Cupcakes for canines

February 24 is National Cupcake Day, and to celebrate, Mari-Beth Crysler will be baking cupcakes to raise money for the OHS. Tessa will be supervising. Photo by Andrea Tomkins.

National Cupcake Day is the first-ever collaborative fundraising effort supporting animal welfare societies across Canada, and it’s coming up on February 24.

National Cupcake Day entails planning a cupcake party at home, school or work, baking cupcakes, sharing them with family, friends and co-workers, and collecting donations to prevent cruelty to animals. All proceeds go to support furry friends, big and small, in communities across the country who have been abandoned, abused, or are in need of help.

Westboro resident Mari-Beth Crysler is helping the Ottawa Humane Society raise funds by baking cupcakes in exchange for donations for the animals.

“I knew I had to help out,” says Crysler. “It’s the perfect combo – cupcakes and dogs – what a great fundraiser.”

Crysler, whose family have been longtime dog owners, works as a part time dog-walker in Westboro. The Crysler family dog, Tessa, is a rescue that came from the Aylmer SPCA. This fundraising effort reaches close to home.

“I’m glad they’re around,” says Crysler, referring to organizations such as the Ottawa Humane Society. “I don’t think there are bad dogs out there, there are some who don’t get a good start, and helping them in any way – whether it’s by baking cupcakes or bringing one into your home – is a good thing.”

Crysler, who describes herself as an avid baker, says she had a “lightbulb moment” when she was walking Tessa. She kept her fundraising manageable by sending her request to a small circle of friends and neighbours. In return for their donations, she’ll be baking, decorating, and delivering cupcakes to everyone who contributed to her effort. She’s set to bake dozens of cupcakes, and will be enlisting her children to help.

“It’s a great way to teach your kids about giving back to the community and doing something nice to help out those in need,” says Crysler.

Can’t bake? No problem. Kitchissippi residents can visit the Cupcake Lounge on February 24. In support of National Cupcake Day, the Cupcake Lounge will be donating all profits for that day to the Ottawa Humane Society.

“So many people love baking – and cupcakes in particular – as well as their pets that we think this is a pretty good opportunity to do some good,” says Bill McGuinness of the Cupcake Lounge.

“As a retail bakery specializing in cupcakes with two Ottawa-area locations in both Westboro and the Byward Market, we were well positioned to help and so agreed to the Ottawa Humane Society’s request,” he says. “This was an easy decision. We have been supporting the Ottawa Humane Society for years and love animals.”

Anyone who enjoys baking and is interested in supporting animal welfare organizations can register online at or


Preparing for delays on Island Park

Starting on April 15, 2014, and lasting about three months, Island Park residents can expect changes on their street as Hydro Ottawa installs new underground cable and chambers.

The hydro company hosted an information session on January 30 at the Churchill Seniors’ Recreation Centre to present their plans to residents and receive feedback and comments from the community.

“They need to upgrade the amount of power in the area,” said Kitchissippi Ward Councillor Katherine Hobbs, who attended the meeting.

As part of the plans, Hydro Ottawa would work on the section of Island Park from just after Highway 417 to Richmond Road. The work will include excavation for installing underground cables, which will be encased in concrete and five underground chambers that will provide connection points along Island Park Drive.

Hydro Ottawa said there will be lane reductions along the strip of Island Park Drive only in off-peak hours, which is 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and after 6:00 p.m. During this off-peak time, sections of the southbound lane will be closed and both lanes of traffic will use the north bound lane with construction crews directing traffic.

During on-peak hours, which are 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Hydro Ottawa said there will be no lane reductions.

Alexander Davidson, an Island Park Drive resident, attended the meeting and said his street is busy most hours of the day. He added that he feels traffic will still be impacted.

“I’m concerned about not getting in and out of my driveway,” he said. “Usually I can’t back in and out. Typically throughout the day, there are backlogs. If it’s going to be one lane only, I’m anticipating there will be more.”

With added construction trucks parked, Davidson said this could contribute to more traffic as well.

“I don’t know where they’re parking the trucks,” he said. “The trucks will grind up everything.”

Davidson also said he heard his neighbour suggest the idea that the work be done on a rear laneway, where sewer work has to be done anyway.

“It would make sense,” he said.

While Davidson had concerns, other neighbours were happy to see the work being done.

Resident Keith Woolhouse said it was great to see Hydro Ottawa working with the community.

“It’s very co-operative, and I think it’s forward-looking,” Woolhouse said. “I think they’re being very forthcoming, so I think it’s terrific.”

He added that his only question was the National Capital Commission’s (NCC) whereabouts at the meeting.

“Where was the NCC representation tonight?” he said. “This is their land.”

Hydro Ottawa said no power interruptions are anticipated for the area, and that residents will be notified at least two weeks in advance if their property will be impacted.

Before work begins, Hydro Ottawa said it will work with the traffic inspector from the City of Ottawa to make a decision about bike lanes. However, there is a possibility that cyclists will have to share the road with motorists along small stretches of construction and be directed through signage.

Fearless Coates takes on Afghanistan

By Judith van Berkom –

GCTC’s new Artistic Director, Eric Coates, brings the Afghan war right to our doorstep in This is War. Heightened by sexual tensions and differing interpretations, four soldiers engage the audience in the psychological struggle of war, in a performance that’s “not for the faint of heart,” says Coates.

GCTC’s artistic director, Eric Coates, recently moved to Kitchissippi.<br />He’s looking ahead to a banner year at the GCTC. Photo by Al Goyette.
GCTC’s artistic director, Eric Coates, recently moved to Kitchissippi.
He’s looking ahead to a banner year at the GCTC. Photo by Al Goyette.

