By Craig Lord –
The world changed in 2016 and Kitchissippi was no different. As we look forward to what 2017 might have in store, we’re also taking the time to look back at the stories that captivated us in the past year, how our brilliant community changed and how we stayed the same.
We saw new shops pop up across the area. We met residents who photograph sunsets on the beach and flip houses in a modest manner. We welcomed Syrian refugees while we prepared to say goodbye to a long-loved convent. We got to know the neighbours, artists and businesses that give Kitchissippi that unique spirit.
If you ever read a story you loved or there is something you’d like to see more of, we’d love to hear your feedback. Contact us with your suggestions and we’ll try to do more of it in 2017.
[Click on the links below for the full story.]
KT started 2016 with the fresh baked smells of SuzyQ doughnuts. We caught up with pastry professional Susan Hamer just after she had moved into her new location at 969 Wellington St. W. The address was the former location of the West End Well, a cooperatively run café and grocery store, but when SuzyQ moved in, it represented an empty canvas which Susan was excited to fill with customers and fresh new concepts. It’s been bustling ever since.
Getting to know the woman behind the business, we found out that the classic SuzyQ doughnut recipe was passed down from Susan’s mother, and that the support of her own children helped pushed her to open the tasty business in 2012.
From the bakery to the barber, our first February edition of the year looked at the growth of barbershops in the area – surely you’ve noticed a few!
Phil Ireland, manager of House of Barons on Wellington, attributed the boom to men simply caring more about how they look. From beards to buzzcuts, barbers are carving out a niche in men’s hair.
“We have guys coming in here whose wives are complaining that they spend more money on their beards and products than they do,” Phil says.
Since this issue was published in February, Kitchissippi has seen another barbershop open its doors, as The Gray Whale opened in March.
Owner Gray Winchell told KT that personal connection lies at the heart of a good barbershop, going as far to call it “therapeutic” for clients.
Our own Dave Allston, author of KT’s Early Days column, was the focus of the Feb. 18 edition of the paper. We talked to the local historian about his fascination with the past and the formation of a new club to bring together other local history buffs.
“It’s important to connect to the past and see where we’ve come from,” Dave told KT back in February when the group first began.
His goal was to create an “authority on local history” that could share information and help the City of Ottawa update its Heritage Reference List.
Dave tells KT that the first few meetings have been very well attended and interest is high to keep the group going. On his end, life got a bit busier (including a new baby!) and although he hasn’t been able to organize a meeting lately, he is hoping to get one set up early in the New Year.
In March, we celebrated International Women’s Day by learning about the strength of one Kitchissippi mother and her inspiring daughter.
Julie Drury, a marathon runner who is no stranger to adversity, became an advocate for complex care treatments at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario after her daughter, Kate, was diagnosed with a rare metabolic disorder.
The young girl woke up every day with a smile despite the agonizing routine of her disease. Kate died in 2015, but left her mother and family with the memory of her inspiring courage.
It was on a run earlier this year that Julie says she was able to make peace with her daughter’s passing.
“We have injuries, but we just put one foot in front of the other,” Julie says.
A global crisis was highlighted in Kitchissippi this year as the community rallied to support Syrian refugees displaced by the bloody civil war. Over a dozen neighbourhood groups formed in the ward to sponsor families with well-furnished places to stay.Many residents partnered with church groups to put up families as part of private sponsorships.
Flowers, warm smiles and signs written in Arabic awaited arriving refugees as residents like Norah Patriquin went to the airport in February to welcome the newcomers to Canada.
“It’s a great opportunity to open our doors and open our hearts to others,” she says.
Those interested in helping to sponsor a refugee in the area can head to refugee613.ca to find out how to donate, volunteer or learn more about the ongoing campaign to care for our newest neighbours.
KT finished March by checking out the history of Ottawa’s oldest library, Rosemount Library.
The building, nearly a century old, is “well loved,” supporters say, but the need for improvements brought about public consultations for the future of this community institution. Attendees expressed concerns about the building’s cramped quarters and lack of suitable utilities holding it back from continuing to serve its role to the public.
Feedback from these sessions lead the Rosemount Expansion and Development group (READ) to present recommendations to the Ottawa Public Library Board in September: Expansion is not viable. Rosemount needs to relocate and rebuild in order to be become a viable library for the 21st century.
The OPL board put a pause on renovation plans at its meeting in November.
