ashleymadisoncopyLest you have hidden yourself beneath a celibate rock, you have heard some whisperings of the scandals surrounding Ashley Madison: how Ottawa has been branded as the city with the most users (although, if you check out Global News’ story from today, apparently Calgarians are more frisky), the stories of T.V. celebrities like the Duggars and Snooki, or even the pure power behind the group of hackers, the Impact Team,  for their ability to take over a website, steal credit card numbers, and instill fear in the millions of website subscribers.

It seemed an appropriate time to pull our piece on Ashley Madison from the archives where we cover the numbers, not only the city, but how the neighbourhoods within it stack up.

Originally published in the April 2014 issue of Ottawa Magazine.


Parsing the latest Ashley Madison stats for clues on the status of the capital’s extramarital liaisons

Sure, there’s that buttoned-down reputation trotted out by every other city in the country whenever the capital is mentioned. But Ottawa is actually tops in the country when it comes to carefree two-timing.

Ottawa Magazine checked in with Ashley Madison — you know, the website for married people looking to cheat (catchy slogan, Life Is Short. Have an Affair) — to see whether the capital remained as unfaithful as ever. The short answer: you bet. Public moralizing and complicated secret lives — what could be more Ottawa than that?

Hereto, a “state of the union” address revealing the latest stats on how many of us are double-dealing (or looking to) and which neighbourhoods have wandering eyes.

As of January 2014, Ottawa retained its crown as the top city for cheaters, ranking first in terms of membership per capita (though behind the bigger cities of Toronto and Calgary in terms of total membership). Some 175,321 aspiring local philanderers were signed up, with an average age of 39 for men and 37 for women. That’s interesting, but the stats scrutiny gets a little more titillating (and addictive) when it’s broken down into neighbourhoods. That’s when you can start eyeing up your neighbours and letting your dirty mind wander.

Top 10 cheating neighbourhoods in Ottawa — drum roll, please — and in the category of No Surprise, the winning “neighbourhood” is Parliament Hill, whose postal code accounts for nearly 11 percent of Ashley Madison’s local clientele. Take note, Frank magazine. Another Hill — Sandy Hill, just down the road — holds down second spot for urban cheaters. Kanata runs a close third, followed by Hunt Club, Glebe, Queensway, Riverview, Overbrook, Centretown, and Dalhousie. A 2012 Ashley Madison poll saw Rockcliffe Park in top spot, with Kanata, Nepean, Sandy Hill, and Westboro rounding out the top-five list of philanderer wannabes.


FACEOFF: The Great Bikini Debate — Two parents, two daughters each, differing opinions on the two-piece


This article was originally published in the Summer 2015 print edition of
Ottawa Magazine


The great bikini debate: Mike Reynolds vs Andrea Tomkins. Photo: Miv Fournier

The wearing of bikinis is one of those perennial hot topics, especially when it comes to children. Do bikinis sexualize little girls? Or is that notion taboo in itself? And what about exposure to sun? Two parents, both with two daughters, weigh in on the great bikini debate.

Mike Reynolds on saying no to the two-piece

Let it be known that I am a dad who does not have a shotgun, and no, I’m not looking forward to the day when I can take my daughters to a purity ball. My partner and I are working hard — even at their young ages of three and five — to make sure they know they are the keepers and rulers of their own bodies.

We have rules in our house, as parents are known to have, but we’re doing what we can to teach them that they have the ultimate say in what they do. Their opinions matter and their voices count, and as they grow older, we’re trying to prepare them to have more and more autonomy over their own bodies.

But this summer, they will not be wearing bikinis. There are obvious reasons for this, the strongest of which is teaching them the importance of covering up from a welcome but sometimes dangerous sun. But there are other, less obvious reasons too.

Bikinis are sexualized attire — the less fabric, the more so — which is absolutely great for women young and old who have chosen to express themselves by wearing them. But not for our kids.

As they get older, they will be afforded more and more green lights, including attire for the beach, the backyard, or wherever one chooses to wear a bikini — or a big orange towel.

But they’re children, and at this point, we encourage them to have a healthy relationship with their bodies and their sexuality through the use of correct anatomical terms, discussions on acceptance, and expressions of love. If done right, there’s a good chance they’ll eventually feel comfortable wearing a bikini no matter what their body type. At least that’s the hope.

