Our first ever special issue of CityHome is on newsstands now! CityHome, aka The Ottawa Design Lover’s Guide for 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.
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
• Reason to Love Ottawa: Back to (Forest) School
By Matt Harrison
Photo by Rémi Thériault
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!
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
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
My ’hood, Your ’hood
Newcomers and old-timers dish on favourite haunts
Photography by Tony Fouhse
Vanier’s orphaned landmark
By Mike Steinhauer
Family life in Little Italy
By Nichole McGill
At home with four committed downtowners
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
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CENTRETOWN / ELGIN STREET
I shall not mention the winter months, but suffice it to say that I am welcoming summer with extra-wide-open arms this year. In fact, I’m betting that more people will spend more time outside this summer than ever before. I know I will be. Craving sunshine on my shoulders, I’ll be out the door at the break of dawn to explore the city, returning home to the laid-back satisfaction of a backyard barbecue. I’ll be building up my vitamin D, and my memory bank, for use during that season that shall not be mentioned.
Given this enthusiasm for enjoying the warmer months outside — and our growing food scene — we tasked our food writers with putting together their ultimate picnic spread, one that spoke to their favourite bites as well as their personal alfresco style. The results will treat readers to tastes from across the city and reveal the cravings of these four experts. We round out the “Take It Outside” feature (page 57) with products, events, and books, plus a playlist of favourite summer songs supplied by city notables, in an effort to help you maximize your picnicking pleasure.
And there’s no better way to immerse yourself in summer than by taking to the water. Its all-encompassing nature, its capacity to both scare and excite, and the way it stays with you after the fact — physically and in the mind’s eye — make it a crucial summer experience. In this issue, we explore local waters in a variety of ways, from Ron Corbett’s examination of water-quality issues (“What Lies Beneath,” page 28) to our water-sports pack (“Life Aquatic,” page 35), featuring stunning photography and plenty of tips to get you out on the water. And don’t miss Corbett’s ode to the Ottawa River in “Our Forgotten Soundtrack.”
I can’t close this letter without calling attention to the unique fiction offerings in this issue. Scott Randall takes us to all too familiar territory with a car-pooling story about retirement from the public service, while former Ottawan Peter Norman transports us to a mysterious empire with an excerpt from his debut novel, Emberton. It’s such a pleasure to indulge in short stories and novels. In fact, we had so much fun with it this year that we plan on hosting a short-story contest — the winners will be published in our Summer 2015 issue. Watch OttawaMagazine.com for details.
Dayanti Karunaratne, Editor
MAY 2014: Exploring the Gatineau real estate market, plus life after CHEO, electronic music + MDMA, and more
This year, our annual real estate issue delves even deeper into the “location, location, location” debate by looking across the river at the housing market in Gatineau. Talk about timing! Back in the fall when we first approached writer Laura Byrne Paquet, our go-to gal for real estate commentary, and photographer Dwayne Brown, who has become an expert at capturing the feel of an area, the Quebec Charter of Values was just beginning to make headlines. Little did we know that the outcome of a critical Quebec provincial election would be decided by the time the issue hit newsstands. As writer Paul Gessell says about his personal experience of moving to Chelsea, “referendums are great times to buy houses in the Outaouais.” That may be true, but I won’t wade into those waters here. Vehicle registration and daycare costs we can handle with sidebars; sovereignty — and what it means for the National Capital Region — I’ll leave to the political panel.
But I should add that on a personal level, this subject is very fascinating. Last year, after months of searching for our first home — a hunt that involved many visits to Aylmer — my family and I bought a bungalow on the Ontario side. Yes, it was partly due to the provincial border, but I still dream of that farmhouse near the beach. Matt Harrison, our newest editor and a resident of Wakefield who spent years living in Centretown, brought another view to the table. Our feature doesn’t mention the current Macdonald-Cartier Bridge construction, but that has definitely come up in the office as we weigh the pros and cons of living in Quebec while working in Ottawa.
Plus: If you love exploring the city (and/or are searching for a ’hood to call home), look for our first ever Neighbourhoods guide. Similar to our popular Eating & Drinking guide, this fun and informative book, which hit newsstands in April, aims to help readers discover hidden gems, meet some of the people who embody an area, and learn about the
best places to eat, shop, and play.
Coming up: Despite what’s going on outside my window as I write this, summer is around the corner. This year, we’re visiting beaches and backyards, food trucks and festivals to help you enjoy a fun (and tasty) summer.
