WEEKENDER: Four things to do on this Christmas Break



Eric Patrick Godfrey in “First Winter”, an NFB film, 1982. Directed by John Smith.

Pangalactic-eggnog? (FREE!)
Zaphod’s owner, Eugene Haslom understands what it’s like to have nowhere to go on Christmas Day. On one Christmas in the 1980s, Haslom was living alone, in squalor-like conditions in an apartment — which is a depressing way to spend the holiday day. So he decided, “since it was (his) club, (he) could open up Zaphod’s and just have some quiet drinks and listen to some tunes by (himself)self. Loud!” But then, something magical happened:
“There was a knock on the front door. A regular customer dropped by. I let him in. Then another came. And another. And it wasn’t just people who were alone that came. Friends who had already eaten Christmas dinner came to offer best wishes. Friends brought out-of-town friends, and relatives. And people started calling more friends. I didn’t feel so alone anymore. And soon, we had a party happening.”
And so, not only did an angel get its wings every time the DJ dropped a kick-ass beat, but it also sparked off a tradition of the club being open on Christmas Day. And so, if you’re feeling alone, or just plain squirrely from too much family, or looking for a way to hang out with friends, then head on down to Zaphod’s. Doors open at 10 p.m. Free admission.
Zaphod’s is at 27 York St.

A Pioneer Winter
For a harsh look at what winter might have been like in the early 1800s in the Ottawa Valley, check out the National Film Boards’ 1981 classic, First Winter, about two children, who’s father is away logging, and their mother dies of sickness leaving them to survive the winter, alone. It’s brutal to say the least.
For a more positive view, however, of how early settlers dealt with winter, take the family on boxing day or thereafter to the Agriculture Museum to experience a Winter Frolic on the Farm: get ready to do some hands-on work such as milking, pumping water, and wool carding (the process of brushing wool fibres to create a continuous web that can be laid out flat into batts, rolled into rovings, or split into spinning rolls). Afterwards, escape the cold by heading into the humble, cozy pioneer homestead. Relax by a fire and make an old-fashioned craft to take home, while a guide talks about the tools, props, and artifacts on. There are even costumes to wear.
The Pioneer experience is on from Boxing Day ‘till Jan. 4, during museum hours. It’s part of the price of regular admission. More info, visit here.
Agriculture Museum is at 861 Prince of Wales Dr.

20141216_CGEd Arctic Alive GFM_JB153

GIANT Arctic Floor Map at Nature Museum. Photo: Jessica Finn/Canadian Geographic

Arctic Walkabout
I know what you’re thinking, that sounds absurd — absurdly cold that is. Unless by walking across the Arctic you mean a giant, gym-size interactive floor map of the North — a new installation at the Museum of Nature. Launching on Boxing Day, the map is intended to not only help kids understand the geography of the North, but the map’s activities also teach them about the region’s natural diversity: plants, animals, fossils and minerals — real specimens can also be examined. It will be part of the Museum’s Holiday programming from Boxing Day until Jan. 4. NOTE: the map is ONLY available in afternoons. More info about the museum, visit here.
The Museum is at 240 McLeod St.

Wise Ladies
Just the other day, a friend/former colleague wondered (as many have) if printed material still had a place in this digital era — well, The Sages seem to think so. A collection of mostly (if, all) women artists, creating in a variety of mediums, are launching their zine on Sunday, December 28 at Raw Sugar Café. The zine will feature work by Danica Olders, Shaya Ishaq, Olivia Johnston, Magida El-Kassis, Meaghan Isaacs, and DJ Lamb Rabbit. The event will include drinks, music (by Lamb Rabbit), and a free copy of the zine. Starts at 7 p.m. and goes until 10 p.m.
Raw Sugar is at 692 Somerset St. W. 

ROADTRIP! Mont Tremblant for outdoor fun (and indoor luxury)


Photo courtesy Mont Tremblant Living

Photo courtesy Mont Tremblant Living

When a property management company called Tremblant Living reached out to me about visiting Mont Tremblant earlier this year, I was intrigued. After ten years in Ottawa I had never been to the well-known Quebec ski resort — I thought I had turned my back on the ski industry as such when I moved here in 2003. (I would be a journalist, not a ski bum!)

Alas, it seems you can take the girl out of the mountains but you can’t take the mountains out of the girl. That urge to head for the hills, especially in late November, when the first snow fall has served as a reminder of all the fun things winter brings, is still firmly part of my psyche. And so I packed up my two-year-old, my husband, and my dog — along with plenty of gear, wine, and cheese — and headed east.