Say hello to your new neighbours
As the snow melted away in April, Kitchissippi welcomed a number of new businesses to the ward.
Thomas Williams went from burger flippin’ to hot dog grilling as the original owner of Hintonburger opened up Wassup Dog in SuzyQ’s former location on Wellington West. He hopes to bring a taste of New York’s gourmet hot dog scene to Westboro.
Joining Wassup Dog were a few more restaurants: The Pho Shack moved into the old Hintonburg Kitchen location and Ola Cocina opened its second location in the former space of ZaZaZa.
Saje Natural Wellness also opened a Westboro store. Manager James Machika told KT that the neighbourhood was the perfect place for its essential oils, creams, salts and candles.
“Westboro village is great. They’re amazing people. They definitely live and breathe our culture and values,” he says.
SWAT arrives at Nepean HS
A group of students at Nepean High School took on the task of establishing a sex-positive environment in their school by starting SWAT, the Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team.
The initiative began in response to an off-handed remark a classmate made about rape. When student Hannah Thomsen heard, she approached her friends about starting an information campaign. The idea has since evolved. They’re hoping to bring in guest speakers and launch a series of informative blitzes to educate their classmates about issues such as consent and rape culture.
“Understandably, students seem to have a lot of questions about rape culture and what it means in the context of going to school at Nepean,” says Maya Seymour, one of the student founders.
Principal Patrick McCarthy is proud of the work his students are doing with SWAT, noting that it would’ve been much easier to walk past these comments without taking on this important challenge.
“They’ve really taken on a leadership role in helping other people understand this issue in a more mature way. And that’s been really impressive to watch.”
KT heard – and saw – the quiet story of Nancy Mooney’s sunset series in May. You might already know about Nancy if you follow some of Kitchissippi’s social feeds. Her daily chronicling of sunsets atWestboro Beach has inspired a number of followers and retweets over the year.
She began documenting the colourful spectacles on the night Corporal Nathan Cirillo was killed and she observed mourners finding solace in the sunset. Nancy decided to take pictures every day, capturing vignettes that sunsets brought to light, including a poignant run-in with a young Syrian refugee lost in thought at the sight.
“I think people like the consistency of seeing what Mother Nature does each evening. People love the sunsets that are spectacularly bright and colourful, but sometimes even ones that are grey and cloudy appeal to people,” she told KT. You can follow Nancy at twitter.com/nancyfromcanada. Read the full story to see some of Nancy’s gorgeous photos.
With a new locale and a three-day format, Westfest hosted a night for the kids this year.
Among the performers was Westboro’s own Derek McKinley, a public servant turned children’s entertainer, who brought his Sing Song Party Time to Westfest’s first “Fam Jam.”
The radical career shift, Derek says, was brought about by his own two sons, Francis and Oscar. The two are his biggest fans, and seeing their reactions when he played for them led him to branch out into playing birthday parties and other events.
“This is much more fun and more me,” he says.
Six acts played the Fam Jam this year on Westfest’s Friday night. Festival organizer Elaina Martin said the decision to host a night for families was a no-brainer.
“The Mechanicsville area is full of kids and young families. Since Westfest is about everyone, we had a great opportunity to focus on the kids for an evening.”
The next edition of Westfest is taking place June 2-4, 2017.
If you caught the first iteration of Westboro Fuse this summer, you almost certainly heard the unique sounds of The PepTides filling the streets. While it’s impossible to nail the eclectic band down to a single genre between R&B, funk, jazz, soul, and pop, vocalist Claude Marouis says this adds an unexpected edge for the band and the crowd alike.
“It’s more fun for us to come up with that crazy stuff, and I assume it’s more interesting for the audience, too,” he told KT this summer.
The band love playing the ‘boro, Claude adds, because of the “friendly aspect of the whole area.”
If you dug The PepTides’ mad grooves at Westboro Fuse this summer, the band has since released its six-track EP, available on iTunes.
Come along for an ‘Ottawander’
Andrew King, an artist and well-known wanderer of Westboro and Wellington West, took his passion for history and the city of Ottawa to the screen with a new show, Ottawander.
The show, a partnership with Bell Media, is a first-person walk through the city’s historic streets with archival images and information overlayed through modern film effects. The show aims to bring places like Sparks Street to life.
“We’re taking certain streets or neighbourhoods and the premise is, finding out cool stuff, historically, about those places,” Andrew says.