Coates had been Artistic Director of the Blyth Festival Theatre for 10 years and prior to that at the Stratford Festival. Blyth Theatre is located in rural Huron County, and is part of the Blyth Centre of the Arts. The theatre is produced inside a cenotaph.

Eric Coates’ directing credits in Blyth include Dear Johnny Deere, Vimy, Against the Grain, Queen Milli of Galt, The Ballad of Stompin’ Tom, The Gingko Tree, I’ll Be Back Before Midnight, Having Hope at Home, and The Drawer Boy.  He has also directed for Thousand Islands Playhouse and Drayton Entertainment.  For CBC Radio: The Train, broadcast live from Blyth Memorial Hall, and twelve episodes of The Morning Scoop.

As artistic director at Blyth, Coates launched twenty-eight world premieres, published eleven scripts and two plays were finalists for the Governor General’s Award (Reverend Jonah by Paul Ciufo and Innocence Lost: A Play about Steven Truscott by Beverley Cooper).

In September, 2012, Coates took over the artistic directorship of GCTC. “It was a natural transition for me,” he says. “I wanted a change and this job was posted at the same time,” he adds. GCTC’s mandate was similar to Blyth – to promote Canadian artists, Canadian ideas and Canadian plays.

“Blyth was driven by local concerns and local issues,” says Coates. [In Ottawa] I’m able to execute in a much more cosmopolitan place. The canvas is bigger and I have more colours to choose from,” he adds.

“I’ve always loved Ottawa,” Coates says. “It’s one of the only cities in the country where I have access to the wilderness so readily – to bike paths and ski trails. I’m a serious outdoor junkie,” he adds.

At the launch of the 2013-2014 season, Coates commented, “I wanted to program a season by and about Canadians – with a particular focus on Ottawa artists. Four of our scripts are by women – two of whom grew up here. GCTC is committed to its community.”

February 4 to February 23 2014 brings us This is War, “a very gritty play, not for the faint of heart,” says Coates. “It’s about the human element of war – really it’s about decision-making and just happens to be in this context. There is no situation where the stakes are higher than in war. It explodes the human condition,” he adds.

Written by Hannah Moscovitch, playwright-in-residence at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto, the play follows an ill-fated operation in Afghanistan, where four Canadian soldiers recount different versions of the mission.

As director in Blyth, Coates says he “programmed something that would actually honour the veterans each year. The one that really stands out for me was Vimy which was also done here several years ago,” he adds. “Right before I left, the last play I commissioned for development there is a piece that’s about the death of Corporal Matthew Dinning who was the first Canadian killed in Afghanistan who grew up in the area,” says Coates.

Eric Coates is also an accomplished actor and will perform the lead role in the World Premiere of The Burden of Self-Awareness, playing at GCTC from June 3-22, 2014.

As part of the Fearless Women Series, a panel of military and civilian women, moderated by Jennifer Simpson, a community activist, will discuss women in the military, the differences between men and women personnel, and what is being done to improve the lives of women living in conflict on Sunday, February 16 from noon to 1:30 p.m. Register at GCTC’s box office: 613-236-5196.

Kickstarter campaign gets inked for new tattoo studio and art gallery

Alex Neron took to the web to share his story and reach out to the local community for support, and it paid off. Photo by Ted Simpson.

When Alex Neron and Marta Jarzabek first stumbled upon the vacant space at 3 Hamilton Avenue last fall during the Hintonburg Beer Run at Beyond The Pale, they knew almost instantly that this would be the location for the combination tattoo studio and art gallery that had been living in their dreams for some time – Railbender Studio.

“We came back the same night to scope it out,” said Neron. “The next day we met the landlord and snatched it up, that was November 1.”

Neron is a tattoo artist, an illustrator and an Ottawa native who’s been a professional artist for over 10 years. Coming originally from the East end of town, he is new to the neighbourhood. While planning the opening of his first studio, his sights were set on a Hintonburg location, and when this one fell into place everything was set to go.

“We were looking at different locations for the business – Hintonburg was definitely our first choice on where to get established,” said Neron.After enlisting the help of his brother, Yves, the two men set about gutting the dilapidated, hole-in-wall space. While peeling back the first layers it became apparent to the brothers that this would be no small task – floors, walls, ceiling – everything had to be torn out and rebuilt. A planned December opening fell back to January and then back even further.

“We were at a point in the renovations where we bit off more than we could chew, we needed to invest more to get this place up and running,” explained Neron.

Neron and Jarzabek turned to the web to share their story and reach out to the community for support. They launched a fundraising campaign on the website, Kickstarter, and started documenting the construction process on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Scrolling through Railbender’s feeds, one can watch the studio emerge from rubble.

In the two months since the campaign launched, the community has shown unwavering support for their project. Neron and Jarzabek started with a goal of $5,000 and ended the Kickstarter campaign with a total of $9,225.

101 backers contributed donations ranging from $7, which included a gift of a pin back button, up to a donation of $500 with rewards ranging from a free tattoo to a commissioned portrait drawn and delivered to your front door by Neron himself.

The Hintonburg business community has embraced Railbender, receiving online shout outs from notable tweeps like @BTPBrewing, @love_ottawa and @FlyingBanzini.

“We weren’t expecting this kind of response; it’s overwhelming, especially in the community here,” says Neron.

With funding in place, the studio is nearing completion with stained glass windows, a hand-made wooden front desk, and deep red accents all around. Neron and company are gearing up for a grand opening on February 15 that will feature a collection of art from over 15 local and national artists and the first buzzing of Neron’s tattoo needle filling his new work space. The show will run until March 12.

Some of the local artists that will adorn the gallery walls for the opening include Marc Adernato, Daniel Martelock, Mat Dube and Stephen Frew. Neron says that the gallery will be an important aspect of the business and he plans to support as many local artists as possible with new work going up every month, and highlighted in a variety of private shows and events.

With the studio nearly ready to launch, Railbender is currently on the hunt for a second tattoo artist to compliment Neron’s work. He has invited established tattoo artists looking to bring their style to Hintonburg to send in their application to

The time has finally come for those in Kitchissippi who choose to wear their art on their skin. Residents no longer have to leave the comfort of the neighbourhood to fuel the ink addiction. Neron is excited to start building relationships with is new neighbours.

“Out here is kinda cool, it’s a very eclectic, artistic community,” says Neron. “I like the style, you can really feel it in this area.”

For more information about the Railbender Tattoo Studio and Art Gallery, check out their website at You can also follow them on Twitter @rbenderstudio.


Kitchissippi Q & A: When a tree falls in the forest…

Q: Over the past few years I’ve noticed that we’ve lost a LOT of trees in our community. I’m not sure whether disease or insects are to blame (possibly, it’s both), but no where is this loss more apparent than in the little park on Clare Avenue, just east of Churchill. I was driving down the street one day when I suddenly noticed that almost every tree had one of those horrid red X’s spraypainted on them. It was shocking. It’s clear that the majority of the trees will be gone at some point.


We used to visit this park a lot when the kids were small, and part of the reason we did so was because of the wonderful shade. It always seemed a lot cooler at that park than anywhere else. Do you know if there’s a plan in place? What’s going to happen when the trees all come down?


A sad neighbourhood tree hugger

A: Thank you so much for your question, tree hugger. There are quite a few people who share your concern about the trees in our neighbourhoods. There’s no denying that trees add a lot to our community. Not only do mature trees add much-needed shade, but they provide temperature control, clean our air, provide natural filtration and flood control, and increase our property values. They also support a diverse habitat for local wildlife. There are even studies that suggest neighborhoods with abundant trees have fewer crimes. This may be attributed to the calming effect of green spaces. Time spent outdoors contributes to a feeling of close community, which increases bonds between neighbours. There are plenty of reasons to protect our trees!

Clare Gardens Park received a big overhaul in 2010. Major work was done on the park, including the installation of new play structures. In recent years, the park has become the scene of regular community events. It’s a park that is well used, especially given the shortage of green space available for public use in this part of the neighbourhood.

The gardening side of Clare Gardens has become the domain of The Volunteer Gardeners of Clare Park. Deb Chapman is the co-ordinator.

“People are freaked out about these X’s on the trees,” says Chapman. She estimates that more than 20 trees are slated for removal.

Deb Chapman is concerned about the fate of the trees at Clare Gardens Park in Westboro. Photo by Andrea Tomkins
Deb Chapman is concerned about the fate of the trees at Clare Gardens Park in Westboro. Photo by Andrea Tomkins

She has been petitioning the City of Ottawa since November in regards to some ideas she’s had that will keep a few of the trees standing and “pay homage to the trees that are going to be taken down.”

She points out specific examples of what other cities have done with their dying trees. The trees can be made into art installations or trimmed back and preserved as a natural habitat for nesting birds. (A Northern Flicker apparently returns to the same nest every year.) The city of Orangeville took trees at the end of their life cycle and turned them into fanciful sculptures. A landscape architect in Quebec turned trees into a modern sculptural garden. Other landscape architects she spoke to told her that the tree trunk could be “lopped off” where the first branches start, the bark removed, and then painted to preserve the wood.

Unfortunately it seems there isn’t much that can be done in the case of Clare Gardens Park. Their days have been numbered for awhile. The trees are dying due to an infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer, a green beetle native to Asia and Eastern Russia. It’s an invasive species that’s highly destructive to ash trees. In order to eradicate the ash borer, the infected trees must be removed entirely.

In a recent email exchange, Andrew Hickey, Manager of Community Relations and Communications for Councillor Hobbs, confirmed that stumps cannot be used for art purposes.

“Once the ash trees are cut then they no have integrity. It is necessary to remove the ash tree stumps so as they do not continue to sprout new trees,” writes Hickey.

“That being said, Forestry is willing to provide other species of wood that could be treated off site and then buried similar to a totem pole. Any art in the park would need the guidance of the Arts Department and Parks as well as a full public consultation.”

This is what Chapman is focusing on now.

She hopes that Ottawa’s population of ash borers will be impacted by the cold winter, but acknowledges that it’s too late for the trees of Clare Gardens Park. She suggests that the park needs more diversity in its trees, so this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.

As it stands now, a landscape artist will re-evaluate how many trees will be planted and the best location to put them. But as we all know, young trees take many years to grow and fill out. It’s going to be a slow process.

Andrea Tomkins,

Is there an issue in your corner of Kitchissippi that’s been puzzling you? Perhaps there’s something you’ve always wanted to know but didn’t know who to ask. Send your burning questions (Kitchissippi-related of course) to us and we’ll help find the answer.

Perfectly suited: Confidence through clothing that works

Men who can’t afford to buy the clothes they need to land a job now have a way to get suited up. A new organization, Suits his Style, connects male employment seekers with new and used professional attire.

West Wellington area resident, Emily Brown, saw the need for a service that would outfit men who are in employment and related programs at Ottawa agencies and are heading to job interviews. Brown manages Dress for Success Ottawa, the Wellington West-based affiliate of an international organization that provides professional clothing to women on low incomes.

Suits his Style co-founders Emily Brown and Scott McNaughton, appreciate the community support that’s come in the form of donations of professional clothing. Photo by Denise Deby.

“I get calls and emails weekly and daily saying ‘what about men?’” says Brown. “I kept thinking to myself, someone needs to start a program for men.”

