Author Archive

URBAN STUDY: An ideal urban space in Lindenlea

This article first appeared in the September issue of Ottawa Magazine. Sign up for a subscription or order back issues here.

The core is in the midst of a dramatic renewal as Ottawa transforms from big town to small city. 
Ottawa Magazine visits the people who are flourishing in revitalized downtown neighbourhoods

By SARAH BROWN

They met while living in neighbouring apartments in the ByWard Market. Both loved the urban lifestyle; both were determined to minimize their dependence on cars. Nine years ago, when Julia Leonard and Tom Megginson began looking for a larger space to accommodate their family of three, they discovered what Tom describes as “the ideal urban neighbourhood.” Lindenlea is a leafy enclave tucked away between Rockcliffe Park (to the north and east), Vanier (to the south), and New Edinburgh (to the west).

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen.

The red-brick semi boasts a cozy front porch. The couple spends many summer evenings here, having a glass of wine and connecting with neighbours who wander past. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen.

 

Here, front porches and modest lots encourage interaction among residents. “You want to like your neighbours,” says Tom, “because they’re right there with you.” Indeed, in 2011 when Julia and Tom renovated their shared back deck (they live in a semi-detached house), they shared costs with their neighbour and opted to leave the entire space open so that the families could mingle between sides.

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen.

When they built the deck in 2011, Julia and Tom shared the costs with their neighbours. The adjoining decks were purposely left open to one another, allowing for more space — and mingling. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen.

 

Names: Julia Leonard and Tom Megginson (plus Jack, 9)

Occupations: Julia is a teacher at Elgin Street Public School; Tom is creative director at Acart Communications

Home: Semi-detached red brick, circa 1927

Neighbourhood: Lindenlea

Previous home: The couple met while living in the ByWard Market in neighbouring apartments

Urban-living quote:

Tom: Not being car-dependent is huge to us. We can both walk to work, and we can walk downtown. We love the idea of everything we need being in walkable distance.

What drew you to this neighbourhood?
Tom:
We were determined to live in the downtown area, so we drew a circle around ByWard Market to determine how far south, west, and east we were willing to go. We wanted to be able to walk or bus to work in Centretown. We didn’t think we could afford this neighbourhood, but we got lucky. It was winter, and the garden wasn’t looked after at all, so the house was, in a sense, discounted.

Julia: I knew the neighbourhood well because I used to be a substitute teacher so got to see lots of areas of the city.

What other neighbourhoods were you eyeing?
Tom:
This was the fourth house we bid on. We had already bid on houses in Centretown, the Glebe, and the Market.

Why this house?
Tom:
I like older houses. I grew up in the older suburbs of Kingston, but a lot of my friends lived in century homes downtown. They had hardwood floors and bookshelves and Persian rugs. I loved that look, and this house has that feeling. I appreciate its character.

Julia: We were looking for a house in which we could stay forever. This is that house, so we’ve renovated as we can.

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Julia and Tom both wanted an older house with character, saying they always imagined hardwood floors and rooms that were compatible with Persian rugs and antiques. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Favourite features?
Tom:
All the new parts. We collaborated with Emma Doucet to renovate the kitchen and bathroom last fall. Three years ago we renovated the back deck. It’s up high, so we can have a carport underneath. Our front and back decks are like having two outdoor rooms.

High above the yard, Tom says the back deck “makes us feel as if we’re in a tree house.” There is space underneath to park their car. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

High above the yard, Tom says the back deck “makes us feel as if we’re in a tree house.” There is space underneath to park their car. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Julia: Sitting on the front deck is how we got to know all our neighbours.

Tom: Everyone is social because they hang out in the front. It’s a chance to stop, have a glass of wine, and talk. 

Least favourite?
Tom:
The basement bathroom is like a museum from the 1980s.

Julia: The bedrooms are pretty small, but it is what it is.

Biggest challenges to living in this neighbourhood?
Tom:
Street parking can be an issue when friends come to visit. Crime is a concern, but the benefit of living one on top of another is that neighbours look out for each other.

