WEEKENDER: 7 things to do in Ottawa for your last August weekend (Aug. 27-30)


08-27-Moonface credit Tero Ahonen

Spencer Krug. Photo by Tero Ahonen

Frog Eyes, Wolf Parade, Fifths of Seven — these are just a few of the music projects songwriter and keyboardist Spencer Krug has been involved with over his career. He’s an amazingly prolific musician who has been credited on almost two dozen releases since 2003. So it’s safe to say he knows a few things about making good music.

His latest project, Moonface, is a (mostly) solo endeavour. In several of his albums, he relies heavily on the piano as he waxes lonesome about everything from the collapse of a relationship to disillusionment with a once-loved city. He also collaborated with Finnish band Siinai to create Heartbreaking Bravery, an indie rock-tinged album with a brooding, melancholic atmosphere.

He performs at Pressed on Thursday, Aug. 27. Tickets from $13. See Facebook event page for  details.
Pressed, 750 Gladstone Ave., 613-680-9294, pressed-ottawa.com


The Norman Conquests
In 1973, playwright Alan Ayckbourn set himself an ambitious task: to write a trilogy of plays wherein the events in each happen simultaneously. And so, The Norman Conquests was born.

The play follows the character of Norman as he attempts, on three separate occasions, to seduce his wife, Ruth; her sister, Annie; and their sister-in-law, Sarah. The setting is a country house belonging to Ruth and Annie’s invalid mother, with whom Annie lives and for whom she cares. The action takes place over a single weekend as all three women react to Norman’s charms.

The trilogy begins on Friday, Aug. 28 at The Gladstone. It runs until Saturday, Oct. 10. The plays can be viewed independently, but if you want to see all three, consider purchasing a package. Tickets start at $18. See website for more info.
The Gladstone, 910 Gladstone Ave., 613-233-4523, thegladstone.ca


Ottawa Craft Beer Festival
The National Capital Region has seen an explosion in craft brewing in recent years, with breweries such as Beau’s All-Natural Brewing Company, Kichesippi Beer Co., and Bicycle Craft Brewery popping up in the area.

For its fourth year, the Ottawa Craft Beer Festival is bringing in 40 craft breweries, international beers, delicious food from local eateries, and live music. It’s also running brewmaster seminars, holding a 5K run (or walk!), introducing the winners of the National Capital Home Brew Competition, and more.

The brews start pouring on Friday, Aug. 28 and the festival continues until Sunday, Aug. 30. Admission starts at $15. Please note that the event is restricted to ages 19+. See website for ticket prices.
Aberdeen Pavilion, Lansdowne Park, 1015 Bank St., ottawacraftbeerfestival.ca


CFL Fans Fight Cancer teams up with RiderGirl Productions to raise some money for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. Friday, Aug. 28 and Saturday, Aug. 29 join fellow CFL and theatre fans –  not only will there be a show (of which $1/ticket sold will go to the foundation), there will be a Tailgate Party (where more funds will be raised) – which is arguably the best part of football. The pre-show will have a cash bar as well as hot dogs and sausages to purchase. Tailgate Party at 6:30 p.m., show time 7:30 p.m., and a post-game party to follow the show.

However, this one-woman show (two-time Rideau Award nominee Colleen Sutton) offers fair competition to the typical tailgate.

“A prairie girl is seduced into sports fandom and discovers the rules don’t just apply to the game. Colleen Sutton throws herself into multiple characters as she fights for first downs and flags begin to fly. Loaded with laughs, it’s a fast-paced, physical and trash-talking march down the field that will haul your heart into the game.”

Come in your CFL gear and colours! If you intend to bring your kidlets, keep in mind that there will be some swearing – this is football after all. Tickets start at $26 (tailgate included in ticket cost).
Arts Court, 2 Daly Ave., 613-765-5555, artscourt.ca/events/ridergirl


You had me at fried dough.

You had me at fried dough.

Palestinian Festival Ottawa
Did you know the Palestinian region, the area located between the east shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, was one of the earliest in the world to see human habitation, agricultural communities and civilization?

As I’ve been saying it all summer long, I will say it again: one of the best parts of summer in Ottawa is the plethora of cultural festivals. Let us welcome Ottawa’s Palestinian Festival, returning for the second time to City Hall’s Marion Dewar Plaza!

Running from Friday, Aug. 28 to Sunday, Aug. 30, take part in this free event and learn about Palestine’s language and people, take part in the dance and music, and taste all of the food. Follow the festival on Facebook to keep up-to-date. Family encouraged! Event runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Marion Dewar Park, Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Ave. W., palestinianfestivalottawa.com



Montreal band Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – the look will fit right in at Zaphods

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan
Montreal band Yamantaka // Sonic Titan was born when drummer Alaska B and vocalist Ruby Kato Attwood decided to bridge their two cultures through music (Alaska is of Chinese-Irish descent, while Attwood is of Japanese-Scottish descent). They playfully dubbed the resulting sound Noh-wave, after the 14th century Japanese theatre art whose defining characteristic is the use of masks.

Their music is often referred to as prog-rock, but the term doesn’t adequately describe their sound. They bring together eastern and western music styles, and stir the pot further with hints of metal, punk, grunge, and psychedelic.

They perform at Zaphod Beeblebrox on Saturday, Aug. 29. Tickets are $12. See Facebook event page for more info.
Zaphod Beeblebrox, 27 York St., 613-562-1010, zaphods.ca



Harvest Table 2013

Harvest Table 2015 – Savour Ottawa
Harvest Table has grown over the last four years, in attendance and food. For the fifth annual event, courtesy of Savour Ottawa, it will be no different. Held Sunday, Aug. 30 from noon to 2 p.m. in the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park, beside the Ottawa Farmers’ Market (a fitting location), come celebrate the local harvest with a multi-course, gourmet luncheon. Harvest Table sees some of the city’s finest chefs partner with local farmers to create fresh, seasonal dishes. Enjoy a family-style feast sharing the company of producers, chefs and other guests.

