A Local Musicology: An Introduction to the Ottawa Project

The following exhibits, "The Regent Orchestra (1917-1918)" and "Silent Film Music in Downtown Ottawa (1900-1928)," compliment my 2017 thesis conducted at the University of Ottawa under the supervision of Paul Merkley. In the thesis, I go over the importance of treating musicological research as a study that can be beneficial both within a locality and in terms of a wider international field. Too often we talk of big names, larger than life canonic composers and performers, in our music classes. It is important to remember that we, as academics, and as members of the public, have control over histories that are told. We have the power to let our counterparts of the past be remembered. It is in this vein that I conducted my research on silent film music practices in my hometown in the hope of rejuvinating the memory of institutions, ensembles, and musicians that have long since gone, and to introduce Ottawa's silent film music innovations to the large field of film music studies. These stories show what the musical, theatrical, and cinematic culture of our city comprised of a hundred years ago, and give us hints as to how our current organisations and practices came to be. There is plenty of work still be done, in Ottawa and elsewhere, and I invite you to visit the resource pages under the "About" and "Ottawa" tabs to find out how you can discover more about your local area's silent film and musical past.

Elsa Marshall, December 2017


I would like to thank Roxanne Lafleur, Paul Merkley, and Sarah Simpkin for their help with setting up the initial website.

Thanks also to the City of Ottawa Archives, the City of Ottawa Survey and Mapping department, Library and Archives Canada, and the Library and Archives of the Organ Historical Association for their help. My research was financially supported by the University of Ottawa through Excellence Scholarships, by a Nicole Senécal Scholarship, by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, and by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada through a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship.