In the late 60’s, a small group went through the Ottawa telephone directory to compile a list of people with Armenian roots. This led to social gatherings and the establishment of a non-profit, non-denominational, independent cultural association to bring together the region’s Armenians and provide help and advice to newcomers. In 1971, the group drafted a Constitution and issued an invitation to all Armenians living in the Capital region.

The Association concentrated on cultural activities (music, sculpture, painting, food and folklore). In 1972 the first school of Armenian language for adults was housed in a classroom at the University of Ottawa. In 1974, the first Ararat children’s school was organized by local volunteers on Sundays. Today, the school is still run by volunteers but its courses are officially accredited by the Ontario Ministry of Education. In 1977, the ACAO adjusted its Constitution and applied to Revenue Canada to become a “Charitable Organization” under the Income Tax Act. It also received authorization to accumulate funds to build or acquire a community building.

In December 1988, an earthquake struck in Armenia and the ACAO worked with the Canadian Red Cross and other organizations to collect and channel emergency aid to the victims. Much of the money set aside for the community building was used to help the earthquake victims instead. The ACAO also sponsored two child amputees who came to Ottawa to receive artificial limbs. These children are now a Director of music and a successful medical doctor in Armenia. In the 90’s, the ACAO welcomed a new wave of refugees from Karabagh, where war had broken-out within Azerbaijan.

With the advent of the Internet, community-building is enhanced and mobilized through a vibrant listserv, the Ottahye network, which facilitates open and fair exchange about cultural and other matters of concern to the community. The ACAO also sponsors a monthly half-hour Armenian community television program on the Rogers Cable 22 station.

Armenian Cultural Association of Ottawa
10 Dalecroft Cres., Ottawa, ON, K2G 5H9