SEPTEMBER 2015: To Buy or Not To Buy? Inside Ottawa’s Rental Renaissance

1_cover_final.inddTo buy or not to buy? That is the question we tackle in our editorial series “For Rent/Live for Today.” It’s a quandary that comes up everywhere from the dinner table to the business page. For years, experts (and parents) told us that paying rent was akin to flushing money down the toilet. The smart choice was to invest in real estate, right? Not so fast, argue some. After all, resale prices aren’t soaring the way they once were. Plus, as happy renters will attest (“Why I Rent,” pages 39–43), there are many perks to renting. People who are content to rent are quick to note the freedom — financial and otherwise — from keeping up with tasks like mowing the grass and fixing faulty plumbing.

Plus, Ottawa’s downtown is flourishing. Just last year we explored the downtown core and revealed a thriving arts, culinary, and nightlife scene. For some, the value of living close to that action cannot be measured by interest and resale rates. As detached houses reach the million-dollar mark, renting is becoming a more viable option for committed urban dwellers. Of course, one of the reasons neighbourhoods such as Little Italy and Centretown are booming is the condo developments. When big projects promise to revitalize main streets, clean up bedraggled parks, and build community facilities, new shops pop up and restaurant investors open their wallets, willing to bet on “in transition” areas. Renters are reaping the benefits, but it takes a mix of tenants and owners to keep these neighbourhoods bustling.

After all, renting isn’t for everyone. After more than a decade of temporary residences (17 addresses in as many years!), I decided it was time to put down my roots. I wasn’t as lucky as my colleague Jane Corbett, who learned the fine art of renting — and avoiding the packing/moving cycle — by living at just five addresses over 34 years (“Tips From a Long-Time Renter,” page 46). While home ownership doesn’t come naturally to me — I still spend more time visiting downtown and planning trips outside the city than fixing up my digs — I’m constantly finding new pleasures in my fixed-address status.

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SUMMER 2015: Cheap Eats, Short Fiction Winners, plus The Bare Facts on Skin

1_finalcover.inddHere comes the sun! And with it, the bustling farmers’ markets, meandering strolls, and languorous days of summer. Whether your perfect summer day is spent speeding down the Gatineau Hills on a mountain bike or lounging on a patio, summer offers long days — and warm weather — to do it all.

Likewise, this issue has something for everyone. If summer brings out the nature lover in you, read “Gifted, Naturally” (page 28), which tells the inspiring story of Paul and Cathy Keddy, who dedicated substantial time and financial resources to conserving a pocket of land in Lanark County for future generations to enjoy.

Love to hunt down unique eateries for the best-bang-for-your-buck dinner? Check out “Cheap Eats” (page 50) for 50 tips from food writers and local chefs (plus a few wacky ideas from our illustrators).


Our wide-ranging “Exposed!” Feature (page 35) is a must-read for sun lovers, as well as anyone who spends time outdoors. Do you welcome the opportunity to shed layers of clothing? Then why not bare it all and get to know the local naturist community? I can tell you that nude yoga was an experience i’ll never forget — check out my take on page 37. Then again, I have a young daughter, and my family will soon be facing the bikini question, which two parent bloggers debate in “Faceoff” (page 39). From skin-care technology to tattoo trends, barefoot running to cosmetic surgery, this timely editorial package explores a number of issues we’re faced with when temperatures rise.

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MAY 2015: Annual Real Estate Guide

1_Cover.inddAs Laura Byrne Paquet writes in the opening of her annual real estate roundup (“Where to Buy Now,” page 39), neighbourhoods draw home buyers for a number of reasons — good schools, abundant green space, convenient transportation links — as well as something she calls soul. Paquet gives the example of a downtown wine bar and incorporates a list of attractive amenities for each of the highlighted ’hoods. From museums to parks, gelaterias to brew pubs, these places offer opportunities for people to connect. It’s a new aspect of our real estate feature that I hope you will enjoy.

But perhaps, when it comes to the soul of a space, we have a responsibility to take part in its creation. In last year’s real estate issue, I wrote about second-guessing my own choice to put down roots in the Carlington neighbourhood. For me, transportation — and plenty of parks — won out over the quaintness of Aylmer. But I have a confession: I’ve been sluggish in my approach to fostering my street’s soul.

Blame it on the brutal winter or my hectic schedule, but the fact of the matter is, I don’t know my area very well. The reality hit me when I started to consider schools. Soon my daughter will be entering junior kindergarten, and I am faced with the realization that the names of nearby schools mean nothing to me. Sure, I troll the internet looking for information on school districts and boundaries of the ’hood I drive through every day. Instead, I need to be talking with other parents and people involved in the community. Because I can’t trust statistics to tell me the strengths and weaknesses of a school — and besides, these are the people who will inevitably play a role in my child’s future.