Tickets are only sold in advance, and it always sells out so don’t delay! Regular tickets are $75, or get the VIP treatment – “Cream of the Crop” – for $90. The extra $15 will get you a guided tour of the Ottawa Farmers’ Market with C’est Bon Cooking and appetizers and cocktails to start the afternoon in style. Purchase online here.

Check out some of the featured local restaurants to get your mouth watering in advance: The Albion Rooms
, le café at the National Arts Centre
, Courtyard Restaurant, 
Fairmont Château Laurier, Thyme and Again,  Creative Catering
, The Red Apron.
Horticulture Building, Lansdowne Park, 1015 Bank St., 613 699 6850 ext. 10, savourottawa.ca/events.php




Ottawa act, the Souljazz Orchestra, release their first all-vocal album. Photo by Alexandre Mattar

The new Souljazz Orchestra album—out September 4—continues a theme started long ago with their debut, Freedom No Go Die, released in 2006. Nearly a decade on, the globetrotting Ottawa act continues its power-to-the-people rhythms with Resistance (Strut Records/Do Right! Music). Find it on CD, vinyl, and digitally on September 4.

Resistance finds the Souljazz Orchestra in fine form and thoroughly flexing a new muscle. The band, which began as an instrumental outfit, steps out with its first all-vocal album. It sees keyboardist Pierre Chretien, drummer Phillipe Lafreniere, sax player Ray Murray, and percussionist Marielle Rivard each taking a turn at the microphone delivering trenchant social commentary, political wake-up calls, and mobilizing mantras.

Lafreniere calls for a better life for workers and the poor in “Greet the Dawn,” a hip-strutting call-and-response dazzler that sets the tone for the rest of the album.

“Shock & Awe” has a rat-tat-tat firing-round vocal delivery. Contrasting that militaristic sense are lyrics celebrating revolt and the power of people to come together in the face of adversity. (Check out the SJO’s video for that tune here and grab a free download of this album’s Occupy-inspired tune “Bull’s Eye” via PopMatters).

That vibe carries into “Life Is What You Make It,” while “As the World Turns” shows Marielle Rivard’s vocal chops. Those came to light on the group’s previous album, Inner Fire, when she covered Andy Bey’s “Celestial Blues.”

Keep “Courage” and “Ware Wa” on your dancefloor playlist and wind down with the sweetly contemplative “It’s Gonna Rain.”

This is the band’s sixth release in 13 years. The Souljazz Orchestra’s early albums showed their fluency in Afro and Latin genres along with their deep appreciation for jazz, roots, and the work of Fela Kuti.
Last year, the band released its back catalogue on 180-gram vinyl (we picked our fave tunes from over the years in this post from 2014).

The globetrotting group will continue their travels this fall. An international tour is soon to be announced. The band makes regular stops in France, Germany, and the U.K. Check out this archived Souljazz tour diary for a few laughs).

THIS CITY: Pride Week in the capital


City hall has raised the Pride flag and the celebrations have officially begun!


$5 stubbies from Dominion City Brews at Clover Food & Drink

We stopped by Clover food | drink today to take in some of the festivities ($5 beer from Dominion City + ice cream truffles from Moo Shu, with a special rainbow fruit loops pop).

Most activities will be taking place on and around Banks St., make sure to check out the detailed events page for locations and times to see how you can get involved this week. Much will be covered, from serious topics such as a “Confidence, Consent, and Communication” talk to the light-hearted including a show at the NAC, a family BBQ, and all else in between.

Don’t miss Sunday Aug. 23, the final day of Pride looks to be very promising with the signature event: a parade ending at the beer garden located at Bank & Gilmour.

THIS CITY: Gifted, Naturally



Land lovers The Keddys fell for each other, and this land, over 40 years ago. They bought the first 100 acres of land shortly after they married in 1975 as a way to celebrate their union. Photo by David Trattles

Biologists Paul and Cathy Keddy spent decades buying up land in Lanark County. Then they gave it all away.

The four-wheeler is cherry-red and massive, the kind Canadian Forces use to get around in war zones. On this drizzly summer day, it’s not on an overseas mission, but rather rolling up and down a rocky trail in Lanark County, a half-hour drive west of Ottawa. It’s perfect for travelling through these thick forests, around ancient boulders, past fallen farm buildings abandoned long ago, and alongside marshes where great blue herons nest and rare species of flora grow hidden in the depths. And it’s an essential piece of equipment because the steward of this expansive tract of land, Paul Keddy, a 62-year-old retired professor of ecology, suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and can walk only for short spells.

The ATV comes to an abrupt stop over a boarded culvert. “Just checking for frogs and snakes,” says the bearded biologist, his glasses flecked with rain. This is a ritual instilled by his now six-year-old granddaughter Emma. “ ‘Don’t run over Sunshine!’ ” says Keddy, with a deep chuckle. Sunshine is a frog Emma named last time she accompanied her granddad on an excursion through this landscape.

Assured that no amphibians are being harmed, we roll on into the forest.


The red four-wheeler helps the retired couple move around the expansive property. Photo by David Trattles

Keddy and his wife, Cathy, also a biologist, live on the edge of this land. Technically, they still own it, but the future stewardship of the property, which is about 600 acres (or almost a square mile), is now in the hands of the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) in perpetuity or at least for the next 999 years. The trees won’t be logged; the land won’t be tilled; the boulders won’t be dynamited out of their billions-of-years-old resting places; the herons’ nests won’t be destroyed to make way for condominiums, golf courses, or shopping centres. The rhythm of non-human life will continue, more or less undisturbed, over the coming centuries. Those who might like to make a quiet expedition to observe it — local field-naturalist clubs, school groups, visiting academics and scientists — will be welcome to tread the territory, taking care to leave behind as little trace as possible of their presence.