Biggest benefits?
Tom:
Not being car-dependent is huge to us. We can both walk to work, and we can walk downtown. We love the idea of everything we need being walkable distance.

How long do you plan to stay?
Julia:
We plan to be here forever. 

Advice to wannabe urban dwellers?
Julia:
You have to be comfortable with a smaller house than you’d get in the suburbs.

Tom: You can’t be bothered by noise. We have always preferred the downtown lifestyle, but you have to know what you’re getting into. And if you’re looking at buying an older home, get a good home inspector — there are so many things to find.

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

The owners collaborated with Emma Doucet of Grassroots Design to renovate and update the kitchen while preserving the character of the 1920s home. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

 

 

MY LOOK: Matt Carson

This article first appeared in the September 2014 issue of Ottawa Magazine. Sign up for a subscription or order back issues here.

By DAYANTI KARUNARATNE

I hear you’re having a lot of success as a model. What would you say is your biggest accomplishment so far?
My most recognized work has been for Le Chateau, RW & Co., and Tristan. But I also did a video for Bon Jovi. It was the weirdest casting call ever: I had to stand in front of a camera with no shirt on, eyes closed, and scream like I was drowning.

Matt is wearing a Z Zegna suit and tie, a Hugo Boss shirt, a vest by Diesel, and Terra Lite work boots. Photo by Andrew Carson

Matt is wearing a Z Zegna suit and tie, a Hugo Boss shirt, a vest by Diesel, and Terra Lite work boots. Photo by Andrew Carson

What did you do before modelling?
Handyman work. I still do it — it’s how I support my interest in modelling. About four years ago, I was looking to get away from being an employee. I was losing interest in working for someone other than myself. Also I wanted to travel more. Things started to get successful last year, and I went to Istanbul, Kilimanjaro, Nashville … there’s no way I could have done those trips while working for someone else.

What would you be doing if you weren’t modelling?
I’d be a musician. I play drums and want to learn guitar. My most recent trip to Nashville really opened my eyes to what I think is my true passion: music.

What do you listen to when in transit? Read any good books lately?
I like classic rock, like Led Zeppelin, The Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, and The Tragically Hip. And I read a lot of biographies of successful people, like Donald Trump, and books like Think and Grow Rich and How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Read the rest of this entry »

URBAN STUDY: Mary-Rose and Matt love downtown life at The Merit

This article first appeared in the September issue of Ottawa Magazine. Sign up for a subscription or order back issues here.

The core is in the midst of a dramatic renewal as Ottawa transforms from big town to small city. 
Ottawa Magazine visits the people who are flourishing in revitalized downtown neighbourhoods

By SARAH BROWN

She hails from Kitchener; he’s from Montreal. Mary-Rose Brown and Matt Eason both got to know the city while studying at Carleton University in the early 2000s, living here until 2008 before leaving briefly while Mary-Rose pursued a postgraduate degree. “We already knew the city — and this neighbourhood — was great,” says Mary-Rose. “And when we returned to Ottawa in 2009, we noticed right away how many new businesses there were along Elgin Street.”

Photo by Marc Fowler

In the compact living room, an elegant Japanese block print pairs well with a teak sideboard. Photo by Marc Fowler

 

The couple were renting an apartment on nearby Cartier Street when they heard about Charlesfort Development’s plans to launch The Merit. They signed on in 2011 for the yet-to-be-built condo. “That gave us lots of time to save for the down payment,” jokes Matt. When The Merit was finally finished this past spring, Mary-Rose and Matt were among the first residents to move in.

Photo by Marc Fowler

Mary-Rose Brown and Matt Eason inside their Cartier Street condo. Photo by Marc Fowler

Names: Mary-Rose Brown and Matt Eason

Occupations: Mary-Rose is a program manager for a philanthropic foundation; Matt is the city’s community liaison for the LRT project

Home: 700-square-foot condo in The Merit by Charlesfort Developments

Neighbourhood: Golden Triangle

Previous home: A three-storey apartment building on Cartier Street, just around the corner

Urban living quote:

Read the rest of this entry »

URBAN STUDY: Chinatown home-office an inspired space for Log CB + Pony Girl members

This article first appeared in the September issue of Ottawa Magazine. Sign up for a subscription or order back issues here.

