopment.