Kitchissippi Q & A: A different kind of giving at Christmas time

Q: I am looking for a place to volunteer on Christmas Day.  I thought that maybe you would have some idea of where there are meals to be served in Westboro since Newport has closed and Donna’s will not be doing it.

Thank you,



A: Dear Marthe,

Thank you for your question! Volunteering is amazing. Volunteering helps people make new friends, build skills, and pick up some valuable career-related experience, but most importantly, it gives people an opportunity to directly impact their community.

Newport is switching gears this year. They are still giving away meals, but they’re doing it “Meals on Wheels” style. According to Moe Atallah, the plan is to feed 120 people, and volunteers will be delivering the meals on Christmas Day.

You might want to inquire at the Carleton Tavern. The Hintonburg Economic Development Committee has been hosting a free Christmas Day dinner for those in need at the Carleton Tavern for the past nine years. There are lots of different jobs that need to be done, but you’re not guaranteed a spot. The volunteer co-ordinator gives priority to last year’s volunteers, and contacts new volunteers once it is known how many slots need to be filled. Donations of food and gifts are also needed. It’s a great way to help out beforehand if you’re not able to make it in person.  Send an email outlining your interests and availability to (There’s more information about this event on the Newswest website.)

There are other ways you can help this time of year too:

  • There’s the Caring and Sharing Exchange. Last year they provided help to 750 people in Kitchissippi. Members of the community (like you!) can sign up to deliver Christmas directly to local individuals and families in need through a new sponsor-a-hamper program. Sponsors purchase supplies for a hamper, pack it themselves, and deliver it right to the family who requested help. It’s worth mentioning that last year the Caring and Sharing Exchange wasn’t able to provide hampers for everyone who requested one. For more information go to the Caring and Sharing Exchange’s website at, or email
  •  The Shepherds of Good Hope is also looking for donations for its Christmas Hamper Program. This program matches needy families with sponsors so that they can enjoy a Christmas dinner. A full Christmas hamper is $200, but you can chip in with your preferred amount.

Most agencies and charitable organizations prefer to have volunteers who can commit for longer periods of time, rather than just on the one day. Many organizations also require new volunteers to submit references and undergo a police records check. There may be training too, and this all takes time! I suggest you check out and see what kinds of opportunities are listed there.

Volunteering is truly the gift that keeps giving, all year round. And it’s powerful. Whenever you give your time, you get something good right back.

Thanks for your note!

Andrea Tomkins,

What about you Kitchissippi? Marthe’s letter was about serving Christmas dinners but if you know of other organizations that need a helping hand at this time of year, please drop us a line and we’ll add it here! 

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.


Going beyond the classroom

By Anita Grace –

Shauna Pollock is passionate about preparing her students for the 21st century. In recognition of her dedication and avant-garde approach, the Churchill Alternative School teacher recently received the Prime Minister’s Teaching Award for Excellence.

Churchill Alternative School teacher Shauna Pollock is a new recipient of the Prime Minister's Teaching Award for Excellence. Photos by Kate Settle.
Churchill Alternative School teacher Shauna Pollock is a new recipient of the Prime Minister’s Teaching Award for Excellence. Photos by Kate Settle.

Churchill principal Megan Egerton describes Pollock as a teacher who “puts in 150%” and who is “preparing kids for the 21st century by integrating the technologies that are available now.”

“She is constantly looking for ways to engage and improve,” Egerton adds. For example, Pollock is using the money she received with the award to attend the Google in Education Montreal Summit where she will learn about even more ways to integrate new apps and technology in her classroom.

The Grades 5/6 teacher already embraces technology in a myriad of ways in her classroom. Last year she brought an iPad to the classroom and found that it “revolutionized” her approach to teaching. She now uses blogs, Twitter and Skype to add innovative aspects to every part of her curriculum.

Students use programs such as Skype in the Classroom for activities like “Mystery Skypes” in which they link up with a school somewhere else in the world. They take turns asking yes and no questions to try to figure out where the other classroom is located.

“It’s cool to get to see other people in the world,” says student Jack Wardlaw, 11. He adds that it’s a great way to learn geography. Coloured pins on a world map in the classroom shows the places Pollock’s students have connected with, including countries like Cambodia, Peru, Kenya and Sweden.

“The classroom walls are gone,” enthuses Pollock. “We can go anywhere. We can learn anything.”

She is also impressed with “the authentic learning that you can get out of using these digital tools.” Her students are not only discovering new tools, but they are using technology to make their work more meaningful.

When her class was reading books by Canadian author Eric Walters and blogging their book reviews, Pollock connected with Walters, who began reading these blogs. Pollock noticed that this connection made the assignments much more meaningful to her students. “The pride that they would take in their work was a completely higher level than I had ever seen from them,” she said.

“Shauna challenges us,” says Patrick Pearson, 11. “But things stick in our minds because she also makes it fun.”

