PROFILE: With LOVE + HATE PepTides pave way to Broadway


What it means to be human “livin’ at the end of the world” — that’s the self-described theme behind LOVE + HATE, a three-part play by Ottawa’s The PepTides, a nine-member pop group that will have its second showing this Thursday in the Arts Court Theatre on the first night of the Undercurrents Theatre Festival.

The PepTides’ move to the theatre stage shouldn’t be a surprise.

In concert, The PepTides have made it their mission to electrify audiences with a form of entertainment that seems perfect for the stage. The voices of Claude Marquis, DeeDee Butters, Dale Waterman, Rebecca Noelle, and Olexandra Pruchnicky harmonize dramatically without competition. Keyboardist Scott Irving, new guitarist Juan Miguel Gómez Montant, bassist Andrew Burns, and percussionist Alexandre Wickham play both nostalgic and futuristic anthems in the styles of blues, funk, and soul that get crowds dancing.

But LOVE + HATE marks a milestone for the nonet, because it represents  a new stage in The PepTides’ evolution — from a solo project to a choreographed band.

Read the rest of this story »

PROFILE: Ski Kiting in the Hills with Drew Haughton


This article was originally featured in the Nov./Dec. 2014 issue of Ottawa Magazine.

It’s Ingmar Bergman country here, just north of High-way 50 in Gatineau. Before me are snow-covered fields and a ruined barn as grey as wasp paper; above me, a sky like breath-clouded steel. You could almost imagine Death and the Knight, out of the classic Bergman film The Seventh Seal, meeting here for their final contest. But they wouldn’t be playing chess. They’d be pulling themselves across the snow by means of brightly coloured kites and yelling at each other (in Swedish): “Tear it up, dude!”

It’s hard to be introspective when you’re ski kiting.

Read the rest of this story »

Throwback Thursday: Seven Ways to Get in Shape this New Year

This article originally appeared in Dec/Jan 2007/8 Ottawa Magazine print edition.
All photos by David Kawai


Jacqueline Ethier Photo: David Kawai

IT’S A NEW YEAR, and with it come new ways to get fit and fabulous. Forget the gym craze of the premillennium. Such mind-numbing step routines are the old codger to the ahead-of-the-curve activity-based routines of the young.
Here are seven sporty Svengalis with kicks, skates, and new moves to get you in gear:

Read the rest of this story »

MY LOOK: Kate Klenavic

This article originally appeared in the Nov/Dec print edition of Ottawa Magazine


Kate Klenavic is wearing the Rouched Marigold Coat by Tracy Reese and Sam Edelman boots. Tights and dress are from Wilfred; earrings and gloves are Etsy finds. Photo: Andrew Carson

How would you describe your personal style?
As a chef, I have to be pretty functional, but I also switch from kitchen to floor a lot — as catering chef for The Whalesbone, I supervise the kitchen but also interact with event guests. So it’s a mix of functionality and style. Ballet flats are good for instantly making a look chic. Booties are great because they look like you’re wearing heels but you’re not. And black. I wear a lot of black. Off-site, I’m usually in cook’s clothing, but that can be tricky because halfway through the day, I might have to meet a client. Then I slip on ballet flats and a bracelet, and I’m good to go. Blazers are also a super way to easily transform an outfit.

Does your own style affect the way you present the food?
It definitely does. My style can be trendy, and things in the catering world change often. Plus, I see a lot of the same people at different events. So I’m always looking on Pinterest and reading magazines for ways to present food while still keeping the food delicious. These days I use a lot of wood accents and stainless steel. Brown paper bags are great because they’re so simple and functional. And mid-century is coming back in style, so that style of glassware is both hipster cool and old-school cool, so it appeals to different groups, which is especially good at weddings, where you see grandparents and young people. These days I do a lot of the event styling too, so it’s about combining your personal vision for the event with that of the client and finding a good balance between the two. In the end, I always feel good food should look like you want to eat it and not like a piece of art — a little bit rustic, a little bit messy.

Read the rest of this story »

NORTHERN CONTACT: Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre: Igniting cultural pride

This series first appeared in the print edition of the Winter 2014 issue of Ottawa Magazine.



