By Craig Lord –
What a year it has been in Kitchissippi! Just flipping through the covers of 2015, there are a number of stories about people in our community doing some incredible things.
We learned about some bright kids and residents who are fighting battles against disease. We dabbled in the arts and took on our fair share of politics. The community came together to help fight both a global crisis, and personal crises here at home. Kitchissippi was a place of wonderful stories in 2015.
If you missed any of the stories from last year – or would like a second look – just click on the links below. As well, if you have a story in mind or a suggestion for what you’d like to see more of in 2016, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us – we love feedback!
As we take this moment to reflect on some of the stories we’ve shared in 2015, we’re equally excited to see what 2016 has in store.
January 22: Five things to know about Glen McInnes
The first issue of Kitchissippi Times in 2015 introduced us to Order of Ottawa recipient Glen McInnes. The founder of the Ottawa Art Gallery, which is slated for a $25 million addition, has been instrumental in inspiring young artists in the National Capital Region.
“I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get young artists into public collections. I feel if they don’t get into those collections, they are going to be in garage sales in 15 or 20 years,” Glen told KT.
For more of your art fix, that edition of Kitchissippi Times also featured a celebration of ten years of the CUBE gallery. Hear from owner Don Monet about “one of the biggest” shows they’ve ever done, and other tidbits from a decade of art in Kitchissippi. [Read the full digital issue here.]
February 5: The makings of a mystery
As February rolled around, Kitchissippi Times sat down for coffee with Westboro author Brenda Chapman to hear more about her new mystery novel, Butterfly Kills, including her story about traveling to Kingston with her husband in search of a murder scene.
Over the course of that cup of coffee, readers learned all about Brenda’s creative process and her passion for writing.
“Nothing gives me more pleasure in my professional life than writing,” she says. “I like to think of people reading what I’ve written.” [Read the full digital issue here.]
February 19: Little rocks, big bonspiel
We hit the ice at the Granite Club to learn about the long tradition of youth curling in Westboro. As the “Little Rocks” curlers were getting ready for a bonspiel later that month, they told Kitchissippi Times more about why they love the icy pastime.
Jennifer Hanna, a decades-long curler with the club whose children now play with her, says the family tradition has bred a great sense of competition and connection.
“It’s become, in my eyes, a sport that you can play right from this age to all the way up to when you’re 90 years old. You can play as competitively as you want and as recreationally as you want. I think that appeals to so many people.”
The Little Rocks program is an alternative to big hockey rinks on Saturday mornings and even brings in celebrity coaches to inspire and work with kids. [Read the full digital issue here.]
March 5: The future looks bright
Did you know Westboro was home to a Loran Scholar? Kitchissippi Times introduced young Frannie Sobcov to our readers, a high school student with a devotion to art and community. She won the Loran Scholarship awarded to 30 students each year who demonstrate a strong moral character.
After an intensive interview process, Frannie earned the honour for her work as co-chair of the United Way’s pancake breakfast and her artistic contributions to her school and community (not to mention some pretty high grades).
In addition to the $100,000 scholarship, Loran Scholars receive mentorship from their selected university community and the opportunity to work internationally in public policy positions.
It is an outstanding recognition for a young girl with a full life still ahead of her – and a proud community behind her. [Read the full digital issue here.]
March 19: The playful poetry of Pearl Pirie
You can’t say you expected a radish to take the front page in 2015, did you? But in celebration of Pearl Pirie’s new poetry collection, the pet radish, shrunken, Kitchissippi Times did just that.
Pearl’s new book quickly took root in Ottawa’s poetry community and was one of the most anticipated collections of the spring. Her poems told tales inspired by her garden and the flora and fauna of everyday life.
The born-and-raised Ottawa Valley poet puts a bit of humour into her work too – secret agent squirrels and pet radishes abound.
“I think it’s meant to be a conversation for people to jump into. I think people are allowed to laugh,” says Pearl.
If you’re looking for a smile to ring in the new year or a bit of inspiration to start digging into your own garden, maybe give the pet radish, shrunken another look. [Read the full digital issue here.]
April 2: What’s in store
A proposed amendment to the city’s residential zoning bylaws promised a new lease on life to Kitchissippi’s corner stores. In recognition of these community staples, we shone the spotlight on some of the ward’s surviving stores.
Historian Dave Allston took a trip down memory lane to some of Kitchissippi’s corner stores and wrote of the challenges and changes facing local shops. For over a hundred years, kids have been rushing to corner stores with their allowances seeking a bit of candy and finding a familiar face behind the counter.