Suits his Style is a perfect fit for Brown, a registered social worker who works with women’s organizations, a fashion blogger who shares tips on “affordable elegance” at Tinfoil Tiaras ( and a part-time employee at Wellington West clothing store, Twiss & Weber.

Brown talked the concept over with Scott McNaughton, a policy analyst with the federal government; Malorie Bertrand, a communications officer who writes on sustainable fashion at EF Magazine; and Lindsay Forcellini, a marketing and communications manager who also lives in the neighbourhood. Another area resident, Nadir Patel, and Jennifer Graham, both public servants, and menswear shop l’HEXAGONE co-owner Yannick Beauvalet also jumped in to help.

“We’re all coming together as a group, and we’re really excited about the momentum so far,” says Brown.

The co-founders met last October, set up a Suits his Style Facebook page and Twitter account (@SuitshisStyle), and will launch a website. They’re collecting clothing donations for the soon-to-be-non-profit, and hope to be serving clients by the end of April.

What Suits his Style doesn’t have yet is a place to meet clients and store the clothing. “We’re hoping to obtain some donated community space,” explains Brown.

Brown describes Suits his Style as a warm and welcoming environment where volunteer “personal shoppers” will help clients find attire that will help them look and feel their best.

“The right fit and the right clothes can make all the difference in confidence,” says Brown, noting that affordable and fun clothes have helped her through rough spots in her own life.

“A great outfit to wear to the interview—maybe that means that they made a great first impression, they’re getting the job. That trickles down into the community—they’re working, they’re supporting their family—so that trickle-down effect is what we’re really hoping to see.”

Suits his Style accepts newer and classic two-piece suits, jackets, dress pants, dress shirts, shoes, ties, accessories and unused toiletries. Donations can be dropped off at 125 Spencer St. on the first Friday of every month from 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m., the second Wednesday of each month from 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. and the third and fourth Sundays of the month from 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.  Suits his Style is also looking for male and female volunteers to take on the role of personal shoppers.

For more information about Suits his Style, check out their Facebook page at For more information about Dress For Success, go to

Before making a donation…

Ask yourself:  Would I wear these clothes to a professional job interview? Would I hire someone wearing these clothes to a professional job interview?

Donations of clean, new or gently used, ready-to-wear, modern, professional menswear are needed, including:

  • Two-piece suits
  • Suit jackets
  • Dress pants
  • Dress shirts
  • Professional cardigans and sweaters
  • Outerwear (including trench coats, winter jackets)
  • Dress shoes
  • Belts
  • Ties
  • Trouser socks
  • New and unopened toiletries and grooming products

All donations should be dry cleaned or laundered and donated on hangers, or neatly folded in large shopping bags or reusable bags.

Suits his Style cannot accept:

  • Any item in need of repair
  • Clothing with stains
  • Scuffed shoes
  • Casual clothing and footwear including sweatshirts, sweatpants, running shoes, bathrobes and sleepwear
  • Household goods and bedding
  • Used undergarments
  • Opened/used hygiene and grooming products

February drop-off dates are:

  • Friday, February 7: 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, February 12: 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, February 16: 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, February 23: 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Clothing can be dropped off at 125 Spencer Street (at Caroline, just west of Holland Avenue).

Suits his Style is also accepting applications from prospective volunteers, male or female, to assist clients as personal shoppers. To volunteer or to arrange other drop-off times, email




From the OCDSB: Near West Accommodation Review update

On January 28, 2014, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board approved a number of motions arising from the Near West Accommodation Study. We’re sharing OCDSB’s information here.

Trustees voted to approve a new Junior Kindergarten to grade six Early French Immersion program at Connaught Public School commencing with a Junior Kindergarten to grade four offering in September 2014 and advancing one grade per year until the program is completely phased in.

Meanwhile, Elmdale Public School’s Junior Kindergarten to grade six English/Core French program will be redirected in block fashion to Cambridge Street Public School, Connaught Public School and Hilson Avenue Public School as detailed in Appendix E of Report 13-165.

Trustees also approved the revised attendance boundaries for Cambridge Street Public School, Connaught Public School, Hilson Avenue Public School, Elmdale Public School and Devonshire Community Public School as detailed in Appendix E of Report 13-165 with the following provisions:

  • New students in the revised Cambridge English/Core French boundary area east of the O-Train tracks and north of Somerset Street will be directed to Cambridge Street Public School beginning in September 2014. Current students residing in this area may remain at Connaught Public School;
  • Elmdale Early French Immersion students who live in the area between Holland Avenue and Hamilton Avenue (including any JK siblings for the 2014/15 school year) may remain at Elmdale Public School or move to Connaught Public School. All new students in this area will be directed to Connaught Public School;
  • Elmdale English/Core French students who will be attending grade 3 in September 2014 and who plan to enroll in the Middle French Immersion Program for September 2015 will be permitted to attend their designated Middle French Immersion school (Hilson Avenue Public School or Mutchmor Public School) for grade 3 English/Core French.

A Transition Team (or Teams) made up of the Superintendent of Instruction, the principal, teachers, students and school council chairs (or their designates) of the affected school(s) will be formed to guide the implementation of the Near West accommodation review recommendations in each school.

The Transition Team will consider and deal with the following concerns and or issues:

  • The needs of special needs and vulnerable students and;
  • The overseeing of communications with parents on school, bussing and other related issues
  • A social event will be planned and held during the summer or at the beginning of September 2014. This will provide an opportunity for community building and encourage open communication.
  • A buddy system will be in place for common classes for English/Core French and Early French Immersion students (e.g., Math and English together in grade 4 and above);

A start-up budget of at least $50,000 will be provided to Connaught Public School to cover the full cost of outfitting all Kindergarten to grade 6 classrooms, including but not limited to:

  • Necessary classroom materials and resources;
  • French materials for the library;
  • Technological resources to serve the needs of the English/Core French and
  • Early French Immersion programs;
  • Upgrades to other common areas as required.