Photo courtesy Mont Tremblant

Photo courtesy Mont Tremblant

First off, I was surprised how quick the drive was. It’s not an easy drive, per se, there are plenty of twists and turns along Highway 50, but we arrived in less than two and half hours. I was also surprised at how few roadside eateries we passed — there’s really only a gas station with a small, overpriced  grocery store. So best stock up before you go! Or inquire about “fridge fills” — Tremblant Living offers these, and they’re definitely better than what you’ll find in Brébeuf.

Now, I’ve been inside of plenty of slopeside condos, but the four-bedroom townhouse we stayed at really blew my mind. It might be because it wasn’t the temporary crash pad of five work-hard/party-hard 25-year-old guys, as was the case with most of the condos I enjoyed “après ski” in Sun Peaks and Panorama. No, this place was impeccable, with huge baths, two fireplaces, a hot tub, the works. I soon found myself wishing for a huge dump so we would be forced to stay an extra day.

Photo courtesy Tremblant Living

Photo courtesy Tremblant Living

A huge dump did not arrive, but I was on the hill on Saturday morning anyway. I thought my ski bum instincts would kick in, but the Mont Tremblant village is bigger than I expected. Pay parking, a tram to get to the gondola, and lots of people who were clearly there to shop (and eat, and drink) rather than ski. I expected to be murmuring “kids these days” and “city slickers” like a curmudgeon. Instead, I realized the that, rather than infringing on my ski time, the amenities at Mont Tremblant — the shopping, dining, kiddie play stuff — actually brings me closer to more ski time.

How? Because now I can convince more family and friends to make this our destination. I can ski while they dine/shop/rock their snow-bunny attire. Everyone wins! And this is even more so when you have the luxury of ski-in/ski-out accommodation. Pop in for lunch or nap time with the toddler! Then ski back to the action …

Because even with the marginal skiing conditions I expected on opening day, the adrenalin that weekend was palpable. As someone who learned to ski in London, Ont. (yes, we have a hill!), and continues to enjoy skiing “local” hills like Camp Fortune, I’m still surprised when I get winded or tired on a run. (Or maybe I’m getting older? Nah.) Long runs, a good base of man-made snow, and a dusting of the real stuff, plus all those stoked skiers made for a great day on Mont Tremblant. And my family hardly missed me.

SOUND SEEKERS: 2014 Ottawa Mix List (A Present Just for You)



It’s Sound Seekers’ annual tradition! Call it our Blogged 50 — but it’s more like a Blogged 7. This is our EP-length list of hot tunes released from Ottawa artists this year.

Stream the tunes here and read about the songs below. Find our 2013 and 2012 mix lists here.

For 2014, we asked each artist to reflect on the year that was and the year to come.

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CITYHOME 2014: A primer on where to buy art in Ottawa

This article originally appeared in CityHome 2014 as “Get the Picture.”  Visit our Facebook page for more photos and details about featured items.



The ethereal painting Icesticks is by Dan Ryan, who shows at the Wall Space Gallery.


This gallery and frame shop is found in the midst of the hip Richmond Road strip in Westboro. Wall Space Gallery carries contemporary paintings, fine craft, and objets d’arts of all kinds. The artists are from across the country and include some of Ottawa’s most talented, including Stefan Thompson, Heidi Conrod, Joy Kardish, and Brandon McVittie. Wall Space also has an outlet in Orleans at 2316 St Joseph Blvd. 358 Richmond Rd., 613-729-0003, wallspacegallery.ca.


Cube Gallery carries work, including this piece entitled Dehlia, by celebrated Canadian artist Joe Fafard.


Anchoring the lively visual arts scene in the Hintonburg-Wellington West neighbourhood, Cube Gallery’s wares vary from affordable paintings and sculptures by emerging talents to works by such established artists as Russell Yuristy, Barbara Gamble, Eric Walker, Kristy Gordon, Victoria Wonnacott, and Norman Takeuchi. The emphasis is on contemporary Ottawa-area artists in both solo and group themed exhibitions. But Cube is also attracting artists from further afield; Saskatchewan superstar sculptor Joe Fafard has become a regular. 1285 Wellington St. W., 613-728-2111, cubegallery.ca.