Mike Reynolds is a dad and an Ottawa writer who contributes to the,, and



The great bikini debate: Mike Reynolds vs Andrea Tomkins. Photo: Miv Fournier

Andrea Tomkins on letting her daughters decide

I was pregnant with my first and shopping for baby clothes when

I saw infant bikinis for the first time. Imagine three triangles connected with strings. I didn’t even know such a thing existed.

As a first-generation Canadian of Eastern European parents, I naturally assumed that babies swam around naked. In fact, in my childhood, babies swam naked at beaches and lakes until the age of eight or nine. Maybe this is why I’m not that hung up on nudity or near nudity. We’re all naked underneath our clothes, aren’t we? So what’s the big deal about showing some skin at the beach?

Slathering on the sunscreen is a must (and admittedly I’m a bit of a nag about it), but a bikini is A-OK in my books. I let my daughters wear bikinis because they are long-legged beauties who deserve to feel great about themselves, and if a bikini (or a one-piece or a bathing cap with puffy flowers on it) makes them feel great, I will support their decision to wear one.

I do reserve the right to veto anything that looks too trashy (subjective, I know, but there it is), but as long as they can swim and dive and move around comfortably and freely without having to tug at the bits of fabric that are holding everything in, I’m cool with a two-piece.

Here’s the thing: they don’t have that much time until they will probably start to worry about their softer bits and want to cover them up with suits that have magical slenderizing panels that promise to hide, rather than reveal. I want them to enjoy their youth and their beauty and this time as much as they can while there is still plenty of it left.

Andrea Tomkins is a mother of two teenage girls, a long-time parenting blogger, and the editor of Ottawa’s Kitchissippi Times.

WEB EXTRA: A revealing look at the myths and realities of sun tanning


This is a longer version of an article published as part of Exposed!, a collection of articles about everything under the sun, which was printed in the Summer 2015 print edition of Ottawa Magazine.


Photo: Andrea Tomkins

We were one of the lucky ones who got a break during the Winter That Never Ended with an escape to the Dominican Republic.

It gave me a lot of time to reflect and people watch, because as we all know, there’s no hiding stuff on the beach.

Our beach chairs (under the cover of an umbrella of course) yielded front row seats to an endless parade of tattoos, piercings, scars, and all of the muscular and/or jiggly bits — plus a pantone swatch of skin tones and degrees of burns: creamy-skinned red heads and grizzled brown leathery types and every shade of pink, red, and brown between.

I had assumed hardcore tanning had fallen out of favour, but given the proliferation of sun worshippers in Punta Cana it was clear it still had its fans.

During our holiday, my personal sun-related philosophies could be boiled down to two things: play in the sun/rest in the shade, and wear sunscreen over all exposed skin at all times. I knew this from experience. We did this trip five years ago, when our children were young enough to be told what to do. In the morning we’d strip them down and slather their entire naked little bodies with SPF 60 from head to toe to ensure total and even coverage. After that we’d put on their bathing suits, sun hats and sun shirts.

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WEB EXTRA: Yoga instructor Sarah Atkinson on the appeal of nude yoga

This Q&A explores nude yoga, as written about in an article published as part of Exposed!, a collection of articles about everything under the sun, which was printed in the Summer 2015 print edition of Ottawa Magazine.
Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne chats with Bare-Roots teacher Sarah Anne Atkinson of Bliss Yoga & Thai Massage, who has practised asana (physical postures) for seven years, about the appeal — and challenges — of nude yoga.
Sarah Atkinson is an instructor with Bare-Roots Yoga

Sarah Atkinson is an instructor with Bare-Roots Yoga. Atkinson and Stef Caissie are co-organizers at Bare-Roots Yoga.