If American environmentalist Aldo Leopold, author of the 1949 classic, A Sand County Almanac, were alive today, he would hold up the Keddys as prime examples of what he called “biotic citizenship.” He referred to his own book as “a plea for the preservation of some tag-ends of wilderness, as museum pieces, for the edification of those who may one day wish to see, feel, or study the origins of their cultural inheritance.” No doubt Leopold would approve of the land donation, as do many others today — especially those who know how impressive it is that two not-wealthy people, with significant obstacles in their way over the years, succeeded in their goal to leave behind a rich ecological legacy for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. In dollars, the land is worth millions. In ecological terms, the longer it remains wild, the more valuable it becomes.

“We were thrilled,” says Howard Clifford, a founding member of the MMLT and the first donor of land, in 2009, under the trust’s conservation easement agreements. Clifford ran a wilderness school for many years and, with his knowledge and love for the area, has accrued status as “the old man of the mountain.” Clifford’s land is a 1,250-acre expanse of forest and scenic outcroppings with stunning views from the top of Blueberry Mountain, the highest point in Lanark County. He has a deep appreciation of the significance of the Keddys’ land covenant with the trust. “It’s not just 600 acres. At a larger scale, it’s honouring the history of Lanark County and keeping a broad natural corridor intact.”


More than 700 species of flora and fauna call the area home. Photo by David Trattles

The rain is more than drizzle as we arrive back at the Keddys’ home and run for the door. A whimsical human-height wooden frog holding a parasol greets visitors from its spot in the spacious foyer. Framed prints of flora and fauna hang on the walls. A glass-doored wooden cabinet displays a Buddha statue, along with leather-bound works of Buddhist philosophy. The couple’s six cats (indoor cats — no bird hunting allowed) loll on sofa backs, trot silently across the hardwood floors, or leap onto a visitor’s lap. It’s a cozy, creature-loving, live-and-let-live kind of place. Paul Keddy sits at the dining room table, a satellite map of the area spread before him. His fingers trace the green and blue of the map as he recounts the history and raison d’être of the couple’s land purchases.

He and Cathy met over 40 years ago while attending a lecture at the University of Toronto. When they married in 1975, they bought their first 100 acres of Lanark forest, with help from Paul’s parents. (Paul had spent some of his childhood years in Ottawa and Carleton Place; he was born in London, Ontario, Cathy in Toronto). The purchase was a fitting way, they thought, to celebrate their new union. The two had fallen in love with the property after walking through it in spring and finding a huge heronry — over 20 nests — in one of its wetlands. In the initial years, they continued to explore their new property while living in Ottawa and raising two sons (Martin, now 30, and Ian, 27). Paul taught at the University of Ottawa; Cathy was an ecological consultant on land-management plans for public parks and private land across Canada. They built a small cabin on the land and spent summers enjoying the peaceful setting with their sons. “You feel responsible for it,” says Paul, recalling the early days, when logging and development were eating up surrounding land at an alarming pace. “You’d see how one act of stupidity could cause such great harm,” he says of the denuded landscapes and bulldozed wetlands that soon dotted the area. It only made the couple more determined to buy as much land as they could.

Obstacles to their plan were considerable. In 1989, Paul became ill; soon, he could no longer work full-time, a situation that caused both financial and emotional stress. (Paul says some colleagues did not understand his condition.) Fortunately for the family, he was eventually offered a much more flexible position with the University of Louisiana. But before they moved to New Orleans, they built their current house and started expanding their land portfolio, bit by bit. Their eldest son was in high school when Paul took the position in Louisiana; the family returned to the property during the summers. After Paul’s retirement in 2007, the couple moved back to live on their land full-time.

As Paul points out the original property outlines on the map and the subsequent land purchases they made, he and Cathy talk about some of the hurdles they faced in the process. Not only did they take on substantial debt, they met people whose concern for nature preservation was not a priority.

“The last property was the toughest, and we were able to buy it only after the landowner had quite deliberately increased the price and sold the logging rights, just to be spiteful,” wrote Cathy in the April 2014 edition of the MMLT newsletter, which announced the land donation.

Photo by David Trattles

Photo by David Trattles

Some might express astonishment at the largesse and wonder how the Keddys’ sons feel about not receiving what might have been a huge financial inheritance. They’re not bothered: the Keddys have provided easements on the land so that if their sons wish to build on it in the future, they can. Both have fond memories of those summers in the cabin with their ecologically minded parents, though Martin says he and his brother didn’t have quite the degree of appreciation for it as young boys that they have now. It was only later that they understood what their parents were trying to do. “I feel an emotional attachment to the place and wouldn’t have the heart to do anything to it,” says Martin over the phone from New Orleans, where he works in the automotive parts business and where he and his wife are raising Emma and baby Eleanor. (Ian works in the graphics industry in Denver.)

“My parents, being Buddhists, always gave us the option to pursue whatever we wanted. They taught us the importance of letting go of those things you cannot control and learning to deal with challenges,” says Martin. “I get why they would rather do this than spend money on expensive sports cars and luxury cruises.”

Managing land in this manner is definitely far removed from a cruising lifestyle. With carefully developed covenants in place for handling the land in the future, the Keddys and their land-trust partners are “crackerjack stewards,” says Shaun Thompson, a Kemptville-based biologist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. “Most people would not be this forward-thinking,” adds Thompson of the couple’s decades-long commitment to purchasing and ultimately preserving such a large piece of land — especially an area that contains “provincially significant” wetlands and keeps intact a broad, natural corridor for species movement.


Photo by David Trattles

Thompson participated in a “bioblitz” on the property last year, when he and over 30 volunteers compiled a list of the 778 species of flora and fauna that call the area home. Thompson says he enjoyed his day on the property, particularly the find he was rewarded with after wading waist-deep into a marsh behind a wall of willows, through thriving cattails and floating water lilies. Surrounded by the primordial chorus of bullfrogs, marsh wrens, American bitterns, and Virginia rails, he discovered, growing beneath the surface of the water, the lichen known as flooded jellyskin. That discovery alone, of a plant once listed as “threatened” on the Ontario Species at Risk list, means the wetlands must be protected.