Pollock, 31, was herself a student at Churchill as a kid, attending the school from kindergarten to grade 4. She also did her high school co-op placement at the school. She taught at Fielding Drive Public School before coming to Churchill three years ago, which she happily says is like coming full circle.

Churchill has embraced technology to support student learning. In May the school received an Ottawa Network for Education Innovation Award for their outstanding and innovative integration of technology.

But in addition to all the cool things Pollock is doing with technology, Egerton notes that she is a teacher who “makes kids feel included, heard, valued and cared for” and inspires them to get engaged in communities here and abroad.

Last year, two of Pollock’s students raised $250 for UNICEF’s School-in-a-Box kit which provides supplies for a classroom of up to 80 students.

Jennifer Fijalkowska, whose son Hunter was one of the fundraisers, says Pollock’s promotion of philanthropy has had a profound effect on her son. “We love that Shauna empowers the kids to such an extent that they feel that it is within the scope of their ability to do something about the issues that they and we face.”

“Shauna is passionate about what she does,” says student Skye Fergusson, 11. “She’s really involved with her students and supports us trying to make a difference in our communities.”

To see some of the innovative things happening in Shauna’s classroom, visit the class blog at or follow them on Twitter @Churchill209.

KT Bazaars: Shop local. Super local.

Dollars spent in the community, help build a better community

In our last issue we issued a challenge. We wanted to see your photos from your local neighbourhood church bazaar, craft fair, or seasonal rummage sale. And we still do! We want to show everyone the great things (and good deals!) that can be found in unexpected places. Whether you’re buying some homemade cookies, a knitted scarf, or a secondhand treasure, by spending a few dollars at these local events you are supporting local fundraising efforts and helping out some great small businesses.

Wondering where to go? Check the community calendar for some suggestions.

If you’re on Twitter, share your finds with #KTbazaars. Or email them to us!  Our favourite photos will be published in our next issue.

This ornament was made by Kitchissippi’s Charm n’Stitches.
These pinback buttons were made by The Crafty Husband. You can find more at his Etsy store:
Homemade treats are cheap and cheerful.


Riding the wave: Author shares insider stories about Jack Layton

Meet Brad Lavigne, the national campaign director for the New Democratic Party’s 2011 election and the author of Building the Orange Wave: The Inside Story Behind the Historic Rise of Jack Layton and the NDP. Photo by Judith van Berkom

Brad Lavigne, Kitchissippi resident for the last 10 years and the national campaign director for the New Democratic Party’s historic 2011 election breakthrough, has authored his first book, Building the Orange Wave: The Inside Story Behind the Historic Rise of Jack Layton and the NDP. His intent in writing was to ensure that “all of the work [would not] be forgotten or misinterpreted or twisted by opponents [but would provide] an understanding to all Canadians as to what really happened.”

Lavigne graduated from Concordia with a Masters in Public Policy and Public Administration. Throughout his studies he was “always interested in advocacy, in making change and [felt] an obligation to help out, to make a contribution.”

He joined the NDP in 1987 at 18 years-of-age. Originally from out west where he worked for the BC government, he moved to Toronto in 2001 when he lost his job and the National Post offered his journalist wife, Sarah Schmidt, employment.

“We followed the work,” explains Lavigne.

In 2000, Lavigne, working in Victoria at the time, was called to help with the upcoming federal election. He took a leave of absence from his job to help out.

“It was a bad campaign,” says Lavigne. “They didn’t have their act together; the party wasn’t prepared at all.”

They only won 13 out of 299 seats – less than 1 out of 10 Canadians voted NDP. Although badly discouraged, he and a friend chose to “be constructive” and they came up with “three criteria a new NDP leader needed to have – experience, live in urban Canada and be fully bilingual – and went then from west to east looking for a candidate,” explains Lavigne.

“Have you ever heard of Jack Layton?” he asked his friend. It was a question that made history. Jack Layton was sent an email the next morning, urging him to go federal and promising support. “Jack kept that email in his blackberry until the day he died,” says Lavigne.

The email led to a call from Jack Layton’s office and a week later they were “mapping out a plan for leadership with Jack and his wife,” says Lavigne. “You don’t know where it’s going to go,” explains Lavigne, who worked a 9-to-5 job and spent his evenings and weekends volunteering for the first year.

He started in March 2003 with a full-time, salaried position, based in the Ottawa office.

“I didn’t think it would happen that quickly – the breakthrough,” he explains. “We used to call it The Project – the vision to professionalize, modernize the party. [We had] a moral obligation to win in order to implement change; [we couldn’t continue] to let them down by not fighting to win,” Lavigne adds.

One of the chapters in Lavigne’s book is called “113 days” which represents the number of days after Jack Layton was elected leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in 2011, before his death on August 22, 2011.

In a letter to his then unborn grandchild (2009), Layton outlines what motivated him to pursue public service.