When did you get involved with Bare-Roots?
Shortly after its debut in May of 2014 I joined a class led by Teresa Splinter.  The class was a refreshing change from what else was being offered in Ottawa.
And why?
My partner encouraged me to check it out as we have done other activities nude. I liked the message that was being cultivated in a sacred space allowing our true selves to exist around total strangers.  I also enjoy the community that is forming out of the yoga group.
How has Bare-Roots affected your yoga practice?
I have gained so much self confidence as a teacher and as a student. It is part of a growing practice to let thoughts in the mind go. It is even more challenging to do this while nude. The inner critic plays over and over about body image and imperfections. I am so grateful to this practice for allowing me to let go of my negative self-image issues.
Would you call yourself a naturist? Have you attended any naturist activities outside of Bare-Roots?
A naturist is a person who is comfortable with nudity and prefers to do most activities nude and spend time at home or out with others. I am a very proud naturist, a member of ON/NO (Ottawa Naturist/Naturiste d’Outaouais). I enjoy not only practising yoga in the nude but also tanning in the sun and most times at home with my partner.
What, if anything, surprised you about the experience of nude yoga?
I think that it surprises me how many people are new to yoga coming to Bare-Roots.

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POLITICS CHATTER: Duffy & Me, and the “gotcha” online world we live in


I suppose my fondest memory of Mike Duffy was of sitting on the backyard deck of his Prince Edward Island home in the summer of 2009, drinking lemonade, watching a bald eagle and exchanging gossip.

My son was with us, and Duffy was kind to the 10-year-old. The senator took some time out of a busy schedule of visiting summer festivals on the island to have me over to his place. I was in a rented farmhouse near Brackley Beach, a half hour drive away, and was bored out of my skull. PEI is a great place for golfers. I do not golf. Duffy’s number was in the phone book.

I’ve known Duffy since the early 1990s. Among the TV “stars” on the Hill in those days, he was a rarity, a man who seemed to be genuinely interested in people. Duffy’s desk was next to mine in the press gallery newsroom, and he was, to say the least, an interesting neighbour.

He would roll in at about four in the afternoon, usually carrying at least one Klondike Bar. The man was full of stories. Some were political. Many were gossip. He was funny and fascinating. The man has the ability to almost instantly make you feel like a friend. That’s a gift and a skill few people, even politicians, can claim. Jim Watson, our mayor, has it. None of the federal party leaders do, except, on her best days, Elizabeth May.

One afternoon, Duffy, Halifax Herald reporter Steve Maher, and I were talking near a window at the back of the Parliament building and watched in amazement as a man jumped off the Alexandra Bridge. We were surprised to see him surface a moment later and splash around. In a few minutes, a guy in an aluminum fishing boat pulled the jumper from the river. Things just seemed to happen when Duffy was around.

I was not surprised when Duffy was appointed to the Senate. People on the Hill had expected it for decades. By then, I was teaching full time at Concordia University in Montreal. We stayed in touch.

Duffy was grateful that I had written to the CRTC years before to ask the broadcast regulator to drop an arcane rule that limited Duffy’s TV show to just 15 minutes. I had also gone to bat online for Duffy shortly before he was appointed to the Senate.

I’m very interested in the way people are “framed” on the Internet. Even then, it was very clear that many reputations are now made in cyberspace, not in real life. People criticized Duffy’s journalism, which was fair game. But the constant bullying of the man for being fat had become a normal, if depressing, part of his life.

They intensified after he was appointed to the Senate. Duffy, according to the anonymous online warriors, was a drunk, a slob, a whore who sold his integrity for a Senate seat, a pig who had greedily taken down Frank Magazine by suing it for libel. (The fact that Frank had been engaged in years of fat-shaming seemed to be irrelevant to the Duffy-haters).

As an author, professor (and a law student), I’m intrigued by propaganda, how reality is shaped by words, and how, with enough manipulation and publication, lies can seem like facts. I’m writing my third book on the subject now. If you have a public profile and any enemies, there’s a good chance that a Google search will puke up every embarrassing thing about you that’s ever been discovered or invented. If you’re a politician, you cannot escape the mudslinging. Same for freelance writers, sessional professors, lawyers, business people, and everyone else who relies on their reputations to land them work.

So I helped Duffy get the worst stuff off the Internet. I was following the issues that were being raised and reading the rules of Wikipedia, YouTube, free blogging websites and other Internet sites where Duffy was being trashed. I stopped doing that for Duffy two years before the first investigations for expense frauds.

