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Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013: Be a leader of the pack

Want to stake your claim to an enclave before it’s even built? Here are three possibilities.

Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013: Be a leader of the pack

(Image: courtesy of Minto)

Former CFB Rockcliffe
The Department of National Defence (DND) established a rifle range here in 1899. It gradually expanded to a 310-acre military base that DND declared surplus in 1984. On an east-end escarpment bounded by Rockcliffe and Aviation parkways, the National Research Council, and the Montfort Hospital, the site has been the subject of much discussion in the intervening years. The Canada Lands Company (CLC), a Crown corporation that now owns the land, held consultations in 2007, but work halted until a native land claim was resolved in 2011. Consultations restarted in 2012, and CLC hopes to submit a community design plan to the city in early 2014. If it’s approved, builders could start buying lots by 2016. Residents of surrounding communities are concerned that the proposed development — which might include up to 11,000 housing units — will create substantial traffic, and a new bridge over the Ottawa River might also throw a wrench in development plans. Stay tuned.

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Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013

Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013

Left: Blackburn Hamlet; Right: Rothwell Heights

When residents of metropolises talk up their towns, the conversation invariably centres not on the entire city, but on their little pieces of paradise within the greater whole. After all, once a city reaches a certain size, it becomes impossible to know it all equally well. As Ottawa hits the one million mark, it, too, has reached the turning point, becoming a city made up of many distinct enclaves — vibrant (and often well-hidden) micro-neighbourhoods with unique histories and personalities developed through time and geography. For this edition of Ottawa Magazine’s much-anticipated annual real estate guide, our urban explorers toured the city from corner to corner, seeking out residential districts with a difference. As the buying season heats up, they present a diverse list of 20 enclaves worth discovering.

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Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013: South

Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013: South


If you want to see a community in transition, go for a drive along Revelstoke, just south of Mooney’s Bay. This neighbourhood is changing fast. There was a time in the 1960s and 1970s when this wooded enclave — a small piece of riverside land sandwiched between the Rideau River and Riverside Drive — was recognized as a showcase of modern domestic architecture. Its streets were lined with bungalows and split-level houses, characteristically built of wood or stone, with the flat roofs and picture windows of the era.

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Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013: East

Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013: East (New Edinburgh)

Village like New Edinburgh: Take a stroll through the heart of this sleepy enclave, and it’s not hard to imagine what it would have been like as a 19th-century village. Bounded on two sides by river and parkland and on a third by Rideau Hall, the heritage precinct is the jewel in the crown — a rectangle of streets just seven blocks long by three wide

West Overbrook

West Overbrook — traditionally a place of tiny working-class houses on the edge of one of Ottawa’s poorest neighbourhoods — is moving toward a new kind of future. And it is changes in the road system that have made the difference. North River Road, which runs along the western edge of Overbrook, used to be busy with cars. Not anymore. Construction of the Vanier Parkway cut off the area, diverted traffic out of the neighbourhood, and turned West Overbrook into an urban backwater. The result is a tiny neighbourhood of little houses brimming with potential and virtually isolated from the sights and sounds of the city.

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Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013: West

Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013: West (Alta Vista)

Diversity in Alta Vista: The neighbourhood of Alta Vista is actually made up of a number of enclaves, each with its own sensibility. Many of the houses were built in the 1960s, when lot sizes were larger. The area is just a stone’s throw from the General campus of the Ottawa Hospital and CHEO, making it attractive to medical professsionals

Champlain Park

Wellington Village has been wildly popular for years, but many house seekers stop their search at Scott Street. And that’s a shame, because this enclave of about 360 houses offers easy access to all the perks of Wellington Village — the Parkdale Market, the Great Canadian Theatre Company, great restaurants — on quieter tree-shaded streets. Despite its size, it’s home to a nice range of amenities, including a school, a community centre, a wading pool, an ice rink, and a park; the Ottawa River is a stone’s throw to the north. It even has its own Transitway station at Tunney’s Pasture. The housing stock is a diverse mix of two-storey pre-war houses, post-war victory houses, baby boom ranch houses, and modern infill.

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Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013: Central

Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013: Central

Hintonburg rising: Gentrification of this central enclave has been has been going full blast for the past few years, with greasy spoons and pawnshops being redeveloped into bistros, bakeries, and boutiques. The area now boasts a visually interesting mix of fixer-uppers, century-old houses, modern infills, and condos geared to hipsters

Northwest Lowertown

You’re probably thinking: Isn’t Lowertown noisy? Aren’t parts of it sketchy? Isn’t it all tiny studio apartments in condo towers? And how can one of Ottawa’s best-known neighbourhoods be considered an enclave?

They’re valid questions. And you can toss them all to the wind once you’ve ventured north of St. Patrick Street. Sure, there are still a few houses in poor repair scattered throughout the two dozen blocks bounded by St. Patrick Street, King Edward Avenue, and Sussex Drive. But you’ll also find lovingly restored 19th-century workers’ cottages, big luxury apartments, brick semis from the early 1900s, and a range of other housing types. At the northern tip of the neighbourhood, a little playground called Cathcart Park seems more like a village green than something you’d find a 10-minute walk from the ByWard Market bar district. The locals here have some pretty tony neighbours, including several embassies and the National Gallery of Canada.

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20 Best Neighbourhoods: Five great options for first-time home buyers

First-timers, I assume, are concerned mainly about price. If a neighbourhood offers lots of housing close to or under the average February 2012 sale price, that caught my attention. But price doesn’t mean merely the price of the house. If it’s a steal but it’s so far out that you have to spend hundreds of dollars a month on gas just to get to work and the grocery store, it’s a bit of a false economy. So I also took into account such variables as car use and nearby amenities.

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Twenty Best Neighbourhoods 2012

20 Best Neighbourhoods 2012

The Glebe

So you’re looking to buy a house. Good on ya. keep the economy rolling and all that. But you’re finding yourself overwhelmed by location choices. This neighbourhood has great schools but not much in the way of shopping. That one has great nightlife, but you’re a bit worried about crime. Then there’s the area where the prices are reasonable, but the commute — not so much.

So you check with your friends and family, but they’re not much help. Sure, they’re happy to extol the virtues of their own ’hood. The only problem is, they have kids and you don’t, or their budget runs to champagne and caviar, while yours is more of a beer and pizza thing.

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20 Best Neighbourhoods: Hot real estate picks aimed at the family demographic

20 Best Neighbourhoods: Families

Old Ottawa South

For families, my main focuses were good schools and community services. Neighbourhoods with arenas, pools, community centres, parks, a library branch, and other kid-friendly facilities scored highly here. Reasonably priced single-family houses also factored into the mix — I suspect most families of four aren’t interested in squeezing into a 600-square-foot apartment. When you’re paying for braces and hockey school, it never hurts to save a bit of money on gas, so I’ve also noted the percentage of people in each neighbourhood who go to work by private vehicle (the rest walk, cycle, or take transit).

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