Kitchissippi’s 2018 in review (plus updates!)

By Andrea Tomkins – 

The annual retrospective issue has become a bit of a tradition here at KT. It’s a good opportunity to look back on the previous year’s cover stories and provide readers with updates where it makes sense to do so.  

It’s also worthwhile to be reminded of the many amazing people who live and work here in Kitchissippi. There are cancer survivors who became superstar fundraisers, volunteers, musicians, artists, inventors, business owners and entrepreneurs, and activists. Not only do they share a common geography, but they are the people who are making this community a vibrant and dynamic place to live. What’s more, their stories aren’t necessarily being told anywhere else, which is why I am so happy to be able to shine a spotlight on them in a way that only community media can.  ~andrea


The diagnosis that prompted a fundraising campaign 

KT’s first cover story of the year was about a fundraising campaign by Rebecca Hollingsworth and her sister, Mary Ellen Hughson. The same week Rebecca was diagnosed with breast cancer (in November 2016), she found out Mary Ellen had the same disease. Both were determined to raise funds to support The Ottawa Hospital’s Breast Health Centre’s expansion and purchase of sophisticated diagnostic machines.

Kitchissippi’s Rebecca Hollingsworth (pictured) and her sister Mary Ellen Hughson – both cancer survivors – undertook some major fundraising for The Ottawa Hospital Breast Health Centre. Photo by Ellen Bond

The Breast Health Centre opened in September 2018. Rebecca and her sister had a screening room named after them and a tree was planted in their names. “We ended up raising over $400K and were able to support the purchase of the 3 Tesla MRI, a new breast screening ultrasound machine and clinical trials in chemotherapy,” reports Rebecca.

“My sister and I are both great,” writes Rebecca in a recent email exchange. They’re getting their energy back as they return to “real” life. Rebecca estimates that she and her sister will be on hormone medication for the next five to ten years. The two are busy focusing on healthy lifestyles, quality time with friends and family, driving kids to hockey practice and, like all of us, just “trying to keep up with laundry.” [Read the original story right here.]


Meet the ice master

When we reached out to Stewart Dewar in December he assured us the Dovercourt rink crew were working hard to get the skating rink up and running by the week of Christmas. Always the optimist, he was hoping the community could squeeze in a few skating days before the next warm spell. 

Stewart Dewar is the volunteer co-ordinator and one of a core group of regulars who maintain the ice at Dovercourt Recreation Centre. Photo by Ellen Bond

“We always like to get the rink going for when the kids are out of school (and college and university),” says Stewart. 

 Since KT’s article about Stewart and the need for volunteers, residents have contacted Dovercourt and offered to help. “That’s actually something new and encouraging,” says Stewart. “[Fellow volunteer] Matt Boldt has also been doing a great job recruiting some new people.”

“Of course everyone is wondering what this winter will bring us after a couple of years where we’ve had numerous warm spells throughout the winter. We will see!” [Read the original story right here.] 

Remembering Alex Néron

The community was devastated to learn that Railbender Tattoo and Art Gallery proprietor, Alex Néron, passed away on January 17, 2018, two-and-a-half years after a diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Alex was 40 years old. His Celebration of Life took place on his 41st birthday, February 25, at Railbender.

File photo by Ted Simpson.
Photo of Alex Néron by Ted Simpson

“It has been a very difficult year for myself, my wife Donna, my son Yves, and for my beautiful daughter-in-law Marta,” writes his father, Marcel, in a recent email to KT. “We miss him so very much.” 

Alex was a keen supporter of The Ottawa Hospital’s annual cycling fundraiser, ‘The Ride,’ which takes place in September.

In 2018, Alex’s team, named ‘#youarenotalone’ for Alex while he was fighting cancer, completed The Ride in his memory and raised over $15,000. The 2018 event raised over $1.1 million overall.  

Marta has taken over Railbender Studio and is keeping his legacy alive.  

“Alex was a very special, kind and loving man and is missed by so many,” says Marcel. “For myself, losing a beautiful son is still very surreal. Christmas will not be the same without him but we all love him and he will always be in our hearts.”  [Read the original story right here.]


Changes at the BIA

File photo of Michelle Groulx by Jacob Hoytema

The Westboro Village Business Improvement Area (BIA) welcomed Michelle Groulx as its new Executive Director in February and she’s managed to pack in a lot since she took over the helm. 

One of her goals was to bring people together at Winston Square with a series of grassroots events. “I’m so happy this great urban space has been used for community and fundraising events over the year,” says Michelle, which included the first-ever Christmas Market and featured local makers and vendors as well as a campfire and s’mores station hosted by Councillor Jeff Leiper.

Another goal was to expand the BIA to McRae Avenue and to improve street beautification by installing street banners along McRae, and adding a bench with a large flower planter in front of Otto’s Subaru parking lot. “At the moment, there is one evergreen there, but we will modify this with the season’s change. More will happen when the construction at Scott is completed,” says Michelle. Also of note, a bright new mural was painted at McRae and Richmond Road, designed by local artist, Tara Tosh Kennedy, who was inspired by the Inukshuks at Remic Rapids. “I think it is the perfect fit,” says Michelle. 