“What drove him was the desire to leave [his grandchild’s] generation a better country, a better world. [The note], written as Layton flew home to Toronto from out west, was “unscripted, unedited, and straight from the heart,” says Lavigne.

Lavigne spent from April 2012 to December 2012 as a full-time writer. “I love the neighbourhood,” he says. “I spent time writing in the Royal Oak, The Wood, held interviews in the Ottawa Bagel shop,” he adds. Local residents may have seen him there.

Lavigne, his wife, Sarah Schmidt, and two children cycle on the Ottawa River Parkway during the summer months and enjoy stopping at Westboro Beach. During the winter they ski at Camp Fortune and skate at Tom Brown Arena.

“We are a very active family,” says Lavigne.

They also enjoy travelling and have done so extensively, in South Africa, the Caribbean, Nicaragua, and recently, a weekend trip to Chicago to see the architecture and art museums. He hopes to stay in Ottawa.

For more information about this book, check out this review on iPolitics, or listen to this interview with CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi.



Local dancers create holiday magic in The Nutcracker

Chloe Pennock-Banks, 13, is one of the dancers who was selected to perform in Ballet Jörgen’s Nutcracker. Photo by Denise Deby.

Young Ottawa dancers will transform into squirrels, frogs, dragonflies and other creatures in December for Ballet Jörgen Canada’s Nutcracker, a Canadian Tradition. Set in Group of Seven-inspired landscapes, including an Algonquin Park forest, the production partners local dancers aged eight to 17 with a professional touring cast.

Chloe Pennock-Banks, 13, of West Wellington is one of 31 dancers selected from over 100 who auditioned in October. She plays a squirrel, which means frolicking with other squirrels, cavorting with chipmunks and interacting with the ballet’s main characters on stage.

“I’m very lucky to get chosen,” says Chloe. It’s her third appearance in the annual production—she was a squirrel last year, and a chipmunk the previous year—but being selected one year is no guarantee of performing the next.

“Since it’s with a professional company, we have to be very on top of things,” says Chloe, who started dancing at age three and trains four times a week at Les Petits Ballets. Being in The Nutcracker means attending weekly rehearsals and doing the best she can. It’s a big commitment, but the Grade 8 Fisher Park Public School student, who’s also appearing in a Les Petits Ballets production of Aladdin at Centrepointe Theatre on December 7, is excited to be involved.

The first year she auditioned, she didn’t make the cut, but a friend talked her into trying out again.

“The first year I went into it, it was my first audition ever, so I didn’t really know how to act,” she recounts. “But the second year, and the year after that, I smiled and tried my best to act like the character.”

Her persistence worked, and now playing the furry characters is part of the fun, despite the hot costumes the dancers wear for the final rehearsal and public performances.

“The squirrel suit is more or less a track suit that has fur and a tail. We have a backpack on stage—that’s our tail—so we have to get used to dancing with a backpack in rehearsals,” explains Chloe.

Chloe’s mom, Jennifer Pennock, appreciates the opportunity for Chloe to dance with a professional company and to experience the highs and lows of auditions.

“I think that kids get a lot out of it,” says Pennock. “One of the things that has been really impressive to me is that they’re really encouraged to problem-solve themselves. If something’s not working, the dancers have to take ownership and figure out what needs to be done to get it right.”

Another Ottawa dancer in the production is Mackenzie Longo, 10, who’s in Grade 5 at Our Lady of Fatima School. It’s her first year performing with Ballet Jörgen, and she’s making new friends and enjoying her role as a frog, which she says requires “a lot of jumping up and down, and a lot of strength.”

Mackenzie’s mom Jessica, a teacher at Our Lady of Fatima, says it’s been a wonderful opportunity for Mackenzie.

“She can’t wait to actually meet the cast and see what it’s like behind the scenes. Everything has been such a learning experience for her,” she says.

Michelle Brawley, founder of Ottawa’s Ballet Society, is the Ottawa youth cast Ballet Mistress for the production, overseeing rehearsals and ensuring the children reach a professional level.

“We try to make it an extremely positive experience where we demand a lot of them,” explains Brawley. “The choreography is not extremely difficult to execute; it’s the speed of it and the formation that need to be impeccable.”

The dancers must also bring their animal characters to life and learn how to support and critique each other.

“The children are really enthusiastic and they work really, really hard,” says Brawley.

Auditions for Ballet Jörgen’s The Nutcracker, A Canadian Tradition are announced each spring and held in October. Performances take place this year at Centrepointe Theatre December 14 and 15 at the Shenkman Arts Centre December 16 and 17.

Putting play to work: Kitchissippi kids inform national toy ratings

Isabel Wettlaufer-Wang, 8, enjoyed testing the ‘Nerf Rebelle: Heartbreaker Bow’ this summer. Photo by Christine Wettlaufer.