In the end, I’ve had some media criticism for doing that work, especially because Duffy sent me a cheque in gratitude after a couple of years and I made the mistake of cashing it. I thought it was Duffy’s money, not public funds laundered through what prosecutors claim was a slush fund. (The money has since gone to charity). Now Duffy is the poster boy for entitlement in Ottawa, even though he really was a fringe player on his best day.

Lost in the Duffy roasting is the fact that the Internet has made public space toxic for many people who otherwise might be attracted to public service. No one wants their lives published on the World Wide Web. Few of us can be sure that there’s nothing embarrassing that could end up in the “controversies” section of a Wikipedia page. And even fewer of us can afford the one serious recourse available: a libel suit.

I’m not sure whether the Internet has brought out mean people who were already spewing bile and hatred without an audience, or if it has made us meaner people. Recent medical studies do show that the brains of frequent Internet users, especially gamers, are physically changing, and not in ways we’d like.

So, in the end, I have no regrets about my friendship with Duffy, and I’ll trust in the courts to decide whether he was an honest man. What I do regret is the lack of conversation about the “gotcha” online world we live in, and the cruelty that underlies so much material on the Internet.

PROFILE: Beauty + Sussex [advertorial]


Getting ready for fun in the sun means taking care of feet and hands, as well as the two most defining aspects of beauty: your face and hair.

Our team at Beauty + Sussex provides you with the kind of expert, careful attention you need to look your best this summer. Steps from the Chateau Laurier, we serve busy professionals working on Parliament Hill, in the Byward Market, and in the downtown core.  Beauty + Sussex appeals to both men and women. Rest assured, our staff are as discreet as the situation demands; your beauty secrets are safe with us.

Hair tips from senior stylist, Paul:
• Just as your body craves hydration, your hair wants deep conditioning in the summer. Salon treatments ensure that dryness doesn’t seep into the hair shaft.
• Do you want to maintain a longer mane this summer? If so, consider setting aside your blow dryer in favour of hair accessories that accent your cut, or wear loose braids and pony-tails that add natural, feminine appeal.

Skin tips from estheticians, Justyna and Harrietsuss2
• Facials are a relaxing, beauty-making experience at any time of year. In summer, high heat and perspiration make some people more prone to breakouts. That’s why your summer beauty regime needs to include a regular facial. All skin types benefit!
• Putting your best face forward includes taming those scraggly eyebrow hairs, and making sure chin and cheeks are smooth and soft. Our waxing services help you show off all parts of your body’s largest organ—your skin!
• The soles of your feet deserve the special attention only a pedicure can bring. Vibrant and fun shades of nail polish help you step into sexy summer sandals with confidence.


Visit to book online, or call our friendly staff to set up your appointments: (613) 680-6288

Open 6 days a week including some evenings.
Find us at 700 Sussex Drive, 2nd floor of the condos (entrance at the courtyard at Rideau St and Sussex Dr)

PROFILE: Dr Beaupre Vein Clinic [advertorial]


Dr Beaupre


Aching legs are frequent, especially in women. One of the factors causing discomfort is varicose vein disorders, which are worsened by prolonged standing. Click here to arrange a consultation.


Bulging varicose veins are mainly found along the long and short saphenous veins, or their tributaries, as well as on the perforating veins. Learn more about Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy, a procedure that dramatically reduces needs for surgery of large varicies.


  • General fatigue and tiredness
  • Heaviness in the legs and thighs
  • Swelling of the ankles and night cramps in the lower limbs


drB_legsSpider veins or burst capillaries on the face are usually caused by:

  • heredity
  • sudden changes in temperature
  • sunburn
  • spicy foods
  • smoking
  • alcohol
  • overly hot beverages

The injection of facial spider veins (telangiectasia) gives excellent results and is a safe and inexpensive alternative to laser therapy.

drb_logoDr. Beaupré keeps up with the latest advances in research and treatment at annual conferences in phlebology – in Canada, the U.S., Japan, Austria and France; she also appears as a guest speaker, as well as a monitor for other practitioners in the field.

600-1335, Carling Avenue


FOUND: A Rainforest in Smiths Falls

This story first appeared in the May 2015 issue of Ottawa Magazine.