Standing beside his red ATV as I leave, Paul lets out a roaring laugh. “I tell my kids I want to be buried Viking-style, sitting in this thing.” As an ecologist and a Buddhist, Keddy naturally appreciates the inevitable cycle of death and renewal — and the rare wisdom it takes to let a pristine piece of nature be, for no more simple, yet profound, reason than because it’s there.

Thanks to two wise, gentle, and determined people, it always will be

This article first appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Ottawa Magazine.

WEEKENDER: Six things to do in Ottawa Aug. 13-16



GreekFest 2014 – the Zorba dancers’ performance.

Greece holds a romantic place in my heart. The community, family, food, people, and the country itself are beautiful. I remember my first visit to GreekFest – just old enough to go out on my own, dressed up with my girlfriends, enjoying a little piece of Greece. The Zorba show, Greek food, jewelry, clothing, art, family, culture, and, of course, checking out the dancers.

This year will be no different for me as I intend to join the many other Ottawans who will take in the festival opening Thursday, Aug. 13 to Sunday, Aug. 23. Take advantage of the free shuttle to avoid parking around Prince of Whales. See the website for the event schedule, there is something going on every day, but rumour has always had it that the closing ceremony is not to be missed! See you there, I’ll be at the Loukoumades tent. Opa!
1315 Prince of Wales Dr., ottawagreekfest.com


TD South Asian Fest

All sorts of treats avaialble at South Asian Fest. Photo by Amna Hakim Photography

All sorts of treats avaialble at South Asian Fest. Photo by Amna Hakim Photography

If there was ever doubt that there is a variety of culture in Ottawa, this Thursday also marks the opening ceremony for TD South Asia Fest, the largest South Asian gathering in Ottawa.

On Aug. 13, 2015, the festival will open with an art exhibition followed by a boat cruise on Friday. Saturday will be a family friendly free outdoor event held at City Hall. There will be live performances from local artists, an opportunity to try a variety of South Asian cuisine, a kid zone, henna, clothing and jewelry, and an after party on Saturday at Club Discoteka on Dalhousie.
Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Ave. W., 613-291-8624, southasianfest.net


Calabogie Blues and Ribfest
Guitarist and singer Keb’ Mo’ is frequently hailed as one of the last living links to Delta blues, a musical genre that emerged in rural Mississippi in the early 20th century. He’s just one of many performers slated to take the stage at Calabogie Blues and Ribfest this weekend.

Others include Shemekia Copeland, an electric blues vocalist and the daughter of the late blues artist, Johnny Copeland; Steve Strongman, a blues guitarist from Kitchener; and Jack de Keyzer, a two-time Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter.

Meanwhile, a host of barbecues from Canada and the United States are on site to grill up juicy ribs and compete for prizes, including Best Ribs, Best Chicken, and Consumers’ Choice.

The festival gets started on Friday, Aug. 14 and continues until Sunday, Aug. 16. Camping for tents and RVs is available on site. See website for more info. Tickets from $25.
Calabogie Peaks Resort, 30 Barrett Chute Rd., Calabogie, 1-800-669-4861, calabogieblues.com.


2015 Student Jewellery Competition Finalists

Aurélie Guillaume, Madame au chien rose. Brooch, with enamel on copper, cloisonné fine silver wire, powder coated copper, fresh water pearls, enamel paint, steel, and micro glass beads, 9 x 17 x 1.5 cm. Courtesy of L.A. Pai Gallery.

Aurélie Guillaume, Madame au chien rose. Brooch, with enamel on copper, cloisonné fine silver wire, powder coated copper, fresh water pearls, enamel paint, steel, and micro glass beads, 9 x 17 x 1.5 cm. Courtesy of L.A. Pai Gallery.

The art of cloisonné — a painstaking technique by which coloured glass, gemstones, or enamel are sectioned into elaborate designs using thin strips of wire — has been around since the time of the Egyptian pharaohs. Back then, cloisonné was used to make trinkets such as rings and buttons, but over the centuries, it began to appear in larger objects. The Chinese, for example, used it to beautify everything from bowls to vases to pots.

Art jeweller and NSCAD student Aurélie Guillaume takes this ancient technique and does something quite modern with it in her intricate, whimsical brooches of unusual characters. Beginning on Saturday, Aug. 15, L.A. Pai displays her work, along with that of five other jewellery students, in the 2015 Student Jewellery Competition Finalists exhibition.

The six finalists will be at the gallery from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 15, and the award will be presented to the winner at 3 p.m.

The exhibition runs until September 4. Admission is free. See website for more info. L.A. Pai Gallery, 13 Murray St., 613-241-2767, lapaigallery.com.


Amos the Transparent


Amos the Transparent

Making a name for oneself as an artist can be an uphill battle. Being constantly on the road and playing gig after gig with no guarantee it will pay off can take a mental and physical toll. This is what Jonathan Chandler, frontman for Ottawa indie rock band Amos the Transparent, endured before he found himself ready to give up on a career in music altogether.

Instead, he used the experience as material for the band’s latest album, This Cold Escape. The concept album travels the landscape of indie musicianship, tackling everything from youthful dreams of fame to the fragile balance of public and private life.

The band performs at the Black Sheep Inn on Saturday, Aug. 15. Tickets are from $12.
The Black Sheep Inn, 753 Riverside Dr., Wakefield, 819-459-3228, theblacksheepinn.com.



Lumière’s lantern labyrinth

Lumière Festival
The “Festival of Lights” has origins dating back to 1643 in Lyon, France, when the city became plague stricken. The ruling municipality devoted a tribute to Mary, mother of Jesus, to rid them of the plague and, in thanks, a festival is held on December 8 of each year (this also ties in to the reasoning behind Christmas lights). But variations of this event take place all over the world, and obviously, at different times of the year.

This weekend, starting Saturday, Aug. 15 at 5 p.m. Ottawa will hold its own Lumière Festival in New Edinburgh Park.

Whether coming with friends, family, or on your own, it will be a special, one-of-a-kind experience. Everything will be entirely lit by lanterns, including a labyrinth and performances. Artists will be performing for donation; so don’t forget to bring some spare change in addition to your lantern. Costumes are also welcome.