Andrew’s second episode, which is about Westboro, is now available on Bell Fibe’s Channel TV1.
After some steep criticism earlier in the year over their gender-stereotyped day camps, Dovercourt stepped up this past summer to become more inclusive in its offerings.
Initially, the community centre offered activities targeting boys with man caves and girls with manicures. Some parents were upset and Dovercourt was publicly pressured to make a change.
“We met with a number of different people and realized it’s not just about gender neutralizing… it’s about how do we become all-inclusive? So that became our next step,” says Steve Nason, senior director of programs at Dovercourt.
The changes largely came not in the form of different programs, but in how they were marketed and organized. No longer were sessions on fixing cars solely for boys, nor were cooking sessions aimed at girls.
As a result, Steve says Dovercourt received a lot of positive feedback about their response to criticisms and the kids, most importantly, were able to have the inclusive camp experiences they each deserved.
Summer camp enrolment was at an all-time high in 2016.
What’s Kitchissippi reading?
Did that summer read really stick with you? Or were you perhaps too busy catching the summer rays to crack open a book this year? In either case, if you missed out on our third annual summer reading issue, now might be a good time to go back and find out what our community recommends.
We started by checking out the reading habits of Kitchissippi Olympian, Michael Tayler, who competed this year in the slalom kayak event. Michael spent most of his summer in Rio practicing and competing on the whitewater course, but we caught up with him to hear about his two post-competition reads: History’s People by Margaret MacMillan and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Repair by Robert M. Pirsig.
You can learn more about his picks, as well as those of a librarian, an author, a songwriter, and more, in the KT Summer Reads issue.
Pho and hot dogs weren’t the only new treats in Kitchissippi this year. Just as the summer hit its hottest point, Cardinal Ice Cream opened its doors with a cool breeze.
The ice cream shop was a long time coming for partners Andrea Stokes, local artist and former member of the Wellington West BIA, and Thomas Williams, owner of Hintonburger. The two had seen the need for a local ice cream vendor for a while.
Local is the key word for Cardinal. Cones are sourced from Tracey’s Ice Cream in Renfrew and there are also plans for a partnership with Ottawa’s Moo Shu Ice Cream. Cardinal also partners with Flying Hound for frozen pet treats (think: blueberry-liver popsicles.)
“The idea is that we will be even more local – we will be a purveyor of products, hopefully, that are made in the city as well,” says Andrea.
Andrea is currently in treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is expecting a full remission. She’s already thinking ahead to summer. The plan is to keep scooping up the sweet stuff, and according to Andrea, Cardinal will be re-opening a little earlier this year.
This summer, Kitchissippi locals celebrated 400 years of the Bard. The cast of Bear&Co performed Macbeth in Clare and Hintonburg Parks, and roles from Macbeth to his lady to Banquo were filled by some of our most-spirited locals.
The play itself was a savage and fiery retelling of Shakespeare’s classic, with seasoned director Eleanor Crowder bringing the show to life.
Showings of Bear&Co’s Macbeth continued throughout the fall at the Gladstone Theatre as a way to encourage schools to plan trips to see the wicked play. Other local companies, Three Sisters Theatre and Plosive Productions, also put on Shakespearean spectacles in the fall in honour of the four centuries since the prolific playwright’s final adieu.
Who lives here? 1125 Gladstone infill
We turned away from the traditional brick and mortar that defines Hintonburg to learn about who lives in the more unique, modern houses in our neighbourhood.
One example is Don Laflamme, owner of the “big tiny house” at 1125 Gladstone. He partnered with the firm Colizza Bruni Architecture to create the home and did much of the interior design and hands on construction himself.
We learned more about the self-titled “artist and creator” behind the home, including his project “Mechanicsville Monologues” at the Carleton Tavern. He compared the construction process of the house to a good piece of theatre.
“There’s a beginning, middle, and end of the job. A cycle of creation,” says Don.
Get in touch if you’re curious about a “Who lives here” piece in 2017 or read the others in the series right here.
KT provided readers with a sneak peek at this year’s West End Studio Tour (WEST). One of the artists profiled was Sarah Marie Lacy. If the headline and cover shots didn’t give it away, Sarah’s specialty is in capturing the emotion of nude portraits.
New to Ottawa in the past two years following a period of intense artistic study in France, this year was Sarah’s first time opening her doors to WEST. Visitors entering her studio near Hamilton Avenue and Carling saw mainly nude portraits on plain backgrounds, etched with pencil or sometimes painted.