Elmdale Public School and Connaught Public School will be retrofitted over the summer so that the additional classroom space is in place and ready for student learning by September 2014.

Staff will investigate the possibility that Full-Day Kindergarten Capital funding be combined with School Condition Improvement grants in order to build an addition to Elmdale Public School to accommodate both All Day Kindergarten and reduce portable use on the school yard. Staff will report back to the Board with the next Capital Plan.

Staff were directed to take immediate steps to reserve as large a land site as possible (up to 7 acres) for a future school in the West Wellington/ Hintonburg/ Dalhousie/ Centretown catchment areas (e.g., the Bayview/O-Train lands area, Tunney’s Pasture).

In addition staff were directed to examine the accommodation review process so that it could be updated in time for the next accommodation review. Areas to be addressed include an accommodation guide for use by working groups will be developed. This document would be designed to assist groups in establishing their process and to define the roles of the working groups, Board staff, the local Trustee and others.

Trustees want the working groups to be offered the assistance of professional facilitation at the outset, particularly to assist them in establishing their approach and processes, and in arriving at decisions on options.

Clear parameters need to be outlined so that the working group can assess the school’s capacity to undertake accommodation reviews including; an initial period of fact clarification and establishment of the process; staff led school tours and/or presentations to assist the members in becoming acquainted with each school; and to establish the number of classrooms that are available in each school. This should also include how the numbers were arrived at; and finally what the limitations of any are regarding the scope of the review.

For a complete timeline as well as full versions of all the documents involved in this review, go to the Near West Accommodation Review website.



The first official guide to outdoor rinks in Kitchissippi

We are very happy to share this outdoor rink guide with you!

If you don’t have a printed copy of the January 23 2014 issue, there are two ways you get your hands on the Kitchissippi skating guide.

1) You can find it online at This version is not printable, but it’s zoomable and sharable. Flip to page 10 to view the map and additional information for each destination.

2) You can download this printable PDF.

Happy skating!

Kitchissippi likes its ice!

By Anita Grace –

Lacing up your skates and heading out on a neighbourhood rink is for many a quintessential part of Canadian winters. Conveniently, there are 247 outdoor rinks in Ottawa, with 10 here in the Kitchissippi Ward.

Rink attendants Aidan Worswick (left) and Patrick Johnston at the double surface McKellar Park rink. Photo by Anita Grace.
Rink attendants Aidan Worswick (left) and Patrick Johnston at the double surface McKellar Park rink. Photo by Anita Grace.

“Being able to walk somewhere to go skating, meet up with friends at the rink – that to me is what community is all about,” says Heather Fraser, who lives near Westboro Kiwanis Park and has two daughters, ages 8 and 12. “It’s great to have a free, outdoor family activity in the neighbourhood that we can go to anytime.”

“We’re so lucky to have this,” echoes Kelly Wiles, who lives across the street from the Champlain Park rink. Her 9- and 11-year-old boys are out on the ice four or five times a week. “They strap on their skates after school, and they’re out again after supper,” she says.

“We’ve been skating since before Christmas,” Wiles says. She adds that her boys usually get restless in the beginning of winter, “but as soon as the ice is up, life is good again.”

Rink Guide Map 2014
Looking for a new rink to try?  Check out the KT outdoor rink guide!

While nearly every community rink is maintained by attendants, supervised during hours of operation, and lit at night, each rink has its own characteristics and local flavor.

“Fisher is a beautiful rink to skate,” enthuses Sheila McIntyre, who lives only two blocks from the popular park. She and her daughter Lucy, 6, especially like coming to skate in the evening. “It’s so beautiful and quiet. The sky is all sparkly, and the ice is all sparkly.”

Those with youngsters still learning to skate prefer the puddle rinks where hockey games are not permitted. Rink attendant Aidan Worswick says the large double ice surface at McKellar Park attracts a lot of young children from the neighbourhood whose parents appreciate that they don’t have to be dodging pucks while learning to skate.

Similarly, Claire Mullen says the puddle rink at Iona Park is the perfect size for her 2- and 4-year-old daughters. As one of the smallest rinks in the ward, Iona is a great place for beginner skaters to shuffle around and gain confidence.

Mullen also praises the extra touches added by the community, like the Christmas trees and snow forts that surround the rink. “Even the non-skaters are entertained,” she says.

Even though it’s not the closest rink to their home near Carlingwood, Cheryl Mulvihill likes to come to the Champlain Park rink with her family. While the guys play hockey inside the boarded rink, she can skate around the surrounding oval.

Ice surfaces are maintained by rink attendants hired by the City who clean and maintain the ice during hours of operation. Chris Deschamps, one of three attendants at Iona Park, explains that every night the surface is scraped and flooded. He says he is thankful to the many community volunteers who help prepare and maintain the surface, but adds a reminder to stay off rinks during thaws so as not to damage the ice surface.



Local author reflects upon a life of caretaking

Donna Thomson, the author of The Four Walls of My Freedom.
Photo by Al Goyette

Donna Thomson, the author of The Four Walls of My Freedom, launched an updated paperback edition at Dovercourt Recreation Centre on January 23. The new edition features two new chapters.

Her thought-provoking book reflects on a life given to the care of a severely disabled son, Nicolas, but is also a plea for people to change how individuals and society view the disabled and elderly. Four Walls questions Canadian society’s view of value, which is too often measured by what we earn or accomplish, not by who we are or what we can learn from each other.