Each year, the Canadian Toy Testing Council (CTTC) tests approximately 400 games, playsets, dolls, and other toys to find the best new releases of the year. On November 5, they released their annual list of the top kid-tested toys and books, along with the 2014 Toy Report.

Toy evaluations are based on the experience of children at play, children like Westboro’s Maléa Edwards, 6.

“Testing toys makes me think more about the toy, what I’m doing, how I’m playing with it, and why I like it,” Maléa says.

With only one toy-testing season under her belt, she is already developing the critical thinking and analytical skills that the CTTC fosters with their mission of ‘learning through play’.

Champlain Park’s Shelbi K.S., 14, has been testing toys since she was a baby. Along with her three siblings, she is part of the Council’s longest standing testing family (19 years!) and one of six testing families in Kitchissippi.

“It’s always a good experience,” she says. “I get to try new toys and we do more things as a family, like games and crafts.”

The CTTC distributes toys to approximately 200 families in the National Capital Region who have kids ranging from zero to 16. The volunteer-run charity also makes sure that each toy is tested by kids in the target age group.

Shelbi says that she is now mostly testing books and games, although she still gets a few of her favorites – arts and crafts projects.

Hampton Park’s Alexandra Bean, 4, tested 12 toys this summer, most of which were playsets and dolls. Her favourite toy was Colour-a-Cape Princess, a craft project that had her colouring a satin-trimmed fabric cape, which has now become her top dress-up accessory.

Alexandra and her six-year-old brother Thomas loved the anticipation of receiving new toys to test and discovered new kinds of play they had not tried before.

Westboro’s Isabel Wettlaufer-Wang, 8, said she enjoyed the process because “it is fun work. It makes me feel good to be playing for a reason.”

Member families pay an annual fee of $35 and are guaranteed to test at least three toys during the May-August testing period. Most get more – Isabel tested 16 toys and 10 books this summer.

Toy testers have toys for a period of six to eight weeks, which Isabel says is “just the right period” for enjoying a toy before getting bored of it.

At the end of the testing period, testing families return the toy to the CTTC along with a completed questionnaire that covers areas of assembly, design, function, play value, durability and safety.

Maléa enjoyed working with her mother to complete the evaluations. Like many testers, she takes pride in her volunteer role and responsibilities and takes her job seriously.

Isabel understands that her evaluations make their way to toy manufacturers.

“It’s nice to give our feedback on what we like and don’t like,” says her mom, Christine Wettlaufer. “We’re smarter shoppers now,” she adds, saying that through testing they have gained a better understanding of which toys have staying power and which ones just end up on the shelf.

The list of award winners, the complete 2014 Toy Report, as well as information about becoming a toy testing family, is available online at




Kitchissippi Q & A: The race for space

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 and we’ll help find the answer.

Q: I’m in charge of a local non-profit group and I’m on the look out for cheap meeting space somewhere in the neighbourhood.  Can you help?

Mr. Spacey

A: Thanks for your question Mr. Spacey. It’s always a challenge for community groups to find room to meet and host events. You didn’t mention what kind of budget you have or the size of your group, but there are a few options in the area that don’t involve having to hunker down at the local coffee shop. I’d look into these places:

  • Churchill Seniors Centre (345 Richmond Road)
  • Dovercourt Recreation Centre (411 Dovercourt Avenue) Dovercourt also runs the McKellar Field House, and there’s space available there too.
  • Hintonburg Community Centre (1064 Wellington St West)
  • Fisher Park Community Centre (250 Holland Avenue)
  • The Champlain Park fieldhouse (which is located off Cowley Avenue) is owned by the City of Ottawa but the scheduling has been delegated to the local community association and its volunteers.
  • MEC (366 Richmond Road) has a community meeting room that can accommodate small groups. It’s available to local outdoor clubs, ENGOs, or NGOs that have a similar mandate as MEC. Use of the room is free, but it’s recommended you contact them at least a month in advance because the space books up quickly.
  • The Westboro Legion has reasonably-priced meeting space, and catering!

You could also consider checking out your neighborhood churches to see if they offer inexpensive meeting space for your group.

I recently had a tour of St. George’s Parish in West Wellington. It’s tucked away on Piccadilly Avenue, which makes me think that a lot of people might not even know it’s there. St. George’s recently completed a massive renovation that was officially unveiled in July; good news for parishioners as well as the larger community.

Georges Bouliane, the Parish Manager at St.George's Parish. Photo by Andrea Tomkins.
Georges Bouliane, the Parish Manager at St.George’s Parish. Photo by Andrea Tomkins.

Part of the reno included a lot of new meeting and gathering space that is now available for one-time use (such as fundraisers) or for regular bookings (like a yoga class). The space is used by all kinds of different folks; including Highland dancers, practitioners of Tai Chi, religious groups of different denominations, and arts and musical groups.