Sparking interest Ina Zakal shows a child the traditional practice of lighting the oil lamp called a qulliq. The qulliq was important to the survival of Inuit as it provided a source of heat and light. Photo by David Kawai


In a bright yellow room, a dozen energetic kindergarten students play with wooden blocks, draw geometric shapes, and flip through picture books while a pair of teachers circulate around the sunny space, tidying toys and trying to keep a handle on the organized chaos. One floor below, seven preschoolers snack on red peppers and broccoli. A boy in a blue sweatshirt slips away to stare at the fish tank. “Okay, I’ve got six of them in chairs now,” their teacher says. “That’s not bad.”

Read the rest of this story »

NORTHERN CONTACT — ShoeBOX: A perfect fit for the North

This series first appeared in the print edition of the Winter 2014 issue of Ottawa Magazine.



The ShoeBOX hearing-testing device. Photo by Dr. Ryan Rourke

More than 60 children from Iqaluit are flown to Ottawa every year to get their hearing tested at CHEO — at a high cost to the Nunavut government. Now, thanks to an iPad-based tool invented by CHEO physician Dr. Matthew Bromwich, some of those children can skip the 3½-hour plane ride. The interactive app asks users to drag an icon (e.g., an egg) into different containers (egg carton, barn, etc.) depending on whether or not they heard a tone. A simple screening test takes five minutes or less and can be done with children as young as three. Dr. Bromwich talked about how this Ottawa invention is changing the game for Northerners and others in remote locations.

Read the rest of this story »

Q&A: Chief concerns over sacred site in Gatineau


This article was originally published in the Nov/Dec 2014 print edition of Ottawa Magazine


Algonquin off-reserve chief Roger Fleury at the sacred site before the City of Gatineau arrested the occupiers. Photo: David Kawai

Earlier this year, the discovery of ancient artifacts on land near the Chaudière Falls in Gatineau prompted First Nations activists to occupy the site, which is slated for redevelopment. Given the findings, some people want the city to put the brakes on the $43-million project. Algonquin off-reserve chief Roger Fleury was among the occupiers arrested in September for refusing to leave. Before his arrest, Fleury spoke about why this discovery is important and why First Nations people want more say in the future of the area.

Read the rest of this story »

Throwback Thursday: Chief John deHooge


Chief deHooge, Julie Oliver, 2010

Ottawa’s newly retired fire chief, John deHooge. Photo: Julie Oliver, 2010

On Monday, the city’s fire Chief, Jon deHooge, announced his retirement — he’d been on the job for five years. His retirement was planned before the launch of a new strategic plan coming in the new year. “I thought it best that a new fire chief build and take ownership of that,” deHooge told the Ottawa Citizen.

Five years ago, Ottawa Magazine‘s Ron Corbett took a look at the then new fire chief — including his qualifications and experience, which were largely ignored. Instead, the focus was on the chief’s lack of French language skills — something that, though he took lessons, he was, he admits, unable to become fluent in by the time he retired. But given his accomplishments, was all that controversy really merited?

These thoughts and others come to mind as we return to that moment, five years ago, just as deHooge was donning the all-important helmet.


Newly retired Ottawa fire chief John deHooge speaking in 2010 to Alex Davey (right) and Ken Walton (left). Julie Oliver, 2010


This article originally appeared in April/May 2010 Ottawa Magazine print edition. 

Ask any firefighter how their department stacks up against the other two branches of Ottawa’s emergency services — the cops and the paramedics — and you’ll immediately get an earful about firefighters being the poor cousin. You’ll hear how they went nearly five years without a contract, negotiating with a stingy city hall that didn’t seem to have any sense of urgency — and can you imagine such a thing ever happening to the cops? You’ll hear about shrinking revenue, old fire trucks, and the constant threat of station closures.

And who gets all the media coverage? Don’t even get the firefighter started! It seems you can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the radio without hearing from Vern White, high-profile chief of the Ottawa Police Service, or getting an update from paramedic chief Anthony Di Monte on the effort to get more paramedics on the streets. In contrast, the former Ottawa fire chief — who held the job for nine years — was seen so rarely in public that his nickname was Bigfoot. Rick Larabie, who retired last May, rarely spoke to the media about anything other than smoke detectors.

I was thinking about all this the other day — cursing under my breath and thinking how appropriate — as I drove in circles trying to find Fire Station 1. Fire Station 1 also happens to be the headquarters of Ottawa Fire Services. But I couldn’t find it. Missed it once, with the address sitting right next to me on the passenger seat. Then missed the parking lot on the second go-round. Bigfoot, it seems, had designed a well-hidden lair. (Fire Station 1, for the record, is on Carling Avenue, butt joint to the Queensway, just past Kirkwood, on a tight curve where you take your life in your hands if you turn into the fire station or even take a second to notice it.)