Sarah explained her process: “Empathy with another person’s movement, empathy with their body. Capturing the full nobility and grace of that person in front of you.”
Click here to see more from the other artists who took part in this year’s WEST.
Winston Karam, a bullied teenager, and his mother Vania made history by holding the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board to account for a school’s negligence towards abuse, but extensive legal costs may still require the support of a community.
Although the case was precedent-setting and a moral victory for the family, the result left Vania with thousands of dollars worth of outstanding fees. Friends and co-workers set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover these costs and have raised over $1,000 so far. The campaign is significantly short of its goal and remains ongoing at gofundme.com/2jqka7q4.
In one of our most-read stories of the year, we introduced readers to Les Soeurs de l’Institut Jeanne d’Arc, a group of nuns who have been part of the community for nearly a century.
At its height in the 1960s, nearly 150 sisters populated the order, which was located in Westboro. The 11 women remaining sisters moved out in November.
A recent public consultation heard a proposal from Uniform Developments and Cornerstone Housing for Women who would like to see 373 Princeton Avenue become a home for women, with modest infill on the remaining land. The proposal, proponents say, will continue the legacy begun by Les Soeurs de l’Institut Jeanne d’Arc. In fact, it has the support of the sisters themselves.
A parade of pumpkins, for all to enjoy
One Kitchissippi tradition has been giving some stellar jack o’lanterns a second chance to shine.
The “pumpkin path,” an annual November 1st event started by Anita Grace, lines up the community’s Hallowe’en carvings down Byron Path for a family walk in a glowing, low-key atmosphere. It even gives kids a second chance to wear their costumes if they are dissatisfied with the one-and-done nature of the season.
Anita says that contributions from the neighbourhood have made this simple but happy event possible each year.
The annual event began with a modest 20 pumpkins but has exploded in recent years. There were 315 glowing gourds this year and next year she’s hoping to bring that up to 500.
Anita gives a big shout out to Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper, the city clean up crew, and the volunteers who made sure pumpkins were picked up early the next morning.
“These events wouldn’t be as fantastic as they are if people didn’t buy in and take ownership, and come out,” says Anita. “People just make it happen. It’s so amazing.”
2016 was a good year for businesses in the area. This was the second cover story about new shops and services opening in Kitchissippi.
The new Westboro Freshii opened in December with a serving of health-conscious soups, salads and burritos. Keeping on the fresh side of things, Bloomfields Flowers arrived on the scene with handcrafted floral designs and gifts. And speaking of handcrafted, Goods Boutique sprung from the Victoire Boutique a block away to provide a selection of crafty products and unique gifts.
Meanwhile, a split from the head office meant Kettleman’s Bagels at Carling and Woodroffe became Cadmans Montreal Bagels. Also on Carling, Trailhead Paddle Shack moved to Fairlawn Plaza.
Westboro saw two other new openings: a Royal Bank of Canada on Richmond Road and Kids & Company daycare on McRae Avenue.
Concerns about parking congestion and turnover were not new to 2016, but a recently concluded Local Area Parking Study in Wellington West raised the ire (and opinions) of many local business owners.
The prevailing mindset from these owners is that paid parking – one of many possible congestion-reducing options in the city’s toolkit – will hurt business.
Ken Lauzon of Lauzon Music spelled out his concerns this way: “Why would someone come in and buy guitar strings for $4.95 and pay $2 in the meter when they can go to a shopping centre and park for free?”
Scott Caldwell, area manager for parking in the City of Ottawa, says paid parking is warranted in both Westboro and Wellington West, but it won’t happen without concurrence from local BIAs, community associations, and Councillor Jeff Leiper, who has opposed the implementation based on resident feedback.
Cleo and Ryan Thompson are two homeowners going against the grain of infill and development. The two defy conventional wisdom by transforming modest houses – like their home at 564 Mansfield – by keeping the bones in place and wrecking balls out of the picture.
“We want our neighbours to like the house and we don’t want to overbuild,” Ryan says. “If you’re going to do that, you may as well knock the original structure down and start over.”
Thompsons break down their unique philosophy into a set of redevelopment rules which include: work within the existing structure whenever possible; recycle and repurpose as much as possible; and do every bit of the work you can.
Curious to see what made our list of the most popular stories on our website? Check it out.