“There aren’t a lot of spaces available in the area,” says Georges Bouliane, the Parish Manager. “We have a great facility that’s just waiting to be used by the community.”

Email Georges at for rental information (costs haven’t been uploaded to the website at yet, but it’s coming). If you mention you’re a non-profit group you’ll get a deal on the rental too.

Good luck,

– Andrea Tomkins, Editor




Helping others get moving: Volunteers needed to assist Elmwood residents

Elmwood Lodge in Westboro

Special to KT, from Shelly Ann Morris

Physical fitness is important to us all.  It is especially important to those who have disabilities or those with barriers to accessing programs to better or maintain good health.  Volunteers can make the difference.

Westboro is an inclusive neighbourhood.  Elmwood Lodge sits on one of its shady, quiet streets.  The large house was once home to a doctor and his family.  Many years ago, it became a lodge for 26 women, each having some form of mental health challenge.

Shelly Ann Morris has been volunteering at Elmwood Lodge for 29 years. Photo by Andrea Tomkins.

Elmwood Lodge is one of the City of Ottawa’s “domiciliary hostels.”  Round-the-clock staff ensures that the women have room, board, supervision of medication, and assistance with activities of daily living. Some of the women who live there work, take the bus, visit their friends, go to restaurants, and participate in social/recreational programs and go out into the community. Westboro and the surrounding area know the house and many of the residents and have welcomed those who do venture out.

Unfortunately not all of the ladies are able to come and go.  Age, disability, economic challenges, lack of transportation and/or social supports are just some of the things that limit their access. The staff has taken proactive steps to see that the women have a good quality of life. Recently they welcomed Gidget, a Pomeranian pooch, to their world with great benefit for 4- and 2-legged residents alike. Recreation programs also help, such as crafts, games and music.

What’s needed now is the opportunity to get moving.

How do I know so much about Elmwood Lodge and the people who live there? Twenty-nine years ago, I began volunteering with Citizen Advocacy, an organization that matches people with disabilities (protégés) to volunteer ‘advocates’ for friendship and support. Citizen Advocacy will celebrate its 40th anniversary in Ottawa in 2014. CA as always helped me through education and guidance, and given me the encouragement to help my advocate so that she can maintain her physical and mental well-being.

“Folks surviving solely on OAS or ODSP are in no position financially to pay for exercise programs. Transportation and the ability to get oneself there also play a factor for those who could take part in community-based programs offered at a reduced rate. For older, infirm or very mentally ill folks, volunteers who can visit them in home are crucial. Simple chair exercises, lively music, simple yoga, walks in the neighbourhood and interaction with someone to brighten up the day or week are beneficial for everyone involved. Giving back to those in need creates a deep rewarding feeling of satisfaction, something money cannot buy. Helping those in need with motivation to exercise and to feel empowered is also a priceless gift. IT’S WIN WIN!” – Kristin Vaudrey, Elmwood Lodge’s Executive Director

I was matched to my protégé, a wonderful woman originally from Eastern Europe, who lives at Elmwood Lodge. During our 29 years of friendship, many good things have come her way, including four grandchildren. However, aging and her disability have taken a toll on her physical health. Lack of exercise has limited her ability to walk and get around. The same holds true for some of the other women. All are in agreement that a regular exercise program would improve their physical and mental well-being.

Those at Elmwood are hoping that volunteers could be found to lead the women in a regular, in-house, group exercise program. It is also hoped that volunteers could escort others on short walks around the neighbourhood, which is one of Ottawa’s most ideal places to walk. The ability to become physically active is increasingly important during the long, cold winter months.

The journey to better health begins with one small step. Without the assistance of volunteers, those most in need may not be able to take that small but important first step.

If you think that you might like to volunteer to help someone in your neighbourhood to become more active, please call Kristin Vaudrey at 613-729-2398.






Five things you should know about Moe Atallah: restauranteur, philanthropist

How much do you know about Moe Attallah? Photo by Al Goyette.

“I never knew I was getting older. I kept on going. People would ask me how long have you been in Canada. I’d say 20 years. They’d say, you told us that 5 years ago. I’ve been here at least 36 years. I’ve worked in the restaurant business every day and never kept track of the days or years – whether it was weekdays, Saturdays or Sundays.” 

Moe Atallah retired a year ago. Two years ago, close friend and journalist Earl McRae, passed away.

“We started the Elvis Sighting Society together,” says Atallah. “He was my age. I never thought Earl would die or pass away. It was a big shock for me; I could go next. I started thinking, what’s going to happen?”

Atallah closed the Newport Restaurant at the corner of Richmond and Churchill and operates his business together with his wife and daughter at the smaller venue (formerly Donna’s Restaurant) at Churchill and Scott.