I finally parked the car and walked up to the front entrance, only to discover that it was closed for renovations. A handwritten sign directed me around the corner. Fenced service depots are easier to get into than the headquarters of Ottawa Fire Services, it seems. As I turned to start walking, a car pulled into the parking lot — a candy-apple red Dodge Charger. Behind the wheel was a heavy-set man with short-clipped grey hair. He stepped out of the car and rose to an impressive height, then pushed back a pair of blue-framed eyeglasses. I remember thinking, Well, the new chief looks a little different.

Last December the City of Ottawa announced that, after a seven-month search, it had hired a new fire chief. The man getting the nod was John deHooge, the fire chief from Waterloo. DeHooge was 53, a career firefighter with 25 years of service at the Oakville fire department, where he rose to the rank of deputy chief, before joining the City of Waterloo in 2004. On paper, he’s perfect. He has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Western Ontario and is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He has won many awards for his professional and charitable work, particularly with muscular dystrophy, the charity of choice for firefighters since the heyday of the Jerry Lewis Telethon. He beat 300 other applicants and was referred to glowingly as “the best candidate for the job” by Diane Deans, chair of the city’s community and protective services committee, when the city councillor introduced him at a press conference last year.

But, this being Ottawa, none of the news organizations led with any of this information. Instead, the coverage concentrated on deHooge’s lack of French skills. (CBC was perhaps the most direct with this information, headlining its online story Ottawa Hires Fire Chief Who Doesn’t Speak French.) The stories then quoted the chief, who said he planned to learn French. Councillor Georges Bédard weighed in, defending the choice but expressing concern  about the policy that allowed such a hiring to take place, while Councillor Jacques Legendre said he found it difficult to accept the notion that the city could not find a qualified bilingual candidate in Canada.

Still, when the dust settled, deHooge was still the new fire chief and most of the media had missed the bigger story. After years of perceived neglect by the city — and with morale in the fire service running as low as a lure skipping along the bottom of a lake — is John deHooge the man to turn things around? “I think,” says Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters Association president Peter Kennedy dryly, “that those issues are a little more important than what the media has focused on so far.”

I stand in the parking lot, waiting for deHooge. I have seen his photo in the newspaper. You can’t mistake the man. Too big. The glasses too obvious. When he sits back down in his car to make a phone call, I move on and make my way to the makeshift entrance to the Ottawa Fire Service, which turns out to be a locked employee entrance. I have to knock on the door and wait for someone to let me in. I try to imagine the front door of the police station ever being locked.

When deHooge catches up to me, his cellphone is back in his pocket and he is carrying a stylish leather briefcase. He walks right up to me.


“Chief deHooge. Pleased to meet you.”

I inspect the man. He’s the poster child for the expression “barrel-chested.” Within his chest could be stored enough provisions for a two-week canoe trip. Yet he isn’t a hulking man. The face is still youthful, the eyes are bemused, and the glasses are a playful touch — one that keeps you guessing about him.

“We can go right to the office,” he says, and I follow him up the stairs.

“Excuse the mess. I don’t really know what is going on yet.” DeHooge has been on the job for less than two weeks, and when we enter the office, a secretary is waiting to show him the new printer on his desk. It’s about the size of a lunar capsule. You can see the chief’s disappointment.

“That’s it?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so,” says the secretary. “Rather large, isn’t it?” Then she looks around and says helpfully, “Maybe we can put it on the bookcase behind you.” Okay — or maybe we can give it its own parking spot.

“Well, we’ll work it out, I’m sure,” says deHooge as he removes his overcoat. Now he’s standing in front of me in his fire-chiefs’ whites. Like a naval officer on parade. Maybe the middle linebacker on the old navy football team.

I quickly survey the room. Like the offices of many successful men, it is bursting with memorabilia. There is a photo of the 1948 pumper that deHooge helped restore while in Oakville. A lot of money was needed for that project, and he helped raise every cent. In the photo, deHooge is standing proudly beside the machine. Here is a muscular dystrophy poster from the mid-1980s featuring an image of deHooge with a large, bushy moustache and wearing a wet firefighters’ slicker — so perfect, you could imagine that the poster designers had called central casting for a firefighter and deHooge showed up. There are citations and awards and medals for meritorious service. In a glass display case are scale-model fire trucks, a few looking old and perhaps expensive. The room is a shrine to firefighting (the personal photos — wife, two grown children — are kept near the desk), and it seems a shame to leave, but deHooge has booked a boardroom for us.