Of course, there was also Westboro Fuse. It will be back again in August 2019 and there may be an additional community event in June. Stay tuned for more details.  

This spring, Westboro will be an official 2019 Canadian Tulip Festival Friendship Tulip Garden location. The BIA arranged for nearly 500 official Tulip Festival bulbs to be planted at Westboro Station, located at the intersection of Golden Avenue and Richmond Road. “We hope to do even more for the very special upcoming 2020 festival,” says Michelle. [Read the original story right here.]

From baby cakes to the “devil’s lettuce”? 

Readers where shocked and saddened to hear the news Chef Michael Holland shut down Holland’s Cake and Shake in March. His creatively-themed mini cakes were a big hit in Kitchissippi and beyond. Today, the location at 229 Armstrong St. is now a Morning Owl, but that doesn’t mean Michael is out of the picture completely. 

He’s focused on production behind the scenes and is busy setting up the baking program for the two Morning Owl locations, Rochester and Armstrong, preparing all the treats, and organizing bread production.

Michael Holland at Holland’s Cake and Shake. This space is now a Morning Owl. File photo by Jared Davidson

In terms of cakes, his focus has changed from small to big. Large custom birthday cakes are being baked up for new fans and old and the plan is to eventually expand cake production. There’s a website in the works, which will feature a line of five or six cakes along with an option for custom cakes.

There will also be cakes for those who embrace the “devil’s lettuce,” reveals Michael. “It will include a line of stoner-themed cakes for those that get the munchies, along with the eventual production of edibles.” [Read the original story right here.]

Westfest’s top volunteer 

In the March 29 issue of KT we introduced our readers to Paul Knoll, who’d been volunteering for Westfest for ten years. 2018 was the 15th anniversary of Westfest and in March, Paul joined Westfest producer, Elaina Martin on stage at a special event hosted at Cube Gallery to accept Mayor Jim Watson’s commemoration of this special milestone. One thing is clear: Paul has a lot of friends in Kitchissippi!

Westboro resident Paul Knoll was feted as a “super volunteer” in the March 2018 issue of KT. File photo by Helen Ries

According to Paul’s sister, Helen Ries, health challenges may prevent him from volunteering in 2019, but his passion for art is as strong as ever. 

In May 2018, Paul’s artwork was displayed at Dovercourt Recreation Centre and was available for sale at a vernissage, which was well-attended. Paul painted the outdoor wading pool at Dovercourt this past summer and is busy painting, and attending artist meetups.  [Read the original story right here.]


Where is Arpi now?

Since moving to Ottawa six years ago, Arpi, an acclaimed street artist, has had an active role in Ottawa’s art scene. [Click here for the full story from the January 2019 issue.]


Five things about Dovercourt

File photo of John Rapp by Ellen Bond

Did you know that the land at the corner of Dovercourt and Roosevelt Avenues was once a swamp? It was transformed into a park, which eventually became the site of a small community centre and finally, the recreation centre we know as Dovercourt. In 2018, Dovercourt celebrated their 30th anniversary and in our May 2018 issue, we shared five things everyone should know about it. Here’s another five:

1. The building expansion is nearing completion and is expected in early February. The lead architect is Sandy Davis, who was a young new Hobin architect employee in the original build. The Morris Home Team room promises to be a great new large multipurpose room. 

2. Dovercourt is a social enterprise, something John Rapp, Dovercourt’s executive director, loves to chat about. “Our 2019 budget expects to bring in close to $6 million in revenue, which really helps us meet our mission of a healthy active community with a strong menu of activities for all ages and abilities, and fuels us to be the largest youth employer in west Ottawa and our charitable initiatives,” says John.

3. Summer camps are “looking great” for 2019 and registration starts in January. “We are very excited about the menu we are offering, with some great partners like MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre,” says John.

4. “Doverkids” are a special part of Dovercourt staff. “Not only do we enjoy the kids who have grown up and now work here, as we start our 32nd year of operation we celebrate some great alumni like Will Amos M.P., and Uday Jaswal, deputy police chief,” says John. 

5. Accessibility is a key tenet of Dovercourt’s mission. “While we are blessed with great architecture (thanks Barry Hobin!) and a great landlord (we love you, City of Ottawa), accessibility is more about attitude, and we sure have one. Every obstacle to participation is a problem we take on together!” [Read the original story right here.]


Robots on the beach

In June we brought you the exciting story of robots on the beach. Erin Kennedy (a.k.a. RobotGrrl), Ottawa-based inventor and founder of Robot Missions, deployed beach-cleaning robots to Westboro Beach, which many residents got to see and try out for themselves.