“It’s easier to run this place,” says Atallah. “After months and years of perfecting what we do, we do a good job. Staff moved with me. Some of our staff have been working with me for over 20 years. We keep our staff, even if they’re old; we know they will arrive on time. I feel they are not staff, but family.”

Atallah has slowed down, a little.

“One of Earl MacRae’s wishes was to go to Graceland, something we were never able to do. Last year our kids and in-laws wanted to treat us but we weren’t able to go. This year we did it. We drove to Nashville and Memphis to see Graceland and had a wonderful time but it was sad without Earl. It breaks my heart. We had so much fun together. We were like twin brothers. We had the same feeling about Elvis, about politics. I think of him every day.”

1. He has his own entry in Wikipedia

Do a Google search for Moe Atallah and up comes an entry in Wikipedia about the Newport Restaurant, Atallah’s philanthropic endeavours, his involvement in creating a smoke-free restaurant environment in Ottawa.

2. He came to Canada as a refugee

Moe Atallah came to Canada as a 32-year-old refugee from Lebanon in 1976. His only brother was a journalist and columnist in Montreal at the time, and Atallah, a Christian who owned 3 restaurants in the Muslim section of Lebanon, left during the civil war. He found a job at a restaurant on his first day.

“The owner said ‘will you do dishes’. I said, I’ll do anything. I was lucky, he didn’t want a dishwasher, he wanted a manager,” says Atallah. “I spoke English, Italian, French and Lebanese. I ran restaurants; I did dishes; I still do dishes now.”

Atallah started at $1 an hour and worked a 40-hour week in his first job here in Canada because he “didn’t want to be a burden on his brother.”

3. He truly believes the customer is always right

Atallah opened the Newport Restaurant in 1988. Reflecting back on a long career in the restaurant business he advises new entrepreneurs “to be successful in business – and the restaurant business is 7 days a week – you have to love your job, work hard at it.”

“You have to love people, to care about every single person whether they just buy a cup of coffee or spend $100. You have to treat them the same… I always believed that the customer is always always right,” he adds.

Atallah can’t sleep at night if he can’t find a solution to a nagging problem.

“You need to be present,” says Atallah. “Your staff give 90%, but I give 100%. Sometimes they forget the bread. As soon as I know there is no bread, I go and get the bread,” he says.

A typical day for Atallah starts at 6:00 a.m. and often finishes at midnight.

Guess what he would do if he won the lottery?

“I would buy another restaurant,” says Atallah.

4. He trained as an interior designer

Atallah trained in his native country as an interior designer, but his father had just bought a restaurant and didn’t want to run it himself.

5. He’s all about giving.

Every Christmas morning, for many years now, Atallah has invited the less fortunate for a free breakfast and lunch at the Newport. Hundreds of gifts are also donated from the public to the Newport for this special occasion.

“I remember the first time at the Newport for Christmas. You can’t describe the joy it gives when you can make people happy. There are people who came who never eat in a restaurant,” says Attalah.

Christmas this year will be a little different. We are “Doing ‘Meals on Wheels’ because of the location. We’ll feed 120 people; volunteers will deliver meals on Christmas day.”

Late nights at “the Troc”

We’re very happy to introduce a new local history column by Bob Grainger. Bob is a retired federal public servant who discovered an 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. Welcome aboard Bob!

On a good day in the summer of 2013, the beach at Westboro attracts scores, if not hundreds of people. But in the past, in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, the beach attracted great crowds as well, and on a year-round basis.

In the 1920s, the local residents got together and constructed an open-air dance platform using materials that were salvaged from the shoreline. This dance platform was the centre of many festive occasions in the good summer weather.

The 1930s saw the arrival of Sam Ford, a local resident who saw great commercial potential in the beach, and he started to buy the six lots that made up the beach area.  His first project was to build his house – on the rise of land on your right hand side as you emerge from under the Parkway on your way to the water. On the left-hand side, on what is now a grassy slope much beloved of sun worshippers, Sam built the Trocadero Dance Hall on the same site as open-air dance platform. Sam knew that two things were important to the dancers of that era – a good floor, with a bit of “give” and “bounce” – and good music.  The Trocadero supplied both in spades.

Oscar “Chin” Crete and Betsy Dubue dancing in the Trocadero, circa 1940. (Notice the jukebox in the background, although it might be hard to see given the age of this photograph.) Photo courtesy of Louis Diriger.

During the 1930s and the early 1940s, there was a great deal of interest in jazz music and dancing, and there were a number of dance halls around the region. They each had to work hard to attract and maintain the loyalty of dancers. No alcohol was served in these places, but a considerable amount was consumed, as the dancers would buy mix from the dance hall and retire to the parking lot to add some alcohol in the privacy of their cars. The presence of alcohol frequently lead to altercations, and one of the favourite Saturday night activities of the teenage neighbourhood crowd was to go “down to the Troc and watch the fights.”