John deHooge, photo Julie Oliver, 2010

Road Warrior: newly retired Ottawa fire chief, John deHooge, poses atop his Harley — the firefighters edition. The fire chief originally wanted to be a cop, but changed his mind when a retiring police officer told him that if he could do it over again, he would become a firefighter. Photo: Julie Oliver, 2010

As we’re leaving, I notice a framed citation and photo in the corner of the office. There is an emblem in the frame, as well — silver wings with the words “Los Silverados” underneath. When I look more closely, I see deHooge sitting on a Harley-Davidson Road King motorcycle. “Oh, that,” says deHooge, already marching out the door and down the hallway. “I belong to a bike club.”

If Rick Larabie ever belonged to anything, it remains a mystery. Bike club, though, would not be your first guess.

“He likes his Harley-Davidson, that’s for sure,” says Mike Noonan, vice-president of the Waterloo Professional Fire Fighters Association. “It’s the firefighters’ edition of the bike. I don’t know if he’s told you that.” The fire service, adds Noonan, is very important to deHooge. “I would go so far as to call him a fire nerd.”

If people in the nation’s capital are wondering what sorts of changes will take place at the Ottawa Fire Service under a new chief, Noonan can provide some clues. He worked closely with deHooge on many charity events and says that in the five years deHooge was chief, he might have missed “two events, maximum.”

One of the most popular events the fire department ran was an idea deHooge brought with him from Oakville. Called the Civilian Academy, it allows average citizens to become firefighters for the day. Members of the public can operate the jaws of life, enter a burning building — even drive the fire truck. Noonan remembers debating the chief on this last point. “I was absolutely opposed to that idea,” he remembers. “I didn’t think it was a good idea, having people drive the truck without any training. But John believed that we needed to do it. And he was right. It’s the most popular part of the event.”

And if the new chief plans to be a more visible figure around Ottawa, no one would be happier than the head of the firefighters’ union. “You see [Ottawa police chief] Vern White in the newspaper every other day. He keeps the police service in the forefront of the community,” says Kennedy. “The fire service, though, is almost invisible and has been for years.”

The relationship between union and management could be another thing to change under deHooge. That relationship has been rancorous since amalgamation. Grievances are a regular part of the workday. In contrast, no grievances were filed against the fire department during deHooge’s entire tenure in Waterloo. DeHooge can’t take all the credit for that (people can’t actually remember the last time a grievance was filed in Waterloo), but his open-door, talk-to-me way of doing the job certainly kept the streak going.

“John was just a delight to work with,” says Brenda Halloran, mayor of Waterloo. “He was professional, courteous, has a great sense of humour. If you can’t get along with John, then you have a problem.”

Diane Deans says this reputation was one of the reasons the city hired the man. “He is very outgoing, very personable, and he has a track record of fostering good relationships in the community and in the workplace,” she comments. “We thought we needed to make a change in that area.”

The boardroom at the Ottawa Fire Service is a drab room with industrial-looking furniture, chalkboards on the walls, and what looks like an Electrohome TV-VCR combo sitting in a corner. The brightest thing in the room might be deHooge’s glasses.

For the next hour, we talk about his hopes and aspirations for the job. The Ottawa Fire Service has a five-year strategic plan that has yet to go before City Council. That’s his first job. “A lot of work to do there,” he says. After the strategic planning, he hopes “on a go-forward basis” to work on “engaging and collaborating” with members of the Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters Association. He wants to create an environment of “mutual trust and respect” between management and union. (He may be a firefighters’ firefighter, but deHooge often talks like the graduate of a public administration course, which he also is.) We talk briefly about his language skills. (“I will learn French. I have already asked some of my staff to start speaking to me in French.”)

We talk about his background. He was brought up in Toronto and was originally going to be a cop but changed his mind when a retiring police officer told him that if he had to do it all over again, he would become a firefighter. “A large part of a cop’s job is enforcement,” explains deHooge.

“A firefighter’s job, when you get right down to it, is to help people out of a jam. The old cop told me he would have enjoyed that more.” So he became a firefighter, joining the Oakville Fire Department shortly after high school. He was trained on the job. All his degrees and certificates also came while he was working. He is a “lifelong learner” and proud of the fact.