One never gets the sense that Thomson views her life as “tragic;” rather, as readers we are privy to her pathway to hope and freedom.

“It would have been tragic if Nicolas had died,” she says.

Thomson describes the isolation of those initial years caring for Nicolas who was born in 1988 with cerebral palsy, requiring 24-hour-a-day care.

“We were social pariahs. Our family situation was so extreme; this made it difficult to talk to people or to respond to the question ‘How was your day?’” says Thomson.

When Nicolas was 11 years old, Thomson heard about Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), an organization whose central purpose is the creation of networks of support for families and friends dealing with a disabled family member or friend.

Thomson co-founded Lifetime Networks Ottawa, working with disabled individuals and their families to create personal support networks.

In 2008, Thomson discovered the writings of Nobel Prize winner, Amartya Sen, an Indian economist and a Nobel laureate who is known for his theories of social justice.

His philosophy – termed the “Capability Approach”– is defined by “its choice of focus upon the moral significance of individuals’ capability of achieving the kind of lives they have reason to value.” The idea changed her life.

“It was a true epiphany for me,” says Thomson.

Thomson had already read extensively before she encountered Sen, “looking for ideas from developing countries where a lot of creativity was evident.”

Donna Thomson with son Nicolas
Donna Thomson and her son Nicolas.

Thomson says she grew up in a family where her father “instilled values of fairness and social justice.” Her mother worked in a time when most mothers stayed home with their kids.

Thomson and her sister both have backgrounds in the arts, her sister as a painter. Donna Thomson says she has “always been interested in meaningful narrative, work that pushes the boundaries and/or story telling to provoke changes in thinking.”

She obtained a bachelor of fine arts in theatre at Concordia, and then a degree in education from the University of Ottawa. Thomson worked as an actor, director, and teacher before the birth of her son.

“I’d like [people] to know that dependency is not a bad word,” says Thomson. “Issues of caretaking should be dinner table conversation, so let’s talk about it,” she adds, pointing out that a “major shift” needs to take place.

“In the future, we’ll all be looking after each other. Seniors will be looking after seniors in my generation,” she adds. “I wonder how the next generation will handle it. Are we losing the knowledge base on how to care for each other?”

In 2005, Thomson’s son Nicolas Wright won the Academic Perseverance Award from Notre Dame High School. In his acceptance speech Nicolas said:

“I will never give up in school because, frankly, I’m just too curious and excited to find out what is going to happen next in each of my classes. Some people call this having a positive attitude; I call it wanting to express my opinions. I have opinions in my personal life, my school, and my community and my country. And if I want people to hear my opinions, I know I have to be involved.”

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Chocolate, customers and community

Omar Fares loves chocolate. Still, that’s not the only reason he launched his new café, A Thing for Chocolate, at 1262 Wellington St. W. on January 8.

“I like talking to people. Playing with chocolate is an added bonus,” laughs Fares.

A Thing for Chocolate specializes in regular and gluten-free crêpes, both savoury and sweet. A signature blend of organic, fairly traded, locally roasted coffee and a selection of loose leaf teas complement the food offerings.

Of course, there’s chocolate, including a chocolate fondue, Fares’ handmade chocolates and baked goods, and a chocolate spread that he uses in the house crêpes and sells by the jar.

Owner and chief crêpe-maker, Omar Fares. Photo by Denise Deby.

The focus on crêpes, chocolate, and coffee came naturally. Fares learned the art of making and serving all three when he started working at a café near the French embassy in Beirut, Lebanon in 1999. Fares, a business administration graduate who’s also studied mathematics, worked summers in the food service industry as a youth before moving on to management positions in some top restaurants in Beirut, Dubai and Montreal.

Fares and his wife and kids moved to Ottawa just over four months ago, deciding it would be a good family friendly city in which to settle. Fares says he was “very lucky” to have found the perfect spot in West Wellington for his café.

“I’m very, very pleased that I chose this place. There’s something worth being here 12 hours a day – very nice people, a lot of support,” explains Fares. “People are getting to know us, and we’re building friends and relationships.”

Fares had almost given up hope of finding a suitable site when he came across the building that now houses his café. It wasn’t pretty, but he saw the potential.

“It’s an old house and this is exactly what I was looking for. It adds to the charm of the place, being an old house, and I wanted a homey feeling,” says Fares.

He enjoys chatting with customers while he works.

“I love serving people. It’s something that I chose,” says Fares. “I love making good food, I love making good chocolate, and I have a feeling people sense and appreciate that, and  appreciation is what gives me a sense of accomplishment.”

Fares says his work is never boring, and it’s allowed him to meet new people.

“That’s what gives life to what you do,” says Fares. 

Warming up to winter: Annual Dovercourt carnival draws a crowd

By Anita Grace –

More than 600 people came out to Dovercourt Recreation Centre on Saturday, January 18 for the annual winter carnival.

“It’s so nice to see a great turn out every year, with people of all ages,” said Stephanie Moores, a member of Dovercourt’s board of directors who attended the carnival with her two young sons.  “It draws not just from the area, but Ottawa-wide, and fits our mission of building a healthy, active, and engaged community.”

Maddock Currie, 4, happily crashes into the inflatable pins at Dovercourt’s annual winter carnival. Photo by Anita Grace.
Maddock Currie, 4, happily crashes into the inflatable pins at Dovercourt’s annual winter carnival. Photo by Anita Grace.

“We come here a lot,” said Annie Bérubé, who was skating on the ice with her husband and two children.  “It’s a great place.”

Westboro Kiwanis Park was bustling even before the carnival officially started at 4:00 p.m.