Today, convenience stores are in a state of flux, the small and local option in a world of big box stores. Be sure to check out some of the historic Kitchissippi photos accompanying the story of our cherished local stores. [Read the full digital issue here.]
April 16: #Instaburg
Hintonburg was a happening place to be this spring. We talked to Summer Baird and Alisa Viner, the organizers of the Hintonburg Happening to find out what festival goers could expect from the second annual celebration of community art.
This year, the Hintonburg Happening leaned on social media to interact with its audience. It was bigger than just a hashtag, though: events included a live art project created with ideas solicited from Twitter.
“Using social media to foster the community development that’s happening at that moment, it has a very instantaneous feel to it,” says Summer.
Get yourself(ie) ready for the next Hintonburg Happening, May 6-14, 2016. If you’re interested in being a part of the planning, there will be a brainstorming session for the next festival on Wednesday, January 13, 2016, from 5-7 p.m. at the Hintonburg Public House. [Read the full digital issue here.]
April 30: School of Rock
Flip to the April 30th edition of the Kitchissippi Times and you’ll find a whole class of rockers taking the stage at Churchill Alternative School. Last year marked the tenth anniversary of the Churchill School of Rock concert, a favourite tradition for students and alumni in Westboro.
School of Rock represents a departure from classic choral tunes (perhaps, those of your school years) to the popular rock of The Beatles, Neil Young, and more. This shift in genre was a massive success, growing the choir from a dozen to nearly a hundred young rockers.
Ray Kalynuk, a teacher at Churchill, says the kids in School of Rock get an early exposure to the joys of performing.
“Getting students on stage to play instruments in those early years, and then just stepping back during the song to leave them out there, front and center, enjoying the moment, and playing their hearts out – those were the magic moments,” he says.
If you thought last year’s tenth anniversary was special, just imagine what they’ll do this year when they turn it up to 11. [Read the full digital issue here.]
May 14: Community begins with C
Kitchissippi Times caught up with Hey Buster to learn a little bit more about the rad dad band. The members of the group found common ground as fathers and songwriters, and the band’s music is a marriage between those two worlds.
Now having released their third CD, the boys are changing their tune just a bit. Having started with dad-rock songs like “Pee Dance” and “Boogers,” Hey Buster is bringing the environment and community to kids’ ears with their latest CD, I Like My Bike.
“It really evolved just from the interest of the guys in the band and from the community we live in,” says band member, Sherwood Lumsden.
The band is currently working on music videos for their “Halloween” song and “I Like My Bike,” and are also planning a couple of shows in March. [Read the full digital issue here.]
May 28: Blending up something new
Did you recognize the face on the cover of the May 28 issue of Kitchissippi Times? It’s Donna Davis, a long-time champion of good health in the ward. Despite some of her shocking admissions (yes, she does have a weakness – potato chips!), with the launch of her new online venture, she’s showing that she’s more committed than ever to healthy eating.
The former owner of Elation Yoga and an instructor in the field for 15 years, Donna has been working on a website to help people with the transition to veganism.
“I want to demystify vegan cooking and demystify the vegan kitchen,” she says. [Read the full digital issue here.]
June 11: A different kind of love story
As summer rolled around, Kitchissippi Times decided to heat things up. Specifically, we peeked in on Autoerotic, the latest theatrical creation from Hintonburg’s Sterling Lynch and Wayne Current.
The theatrical duo brought their work, which touched on rather risqué themes, to the Ottawa Fringe Festival. The story of a sex worker and her client blossoms into something more as it explores the complex relationship between physicality and love.
Beyond the stage, the show ran its own blog and hotline to book “appointments,” an innovative online marketing campaign if we’ve ever heard of one. Wayne says Autoerotic was always about something more intimate.
“If we can evoke hearts and minds and not just libido, everyone is going to have a great time,” he says. [Read the full digital issue here.]
June 25: Clear cutting
Kitchissippi’s trees have been under assault. Over 450 ash trees have been removed from the ward, victims of the Emerald Ash Borer infestation.
The response, urged Kitchissippi residents and tree activists like Deb Chapman, should be to diversify our urban canopy. The high concentration of ash trees in the city made us vulnerable to species-wide attacks. So far, the city has included diversification in its replacement plan.
The other threat, of course, is development. Trees are often removed from lots slated for infill, or their roots are left damaged by excavation. That’s a problem tree activists think we can solve.
“If people really want Kitchissippi to stay the glorious mature tree-filled neighbourhood that we enjoy now, more residents need to get involved,” says Deb. [Read the full digital issue here.]