He has a grown son, who’s a firefighter in Mississauga, and a stepson attending Carleton University. His wife, Heather deHooge, fostered guide dogs for the blind and was excited to learn that the Canadian National Institute for the Blind has a kennel and training facility in Manotick.

As for the Harley, yes, it’s the firefighters’ edition. The company started making them in 2003, and deHooge bought one the same year. Have to be a firefighter to own one. No wannabes. “I love being on a bike,” he says. “I rode a lot when I was younger, and now I’m getting back into it. At 53.

That’s the prime of your life, right?” It doesn’t really seem like a question, so I just nod.

Phone around and ask about John deHooge — do it for a day or two — and you’ll walk away with the firm belief that there are about to be big-time changes at the Ottawa Fire Service.

The president of the union describes him as “a breath of fresh air” and then almost gushes about the man. Gushing is something Peter Kennedy has rarely been known to do.

The mayor of Waterloo still seems heartbroken to have lost him. (Mayor Halloran provides my favourite deHooge description. “He is a man of manly stature,” says Her Worship.)

Diane Deans almost gloats that she got him. “The best candidate for the job,” she says. Then she goes on quickly to say: “He’s a snappy dresser. He has some style. He really is an interesting man.” Deans also says the city is happy to have a more extroverted person in the fire chief job.

So how much of a profile will the new chief have in the community? He has some stiff competition, with Vern White and Anthony Di Monte already out there. Both men have become media favourites. And both have a running start on deHooge, who is still finding his way around the city. Still, those who know him have no doubt he will make his presence felt. And quickly.

“Have you seen his car?” Mike Noonan asks me near the end of our interview. “You’re talking about his motorcycle, but have you seen his car?”

“The red Dodge Charger, right?”

“That’s right. Everyone in Waterloo knew that car. You know why?”


“Because he kept red emergency lights in the back seat. He’d slap them on the roof anytime there was a fire call.”

“He’d show up at the fire in a Dodge Charger?”

“With lights a-flashin’‚” says Noonan.

Get ready, Ottawa.

PROFILES: Arctic inspires new art by Leslie Reid

This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Ottawa Magazine, as part of a series of stories about Ottawa’s connections to the Far North .



Ottawa artist Leslie Reid is pictured with one of the first works, Llwewellyn 59°05’N; 133°56’W, which is based on her photo of the terminus, or tongue, of the Llewellyn Glacier in the Juneau Icefield. Photo by Dwayne Brown

Leslie Reid’s paintings, whether of pastoral Calumet Island or foggy Newfoundland, have always been more about emotion than landscape. That is to say, the sense of loss or tranquility or mortality is more important than the hazy images of lakes and trees the Ottawa artist harvests from photographs.

“Although she has always worked from photographs, her intention has never been photographic objectivity,” says Diana Nemiroff, who curated a Reid retrospective at Carleton University Art Gallery in 2011. “What interests her are the perceptual and psychological sensations provoked by the experience of a particular place.”

So when Reid spent nearly three weeks in August 2013 hopscotching around the Arctic with the military, the retired University of Ottawa art professor was, in essence, seeking emotions provoked by aerial views of glaciers, mountains, rivers — not to mention the effects of climate change on these landscape features — that she could put on canvas. Those Arctic scenes and emotions culled from 11,400 kilometres of air travel will form a body of work called Mapping Time for exhibitions next year in Ottawa and Montreal.

Reid on a walk to the shore of the Northwest Passage at Resolute on Cornwallis Island. Photo courtesy Leslie Reid

Reid on a walk to the shore of the Northwest Passage at Resolute on Cornwallis Island. Photo courtesy Leslie Reid

Some of those emotions provoked by the North are the “psychological sensations,” to use Nemiroff’s term, derived from Reid’s appreciation of the experiences of her late father, an air force pilot. She had a “difficult” relationship with her father, who died at 44 — half a century ago, when Leslie was still a teenager — their differences unresolved.