During the event, families lined up for horse-drawn wagon rides and children jumped in the bouncy castle. Kids also enjoyed crashing into the inflatable pins at the toboggan-bowling event on the sledding hill.

Ten-year-old Rylee Hein managed to knock down all the pins, scoring herself a Dovercourt T-shirt prize. “We come [to the carnival] every year,” she said. “It’s really fun.”

Rylee and her sister Kendall, 14, were among the few brave residents who tried the polar dip – a new event at Dovercourt this year. A small pool of water, its surface a slushy mix of snow and ice, was set up near the side door of the recreation centre. Polar dippers took a quick plunge, then rushed inside to the sauna and hot tub to warm up.

“The general idea is to get the community out and have some fun,” said Tyler Skerkowski, a program supervisor and a special events organizer at Dovercourt.

Skerkowski is grateful for Morris Home Team Realty’s sponsorship of this event, which is free to attend.

Sunita Venkateswaran said the horse drawn wagon and toboggan bowling were big hits with her four- and almost-two-year-olds.  “We love this event,” said Venkateswaran.

“The weather is ideal,” adds Bev Hellman, who was at the event with her four-year-old granddaughter. “Especially for all the young children that are here.”

She also praised the event for being well organized and nicely spread out around the park.

Those who missed the carnival at Dovercourt may want to bundle up and head over to Champlain Park on Saturday, January 25 for the park’s annual event. There will be free horse-drawn sleigh rides, musical performances, hot chocolate, coffee, as well as skating and hockey skills games.

“It’s a great way to bring together families and friends in the local community,” said Champlain Park’s event organizer Sarah Brooks, “and a good way to meet new people.”

Check the calendar on page 23 for a list of community events which includes a few other winter carnivals and fun events around Kitchissippi.

Hot times for Westboro Beach

The focus of last month’s column was the Trocadero dance hall at Westboro Beach. This month, despite the snow and sub-zero temperatures outside, we’re continuing our look at the development of Westboro Beach and the community’s involvement in regards to its use.

This photo from 1967 shows a new-and-improved beach area, as well as the concrete towers for the restaurant. You can also see the rock-filled crib downstream from the beach and the boom house in the middle of the river, both remnants of the early lumber industry. Photo courtesy of Michel LaFleur
This photo from 1967 shows a new-and-improved beach area, as well as the concrete towers for the restaurant. You can also see the rock-filled crib downstream from the beach and the boom house in the middle of the river, both remnants of the early lumber industry. Photo courtesy of Michel LaFleur

It is impossible to date the first use of the river at Westboro Beach for recreational purposes. The workers at James Skead’s mill undoubtedly found themselves in the river on occasion, whether by accident or on purpose, but the first documented and datable evidence comes from the early 1920s with a photo of the bathers enjoying a waterslide in the shallow water. For the more adventuresome, there was another taller slide anchored out in deeper water. The slides were community built using available materials, such as logs lying abandoned along the shore.

The “Westboro Swimming Club” was created in the early 1920s and incorporated under the provincial law, although it was really a community social organization, planning dances and other social events at the beach. Membership cost $5.00. The Club hosted races and swimming lessons for the young people in the neighbourhood, organized the construction of water slides and rafts, and built an open-air dance platform.

The Police Village of Westboro was also involved in activities at the beach, and as early as 1916, ordered the purchase and installation of two 12 x 17 tents “for the convenience of bathers.”

 In the background of this photo from the 1920s, one can see the open-air dance platform that preceded the Trocadero. Photo courtesy of Bob Rodney
In the background of this photo from the 1920s, one can see the open-air dance platform that preceded the Trocadero. Photo courtesy of Bob Rodney

In these early years, Westboro Beach was not much of a beach. There was very little sand – just dirt and mud, sawdust and bark from the mill –  amid rocks and shale. The Swimming Club had children pulling weeds to keep the beach relatively accessible for swimming. (The sand came later, in the 1950s.)

During the 1930s, the ownership of the beach lots fell increasingly into private hands, particularly those of Sam Ford. Sam owned the local snack bar and rented several cottages at the beach, and organized many activities to attract people to the beach and to the Trocadero dance hall. He organized carnival days of games of skill and chance, swimming races, and visual extravaganzas that included local youth diving through flaming circles of fire. He also constructed large concrete blocks at the water’s edge for party lights that were used during evening events.

Regardless of its popularity as a gathering place, Westboro Beach was neither a pristine stretch of sand, nor a safe place to swim. The logging industry left behind a legacy of submerged logs and structures, which were dangerous to unsuspecting swimmers. The safest part of the beach was the shallow part at the end of Lanark Avenue, but even here, water-logged timbers, unexpected holes, and the remains of the piers (or rock-filled cribs) caused casualties. More advanced swimmers migrated to the remains of Skead’s Mill, at the downstream end of the current Kitchissippi parking lot.

Normally submerged, but visible during low water levels in the summer, are the remains of a rock-filled crib some 75 to 100 meters offshore. This crib was used to anchor the boom-logs, which controlled the timber on the river. During the 1930s and 1940s the top of this crib was 5 or 6 feet above water level and was a favourite destination for older youth, but there was a very rapid current between the shore and the crib, which posed a serious danger to swimmers. There were also reports of underwater structures related to the mill, which trapped and injured swimmers. There were a half-dozen drowning fatalities in each decade of the early years, but they weren’t limited to summer swimmers. Several small children drowned when they fell through the ice in the winter.