The core is in the midst of a dramatic renewal as Ottawa transforms from big town to small city. 
Ottawa Magazine visits the people who are flourishing in revitalized downtown neighbourhoods

By DAYANTI KARUNARATNE

Isaac Vallentin and Pascal Huot are members of eight-piece pop-rock band Pony Girl, as well as partners at Log Creative Bureau, a design company headquartered in a bright Chinatown house that they rent from a family who, after beautifully renovating the two-storey, pulled up stakes to travel the world. It’s a unique home that fulfills perfectly a number of distinct requirements: jam space, recording studio, offices, photography studio, plus a pretty sweet kitchen to feed hordes of pals (and bedrooms for three twentysomething men). Juggling design projects, recording albums, and editing films calls for a creative eye when it comes to use of space. Luckily, Isaac and Pascal enjoy using their design skills to rejig rooms — the living room becomes a recording studio, their leafy backyard a dining room — depending on what’s on the agenda on any given day.

Isaac Valentin, left, and Pascal Huot are roomates, bandmates, and partners at Log Creative Bureau. Photo by Miv Fournier

Isaac Valentin, left, and Pascal Huot are roomates, bandmates, and partners at Log Creative Bureau. Photo by Miv Fournier

Names: Isaac Vallentin
and Pascal Huot

Occupations: Designers and filmmakers, as well as members
of the band Pony Girl

Home: 2,400-square-foot brick single, circa 1920s

Neighbourhood: Chinatown

Previous home: Isaac lived in a basement apartment in Vanier; Pascal lived in an apartment in Sandy Hill

On living downtown…

Isaac: This is a real community, and that anchors me.

Pascal: I’ve had a lot of jobs where I couldn’t be the person I really am. Here it feels different. Plus, there are windows.

What drew you to this neighbourhood?

Pascal: I was looking to move west. I was on Somerset East — a nice neighbourhood but more expensive and an older crowd. It’s really energetic here.

What other neighbourhoods were you eyeing?

Isaac: Hintonburg, Westboro, Centretown, even the Glebe and Old Ottawa South, but that’s pretty expensive. We also looked in the Golden Triangle because we wanted a stand-alone house. Even here, we keep an open dialogue with the neighbours about the noise. But it’s funny, most didn’t even know we were in a band until we reached out to them.

Why this type of house?

Isaac: For me, this feels like two different houses.

Pascal: … and that separation feels good.

Isaac: It’s good to be able to move 60 feet away and work on music in a different physical space.

What specific elements did you know you wanted?

Isaac: The main thing was a basic living space. We also wanted a space where we could record music. And it had this wonderful room. As soon as we walked up here, we were like, “Yeah, this is the space.”

Favourite features?

Read the rest of this entry »

FOUND: The Chinatown Museum at Jackpine Digital

This article first appeared in the September 2014 issue of Ottawa Magazine. Sign up for a subscription or order back issues here.

By DAYANTI KARUNARATNE

There’s a little design shop on Somerset Street West called Jackpine Digital. Here you’ll find the so-called Chinatown Museum — a collection of large signs that once graced neighbouring storefronts. Part decor, part memorabilia, the signs represent the changing streetscape — and what CEO and creative director Liam Mooney calls the “destructive nature” of the design process. After all, the cone of a jack pine tree needs the intense heat of a forest fire to open and release its potential.

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Dumpster Diving
Mooney was waiting outside the office — he had lent his keys to another designer — when he spotted a large bright red sign behind a dumpster. Wa Kiu had closed months before; Phuket Royal had yet to open its doors. “Maybe [Wa Kiu] wasn’t the best grocery store, but it was part of the landscape,” Mooney says. After getting the A-OK from the new owner, he hauled the 3-by-14-foot sign in through the fire escape and installed it in one of the main work areas. Upon close examination, it’s clear that the sign was hand-painted, the pencil lines from the stencils still visible after all these years.