Lights that are brought to the park need to be battery operated flash-lights or glow-sticks only. Please do not bring any candles or open flames to the park.

“The Lumière Festival is presented by the New Edinburgh Community & Arts Centre. Through lantern-making workshops and community outreach initiatives, Lumière encourages people to come together and share their own creations and view the creations of others in a celebration of light and community.”
New Edinburgh Park, 193 Stanley Ave., 613-745-2742, lumiereottawa.ca

ARTFUL BLOGGER: Elizabeth Hay and His Whole Life


Hay's new book...

His Whole Life – head to Lansdown’s Horticultural building Sunday at 3 p.m. for an early launch of the book with Hay.

Elizabeth Hay’s new novel, His Whole Life, begins with a question from 10-year-old Jim to his parents, Nancy and George: “What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?”

It is a question that will inevitably cause readers to pause for a moment and recall some event in their own life they would rather forget. Surely, we all have one.

Jim answers his own question by confessing to having tattled on a cheating classmate. Both his parents return to their own childhoods, recalling ugly incidents that, decades later, still haunt them and continue to influence their adult lives.

Jim’s question on the first page of the book sets an ominous tone for this story of a dysfunctional family. But it’s not just the family in trouble. So is Canada because of the impending 1990 Quebec sovereignty referendum. Hay’s characters hotly debate the issue.

The sovereignty discussion is fuelled by the memories of old wounds and battles, just as old slights are constantly resurrected between bickering spouses. The comparison between the problems of Confederation and the troubled marriage is not always apt and, thankfully, Hay has been judicious in making those links.

Nancy is a Canadian from eastern Ontario. She loves her country and loves life at her family’s lakeside cottage near Lanark. George is a New Yorker and very much a city person. The family lives in New York but vacations at the Canadian cottage.

The geographically-based cultural differences between George and Nancy complicate their disintegrating marriage. Young Jim, of course, is caught in the middle but is increasingly drawn to his mother, falls under the spell of his mother’s eccentric friend Lulu, and loves the Lanark cottage as much as his mother does.

The ominous tone set at the beginning of the book continues throughout the story. Tragic events occur, leading us to a bittersweet ending.

Above all, this is a story about a mother-son relationship. There is the ring of truth to that relationship presented so poignantly, although some readers may find the plot veers occasionally into overly sentimental territory.

This is not the first time the Ottawa-based Hay has explored mother-son relationships. Remember her earlier novel Garbo Laughs? In that story set in Ottawa during the 1998 ice storm, we meet the movie-addicted mother, Harriet, and her movie-addicted son, Kenny, a 10-year-old who is the same age as Jim when we meet him in His Whole Life. Garbo Laughs only skimmed the surface of the mother-son relationship. We get the full treatment in His Whole Life.

In this new novel, Hay wants us to see the son, Jim, as the central character. The book title is, after all, a reference to Jim’s life. To keep Jim centre stage, the author constantly refers to other characters as “his mother” or “his father” even when Jim is not part of the scene being described. This is jarring at times because it is the thoughts, fears, emotions and experiences of Nancy, the mother, that overwhelmingly drive the story. This is Nancy’s book, far more than Jim’s. We see Jim largely through his mother’s eyes.

And when Nancy speaks, it is difficult not to hear Hay speaking. Anyone who knows Hay will recognize the various turns of phrase her characters use in the book as the words she herself unconsciously uses in day-to-day life. Close your eyes and you can hear Hay reading the book aloud.

Hay is a masterful story teller who employs exquisitely precise prose. In 2007 her talent was recognized with the Scotiabank Giller Prize for the novel Late Nights on Air.

Elizabeth Hay. Photo by Mark Fried

Author Elizabeth Hay. Photo by Mark Fried

In her new book, Hay carefully peels back the layers of her main characters. Simultaneously, we surely peer into Hay’s own psyche. One can only wonder how Hay would answer Jim’s question: “What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?” Based on the answers to that question by the characters in His Whole Life, I suspect Hay has some guilty childhood secret of her own. But then, don’t we all?

Hay is launching His Whole Life Aug. 9, at 3 p.m., at a free event at the Horticultural Building at Lansdowne Park.

For information on the book launch, visit www.writersfestival.org.





WEEKENDER: Six things to do on the weekend of Aug. 6 to Aug. 9


Distraction — the truth and the media
They say a picture is worth a thousand words — but artist Lilly Koltun wants us all to stop and think very hard about what some pictures are telling us.

In her exhibition Distraction, which opens on Thursday, Aug. 6 at Studio Sixty Six, Koltun appropriates photos and video of recent and past tragedies to question whether the truth is really being told by the media. What techniques does the media use to influence public opinion? And by looking at these images, how are we involved in creating public passivity towards violence?

The exhibition continues until August 17. See website for more info.
Studio Sixty Six, 66 Muriel St., Unit 202, 613-800-1641, studiosixtysix.ca.

Popcorn and cotton candy, always. Get yours at the RA centre this weekend.

Shrine Circus
“Under the big top” is a phrase most are familiar with. Where the acrobats and the clowns collect and the line between man and animal is blurred. And where there is, undoubtedly, lots of popcorn and cotton candy.

The circus is coming to town from Friday, Aug. 7 to Sunday, August 9 in the parking lot of the RA Centre. And they are bringing everyone – the acrobats, the clowns, and the animals. There is no need to fret over the treatment of the animals either, this particular circus has the Zerbini family in charge of their elephants and they care so deeply about the gentle giants that they also run an elephant sanctuary: Two Tails. The Zerbini Family has been in the act for over 250 years since they started in Paris in the 1700s. Ten generations of Zerbinis have travelled the world sharing their talents with circus audiences.

Check the website for the schedule, performances are held multiple times a day. $30 for general, $40 for VIP seating, $50 for ringside.
RA Centre, 2451 Riverside Dr., shrine-circus.com

Festival of India
One of my favourite things about Ottawa is the multitude of festivals that take place over the summer, celebrating so many different nationalities and cultures. It is an opportunity to learn, admire, respect, have fun, and eat delicious, delicious food.

