Villages – Munster Hamlet


The village of Munster, in the rural southwestern corner of the present-day City of Ottawa (former Goulbourn Township), was christened with that name in 1870 by prominent early pioneer, and the area’s first postmaster, Thomas Tubman.

An immigrant from County Cavan, in Ireland, the entrepreneurial Tubman had settled down at the intersection of today’s Bleeks and Munster Side Roads – the country crossroads around which the earliest settlement of Munster grew – starting in roughly the 1818 – 1820 time frame.

It’s reported a member of the Canadian Parliament of the Confederation era wanted to bestow the honour of naming the little community after the postmaster himself; but Mr. Tubman declined it – preferring to commemorate the Irish kingdom of Munster and its environs – from which many of the early settlers and ex-military men of Goulbourn had come.

While exact dates for the arrival of the very first settlers at or near Munster aren’t currently known, it is clearly known that very shortly after the establishment of the nearby military settlement of Richmond in 1818, additional numbers of former soldiers, Irish and other immigrants fanned out in the area and began settling the rest of Goulbourn Township.

By the time Tubman opened his post office in 1870, Munster boasted a modest store, two blacksmith shops, at least one log church, a school and an Orange hall.

The current Munster United Church was preceded in earliest Munster history by a log church on the 6th Line, another built a bit later on the 5th line and a brick Methodist church built in 1884 on the present-day church site at a cost of $3,000. A small Anglican Church – St Stephen’s, just a stone’s throw to the east of the crossroads, – was added to the community three years later and remained open until the 1960s when it was closed by the Diocese of Ottawa. It reopened in the current era as the Munster Branch of the Ottawa Public Library.

Little Munster was put on the Ottawa-Carleton County map in a major way startting in the very late 1960s by the late Ottawa developer and home builder John W. (“Jack”) Johannsen, who bought significant acreages of farm and scrub land near the Munster Crossroads for his new satellite community – given the marketing name Munster Hamlet, which today consists of approximately 425 homes spread over the four quadrants defined by the original 6th Line-Munster Side Road intersection.

The first foundation for Johannsen’s development was dug and poured in April 1970 — with more homes built by his company and fellow builder M. Holitzner during the next several years until the community had reached its maximum permitted size in the mid-70s. The rapid population growth – with a higher than average birth rate (!) — after many younger or recently married couples quickly bought the moderately priced homes in Munster, led to the building of Munster Elementary School by the former Carleton Board of Education in the latter part of that decade.

Munster has from the earliest days of the Johannsen development maintained a strong sense of identity and positive community spirit and today it has an active community association, its own soccer fields and ball diamonds, tennis courts (a rink in winter) and a brick community centre.

A number of descendants of the early pioneers still live in the immediate area and have their family names commemorated in the naming of the former township’s rural road network.

A list of most of those early Munster pioneer names includes: Tubman, Sample, Massey, Lackey, Cavanagh, Anderson, Garvin, Butler, McFarlane, Duncan, Fee, Shillington, Hill, Brownlee, Butler and Hobbs.