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Fair Trade
Last year, Mooney traded design services for office space — and furnished it with borrowed pieces from Highjinx, a social enterprise that sells used furniture. Eventually he bought some pieces, but the move to Chinatown called for a new aesthetic (or, as Mooney says, they needed to “break the space”). Enter Malcolm Cairns of FoundDesign and Ken McKay of Furniture Affairs. Cairns gifted a few mid-century modern items to Jackpine; others are loaned on a consignment basis (“We have a strict coaster rule,” Mooney says). McKay will get design services in exchange for a huge custom table and bar. “The generosity — I can’t even begin to understand,” says Mooney. 

Read the rest of this entry »

DESBRISAY DINES: Clover Food and Drink

By ANNE DESBRISAY

Clover's corn chowder. Photo by Anne DesBrisay.

Clover’s corn chowder. Photo by Anne DesBrisay.

There’s a spartan look about Clover. High school chairs, bare benches, caged industrial lights, walls of open brick and plywood (sanded and varnished, but still plywood) are either indications of a work in progress, or the carefully considered props for the homespun look this new Bank Street restaurant seeks. It makes the warming touches — the pots of sage on the tables, the white linen napkins, the amber glassware — all the more appreciated. Come winter, the addition of some visual drama, some colour, (and certainly some padding, ahem), might help.

But the frugal decor and the bum-aching-bench whinging evaporate once the food starts to arrive. This restaurant is taking interesting culinary risks. And the pleasure of Clover is that the risks taste very good indeed.

Clover chef West de Castro — bee keeper, honey farmer, and most recently sous chef of Zen Kitchen — chose to work with smelts as her fish. Sourced from The Whalesbone, these were big (boned, floured, and fried) guys, and they were absolute champs. She set them on a warm salad of tomatoes, zucchini, shaved fennel, leeks, and cucumber, with black olives, fennel fronds, and a marvellous avocado aioli. A big hunk of grilled sourdough bread finished the plate.

After smelts we had a puffball. Have you ever seen puffball featured on an Ottawa menu? Neither had I. Paired with grilled broccoli and roasted fingerlings, the outer bits of the big white mushroom find had been cleaned and diced and fried up. These were meaty textured. The inner bits were surprisingly soft and creamy, almost custard like. Beneath the mushroom was a pea purée, and strewn overtop bacon, almonds, fresh sage.

Some dishes were less out there and no less pleasing. The corn chowder was gossamer, a great rendition of the classic late summer soup, with chewy lardons of smoked bacon bumping up the pleasure factor. A gazpacho was like slurping up the September-garden. It arrived properly chilled, with good acidic balance and well seasoned. Having drunk up an assertive marinade, bison flank steak was grilled to rare, sliced in thick chewy strips and set on wilted greens. It came with a hunk of very commendable corn bread.

Pea and lovage soup

Pea and lovage soup. Photo by Anne DesBrisay.

Lovage is an unloved herb. I can’t recall the last time I saw it on a menu, or tasted its distinct flavour. But there it was, featured in Clover’s daily soup at lunchtime: fresh pea and lovage. It was a regal green, with a pretty swirl of creme fraiche and a bump of snipped chives. The flavour of fresh peas was clear and bright, but so too was the parsley-like, celery-ish and slightly anise flavour of the herb. A panini that featured zucchini was more on the dull side, and though there were parts of the grilled romaine Caesar we enjoyed (the egg mimosa, say, and the terrific dressing), the unwieldy hunk of grilled baguette and the bitterness of the wilted lettuce meant this dish was less of a thrill.

But we were grinning again by dessert time. De Castro’s panna cotta infused with thyme and lemon, and topped with stewed peaches and rhubarb was simply gorgeous, with edible flowers, fresh raspberries, and chopped pistachio crowning the glistening custard.

At my visits the restaurant had been largely empty, but this will surely change.