Dancers paid an entrance fee to get in to the Trocadero and then someone had to feed the jukebox. Those who had no money would wait for someone else to pay.  With the good floor and the good music, the Trocadero did quite well, particularly on Sundays when the dance halls inside the Ottawa city limits were required to close; the Trocadero, being in Nepean Township at the time, could stay open.

There were Saturday night dance parties all year round, even in the cold of winter. On the weekends, especially in the summer, a local group of musicians would provide live music.

Dance contests were a common feature of the weekends, offering a chance for the really good dancers to demonstrate their skills. Usually, the dance contest would consist of three different dances – the foxtrot, the waltz and the jitterbug. The winner would be decided by the applause of the crowd.

With the end of the war in 1945, the Federal District Commission (the forerunner to the National Capital Commission) re-started its plans for a network of parkways around the city. The properties along the shore of the Ottawa River, including Sam Ford’s home, his three rental cottages and the Trocadero, were scheduled for expropriation and demolition to make room for the Ottawa River Parkway.

Sam Ford’s property was originally appraised in early 1948, with the evaluators noting that: “the Buildings were apparently erected by amateur builders.” Negotiations continued over many months, but the end was inevitable.  Sam agreed to a price in 1951. The three cottages were rented for another half-dozen years (because of the post-war housing shortage); the Trocadero was abandoned by all but local youngsters and finally demolished in early 1957. It was an ignominious ending for a facility that had brought so much life to the community.

Do you have memories of the Troc? Or a related photo or story to share? We’d love to hear about it. Send your emails to


A new way to deliver food hampers for families in need

The Caring and Sharing Exchange has introduced a new initiative as part of their nearly century old Christmas Exchange Program. Starting this holiday season, members of the Ottawa community can now deliver Christmas directly to local individuals and families in need through the new sponsor-a-hamper program. Sponsors are able to purchase supplies for a hamper, pack it themselves, and deliver it directly to a family in need.

“We are very excited about the addition of this program,” said Cindy Smith, Executive Director of the Caring and Sharing Exchange.

“This is a very tangible and personal way for people to give back to the community during the holiday season and with the Exchange’s unique Co-ordination Service all donors can rest assured that there is no duplication of service.”

The Caring and Sharing Exchange provides Christmas assistance to individuals and families in the form of a food hamper or redeemable gift voucher. Last year, the organization’s Christmas Exchange program received requests for assistance from close to 25,000 individuals, 750 of whom were from the Kitchissippi area. Despite the generosity of the Ottawa community, they were only able to provide assistance to less than half of those who asked for help, leaving thousands to go without.

“We hope that by offering our supporters another way to give, we will be able to assist more people this year,” said Smith. “This is a way of giving back that allows for a family, business, team or group to get involved and to be assured that 100% of their support goes right into direct assistance.”

Because this organization receives such a large number of requests each year, it allows the sponsor-a-hamper program to offer donors the option of choosing the size of family they would like to make a hamper for. This ranges from an individual or two-person household, to families of 6 or more. It also allows donors to have the option of making a hamper for seniors.

“Last year, more than ten percent of those we assisted were seniors,” said Smith. “We feel that giving donors the option of choosing to support a senior or seniors in need will be one of the things that make our hamper program unique.”

If you would like to register to sponsor a hamper (or hampers!) this holiday season, please fill out the online registration form on the Caring and Sharing Exchange’s website at, or email for more information. The Caring and Sharing Exchange also accepts monetary donations online in order to help provide direct food assistance.

This is what a medium-sized hamper for a family of 3- 5 people looks like:

  • 14 oz can of green peas, or green/yellow beans
  • Can of cranberries
  • Box of stuffing
  • Can of hot chocolate, or coffee or tea
  • Cookies or other dessert
  • 1 lb of butter
  • 2 lb bag of carrots
  • 5 lb bag of potatoes
  • 2 lb bag of onions
  • Loaf of bread
  • 1 litre of 2% milk
  • Bag of fresh oranges or clementines, or a bag of fresh apples
  • 18 – 22 lb Turkey
  • Foil pan for roasting the turkey

Nip and a tuck for Piggy Market

By Andrea Tomkins –

The Piggy Market is getting a facelift on their fifth anniversary. The Market’s owners, Dave Neil and Warren Sutherland, have announced that they will be closing their doors in order to renovate.

 Dave Neil, co-owner of Westboro’s Piggy Market, is more than ready to renovate. Photo by Andrea Tomkins
Dave Neil, co-owner of Westboro’s Piggy Market, is more than ready to renovate. Photo by Andrea Tomkins

“The business has evolved quite a bit over the past five years, and we feel we’re at the point now where our space has to evolve to meet the expanded product line,” says Neil.

They’ll be going full tilt until 6:00 p.m. on December 31. Any fresh foods left in the store will be donated to the local food bank. After the doors close on New Year’s Eve they will remain closed for two months while the interior is transformed.