One particular drowning death had far-reaching implications for the neighbourhood. On a warm evening in June of 1949, James Allan Campbell, a local teenager, tripped on a log and hit his head and slipped unconscious into the water. His body was not recovered until the following afternoon. His death stimulated a massive reaction on the part of his friends and classmates, and ultimately led to lasting improvements in the area of community recreational resources. His friends formed the J.A.C. Club – which stood for James Allan Campbell – and they spent many hours cleaning the beach of debris and collecting names for a petition to pressure the Township and the City into improving the beach and creating other neighbourhood recreational resources, such as Dovercourt.

Bob Grainger is a retired federal public servant with an avid interest in local history. KT readers may already know him through his book, Early days in Westboro Beach – Images and Reflections. He’s also part of the Woodroffe North history project and is currently working on the history of Champlain Park and Ottawa West.

Tell us, what would you like to read about in his next column?

  1. The disappearance of Banting Avenue
  2. Kitchissippi’s golf course
  3. Railway accidents in the neighbourhood

 Cast your vote by leaving a comment below or sending an email to

Kitchissippi Q & A: Where to go for winter frolic

Q: The youngest members of our family got some cross-country skis for Christmas and I was wondering if you could recommend a good place to practice before we head out and do some “real” trails with them. The flatter the better!

Thank you,

Mama Ski Bunny

A: Thanks for your letter Mama Bunny! My family is also fairly new at cross-country skiing. It’s a great sport for families. Not only does it give us something active to do during the long winter (at least it feels long to me!) but once you have all the equipment it’s pretty cheap to just pick up and go somewhere.

We’re very lucky to be so close to some great trails in the Gatineau hills too, but you’re not quite there yet. A bit of practice and you will be ready in no time.


The best thing to do if you’re not paying for lessons is to bring the kids over to your neighborhood park, strap on those skis, and get the kids used to the feeling of the skis on the snow. Once this starts to get boring, it’s time to kick it up a notch.

There are a couple of other places that would be perfect for newbies to try out new cross-country skis:

  • Many parents have already discovered the small hill behind Dovercourt Recreation Centre. Although the front of the hill tends to get taken over by small sledders (which makes it too slippery for new skiers) the sides of the hill can provide a nice gradual slope to practice the cross-country climb and descent, especially after a fresh snowfall. It’s great for trying out new snowboards too.
  • The bike paths down near Westboro Beach turn into informal ski paths in the winter. Park in the lot off the parkway or on Lanark and walk down to the beach area. It’s a whole different place in the winter! The best thing is that you’re not tied to a loop or a long route, which is ideal for new skiers. Just head out in one direction and turn around when you start to get tired.

Good luck, and have fun!

Andrea Tomkins,

Is there an issue in your corner of Kitchissippi that’s been puzzling you? Perhaps there’s something you’ve always wanted to know but didn’t know who to ask. Send your burning questions (Kitchissippi-related of course) to us and we’ll help find the answer.

A new bakery rises in Hintonburg

By Ted Simpson –

There’s a savoury new aroma wafting through the streets of Hintonburg: fresh sourdough bread courtesy of our city’s newest artisan bakery, Bread By Us.
Below the wood grain sign, just slightly to the left of Victoria Pharmacy (1065 Wellington Street West) is a humble, yet brilliant addition to the community. Bread By Us is a small batch bakery and espresso bar that is owned and operated by master baker Jessica Carpinone.

Carpinone recently set out on her own after finding acclaim as a chef and baker at downtown foodie hotspot, Murray Street Kitchen. With four years of experience as a professional baker in hand, Carpinone has wasted no time in making her mark on Ottawa’s culinary landscape.

Bread By Us is a new small batch bakery and espresso bar owned and operated<br />by master baker Jessica Carpinone. Photo by Ted Simpson.
Bread By Us is a new small batch bakery and espresso bar owned and operated
by master baker Jessica Carpinone. Photo by Ted Simpson.

“I always felt like I wanted to run a business of my own,” she says. “I felt like the market wasn’t really saturated, there was room for a new place.”

Her new business is all about the bread, making the purest and highest quality product possible.

“I love to eat it, it’s my favourite food in the world,” she says, explaining scientific intricacies of the baking process that most people can’t possibly appreciate.

Carpinone specializes in sourdough bread. Sourdough is special because the yeast that is utilized is naturally found in the environment and has a slower fermentation process.

This is the opposite method to what one would find in most grocery store bakeries, which use much more yeast to achieve a much faster process.

“My style is to try and extract as much flavour and potential from the grain as possible, and that takes time,” explains Carpinone. “I hope it comes across in the breads, they’re not rushed, they are really thoughtful.”

The result is a loaf with crispy crust, soft interior and a complex flavour. In addition to its deliciousness, the bread lasts longer than the conventional variety. Sourdough is a natural preservative, which gives the loaves a shelf life of two to three days.

The bakery opened their doors shortly before Christmas and have been ramping up to a grand opening event the weekend of January 11-12, when Carpinone and her staff will eagerly meet their new neighbours and members of the community.

“I wanted to be in a mostly residential area, but still central. Hintonburg has the best of both worlds for me,” says Carpinone of her new home. “I like dealing with people who are here every day, I like to feel the pulse of the neighbourhood itself.”

In the spirit of community, Bread By Us offers a unique idea they call the “suspended program.” Simply put, it is an easy way to pay-it-forward to a neighbour who might be less fortunate.

“Somebody who might have more means can buy whatever they like, and they can buy a second item for someone who might not have the money for it in the future,” says Carpinone.

Items bought on the suspended program are available to anyone who may need the comfort of a good coffee or a loaf of bread to eat during a hard time.

Bread By Us is open seven days a week, though Carpinone does take Mondays as a day off. Coffee and croissants are ready for 8:00 a.m., with baguettes and focaccia rolling out by lunch and a full assortment of fresh loaves on hand for post work foraging.

Check out their website at You can also follow them on Twitter at @BreadByUs.