This week starting on Friday, Aug. 7 is the Festival of India, taking place in front of City Hall. It will bring you through a variety of events: dance and music performances featuring classical Indian music, Bollywood, and more; yoga workshops and classes; food – the eating of and the learning of how to make from different regions in India.

A day pass costs $8.85 + HST, or you can get a 3 day pass to last all weekend for $17.70 + HST. Kids 12 and under are free.
Marion Dewar Plaza, 110 Laurier Avenue West, festivalofindiaottawa.org

Bob Marley once said, “My music will go on forever.” And more than 30 years after his death, we’re hard pressed to find fault with that statement. Reggae has flourished in Jamaica and beyond, spawning subgenres of its own and influencing artists of all stripes across the world.

Come see Gyptian at Mooney's Bay for JAMDAY

Come see musician, Gyptian at Mooney’s Bay for JAMDAY

Reggae is just one aspect of JAMDAY, a giant bash at Mooney’s Bay Park that celebrates Jamaica’s contributions to the Canadian mosaic. Grab some authentic Jamaican food and enjoy performances by notable reggae artists Luciano, Gyptian, and Fabian Marley, who brands himself as Bob’s son (although a DNA test has yet to prove his claim). If you have the kids in tow, there are plenty of games and activities to keep them occupied at the children’s village.

The festival itself is on Saturday, Aug. 8, but you may  want to check out the flag raising ceremony at City Hall at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 6.

Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 at the gate. See website for more info.
Mooney’s Bay Park, 2960 Riverside Dr., jamday.ca.

The Long Island Medium
The concept of the séance has been around for centuries, but in the 1920s, it really became all the rage. Even Canada’s former prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, got in on the action — through mediums, he supposedly spoke with his dead mother, his beloved dogs, and Leonardo Da Vinci (according to his journals, anyway).

Teresa Caputo will be at the CTC Saturday.

Theresa Caputo will be at the CTC Saturday.

The desire to connect with a deceased loved one is an understandable sentiment, especially in cases where a goodbye wasn’t possible. That’s where Theresa Caputo comes in — she’s best known for her TLC television show Long Island Medium and she claims the ability to speak to the dead. In her live appearances, she attempts to deliver messages from spirits and bring closure to audience members.

Caputo reaches beyond the veil at the Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday, Aug. 8. Tickets start at $45 and can be purchased online.
Canadian Tire Centre, 1000 Palladium Dr., 613-599-0100, canadiantirecentre.com.

No fork? No problem. Ottawa hosts its second annual Taco-Fest this Saturday, August 8 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Shaw Centre. You can look forward to your typical taco – hard or soft shell? You decide – as well as some twists on the traditional. There will be Ottawa faves like Petit Peru and Mambo, as well as some lesser-knowns to the taco scene such as Gongfu Bao Cart making a special steamed bun version. Worried about satisfying your sweet tooth? Among other options, Léché Desserts is bringing donuts.

There will be music pumping throughout the night to keep you energized. This event is only for those who are the age of majority (19+) so make sure to bring your ID. It is a cash only event – there will be ATMs on site.

Tickets are on sale for $10 if prepurchased online and will be sold at the door starting at 7 p.m. for $15. Once inside, food is priced between $2 and $5.

Wondering what to wear? The dress code according to the Facebook page: “Casual – Look good and feel comfortable!” (Everyone looks good in sweatpants, right?)

Gluten free, vegetarian, and even vegan options available.

By the way, is it tah-co or taw-co?
Shaw Centre, 55 Colonel By Dr.

WEEKENDER UPDATE: Two more things to do this August-long – Ottawans helping Ottawans


Can you name three things that you are grateful for? What about an experience in the last 24 hours that made you happy?

It takes 21 days to build a habit, I’m sure many of us have tried this before: eat healthier, workout more often, read everyday – all valiant and notable habit-building choices. But what about building your happiness? The questions above are the beginning to making your life a little brighter.

Manal Nemr, life coach, nutritionist Amy Longard, and yogi Kate Durie have started HappinessHabits613. This is an initiative to create a happier Ottawa and they will be kickstarting their program with a free event at The HUB on August 1st from 2-4 p.m.


Manal Nemr, Amy Longard, and Kate Durie at HUB Ottawa doing some epic shit.

If you can’t make it out to the event, join the Facebook group and participate in the 21-day challenge with your fellow Ottawans. You can expect to receive the down low on free events and check-ins throughout the 21-day adventure. Just some of the fun things you’ll get to participate in include Brown Bag Lunch n Learns at the HUB and Yoga & Meditation class at Pure Yoga Ottawa.

HappinessHabits613 has already teamed up with HUB Ottawa, Urban Juice Press, Yelp Ottawa, Pure Yoga Ottawa, EPIC Fitness, Sage Wellness, Lululemon, and Orange Theory Fitness – why not join the movement?
@HappinessHabits613, #HappinessHabits613

HPH Fundraiser for RB’s co-owner Alex Néron


Alex and Marta at Railbender studio in 2014. Photo by the loveOttawa project

Railbender has become a favourite, not only in it’s own neighbourhood of Hintonburg, but around Ottawa. This isn’t only due to the great location, beautiful space, and talented artists, it’s also because of the people behind the art, the genuinely fun, kind and caring folk who work there. And now, co-owner Alex Néron needs our help.  He has recently been diagnosed with colon cancer and is currently undergoing treatment. An initiative has been started to raise money for medical and living expenses not covered by OHIP.

Join the Railbender crew and all his supporters Saturday, August 1 at 10 p.m. at the Hintonburg Public House for a party – dancing to be encouraged by DJ Sweet Cheeks.

With support from Beyond The Pale (who donated a keg, 100% of the sales of this will go to the cause), a live auction and raffle with items from Victoire, PLAY Food & Wine, HPH, Beau’s, Zazaza, Wilf & Adas, and much more (check out the Facebook Page here)! 