July 9: Smoke shack
National Access Cannabis (NAC) popped up in our ward this summer, aiming to provide education rather than controversy.
Taking over the spot where Heavens to Betsy made its home for many years, NAC is interested in connecting patients in need with government programs for accessing marijuana. They don’t, however, sell the drug or smoke it on-site – if you’ve got the traditional head shop idea in your mind, think again.
“NAC is in a position to help people deal with pain,” says CEO Gulwant Bajwa. [Read the full digital issue here.]
July 23: What’s Kitchissippi reading?
We had a lot of fun hearing about your “KT Reads” this summer. Our now-annual feature peeked over the shoulders of some of our notable residents and got a sense of what turns their pages.
Andrea Stokes, a Hintonburg artist, was perusing Opening Heaven’s Door: What the Dying Might be Trying to Tell Us About Where They are Going by Patricia Pearson. Stokes says that you shouldn’t judge the book by its grim cover: Pearson is actually a hysterical writer and attacks death with a quick wit and sharp mind.
We spoke to a bevy of Kitchissippi notables in this issue. At the time, MPP Yasir Naqvi was taking on a book by Steve Paikin (while his son took on Thomas the Tank Engine); Councillor Jeff Leiper embraced his inner Abe Lincoln; local journalist and teacher Ashley Wright dug into Nellie McLung’s autobiography.
Check out these picks and more if you need some new reading material. (And if that wasn’t enough, we shared our reading lists too – we’re no slackers!) [Read the full digital issue here.]
August 6: A landmark with a past
For over 50 years, the Richmond Plaza Motel has been a fixture in Kitchissippi. We dug into the past to uncover more about this local landmark and found a couple of secrets and a lot of charm.
This motel was once described as “ultra-modern” but it fell into disrepair a few decades ago, having been the site of a robbery and bloody scene or two. Yet, since new management took over in the summer of 2014, the Richmond Plaza Motel has been transformed. It’s not 1958 anymore, but the comfortable and quaint motel might still bring you back to a simpler time.
Oh, but don’t expect a Bible in the nightstand. Just the Yellow Pages. [Read the full digital issue here.]
August 20: Ride on
Kitchissippi Times sat down with a venerable veteran of the bike in August. Irwin Waldman has participated in the race against cancer in six RIDE fundraisers, raising over $12,000. It’s a race he’s won himself – having been cleared of bladder cancer in 2007.
He hasn’t slowed down since. At 86, Irwin is the oldest member in his cycling club (and among the fastest). He says riding with his group and fundraising for the Ottawa Hospital Foundation is pure joy.
“It’s such a good time when I do this. I’m just having an absolute ball riding with a group like that,” he says.
Irwin says that a focus on senior care has become his motivation for supporting the hospital. He thinks of it as a little payback: it’s a good idea to support a hospital now while you’re healthy, just in case you ever need one. [Read the full digital issue here.]
September 3: A juicy development in Hintonburg
The Urban Juice Press picked up its roots and replanted in Hintonburg this summer, giving Kitchissippi a taste of something fresh.
Founder Justin Gauthier originally got into making his organic juices for health reasons but was inspired to open his own business when he saw a thriving juice bar scene in New York. The many varieties of juices all have their own health benefits, from boosting your immune system to anti-inflammatories.
One of the priorities of Urban Juice Press’ move was to offer a storefront for customers, and to that end, they’ve begun to offer smoothies as well. Swing by the shop on Parkdale and raise a glass to your new neighbours! [Read the full digital issue here.]
September 17: Westboro Village BIA opts out of Westfest sponsorship
Kitchissippi Times broke the news this year that Westfest would be leaving Westboro. The Westboro BIA made its controversial decision to opt out of sponsoring the popular summer festival to pursue more year-round initiatives that might more evenly benefit its members. Sponsoring Westfest made up 65 per cent of the BIA’s annual marketing budget.
It came as a shock to Westfest founder Elaina Martin and many local business owners, who thought this past Westfest had been one of the best, ever.
“It’s a pretty big deal to a lot of the people on the street there,” says Elaina.
“I was so hot with frustration,” says Sheba Schmidt, owner of West End Kids, who organized a petition for the BIA to reconsider their position.
The BIA submitted a request for proposals for a “comparable” summer festival to be held in Westboro. Westfest has since found a new home – Laroche Park – and a partnership with the Mechanicsville Community Association. The show will still go on June 3-5, 2016; some folks just may need to walk a little further to get there. [Read the full digital issue here.]