Panna cotta. Photo by Anne DesBrisay.

Panna cotta. Photo by Anne DesBrisay.

Wines are all Ontario VQA (Niagara and PEC) and beer on tap is from Beau’s, Kichesippi, and Covered Bridge in Stittsville.

Clover is open weekday lunches but only Fridays and Saturdays for dinner.

Lunch mains, $8 to $15; dinner mains, $18 to $23

Open Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

155 Bank Street, 613-680-8803, cloverottawa.ca

SHOP TALK: Holts out, J.Crew in as downtown shopping scene continues to evolve

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.

Coveted handbags are a big draw at Holt Renfrew.

Coveted handbags are a big draw at Holt Renfrew.

Shopaholics were aghast at the news that high-end retailer Holt Renfrew would close its Ottawa location in early 2015. And while it’s always been one of those “aspirational” destinations, here at SHOP TALK we were pretty bummed. If shopping can be compared to art, then a visit to Holts was akin to stepping into the National Gallery — it wasn’t so much about filling gaps in our wardrobe as it was about stimulating our fashion senses. And for that, Holts will surely be missed.

That, and the stellar work they did with their window displays! I don’t know who is going into that retail space, but it’s safe to say that corner of Queen Street will never be the same.

From J. Crew's Spring/Summer 2015 ready to wear collection

From J. Crew’s Spring/Summer 2015 ready to wear collection

We reached out to our contacts at Holt Renfrew — ICYMI, Prada pumps featured in our September 2013 issue — and learned that the Sparks Street store that housed Holt Renfrew for 78 years was actually too small to accommodate it long-term. And so we say adieu to Holt Renfrew…

And allo! to J. Crew. One week later, On September 3, J. Crew opened its doors in the Rideau Centre. SHOP TALK attended the breakfast opening and got a better understanding of the brand we’ve heard so much about. And though it’s doubtful we’ll ever get to shop the pieces from that J.Crew showed earlier this week at New York Fashion Week, or even from it’s beautiful ready to wear collection (see left) we were excited to see the diversity of offerings — I had seen it as a preppy brand (no objections there!) but was happy to see some more casual pieces as well.

Sarah Fischer, who has shopped J. Crew before in the U.S., was excited about the fun prints. The Tick Tock blouse, which we spotted on a few staff, spoke to her love of classic pieces — that don’t take themselves too seriously!

Love this blazer!

Love this blazer!

And we loved this blazer — good to see camel staying strong for fall, it’s such a versatile and classic colour.

 

 

 

A DAY IN THE LIFE: Stalking Rhiannon Vogl, Alan Neal + Jill Zmud, and Aaron Cayer

In the print edition, this series gets a snazzy opening page.

In the print edition, this series gets a snazzy opening page.

Call them community builders, locavores, or simply passionate people who fill their days with cool projects. In the September issue of Ottawa Magazine, we tasked photographers Rémi Thériault and Jamie Kronick with keeping up with these fine Ottawans who are helping to revitalize the downtown area. Once the pics were in, OM special projects editor Sarah Brown, OM contributing editor Fateema Sayani, and OM editor Dayanti Karunaratne filled in the captions.

It’s always tough to know what elements of the print edition to share online. We put a lot of effort into making a great layout and — no offence, WordPress — but cutting and pasting for the screen reader just doesn’t do justice to the skills OM art director Jane Corbett and graphic designer Ryan Mesheau bring to a feature. (And that’s not even getting into the whole newsstand sales conundrum.)

So when it comes to posting print edition to web, we play it by ear. For this feature we’re giving online readers a peak — and our willing subjects something to share with friends and family outside of the city.

And if you’re looking for a newsstand or a subscription, just drop a line to feedbackottawa@stjosephmedia.com

 Click on the thumbnails for a glimpse of A Day In The Life of Rhiannon Vogl, Alan Neal + Jill Zmud, and Aaron Cayer. And get the issue for the full story!

CAMERA: IntenCity conference brings downtown experts to Ottawa

SEPTEMBER 2014: Living in the Downtown Core