Dayanti Karunaratne, Editor
THIS CITY Read the rest of this story »
Combo cure for cancer • Glowing mushrooms at the Canadian Museum of Nature • The Juice with Michael Prentice • Purple people pedallers in Neighbourhood Watch • Westfest block party • Opera meets Hollywood with the Capital Opera Company
Read the rest of this story »
When I first met Elliott Strikefoot, I was filled with excitement, fear, and uncertainty — not to mention the usual embarrassment that comes with any conversation of a sexual nature. In my initial email, I used the term “sex change” for the tumultuous transition he was embarking on. I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t know what was right and wanted to be straightforward about my own level of understanding. Overthinking? Probably, but that seems to be par for the course when it comes to sex.
In my conversations with Strikefoot for the Making It Work series, we chatted about everything from church to state, gyms to barbershops. At the time, he had been taking testosterone for only two months, and I didn’t flinch when the waitress asked, “Are you ladies doing okay?” Now, I squirm at the pervasive pink in my two-year-old daughter’s wardrobe and see gender as a continuum rather than a choice between two boxes. But at the end of the day, what I learned from Elliot was less about body parts and more about fulfilling one’s destiny — and how we all grapple with the hard decisions that entails.
Indeed, as The Sex Issue evolved, it became clear that sex — and the host of subjects surrounding it — often illuminates a larger story. Fateema Sayani’s article about open marriage speaks to such modern marriage conundrums as the importance of communication and having one’s needs met, while Judy Trinh’s colourful account of John School hints at the underlying problem of human trafficking.
It all points to a subtle movement toward a more progressive attitude about sex. When Elliot and I met, we were talking about some pretty heavy things, yet we never felt we had to watch our backs. Since then, popular sex shop/education venue Venus Envy has moved from their side street location to a more visible storefront on Bank Street. Call it the mainstreeting of sex — straight or queer, it’s here, get used to it.
Plus: this issue sees the launch of DesBrisay Dines as we welcome Anne DesBrisay as our restaurant critic. A trusted source for objective restaurant reviews, DesBrisay began writing comprehensive critiques for OttawaMagazine.com earlier this year. Find shorter, star-rated reviews in our “Going Out” section — and do read the star system carefully; every restaurant mentioned is Anne-approved.
Coming up: The grass is always greener on the other side. Our annual real estate roundup looks at the attractions — and drawbacks — of buying a house in Quebec. From cute cottage-like houses to the convenience of the suburbs, Ottawa and Gatineau offer comparable neighbourhoods. We line up the top contenders and let you be the judge.
When managing editor Sarah Brown proposed the theme of the 2014 Interiors issue, I was once again amazed at the rich architectural landscape of this city. The city’s explosion of bold, yet thoughtful, residential design provided us the opportunity to curate a collection of houses that easily fit the riverside theme.
The theme quickly revealed a few trends. Many homeowners love the modern look but wanted a house that spoke to the surroundings. Enter post-and-beam construction, which allows for open-concept kitchens and works well with neutral decor palettes. I love how, from afar, the Manotick home of Sebastien Marineau looks like a cluster of rural outbuildings. Inside, it’s warm, welcoming, and a luxurious place to come home to. Marc Gingras and Natalie Sawaya took a different route: the topography of their undeveloped property meant their house could be built to ensure awe-inspiring views.
One thing remains constant in these water-inspired homes, and that is the interplay between outside and inside. A pool is set into the bedrock and features clear fencing to keep the eyes on the prize-winning forested backdrop. Extensive glazing lets homeowners appreciate their surroundings even in winter. Barn- board reclaims the landscape by countering the modern aspects of the house and tying it back to the landscape, in this way honouring the surroundings.
I would even venture to say that the feeling of river travel — the sometimes peaceful, at other times stimulating experience that reveals something new at every turn — is reflected in this issue. For example, we learned of the Cumberland home of Anda Bruinsma and Barry Turner after visiting the home of Gosse Bruinsma, Anda’s brother. Gosse and his partner, Michele Carini, lovingly restored a heritage home in New Edinburgh — on the banks of the Rideau River, no less — and thus bring a different style of architecture to this issue. Serendipitous, indeed.