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APRIL 2015: The Ultimate Event Guide

1_Aprilcover.inddI’ll come right out and say it: I’m a reluctant partier. Maybe it’s the stress of deciding all the little details in advance, or perhaps it’s simply my natural introverted instincts when it comes to crowded spaces, I have never been what one would call “the life of the party.” But I have begun to admire the art of a well-
orchestrated bash. From original personalized decor to entertainment — not to mention food and drink — a great party helps reserved party-goers like me loosen up. And let’s face it: celebrations are integral to the way we experience the passage of time. Whether it’s a birthday party that reminds us our baby is growing up or a memorial service that honours a loved one, these events bring us together to laugh, cry, hug, and recognize what is really important in life. And when I’m raising my glass and meeting the eyes of fellow guests, I’m always glad to be there. So whether you are a seasoned party planner looking for the latest trends or someone who needs to be sweet-talked onto the dance floor, I think you’ll find our “Keep Calm and Party On” guide useful and entertaining.

Also in this issue is Judy Trinh’s story on SWATing. I’ll admit to being a bit behind in the digital age, but when the City of Ottawa’s website was hacked this past fall, I think many of us felt a collective shudder. Sure, the dancing banana didn’t do much harm, but it forced us to ask whether authorities are prepared to deal with hackers. It’s a complicated, creepy story that ultimately points to teen pranksters, but with SWATing on the rise, it seems best to be ahead of the curve on this tech trend.

Meanwhile, Brielle Morgan brings us an insightful article about Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), an international network that helps high-risk sex offenders transition into regular life after time spent in prison. CoSA has an excellent track record, but its funding crisis is reaching a critical level. Just before this issue went to press, the Ottawa chapter was forced to deny support to a recently released sex offender. They’re begging Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney to reinstate the federal funding from Correctional Service Canada and organizing fundraisers so that they can continue to heal and protect society.

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INTERIORS 2015 ISSUE: Light Fantastic


1N15_cover_300So often, when we admire a space, we notice not what lies inside it but what it allows us to enjoy of the outside: a spectacular view, sun rays filtered through a forest, the bustling parade of neighbourhood life. We move toward the windows and, for a moment, feel that we can enjoy both the excitement of the outside world and the serenity of personal space. And so this year, the theme of light unites our featured homes. As Ottawa’s architectural landscape continues to mature, there is no shortage of show-stopping homes to choose from: a theme helps narrow the field. Plus, it can be a daunting task, after entering a spectacular home that is adored by its inhabitants, to summarize the many design decisions (and family histories) that the space represents: a theme helps focus wide-eyed writers and photographers.

It is through this lens that we explore the five homes featured in this issue. A mid-century modern house is a natural fit because architects of that era were renowned for rooms with big windows designed to enhance the connection between the building and nature. Jay Lim’s house in Westboro goes one very practical step further, with three balconies, a big back deck, and white walls that amplify the bright atmosphere. In Old Ottawa South, architect John Donkin was challenged to build a modern house that faces west but is oriented to the south to take advantage of the sun. The Cantley home of Diane Lacaille and Pierre Charles Généreux incorporates glass walls and doors in creative ways, allowing sunshine to flood even the more hidden nooks. And what a view! It can be compared only to the Brockville condo of Bettina and Walter Griesseier, who traded their rural horse farm for a glamorous penthouse inspired by nautical themes. Their riverside abode was also a unique opportunity to highlight the many design possibilities in a condo.

As Special Projects Editor Sarah Brown continues to steer our Interiors issue into new and exciting waters, creativity and collaboration are at an all-time high. In “Everyday Beauty,” for example, five photographers, five subjects, and two writers come together to explore the way people express beauty — and their own life stories — through the objects and ambience with which they choose to surround themselves. It’s a unique and heartfelt testimony to the fact that we all have a story to tell and whatever way we choose to tell it is worthy of contemplation.

— Dayanti Karunaratne, editor


One of Shopify’s workspace nooks. Photo: Luther Caverly

This City
Reason to Love Ottawa: Because e-commerce giant Shopify is going global and buying local
By Sarah Brown
Photo by Luther Caverly

Random Design Desires: What we love, where to find it, and sometimes why

Found: Kingston’s Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, an iconic lakeside theatre

Process: The art of success with Natasha Mazurka

Street Tour: Mapping modernity in Hintonburg 31

Field Trip

Thinking Inside the Box: An imaginative couple turns a series of shipping containers into a home that’s at once industrial and inviting
By Melanie Scott
Photos by Christian Lalonde

Photo Essay


Inside a glass home — a peak into an Alta Vista home. Photo: Marc Fowler

Everyday Beauty: In a rich photo essay, five photographers (document everyday beauty
as they see it, each choosing and photographing the dwelling of someone whose home truly captures the spirit of the owner
By Ron Corbett
Photos by Bill Grimshaw, Maggie Knaus, Jamie Kronick, Whitney Lewis-Smith, and Remi Theriault


Light Fantastic: Tours of five sun-filled homes, exploring clever layouts and design ideas that allow natural daylight to stream in.
By Hattie Klotz, Sarah Brown, Janine Debanne, Barbara Sibbald, and Daniel Drolet
Photos by Christian Lalonde, Marc Fowler, Lorne Blythe, and Doublespace Photography


A tour through three sets of matching kitchens and bathrooms with lots of detail on how to achieve that harmonized look
By Sarah Brown
Photos by Gordon King and Joel Bedford

Great Taste

Most Wanted: Dale Dunning‘s objets d’art bring Koi
By Matt Harrison

My Look:
Urbanomic‘s Heidi Helm and Justine Baltessen sophisticated and minimal
Photo by Jessica Deeks


Child’s play — each piece of furniture has playful potential; furnishings & accessories for design-minded parents. Photo: Christian Lalonde

Shop Talk: Child’s Play — An imaginative shopping feature sees a child creating her own dreamscapes by rearranging and repurposing the living room furniture and accessories of her design-minded parents
Photography by Christian Lalonde

Eating Life: Sweet Thing — Considering sweet temptations
By Shawna Wagman
Illustration by Michael Zavacky

Quest: Sha’mokin — Quest for smoked servings
By Cindy Deachman

City Bites: Notable restaurant and food happenings
By Shawna Wagman

Going Out

Spotlight: Soif  by Anne DesBrisay

Restaurant Reviews: Ace Mercado, Fauna, Kothu Rotti, and Dumpling Bowl by Anne DesBrisay

Calendar: Vertical Influences with Le Patin Libre • See, Hear, Read by Paul GessellWinterlude, and more

Sound Seekers: Remaking the Mercury Lounge by Fateema Sayani

Ottawa Journal

Besotted with a mid-century modern heritage house by Avirl Patrick

WINTER 2014 ISSUE: Why Eat Out?


The Winter issue cover shot was taken by Christian Lalonde and features Supply & Demand’s squid ink rigatoni

It’s a question that challenges assumptions and calls restaurateurs to make their pitch, which is exactly what Shawna Wagman was trying to do when she invited five insiders from the city’s foodie scene to gather at Urban Element earlier this year. As Shawna wrote in her introduction, cooking for chefs — and probing them with questions about the industry — was an exhilarating and frightening experiment. In fact, the same words might be used to describe running a restaurant. This past year was a particularly tough one for the industry, but hard economic times don’t appear to be stifling the creativity in our city’s kitchens. While many were saddened to see the end of Domus, this year also saw the opening of five new restaurants on Bank Street alone. So it would seem Ottawans have plenty of answers to the question on our cover.

This food feature also celebrates the first year of Anne DesBrisay’s tenure as Ottawa Magazine’s restaurant critic. Of course, Anne has been writing about Ottawa restaurants for decades, but having one person serve as chief taster for a publication is a unique treasure. Check out her “Dish List” — it’s both a summary of her most memorable meals and a guidebook for those who wrestle with menu decisions. (Who doesn’t?)

Speaking of guidebooks, we tossed some fun bits into “The Encyclopedia of Eating Now.” Perplexed by small plates? Looking to perfect your reservation-making technique? Questioning the allure of brunch? Shawna Wagman offers informative and witty remarks for all this and more.

Also in this issue is “Northern Contact,” a series of articles on Ottawa’s connections to the Far North. Like Leslie Reid, my father travelled to the Arctic and was amazed by what he saw there; my sister, too, felt the call of the North and is now living in Yellowknife. I have yet to visit the land of the midnight sun, but I have been watching this aspect of our city’s culture since I settled here. I have grown to appreciate the Inuit population as a remarkable treasure that contributes much to our identity. And as a society, I believe we are beginning to recognize the North as a thriving, dynamic area from which we can draw knowledge and inspiration.

Coming up: We are already well into the planning of our annual Interiors issue. Once again, we’re working with Great Space guru Sarah Brown to bring the most spectacular homes to our 2015 edition. This time around, we’re visiting a glamorous condo, an artist’s home with a breathtaking view, and a classic mid-century modern abode, among others. As Interiors becomes a celebrated part of the local design scene, it allows for unique opportunities for partnerships among editors, art directors, photographers, writers, and subjects. Without giving away too much, I will simply say that we are having a whole lot of fun, which can only lead to great things.

This City
Reason to Love Ottawa: Because a geodesic dome in Brewer Park is extending our growing season
By Matt Harrison
Photo by Luther Caverly

Meet this little guy — a creation by Ottawa junk hound Dan Austin — in our holiday gift guide. Photo by Marc Fowler - Metropolis Studio

Meet this little guy — a creation by Ottawa junk hound Dan Austin — in our holiday gift guide. Photo by Marc Fowler – Metropolis Studio

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CityHome 2014: Design Lover’s Guide to Everything


Our first ever special issue of CityHome is on newsstands now! CityHome, aka The Ottawa Design Lover’s Guide to Everything, includes tips from local design experts, a roundup of talented furniture makers, beautiful photography of amazing homes in the city, a shopping guide, and more.

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OCTOBER ISSUE: The New Green + Money Talks


Ottawa Magazine’s October 2014 cover

This issue’s cover image — the iconic marijuana leaf — was not intended to be the cover story. But as we dug into the subject of money, we found that the topics — currency and investments and the like — were, frankly, not very photogenic.

Indeed, as the stories came in, the abstract, intangible nature of money continued to present a challenge. Plus, as Daniel Drolet asserts in “Stealth Wealth” (page 32), Ottawans seem to have a particular tendency to avoid ostentatious displays of wealth. In addition, many of today’s booming economies are without street presence. Ottawa’s own Shopify, which last year announced $100 million in new funding, is
a testament to the growth of web-based businesses.

That said, there was no shortage of awe-inspiring workplaces to feature in the “Office Crush” series (page 38). In fact, in the case of MD Physician Services, the success of their massive renovation lies, in part, in providing flexible workstations and lockers for staff who occasionally work from home. They’re offering the best of both worlds — the flexibility to work remotely and a stimulating space in which to collaborate with colleagues — in order to retain the best people. (And we can’t wait to see what those Shopify kids dream up for their new Elgin Street digs.)

It seems Bitcoin could serve as an apt metaphor for our current relationship with money. The cyber currency has yet to really permeate our everyday lives, but it’s catching on. There’s an ATM-type machine in the ByWard Market that lets Bitcoin users withdraw from their accounts, and Jazz Fest offered it as an option for ticket purchases this past summer. On the other hand, there is something special about coins and paper money, even cheques — not only the artistry of the physical objects but also for all that they symbolize in the evolution of civilization. Will piggy banks and ink signatures survive in the digital age? We’re in uncertain times when it comes to Bitcoin: it could be the Next Big Thing or something we’re laughing about five years from now.

But Bitcoin is definitely not cover-image material, and I think the marijuana leaf actually is a good representation of our economic future. Just 10 years ago, we would have scoffed at the idea of the government getting into the medical marijuana business. Times have changed. Justin Trudeau might be the politician openly discussing his post-dinner joints (for more on that, see “The Jester,” page 15), but it’s the Harper government that has ushered in a new — albeit controversial — openness about medical marijuana. No one could have guessed that, and no one can tell with any certainty what the next cash crop might be. So we’re having fun with our first Money Issue, mixing informational pieces with tongue-in-cheek humour, all in the name of bringing filthy lucre to the fore.

Coming Up: Our big food feature returns in the Winter issue of Ottawa Magazine. This time around, we’re rounding up the best dishes in the city, turning the tables on chefs and restaurateurs, and looking at the big picture when it comes to dining out. It’s sure to leave even the most fervent foodie completely satisfied.

Dayanti Karunaratne, editor

 This City

Reason to Love Ottawa: Back to (Forest) School
By Matt Harrison
Photo by Rémi Thériault

FOUND: A silo in the city
By Roger Bird
Photo by Jackson Couse

The Jester brings Frightening political predictions
By Chris Lackner
Illustrations by Alan King

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SEPTEMBER 2014: Living in the Downtown Core


Cover image by Christian Laldone – Photolux Studio.

Gentrification is a loaded word. As Mark Bourrie writes in “Change Is Good?” (page 40), when a neighbourhood goes from gritty to trendy, there are some who do very well and others who lose out. But I’d say there is one thing it’s good for, and that’s opening our eyes to the corner stores, green spaces, and other hidden gems that give an area character. For some people — we’re calling them neo urbanites — those observations shape their lives in fascinating ways. 