Judy Tennant at the Rainforest Aviary in Smiths Falls. Photo by Scott Adamson

Judy Tennant at the Rainforest Aviary in Smiths Falls. Photo by Scott Adamson

April, an African grey parrot, stares at you expectantly from the forearm of Judy Tennant, head trainer at the Rainforest Aviary in Smiths Falls, Ontario. You may now reward April with a juicy piece of green grape for greeting you in civil fashion. April is one of the exotic birds that now live at this sanctuary, founded in 2008 and open to the public for the past three years. The din, from birds perched along a jungle-like network of sturdy ropes above you, is impressive.

Photo by Scott Adamson

Photo by Scott Adamson

Flight Risk
Thinking of buying a parrot? Don’t. Not until you’ve visited this aviary and said hello to any of the parrots, cockatoos, macaws, and other exotic bird species that live there now that their owners have realized they were not equipped to care for the birds. After dogs and cats, exotic birds are the most often purchased pet. “We have 27 living here now,” says Tennant. “We could have hundreds.”

Avian Escape
Check the website for the aviary’s visiting hours, or make an appointment. Participate in bird training, rehabilitation, and socialization under the guidance of experts and volunteers. Feed the parrots grapes for good behaviour, or have the kids don a rain slicker and sou’wester and step into a steamy shower with friendly avian residents like Molly, a black-headed caique that loves to preen. In summer, families can picnic on the grounds of the Gallipeau Centre, the aviary’s current home, and take parrots for walks in a “bird buggy.” Good for the spirits of both birds and human visitors.

Party Animals
Meet Sammy, a 60-year-old cockatoo and Tikki, a macaw wearing a bright red sweater (before her rescue, she plucked off all her chest feathers, a stress reaction). Some parrots are party animals. You can arrange for a trainer to attend your event, bringing along birds that enjoy interacting with strangers. Let them groom you — for them, glasses, earrings, and buttons are “wind drag” they’d kindly try to remove. Bonus: “If you get pooped on, you get a prize,” says Tennant.

Photo by Scott Adamson

Photo by Scott Adamson

Bird Beliefs
Tennant’s mission is to rescue and rehabilitate these birds, educate the public, advocate for the well-being and survival of parrot species in the wild, and teach those wishing to adopt a bird how to provide the best home possible. She’s seeking corporate sponsorship to build a genuine rainforest-simulating aviary that will provide a home for the alarming numbers of birds in need. The aviary would also offer a space for humans to enjoy the company of these fascinating animals and gain a better understanding of what they need to live a good life.

PARTY PLANNERS’ GUIDE: Remember your loved ones with a service that reflects who they are


WITH PARTY PRO Elizabeth Young

This article was originally published in the April 2015 print edition of Ottawa Magazine


Tivoli Florist, Elizabeth Young. Photo: Jessica Deeks

Elizabeth Young is the new owner of Tivoli Florist, but she’s no rookie when it comes to flowers and events. Before taking over the 26-year-old Westboro shop last year, she operated Flowers Talk, completed the horticulture program at the University of Guelph, and ran her own event-planning company out of the Westin Hotel for three years.

She got into the business because she loves plants and has always had a keen interest in events. “I grew up with my fingers in the dirt,” she jokes. And while she enjoyed planning events, she eventually fell in love with flowers. “Flowers and events go hand in hand,” says Young. “They can literally transform a space. Flowers bring an event to another level — it’s almost regal.”

She specializes in weddings and other events. “From the first consult to the delivery, we are very detail-oriented.” In terms of style, Young describes her approach as “modern romantic” — not too fussy, not too much “stuff.” She keeps filler greenery to a minimum and chooses beautiful, high-quality flowers.

Her top tip when it comes to funeral arrangements is to approach your florist with personal information about the deceased. What flowers do they love — or hate? She adds, “Sympathy arrangements should be a reflection of the person’s personality.” Plus, memorial events feature lots of flowers, so if you want your contribution to be front and centre, better go big. On the other hand, if it is going to a memorial where an urn will be present, scale back in size.