I’ve often marvelled at the fact that, while Ottawa has many parks and pathways situated near water, relatively few public gathering spaces take advantage of river views, sunset reflections, and the embracing spiritedness that comes with socializing by the water. But institutions are starting to see the value in inspired public spaces — “Building a More Beautiful City” spotlights three recent projects. Perhaps it’s time city planners took a cue from residential architects. How I would love a space to chat fireside about a new project or be moved by the musings of a celebrated speaker while taking in waterfront views.
WHERE TO EAT NOW
The best new restaurants for 2013.
Letter from the Editor
A strong sense of civic pride is brewing in our city. More often than not, it’s led by multitasking entrepreneurs who connect with people in the spirit of creating something special. Most recently we’re seeing chefs and restaurateurs throw their metaphorical toques in the ring — and literally asking their customers to pull up a seat at the bar. The result is a blurring of the traditional lines between customer and server, not to mention a new notion of what dining out can be. It’s a time for calculated risks, colourful personalities, and experiences that evolve through the night. In short, it’s the era of the cocktail.
Maybe it’s because we’re drinking earlier and dining later. Why not enjoy happy hour with artisanal munchies? Heck, some of these cocktails eat like a meal. Or maybe it’s because while we’re chatting up the tattooed barkeep, conversation naturally leads to our next order. Who wants a rum and Coke if you can have a carefully crafted signature cocktail? When chefs and bartenders are putting so much thought into the balancing of flavours and the infusing of herbs and alcohol, it seems a shame to choose a standard highball.
In the end, even if you choose not to imbibe, the theme of this year’s best restaurants feature shines a light on the rising stars of our dining scene. Cocktails are but a symbol of the attention to detail and the commitment to local products that make these places stand out.
In the spirit of the season, we sourced the city’s top shops to create a stunning gift guide. Our expanded Shop Talk series brings together the talents of our expert shoppers, Sarah Fischer and Erica Wark, with art director Jane Corbett’s impeccable festive styling and photographer Marc Fowler’s precise technical skills. If you’re looking for gift ideas or holiday decor inspiration, it’s a great place to start.
Alas, the holidays can also be a bittersweet time. For Vaheeda Visram, whose brother Shafiq disappeared nearly 20 years ago, it can be a reminder of those not present at the family table. Ron Corbett talks to Vaheeda and members of the missing persons department in the compelling story “The Lost.”
Coming Up: Our 2014 Interiors issue will be better than ever. We’re working closely with Great Space guru Sarah Brown to bring you stories and photography featuring the city’s best interior design, architecture, home decor, and public spaces.
Dayanti Karunaratne , Editor
A lively look at this month’s best concerts, coolest art exhibits, and most compelling theatre performances
Letter from the Editor
As the arts season kicks into high gear, we’re embracing events of all kinds — and widening our definition of culture. Food- and drink-related events are certainly a highlight for many readers. And who doesn’t love to dress up, act silly, and get into the Halloween spirit? Plus, it gives us a chance to explore some of the city’s delightful subcultures; I love finding out about energetic, passionate people who pour their hearts (and countless hours) into building their audience and making an event run smoothly. Indeed, part of the fun of planning an issue lies in tracking down these determined, dynamic people. That’s why I loved the idea of featuring organizers who typically hide behind the scenes — people who work hard all year so that we can enjoy a perfect party in the country, attend an intimate after-work event, check out a celebrated film, or be scared sense- less by zombies! And, of course, it was a blast to work with Jonathan Hobin, whose creative vision and technical skills (not to mention his relentless pursuit of pint-sized lederhosen) are unmatched.
This issue also introduces another element of the newly redesigned Ottawa Magazine. Our new columns section is an arena for writers to think big, argue a point, and share ideas that they come across
as they watch the city evolve. As the magazine reaches its tempestuous teenage years, we’re drawing on our skilled writers to make sense of competing views and exciting changes. I hope it will become a place that creative types and urban movers and shakers will look to for the last word on emerging trends.
Ten years ago, I came to Ottawa looking for change — and an opportunity to engage with society. I quickly found that, and more, in Ottawa Magazine. From the many people who mentor me desk-side to the top-notch contributors who bring rich stories and artistic vision to the residents who never cease to inspire our pages, the magazine has offered me endless opportunities for growth. Now I’m married, with a young one nipping at my heels and a new house in desperate need of attention. In short, the move to Ottawa has definitely brought change! And Ottawa Magazine continues to keep my mind alive and my own passions thriving. As I step up to the role of editor, I look forward to new challenges and am keen to help the publication grow, just as it has helped me.