File photo of Erin Kennedy (aka RobotGrrl) by Andrea Tomkins

Unfortunately, a fire in September seriously wrecked their home “pod” at Westboro Beach. The robots weren’t damaged, but electronics and robots parts were destroyed. A Kickstarter campaign to replace the pod quickly raised almost $3,000. Will the robots be back at the beach in 2019? Erin is still in planning stages. Stay tuned! [Read the original story right here.]


Get to know Joel Harden

In the provincial election, we saw a massive shift take place in Ontario’s political climate. Many communities have seen a change in their representation at the provincial level. Here in Kitchissippi, one of those changes brought Ottawa Centre a new MPP: Joel Harden.

If you’ve been at a community event these past few months, you’ve probably seen Joel Harden there too. 

In an effort to get to know Joel Harden a bit better we presented KT readers with five things you should know about him in the July 2018 issue. File photo by Ted Simpson

On September 21, he was on site when students at Nepean High School walked out of class to protest changes to the sex-ed curriculum, he sang Christmas carols with the crowd at Westboro’s tree lighting ceremony December 1, and many other events. 

Joel hosted a town hall about cannabis in October, and one in November on the topic of a 100-day government review,  which included panelists from Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative (OREC), Ottawa ACORN, and Fight for $15 & Fairness Ottawa.

In our July cover story about Joel, he said the goal of these sessions is to bring together people who are more knowledgeable on these issues than him, so he can learn from them what makes the most sense for our province.

Joel’s plan is to continue to host regular town halls in 2019. The next one will be a panel and film screening for Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Feb. 1-7) at the Mayfair Theatre on February 3. Readers can find details at closer to the day. 

The other big election news this year, of course, was the re-election of Councillor Jeff Leiper in October, who won nearly 85 percent of the vote against his only opponent, Daniel Stringer. [Read the original story right here.]


A dark chapter in Kitchissippi’s history

The untold story of Kitchissippi’s shanty town was one of our most popular features in 2018. Like with many of Dave Allston’s history columns, we were able to publish extra photos on the web version of this story. If you missed it (or any other Early Days column), you can find it in our Early Days archive.


It doesn’t get more local than this

In September, we brought you the story of Peter Joynt and Pei Pilgrim’s upbeat musical collaboration called Loving This Feeling. The song’s accompanying video, shot with a drone and featuring the now-demolished Harmer Avenue pedestrian bridge, shows Peter and Pei walking through Kitchissippi. 

File photo of Peter Joynt and Pei Pilgrim by Ted Simpson

Peter, who is known for his motivational speaking engagements with young people about bullying and overcoming personal challenges, just finished his 145th (!) talk at Ottawa schools. 

He told KT the head of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board used the video to launch a meeting with all the principals and vice-principals to kick off the school year in September 2018.  

Pei is proud that Devonshire P.S., her former school, screened the video at an assembly and talked about it together as a school.   

Peter and Pei continue to write music together and we look forward to seeing what’s next for this dynamic duo. [Read the original story – and see the video – right here.]


No straws please

Maelyn Kaya is still encouraging local businesses to forego plastic straws with her No Straw Ottawa campaign.

File photo of Maelyn Kaya by Andrea Tomkins

Since our story about this high school activist was published in October, Mae has recruited nearly ten more businesses and continues to reach out to add more to her list. She also wants to connect with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board about school-wide plastic bans. 

In December, she did a presentation at Ottawa University to raise awareness about the plastic-free movement in Ottawa. [Read the original story right here.] 


Five+None = a new spin on the music scene

In November we brought readers the story of a group of young musicians called Five+None.   

Five+None came together at the Bluesfest School of Music and Art (BSOMA), an enterprise founded by Dovercourt Recreation Centre and RBC Ottawa Bluesfest back in 2014.  

Five+None band members Kenny Hammond, ?Lee Jessen, William Gonthier (on drums), ?Maryn Pegan, and Nico Paré. File photo by Ted Simpson

There have been a few exciting updates since the publication of the article. LiVE 88.5 continues to play their song “3D” and several of their songs have been picked up by community and university radio stations. Locally, CKDJ is playing “3D” and “Ball & Chain” and “3D” is charting on Amherst Island’s community radio station.

Alan Cross of the Ongoing History of New Music shared news of “3D” with his social media followers, a huge coup for these young musicians. 

They continue to play gigs (find out when and where at their website at They’ve written two new songs and will be releasing them in the new year. What’s more, they’ve committed to another session at BSOMA and will be playing at RBC Bluesfest in July. [Read the original story right here.]


The Good issue

We did something a little different in the December edition of KT. We pulled together information about a few local charitable initiatives and residents who are doing good work. One of those is Moe Attalah, who works with Meals on Wheels to provide Christmas dinner to those in need. [Read the original story right here.]

His accomplishments, says Moe Atallah, are thanks to the people of this community. “In the end, I discovered I never did too much, it’s all thanks to the volunteers.” File photo by Charlie Senack


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