Fathom 2 is by Sarah Hatton, who is carried by St-Laurent + Hill



This ByWard Market establishment has been an Ottawa trendsetter in fine contemporary art for decades. Galerie St-Laurent + Hill owner Pierre-Luc St-Laurent has an eye for young talent, nurturing such rising local stars as Geneviève Thauvette, Jean-François Provost, Marc Nerbonne, and Sarah Hatton. Other regulars include Réal Calder, Evergon, David Bierk, Pat Durr, Michael Harrington, and James Lahey. This is a gallery popular with both new and experienced collectors. The art is strictly contemporary, with a mix of mainly local and Quebec artists. 293 Dalhousie St., 613-789-7145, galeriestlaurentplushill.com‎.



Don’t be fooled by the location. Hard-to-find Patrick Mikhail Gallery, located in a south end strip mall, is home to some of Ottawa’s best and most imaginative contemporary artists. Patrick Mikhail began in 2006 specializing in photo-based works but has expanded his reach to include painting and sculpture from both local and national artists, whom he markets domestically and at international art fairs. Local headliners include Andrew Smith, Michele Provost, Adrian Göllner, Andrew Morrow, Jinny Yu, Cindy Stelmackowich, Jonathan Hobin, and Amy Schissel. 2401 Bank St., 613-746-0690, patrickmikhailgallery.com.


In the booming post-war economy, Benjamin Koyman opened small art galleries in Ottawa shopping malls. Many years later, in 2008, Koyman’s sons opened what is billed as the largest commercial art gallery in Canada — 13,000 square feet — along St. LaurentBoulevard. Koyman Galleries represents artists from across Canada, including superstar Toller Cranston and such popular locals as Shannon Craig, David Lidbetter, John Mlacak, and John Webster. The emphasis is on mainstream, rather than daring. 1771 St. Laurent Blvd., 613-526-1562, koymangalleries.com


Eliane Saheurs, painter of Enchanted Space II, is found at Jean-Claude Bergeron


Step into Old World charm. Galerie Jean-Claude Bergeron is located in a heritage building mere steps from the National Gallery. Bergeron specializes in works on paper, but also deals in paintings. The offerings are from such A-list 20th century Quebec artists as Guido Molinari, Ghitta Caiserman-Roth, and Marcel Barbeau, as well as such local contemporary talents as Eliane Saheurs and Dominik Sokolowski. 150 St. Patrick St., 613-562-7836, galeriejeanclaudebergeron.ca.


L.A Pai Gallery carries Erin Robertson, who is known for her fox-inspired paintings and sculptures


The lines between craft and fine art are blurred at L.A. Pai Gallery, a wonderfully eclectic and classy ByWard Market spot where you can find art to wear, art for the home, or simply art to stimulate conversations about what constitutes art. Expect to encounter truly unique objects, including ceramics by Lisa Creskey and Mimi Cabri, glass sculptures by Ione Thorkelsson, and arty furniture by Mustapha Chadid. 13 Murray St., 613-241-2767, lapaigallery.com.


Island in the Sun, the compelling portrait by Charlene Lau Ahler, is available through Orange Art Gallery


Originally just a tomato toss from the Parkdale Market, Orange Art Gallery now is located in a heritage building in the increasingly trendy City Centre industrial area on the western edge of LeBreton Flats. Orange specializes in contemporary works, mainly paintings and drawings by a variety of Ottawa-area artists, including Gwendolyn Best, who never met a cat she did not want to paint. 290 City Centre Ave., 613-761-1500, orangeartgallery.ca.


A long-standing quality gallery, Wallack Galleries is the place to visit to purchase work by some of Ottawa’s most established artists, including painters Duncan De Kergommeaux, Blair Sharpe, and David Jones, along with photo-artists Jennifer Dickson and Pedro Isztin and sculptor Dale Dunning. This mainly contemporary gallery also does framing, provides professional appraisals of artwork, and restores paintings, sculpture, and works on paper. 203 Bank St., 613-235-4339, wallackgalleries.com.



Gordon Harrison’s work, and that of others, is available at Gordon Harrison Gallery. This painting is from the Charlebois en Blanc collection


Gordon Harrison is one of Ottawa’s most popular landscape painters, rural Quebec scenes being a specialty. But there is much more to his namesake Sussex Drive gallery than the owner’s canvases. The heritage building also exhibits such other landscape artists as René Tardif and Normand Boisvert and such sculptors as Catherine Vamvakas Lay and Angela Verlaeckt Clark. A recent arrival at the gallery is Bhat Boy, whose paintings depict whimsical Ottawa street scenes. 495 Sussex Dr., 613-746-6853, gordonharrisongallery.com.