If you’d like to donate to the raffle or auction, get in touch with HPH. And if you can’t make it to the party, loveOttawa has created loveRailbender where you can e-transfer funds directly to Alex at loveRailbender@love-ottawa.com.
Hintonburg Public House, 
1020 wellington St. W., 613-421-5087, hintonburgpublichouse.ca

ARTFUL BLOGGER: Novels, nudes, and new art ideas at the National Gallery of Canada


Summer is the perfect time to get your kids interested in reading for fun. Tell them to ditch all electronic devices, go outside, sit under a tree or laze on a cottage dock and start reading. Let them try Endangered: Mystery on the Daily News Beat, the new Young Adult novel from prolific Ottawa author Kate Jaimet.

Endangered is a fast-paced story about 17-year-old Hayley Makk. She is working for her father’s newspaper in Halifax. She is absolutely fearless — perhaps too fearless — and is determined to land a frontpage scoop. She is also sweet on a handsome young Mountie and learns not to drink and date. (Betcha Nancy Drew never got drunk).

Before Hayley can complete her investigation of a mysterious blood-splattered shack, her father pulls her off the story. Hayley is missing a credit in order to graduate high school. A teacher, Ms. Cameron, has cooked up a deal with Hayley’s father: Hayley will get a credit for biology if she helps the teacher locate and study a rare sea turtle supposedly living off the Nova Scotia coast.

Reluctantly, Hayley agrees to join the turtle search. Much to her chagrin, she has to work alongside Ernest, another teenager but one who is a nerdy tree-hugger and wouldn’t think of hurting a turtle, or any other animal, in the tiniest of ways. His radical pro-animal sensibilities scuttle the initial attempt to attach a tracking device to the rare turtle.


Author of Endangered: Mystery on the Daily News Beat, Kate Jaimet

Ernest is the kind of geeky boy teenage girls love to hate. Daredevil Hayley is the role model here. I suspect this means girls will love Endangered more than boys do. But, hey, you can’t please everybody.

Hayley soon learns there is a connection between the rare sea turtle and the blood-splattered shack. Good guys turn into bad guys. Shots are fired. The Mounties arrive. They get their man and Hayley, most chastely, gets hers, not to mention a great frontpage scoop.

Jaimet is the author of such Y.A. books at Dunces Rock, Dunces Anonymous, Break Point, Edge of Flight, and Slam Dunk. She is a former newspaper reporter herself, having worked at The Ottawa Citizen and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.

I would love to read more stories involving Hayley Makk, a more mature version of Flavia de Luce, the girl detective (and chemist) who is the phenomenally popular heroine of Alan Bradley’s books set in a small English town. Hayley has hormones; Flavia is too young for lust.

But will today’s juvenile readers identify with a teenaged newspaper reporter like Hayley? Is a newspaper setting as dated for today’s youth as horses and buggies? Maybe Hayley’s dad should have been a webmaster.

Endangered is to be released Aug. 4 from publisher Poisoned Pen Press.

MPN 806

Male Nude Polaroid 1

MPN 726

Male Nude Polaroid 6












Is the male gaze upon the female body different than the female gaze upon the male body?

This question so intrigued two established Toronto painters, Brent McIntosh and Shelley Adler, a few years ago that they embarked upon The Nude Polaroid Project. Each of the artists would take photographs of a nude model of the opposite sex. Then the works would be exhibited side by side.

Examples of the experiment were to be displayed at Galerie St-Laurent + Hill from July 30 to Aug. 22. The original Polarioid prints have been scanned and mounted on aluminum-like Dibond.

Based on some of the online images seen of the artists’ works in advance of the exhibition, I reached this conclusion: The images of the female nudes were far more imaginative than those of the male nudes. Now is that really a difference in the way men and women view each other or simply a difference in two artists, regardless of their gender? Go judge for yourself.
For info: galeriestlaurentplushill.com

Marc Mayer, director of the National Gallery of Canada, was asked a few years ago how he planned to offer quality exhibitions despite shrinking revenues from both government and box office. Among his plans was to rely more on exhibitions from the gallery’s own art collection. And that is certainly what he has done this year.

Organizing a showcase for the likes of Picasso, Rembrandt or Renoir are very expensive. Insurance and transportation costs alone can make such shows too costly for penny-pinching art museums. Assembling exhibitions from the National Gallery’s own vaults is far cheaper. And so, this year, we are getting some detailed looks at gallery treasures that otherwise might have had less public exposure.

First up was M.C. Escher: The Mathemagician, which opened last December and continued until May. Maurits Cornelis Escher was an early 20th century artist best known for his prints of interlocking repetitive shapes and impossible architectures. Every long-haired hippie of the 1960s had an Escher print on the wall. The posters were most entertaining when the viewer was stoned on acid. But they remain fascinating for today’s audiences, even when no drugs are used.

Frederick H. Evans<br /> Durham Cathedral from the Wear, c. 1896-1910<br /> platinum print, 18.9 × 23.9 cm.<br /> National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa<br /> Photo © NGC

Durham Cathedral from the Wear, Frederick H. Evans

This summer the gallery is offering two other exhibitions harvested from its collection. One is an exhibition of photographs by Victorian-era British photographer Frederick H. Evans, perhaps best known for his moody shots of architecture.

The Trampled Flowers, c. 1956 1961, printed 1961 Colour lithograph on wove paper, 42 x 31.9 cm Gift of Félix Quinet, Ottawa, 1986, in memory of Joseph and Marguerite Liverant, National Gallery of Canada © Daphnis & Chloé, Acc. 29763.37; Mourlot 342. © SODRAC 2015 and ADAGP 2015, Chagall®. Photo © NGC / MBAC

The Trampled Flowers, Marc Changall

The other summer-long show is a collection of prints by Marc Chagall telling the ancient Greek tale of the lovers Daphnis and Chloe. Both exhibitions close Sept. 13.

Then, come Oct. 9, there is the exhibition Beauty’s Awakening: Drawings by the Pre-Raphelites and their Contemporaries from the Lanigan Collection. This is an exhibition of 100 Victorian-era prints collected by Saskatoon dentist Dennis Lanigan. Twenty of the prints have already been gifted to the National Gallery. The other 80 are promised gifts. This is one of the best private collections of its type in Canada. The exhibition closes Jan. 3, 2016.