It’s precisely this act of taking neighbourhood love to the next level that fuels our 40-page cover story, “Living in the Downtown Core.” From the voices speaking out about gentrification to the people who invited us into their stylish homes, we can’t talk about urban renewal without shining a spotlight on the folks who are behind the movement. That’s why we broke with tradition and featured people on our cover (you can read more about Patrick Hajas and Erin Silsbe, and their beautiful deck in Centretown, in “Family Values,” page 61). In fact, while the “Urban Study” series showcases stunning interiors, the stories are more about how a house works to accommodate the downtown lifestyle and why the inhabitants choose to live where they do. Because it’s people like Patrick and Erin — people who frequent mom-and-pop stores and loiter at the cash to shoot the breeze — who are helping to shape the downtown core. And these so-called neo urbanites are savvy: they know about the power of the purse, and they walk the downtown talk. That’s why they volunteer with community groups, frequent independently owned shops, and walk so much! 

Alan Neal and Jill Zmud walk baby Violet and pug . Photo by Jamie Kronick.

Alan Neal and Jill Zmud walk baby Violet and pug . Photo by Jamie Kronick.

For me, one of the most interesting projects to watch right now is the Bell Street Towers. Apparently it’s one of the city’s oldest apartment buildings, and it’s one of the first places I heard about when my sister moved to Ottawa in the late 1990s. She saw the sign from the highway and, with vacancy rates low and few ties to the city, took a chance. She told some nasty pigeon stories, but she also spoke of the diversity of her fellow tenants, of children playing wildly in the stairwells, of spontaneous clothing swaps in the laundry room. Years later, when I was living in the shadows of the Towers, I came to appreciate the street-level retail. Yes, the pizza at Calabria was pretty good, and that Polish grocer got us through some busy weeks, but it was the familiar faces that made us loyal customers. Like many neighbourhoods in transition, the future of the Bell Towers is unknown. Hopefully, the facelift will allow room for a few blemishes, for it is the gritty details that catch our attention and call us to take part in the act of shaping our city.

I would be remiss if I let this issue go by without noting a big change happening at Ottawa Magazine. Our veteran gossip columnist, the affable and hard-working Michael Prentice, has decided he would rather go on the occasional cruise and spend time with family than track the comings and goings of the upper crust. And because no one can replace Michael when it comes to this sensitive subject matter, we’re welcoming long-time journalist Chris Lackner, who will skewer all levels of government in a new column, “The Jester.” 

Dayanti Karunaratne, editor


Reason to Love: Lusk Cave
Chinatown Museum in FOUND

• Chris Lackner is The Jester
Sarah BrownDoubleSpace at MacOdrum Library

Ottawa Is a Place — the story behind the t-shirt and the city’s civic pride
by Tony Martins

In Tune With the Times at Ottawa Folk Fest
by Chris Lackner

Secrets to Tell
Author Frances Itani mines her family history in new novel
By Paul Gessell

Living in the Downtown Core:
Ottawa’s downtown is changing. It’s moving quickly from a big town
to a small city. These are the people, places, and spaces amid
the core’s changing landscape

Change is Good?
A look at the positives — and the pitfalls — of gentrification
By Mark Bourrie   Photography by Dwayne Brown 

My ’hood, Your ’hood
Newcomers and old-timers dish on favourite haunts
Photography by Tony Fouhse

My Story
Vanier’s orphaned landmark
By Mike Steinhauer

Family life in Little Italy
By Nichole McGill

My Guilt Trip
By David McDonald 

Urban Study
At home with four committed downtowners

A Day in the Life
Minute by minute, hour by hour — at work and play with four urbanites
Photography by Rémi Thériault and Jamie Kronick

Photo by Luther Caverly

Photo by Luther Caverly

Alpaca is the new cashmere. Find it at Magpie Hill.

MY LOOK Talking life + style with Matt Carson


Connecting farm to fork by Shawna Wagman

Quest for raspberries by Cindy Deachman

Plus City Bites — foodie gossip and other juicy bits


David Lawrason picks top Greek wines


Spotlight on Erling’s Variety

New reviews of Ginza Ramen, Mamma Teresa Chelsea Ristorante, and The Rex

Carp Fair, Folk Festival Favourites, plus See, Hear, Read with Paul Gessell


The Examined Space by rob mclennan



Ottawa Magazine’s 2014 Eating and Drinking Guide, available until 2015!


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