WEEKENDER: Five things to do on the weekend of Dec. 18 to 21



A new take on the 2013 hit musical Frozen, Freezing tells the story of the vivacious Queen Gerda and her two daughters, Princess Adele and Princess Hanna. The Royal Family must work together to save the Snow Globe Kingdom from the evil Hans, who wants to rid the world of winter forever; but they won’t succeed without the audience. Boo the bad guy, root for the hero, and get a warm hug from the cuddly Beavertail, all while helping to save the kingdom. This lively musical opens Thursday, December 18 at the Gladstone Theatre. Tickets from $42. For more info, visit here.                                                                               The Gladstone Theatre is at 910 Gladstone Ave.


27the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario James Barlteman

Raisin Wine

A tale described by the Globe and Mail as “both generous and wise, from one of our most distinguished elders,” Raisin Wine tells the story of James Bartleman’s childhood in post-war Muskoka. Bartleman takes readers beyond the area’s picturesque lakes and cottages in this humorous and heartwarming story of young boy with big dreams and an even bigger imagination. The Ottawa Storytellers take Raisin Wine from the page to the stage Thursday, December 18 at the National Arts Centre. Tickets are $22 for adults and $18 for seniors.  For more info, visit here.                                                                                                                                 The National Arts Centre is at 53 Elgin Street.

Christmas Slipper Concert

No formal attire necessary for this concert! Formerly known as the Orpheus Choral Group, Voices in Harmony invites audiences to don their most comfortable pair of slippers for the group’s laid-back Christmas Concert at Woodroffe United Church. Hear all your holiday favourites, including “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and “Silent Night,” Saturday, December 20, as well as a special surprise for children. Pass the hat admission ($10 donation recommended). For more info, visit here.                                                                                                                                                                                                            Woodroffe United Church is at 207 Woodroffe Ave.

The Dragon of Wantley

This beloved Victorian panto, reworked for the 21st century, finds Squire Benjamin in a heap of trouble with Sir Walter de Warthog, the pompous mayor of Wantley: he will be forced to leave his home unless he finds a way to pay his council tax. But the fairy Mauxalinda has released a dangerous dragon on the village, and Squire Benjamin is the only one who can save them. The play, chock full of laughter and fun, will be performed by the East End Theatre company at the Shenkman Arts Centre Thursday, December 18, until Saturday, December 20.  Tickets are $14.50 for children and $17 for adults. For more info, visit here.                                                                                                                                                                                                    Shenkman Centre is at 245 Centrum Blvd., Orleans.

shortestdayThe Shortest Day of the Year (FREE)

The Winter solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year, and had been celebrated around the world with festivals and feasts for centuries.  To celebrate the beginning of the end of winter’s darkness, the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Film Institute are inviting the public to join them for screenings of family-friendly short films in the Gallery’s auditorium. Take in classics such as “The Cat Came Back,” and “The Sweater,” as well as the Academy Award winner “The Danish Poet,” and hang around before or after for the Artissimo workshops on Sunday, December 21. For more info, visit here.                                                                                                                                           The National Gallery of Canada is at 380 Sussex Dr.


ARTFUL BLOGGER: John Marok, Rebellion & Meaghan Haughian



Complexcity, John Marok, 42″ x 48″, oil on canvas.

John Marok calls painting “a sublime activity.” This experienced artist from the Wakefield area has developed his own, unique visual language that tells stories combining the contemporary with the medieval.

Marok has a solo show, 4 Strong Winds, at the Shenkman Arts Centre running until Jan. 6. The following is a partial transcript of an email interview conducted with Marok.

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FOUND: Hockey Night in Addis

This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Ottawa Magazine.



Photo by Samuel Taye

You’re wandering in Addis Ababa, the gritty, bustling capital of Ethiopia, and you have a sudden craving for home. What to do? You find improbably named Mickey Leland Street and the even more improbable Oh Canada restaurant. Inside, there’s a big red maple leaf on the ceiling and photos of the Rideau Canal on the wall. You ponder Arcade Fire Pizza but finally succumb to the Ottawa Senators Bacon Cheeseburger. A heavily laden donkey plods past the window. You’re home, but you’re not.

Market Memories
Lily Kassahoun knows how you feel. The former owner of Memories, the venerable ByWard Market dessert palace, was born in Addis. After more than 20 years away, family circumstances have brought her back. But her heart remains in Canada. “I miss it so much,” she says. So, in December 2012, she opened her unabashed ode to all things Canuck. While the locals remain baffled by the giant Erik Karlsson cutout on the back patio, they have embraced Canadian cuisine.