Remembering Loved Ones

iStock_000002384861LargeThe Entertainment What is a modern funeral without a jazzy slideshow? “People like that perspective on a life lived,” says Mike Wood of Ottawa Special Events, the go-to technicians for Tubman Funeral Home. Their company provides technical help for audiovisual aspects of memorials and rents projectors, speakers, and televisions for all kinds of events. “If they don’t know how [to use equipment], we take the time to walk them through it,” says Wood, who lost his mother four years ago and says that experience made him even more tuned in to supporting people during the funeral process.

The Venue Before the last century, families and friends of the deceased carried out funeral rites. And just as home births are changing childbirth, so too are home funerals coming back into vogue. While still a fringe movement, “death midwifery” and “post-death care” offer an intimate experience. For those looking to help loved ones of the deceased (a.k.a. “death journeyers”), the Canadian Integrative Network for Death Education and Alternatives is the place to go for videos, DIY instructions, and testimonials. And this May, the Funeral Information Society of Ottawa is hosting a lecture by Cobourg-based thanadoula (death midwife) Barb Phillips to speak about her services — both practical and spiritual.


Photo courtesy of Beechwood Cemetery

The Spend In Canada, for years the cost of a traditional funeral has come in at between $8,000 and $10,000. But online competition, the popularity of cremation (because of the dwindling availability and rising cost of grave sites), and a general eschewing of bells-and-whistles ceremonies have encouraged alternative approaches to saying goodbye. In Ottawa, Basic Funerals offers packages starting at $1,500.

The Dress Black is a safe option, but if the ceremony is at an unconventional location such as a beach or backyard, think outside the box. More and more often, family and friends are looking to pay homage to departed loved ones in unique ways — and the all-black dress code is being questioned. So if the death notice says “no black,” do your best to abide. Why not honour the deceased by donning their favourite colour or an item of clothing that speaks to one of their passions? At the military funeral of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo last October, some onlookers wore red to salute the young soldier’s sacrifice for his country.

The Extras Why accept the standard urn? If it’s going to be the receptacle of treasured remains, make it personal. Better yet, spread those ashes among family members and friends by hiring local artist Janet Jensen to create glass beads that “tastefully and elegantly” suspend cremated ash in a customized, portable tribute to your dear departed. (She also works with Resting Paws Cemetery and Cremation Inc., the city’s first full-service pet funeral home.) Pretty and discreet, the beads warm to the touch and serve as a calming memento.



Dish Catering. Photo: Christian Lalonde, Photolux Studio

Expert Edibles from Dish Catering

Sustenance is comforting, especially if the food has a personal touch — the deceased’s family recipes, his love of fishing, or her practice of making preserves

  • French-Canadian tourtière. In hand-held sizes
  • Tea sandwiches. Smoked trout rillette; cucumber and whipped butter; pink beauty radish with brown butter and lemon.
  • Trifle. Blackberry preserves, lemon curd, whipped cream, and sponge toffee

DISH Catering, 119 Ross Ave., 613-761-1302,



WEEKEND LONG READ: Ottawa’s CoSA Works With High-Risk Sexual Offenders to Build Safer Communities

This article was originally published in the April 2015 print edition of Ottawa Magazine

Circles of Support and Accountability has a proven track record for assisting high-risk sexual offenders
with integrating into society and ensuring that they do not reoffend.
But its current funding crisis is raising alarm bells for those who study offence rates.
Brielle Morgan looks at the state of prison treatment programs, meets the people who volunteer
with CoSA, and talks to two men who are struggling to make past wrongs right

Illustration by Anothony Tremmaglia

Illustration by Anothony Tremmaglia

Heinous. Monstrous. Disgusting.

I stack these adjectives in my mind as I consider the stout man sitting next to me on the bench inside the Elgin Street church where we had agreed to meet. A convicted child molester, he has likely heard them before.

Sam (not his real name) unloads a stash of colourful candy from his coat pocket, piling it between us while announcing the name of each plastic-wrapped sweet: gumball, Skittles, Fizz, candy necklace, Fireball. Once a month, he splurges at local confectionery Sugar Mountain.

“Guy told me about that store,” Sam says. As if on cue, the door opens and Guy Dagenais comes in from the cold.

“Hey, Sam!” says the silver-haired man, his smile glaringly white against a deep tan.

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