Squadron Leader John “Jack” Reid flew DC-3s around the Arctic in the 1940s while a military photographer captured the scenes below. The nine-by-nine-inch prints from those forays are stored in the National Air Photo Library on Booth Street. Reid, the daughter, is using those old photos, as well as her own, to help craft the paintings in Mapping Time. In many ways, Reid was following in her late father’s footsteps last year courtesy of the Canadian Forces Artists Program, which allows artists to have ringside seats at military activities for a few weeks at a time. She said she was not expecting the trip to “resolve” the troubled relationship with her father but that she hoped “family history” would be one of the lenses through which she viewed the Arctic. Reid seems reluctant to say much about her “mercurial” father but offered this: “When he was away, he loved me dearly. It’s when he was at home I wasn’t so sure.”

After her trip, Reid fed dozens of her digital photographs into a Flickr website as a gift of sorts to the pilots, rangers, and other military personnel who facilitated her magical mystery tour. Nancy Baele, former art critic for the Ottawa Citizen, saw the Flickr images and sent Reid an email. “They are amazing,” wrote Baele. “Some of the landscapes seem as though they are paintings you have done. But what kept going through my mind was the question: How will you distil the human and landscape, both so haunting, so inextricably intertwined, sublime, so earthly, so earthy? … It is the artist’s task to give all these sensations, thoughts, and intimations form … Lucky we have you.”

Read the rest of this story »

FOUND: Ritchie’s silos a shrine to city’s agricultural history


This article was originally published in the October 2014 print edition of Ottawa Magazine as part of a series of three colourful workspaces in Ottawa.

Four giant, grey, concrete silos facing Highway 417 in the east end are a monument to the city’s agricultural history. Photo by Jackson Couse

The Monument
On the eastern approaches to Ottawa stands a 20-metre-high monument to the city’s agriculture: four giant grey concrete silos facing Highway 417, with a sign on the side that reads Ritchie Feed & Seed Inc. Each of these silos on Windmill Lane can hold about 1,000 tonnes of corn, with comparable amounts for lightweight grains such as barley or wheat. Beside them, a larger white structure looks like a cluster of giant cylinders crammed together. For decades, if you were a dairy cow, horse, chicken, pig, or sheep, this larger cluster was where lunch was made. Cereal crops, along with vitamins, gluten, salt, and antibiotics, were ground, mixed, soaked, and forced through a device called an extruder to form feed pellets for livestock across the city of Ottawa, the province, and northeastern U.S. states.

Lessons of the land
The “city” in the city of Ottawa consists of about 500 square kilometres of streets, houses, pavement, office buildings, shopping malls, and parking lots. Then there’s 200 square kilometres that make up the greenbelt. But inside city limits, almost 950 square kilometres of Ottawa land is in use for agriculture — that’s more than a third of the city. This paradox is audible on Windmill Lane in early spring. Neill Ritchie of Ritchie Feed & Seed is on the phone handling a call about some soon-to-be-shipped baby chickens, turkeys, and Peking ducks. “Do you want them at the same time? We won’t know until they show up whether they’ve been sexed.” He tells the poultry producer that you get a four-pound bird in six to eight weeks. After that, it’s less meat for a dollar’s worth of feed. Ritchie should know: he’s walking agricultural heritage, a member of the family that founded the company in the 1920s, co-manager with his brother Doug, and the company’s all-round expert on growing things, both plant and animal.

Movable feasts
Feed production — and the necessary silos — started on Boteler Street, south of Sussex Drive, in the 1920s. That operation shut down when the National Capital Commission needed the land for what became the Pearson Building, home to the then Department of External Affairs. Ritchie’s moved to Windmill Lane and built new silos in 1963. A couple of years ago, the company moved again and set up a mill in rented silos on Experimental Farm land near Hunt Club and Woodroffe. It used parts from the Windmill Lane site and continued grinding grains and squeezing out feed pellets for livestock in Ottawa and beyond, driven by a need for efficiencies and bigger volume. Inside the old silos, on a tour with Craig Harrison — the company’s fleet supervisor — it looks as if the crew has just left after a day’s work. Spilled grain on the floor, cobwebs in out-of-reach places, light filtering down from windows high above, and the rich smells of last year’s harvest.

Past and future
Aside from community gardens, the Experimental Farm, and small weekend markets across the city, there’s little evidence of Ottawa’s almost 1,000 square kilometres of farmland in the areas where people live and shop. Among the few reminders, the “Vinette silo” on the east side of Centrum Boulevard in Orleans made it onto the city’s heritage register three years ago. But there’s no talk of seeking that official status on Windmill Lane. Harrison, the man who knows the Ritchie silos best, seems a touch wistful when he says they are lying fallow. “But they’re great for signage,” he adds.