Coast to Coast
“That’s what you guys eat?” wide-eyed customers exclaimed when they first sampled poutine. Well, not every day, she had to explain — it’s comfort food. Before opening her restaurant, Kassahoun spent months searching, fruitlessly, for cheese curds, finally having to settle for a very soft mozzarella that would melt under the heat of the gravy. Her local adaptation — like the Newfoundland and Labrador Fish & Chips made with Nile perch — has since become an Oh Canada signature dish.



SERVING SENS Lily Kassahoun brings Canadian cuisine to the capital city of Ethiopia with her restaurant Oh Canada. Photo by Samuel Taye

Sensational Fandom
During the hockey playoffs, Kassahoun gets to bed early — because at 2:30 a.m., her alarm goes off. She makes herself a coffee, flips on her computer, and lies in bed listening to her beloved Senators streaming on Team 1200. “My mind is like a 50-year-old Canadian man’s,” she says, laughing. “I absolutely love hockey.” She was, in fact, set on calling her eatery Sensation Café — until her father informed her Sensation was a popular Ethiopian condom brand.

Maple Leaf Forever
Kassahoun fretted that her restaurant would be branded a ferenji place, strictly a place for foreigners. And certainly the diplo and NGO crowd, particularly the staff from the nearby American embassy, has embraced the shiny upscale café. But on the day we drop by, 90 percent of the patrons are young white-collar Ethiopians eating burgers named for hockey teams beneath photos of moose and beavers and Alanis Morissette. Kassahoun wears her maple leaf on her sleeve — and everywhere else too.


WEEKENDER: Five things to do on the weekend of Dec. 11 to 14



The “Ivy” in this weekend’s production of Holly & Ivy will be played by 10-year-old Sydney MacLellan. Photo: Jeff Nolan

Holly & Ivy
One of the lesser known, but endearing Christmas stories is a tale about wishing: a little orphan girl, Ivy, wishes for parents; a little doll, Holly, wishes to be loved by a little girl; a childless couple wishes for a little girl — all three get their wish in Rumer Godden’s classic tale. First published in Ladies Home Journal in 1958, Holly & Ivy is brought to the stage by Rag & Bone Puppet Theatre Company. Toys, puppets, carols, and a real live girl will be on stage from Thursday, December 11, until Saturday, December 13 at Shenkman Arts Centre for this timeless production. For more info, visit here.
Shenkman Arts Centre is at 245 Centrum Blvd.

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CONTEST! Ottawa Magazine Short Fiction Contest


Illustration by Alanah Abels

It might be snowy outside, but at Ottawa Magazine we’re gearing up for summer — our Summer issue, that is.

Every year, Ottawa Magazine publishes short fiction by local authors in our Summer issue. For 2015, we’re switching things up a bit with the inaugural Ottawa Magazine Short Fiction Contest.


So hunker down and bring to life that great tale that has been simmering away in the back of your mind, or dust off the manuscript that is sitting on your desktop.

The winner will receive $700, the runner up $300, and both stories will be published in the Summer 2015 issue of Ottawa Magazine.

NOTE: the contest is open only to residents of the National Capital Region.

Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges through a blind judging process.

Entries must be no longer than 3,000 words. Entries can be short stories or excerpts but must not have been published elsewhere.

Participants may enter as many times as they wish, but once submitted entries may not be submitted to other contests (or published elsewhere) until the winning entries have been announced in April 2015.

The deadline is March 1, 2015.

Submit entries in a Word document to Ottawa Magazine via Kelsey Kromodimoeljo kkromodi@stjosephmedia.com

“A short story is the ultimate close-up magic trick – a couple of thousand words
to take you around the universe or break your heart.”
– Neil Gaiman

WEEKENDER: Five things to do on the weekend of Dec. 4 to 7



Ottawa State of Mind
“I’ma up at Brooklyn, now I’m down in Tribeca, Right next to De Niro, but I’ll be hood forever, I’m the new Sinatra, and since I made it here, I can make it anywhere, they love me everywhere” — Empire State of Mind, JayZ

The “everywhere” includes Ottawa, as Babylon gets set to host Can’t Knock The Hustle, a JayZ Tribute night on Thursday, Dec. 4 — it’s all JayZ, all night; hosted by Phil Ireland backed up by DJ Acro. Cover is $4. Doors open at 11 p.m.
Babylon is at 317 Bank St.

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