Interestingly, three of the aforementioned exhibitions (Escher, Chagall and Lanigan) were curated by the same person, Sonia Del Re, associate curator of European, American and Asian prints and drawings. Surely, Del Re was the hardest working curator at the National Gallery this year. It makes you wonder what all the other curators were doing.

WEEKENDER: Six things (plus one) to do on the weekend of July 30 to Aug. 3


Buskerfest photo

Busker’s performing at Ottawa’s 2014 festival

The Ottawa International Busker Festival
Street performances are no new source of entertainment. Busking, coming from the Spanish word “buscar”, dates back throughout ancient history and has been done all over the world by almost every culture. From England to France to Japan and North America, many of the same talents were performed hundreds of years ago as they are today.

Fast forward to 2015 and you can check out some of the international acts right here on Sparks Street with stages set up between Elgin and Lyon. Performers are coming from coast-to-coast; check out Silver Elvis from Toronto or the Circus Firemen from Australia. Crowds of over 225,000 will visit one of Canada’s oldest and biggest busker festivals.

Show times are between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. starting Thursday, July 30 and running through the long weekend. Check out the website for the schedule and don’t forget to vote for your favourite performer.

It’s free for all (but remember to bring your gratuities); save for an adult-only portion taking place Sunday, August 2 at the Marriott Hotel, 100 Kent St where our international buskers will be collaborating with some of Ottawa’s top burlesque acts! Tickets are $20 with only a limited quantity available. And don’t miss the grand finale on Monday, August 3, 6 p.m.
Sparks St., ottawabuskerfestival.com

Capital Ribfest
Smell that? It’s the tantalizing aroma of ribs — lots of ribs! — slathered with barbecue sauce and smoking on an outdoor grill. Brought to you by Capital Ribfest, this meaty smorgasbord features a half dozen ribbers and grillers from Canada and the United States who, over the course of the long weekend, are cooking up a feast of beef ribs, pork ribs, chicken, and pulled pork sandwiches. You can also treat yourself to corn on the cob, salads, pizza, fries, doughnuts, ice cream, and a handful of gluten-free and vegetarian treats.

Up on stage, entertainment includes old-time jazz band the Boxcar Boys, local indie rockers Amos the Transparent, country rock duo Sons Command, and much more.

The festival is on at City Hall’s Festival Plaza from Thursday, July 30 until Monday, Aug. 3. Admission is free, but you pay for what you eat. The event is cash-only, with an ATM on site. See website for more info.
Festival Plaza, City Hall, 110 Laurier Ave. W., capitalribfest.ca.


Union Duke set to perform at the Black Sheep Inn Friday, July 31

Union Duke
Union Duke’s second studio album, Cash & Carry, is full of songs that wouldn’t be out of place at a campfire sing-along — which isn’t too surprising, given that it was recorded at a cabin in the Ontario wilderness.

The bluegrass/folk/country quintet has been playing together since they were 13 years old. Between their rollicking foot-stompers and only slightly slower paced reflections on love, it’s clear they’ve used that time well to perfect their rich vocal harmonies and master their finger picking skills. They perform at the Black Sheep Inn on Friday, July 31. Tickets start at $10.
The Black Sheep Inn, 753 Riverside Dr., Wakefield, 819-459-3228, theblacksheepinn.com.

I’m not Jewish but my mother is
If the title of this play has any insight to the type of humour we can expect, I’m thinking irony. Gladstone owner, Steve Martin (for the foreseeable future anyway, as he has just listed the historic building for sale) wrote and features in this comedy with Rebekah Shirey and Barbara Seabright-Moore. Premiering Wednesday, July 28 and running through to August 8, Martin, playing Christopher, has a hot date and a (Jewish) mother who is getting in the way. Tickets are $30 and as it is general admission, be sure to arrive well before the curtain rise to have time to grab yourself a drink and a good seat.
The Gladstone, 910 Gladstone Ave., 613-233-4523, thegladstone.ca

Full Moon Yoga – Free
Do you like to do yoga? Or are you one of those people that says you like to do yoga but never actually gets around to it (me)? Well, clear your schedule this Friday, July 31, 9 p.m. because it is free! With the full moon, and a blue moon at that, Rama Lotus will be hosting an event for all levels at Lansdowne outdoors, weather permitting, and indoors if necessary.
TD Place, 1015 Bank St., 613-234-7974, ottawayoga.com (phone number and website for Rama Lotus)

Street Eats
“Creating Food Events With You In Mind.”

I sincerely felt that TW Events had me in mind when they created Street Eats. On Saturday, August 1 from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., head to the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum to indulge in such big name foodie brands as Ad Mare, Brew Bar, Mill Street, Beaus, and more. Street Eats is also giving back to the community by giving a scholarship fund to one lucky Algonquin student.

Tickets are $20 for entry, and food and beer tickets are on special if you purchase online in advance: $15 for 20 tickets or $20 for 20 at the door.

Your ticket will also get you admission to the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, an opportunity to win giveaways, enjoy live music by The Lionyls, participate in beer and food challenges, and be a part of the Street Eats video.
Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, 11 Aviation Pky., twevents.ca/streeteats/

Ottawa’s Hidden Gems
A placid lake in the midst of urban chaos, a boardwalk winding through greenery on the banks of the Rideau River, a solitary pine surrounded by stunning autumn marshes — these are the aspects of Ottawa that are rarely seen, but deserve a little love.

In Cube Gallery’s Hidden Gems, a group of six painters capture the beauty of Ottawa’s nooks and crannies, from Lemieux Island in the Ottawa River to Patterson Creek in the historic Glebe. The vernissage is on Sunday, Aug. 2. The exhibition continues until Sunday, Aug. 30. Admission is free. Visit the website for more info.
Cube Gallery, 1285 Wellington St. W., 613-728-2111, cubegallery.ca.