October 1: An expression of love
After being struck with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) at just 38 years old, Alan Gustafson found himself surrounded by a loving community. The “gentle giant,” as friends describe him, was diagnosed with the debilitating disease one month before his son Harvey was born.
His best friend, Peter Joynt, filmed a video of Alan discussing the struggles of his ALS, including being unable to lift his son. The video was posted to a fundraising page that raised $50,000 in the first week. The response from friends, loved ones, and the Kitchissippi community has been enormous. They reached the $100,000 mark on November 12.
In light of the KT article, Elmdale Public School also stepped up to help its fellow alumni. Elmdale held a bake sale on December 10 and raised close to $2,000 for Al and his family. Peter and Al are visiting Elmdale in January to accept a cheque and thank students in person. Peter will be performing and Al will be taking questions from the crowd.
“It’s going to be an amazing experience for everyone,” says Peter. “It’s going to be emotional for sure.” [Read the full digital issue here.]
October 15: The beat goes on
Kathy Armstrong doesn’t understand why she loves Ghanaian drumming – after all, she’s Scottish and should, by her own logic, be drawn to the bagpipes. Yet, after her exposure to the rhythmic art in the 80s and a trip to Ghana in 1990, she fell inexplicably in love with it. That’s when she decided to bring it home.
The Baobab Community, a school of drumming she started with her husband Roy Magill, just turned 20. It has become a place where kids get to learn rhythms with their whole bodies, and adults break the conceptions they’ve held about music for so long. [Read the full digital issue here.]
October 29: When old is new again
There’s magic in collaboration in Wellington West. When thrift shop St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) reached out to upscale clothing store Twiss & Weber about partnering on a window display for the Tastes of Wellington West event, the #FabCollab was born.
The project was tagged with the line “Recycle, Up-cycle, Break the Cycle,” and focussed on shifting our dependence on big box stores to local options.
SVDP has been a lifesaver for local residents in need. Women have access to counselling, legal and nutritional services, and the Ottawa Police head to the store to find clothing for recently released prisoners hoping to reintegrate.
More collaborations might be down the line as SVDP and Twiss & Weber plan to hold a workshop on how to upcycle thrifty items. Keep an eye out when you walk by the next SVDP display. [Read the full digital issue here.]
November 12: Ramping up accessibility
As crucial as accessibility is to the customers of small businesses in Kitchissippi, it’s not always a simple or affordable task to make stores convenient for everyone. Luckily, a local organization is helping to fill in the gap.
Stop Gap Ottawa provided accessibility ramps to multiple businesses in Wellington West this year, with the goal of a fully accessible city by 2025. Zach Dayler, executive director of the Wellington West BIA, says this goal is about more than just those using wheelchairs. “Think about mothers, think about boomers; think about everyone who needs help just bridging that gap temporarily.”
Stop Gap Ottawa and the BIA hosted workshops and audits of the neighbourhood to identify problems in the community. Whether they’re helping businesses or just guiding businesses to help themselves, Stop Gap is adding momentum to a longstanding problem in the city. [Read the full digital issue here.]
November 26: Local response to a global issue
The Syrian refugee crisis demanded the attention of the world this year, and Kitchissippi was no different. What arose from Louisa Taylor’s concern was Refugee 613, an organization that coordinates Ottawa’s response to the global refugee crisis.
As a former journalist, Louisa covered immigration extensively. Exposure to these issues throughout her career made her perfectly suited to head up Ottawa’s response team.
Refugee 613 is a non-partisan, one-stop shop to collect and disseminate information about how Ottawa residents can help the refugee resettlement. The inspiration behind the organization’s crusade is a simple one: create the heritage of the future. Refugees can enrich Ottawa’s diverse communities and positively impact our economy.
This issue is an ongoing one. Refugee613.ca is the place to go to learn more about how to help refugees as they enter the city. It is Louisa’s hope that her work inspires and energizes citizens to spread the word and find creative solutions to a crisis both around the world and right here at home. [Read the full digital issue here.]
December 10: Just add colour
Our final issue of the year brought colour to Kitchissippi. Arpi, an artist who calls Hintonburg home, unveiled his latest work: a beautiful mural rooted in his new home.
The piece, displaying vibrant local birds and streetlamps, sits on a wall at the corner of Lowrey and Garland Street. Residents who attended the unveiling were given a chance to contribute and added the finishing touches on a border pattern Arpi had already started.
While bureaucratic hurdles proved difficult and painstaking to overcome, the desire to bring a new piece of art to a barren wall gave the project the momentum it needed to finish before the year was up.
It’s just another indication of what can be done in Kitchissippi when the community comes together. [Read the full digital issue here.]