Their goal is to provide a more concise feel to the store and to better service their clientele.

“We are looking forward to refreshing our storefront, and are planning a grand re-opening party for April 4, 2014,” says Neil. “As always, our store focus remains on local, sustainable food, and being a part of the Ottawa food community.”

The drop ceiling will be removed, as well as some of the interior walls. The front of the store will change as well.

Neil and Sutherland adopted the space, which brought its own set of challenges because of the way it was laid out.

For many years this was the location of Simply Wood, a shop that made and sold wooden furniture. In 2007, part of it was hived off for the Westboro Market, a grocer that provided customers with fresh produce, dairy, grocery items, pastries, baking, and take home items. The Piggy Market took over part of that space five years ago.

“They’re the ones who built the kitchen in the back corner,” explains Neil. “The interior walls have never worked for us, and we’ve been working around them since we opened. To say the least, our space is confusing for customers. We need to take a break to make it the way we wanted it to be in the beginning. During the break, it will give us a chance to focus on labeling, to make it easier for customers as well,” he says.

The counter and cooler will stretch all the way across the new space, and new shelves will better showcase local products.

Some of the changes that are taking place at Piggy Market have been planned in advance of the implementation of Winston Square, which was designed to honour veterans and provide a public space along Richmond Road at Winston Avenue, adjacent to the Westboro Legion.

Although work is yet to begin, according to the Councillor’s office, this small urban park is still a go and scheduled to be completed in the spring.

Piggy Market will be adding outdoor seating as part of their renovation to fit with the new vision of this little corner of Westboro.

“The front will be totally redone, and one side will be a platform so there’ll be room for some tables and chairs,” says Neil.

When they reopen, Piggy Market will also be offering new butchery and sausage-making classes.

“We’re expanding our take-home selections as well,” says Neil. “You can come in if you don’t want to cook. Every Monday there will be a meal plan for the week, and you can pick it up hot at 5:30. It will be ready to go.”


Share the love and tweet your bazaar finds

Holy Christmas Batman!

One glance at KT’s Community Calendar (see page 23 of the paper or digital edition) reveals that we are in the midst of a full season of church bazaars, flea markets, rummage sales, and craft fairs. They are worth attending. Why? Not only can you nab some great deals in time for the holidays, but you’d also be contributing to the fundraising efforts of a grassroots group or a good cause.

Your challenge, should you decide to accept it, is to investigate one or more of the many seasonal bazaars in the Kitchissippi area. Shop, eat, chat with people, and then share the love by letting us know what you’ve found. It might be a slice of pie or a jar of homemade jam, a great book, a vintage find, or some other fantastic treasure you’ve unearthed. Tweet your photo to @kitchissippi and use the hashtag #KTbazaars as you do your rounds so we can follow along.Your tweet may also encourage others to go support their community sales and craft fairs. Not on Twitter? Email your photo to and we’ll tweet it out for you.



Collecting clicks for Connaught P.S

Connaught Principal Amy Hannah wants a new kindergarten yard for her school, but she needs some help to do it. Photo by Andrea Tomkins.

Amy Hannah, the principal of Connaught Public School, is hoping Kitchissippi residents will cast their support behind an initiative that may result in much-needed improvements to the school’s kindergarten play yard, but only if they win.

The Aviva Community Fund is an annual competition in which several national winning ideas across Canada share a $1 million prize. To date, Aviva Canada has provided more than $3.5 million in funding to 42 charities and community groups across the country.

It’s Hannah’s first time taking this route to find funding.

“If it only takes a second for people to vote, and if we can get a whole new play structure out of this, my goodness… why wouldn’t we do it,” says Hannah.

Hannah is hoping for 2,000 daily votes, but it’s been tough getting the word out.

Connaught is currently on the third round of voting, which ends on November 25. People can vote once a day for the duration of the contest. It only takes a moment to register an account in order to vote. (Voters can skip this step by voting via their Facebook account as well.) Hannah admits that the technology involved may be “a bit of a barrier” for some of the local families, but she’s hoping that for others, the effort is worth it.

“A playground structure is tens of thousands of dollars,” says Hannah.

“I requested a proposal of $100,000-$150,000. There’s a lot of traffic on that yard, and that play structure is very old. I’d love for there to be some green space. Part of the proposal is for an outdoor classroom, so even on the weekends families can come and use it.”

Hannah also hopes to find a way to bring some much-needed shade to the yard.

This is what the kindergarten yard at Connaught P.S. looks like right now.

“It’s so important to have a welcoming outdoor space,” says Hannah. “If the philosophy behind full-day kindergarten and all-day learning is play-based learning, it’s imperative. It’s everything. And for some of our children that have different struggles financially, this is an opportunity for them to be exposed to the outdoors, and parks, learn how to self-regulate and learn from their peers.”

There are a number of ways to win funding in the Aviva Community Fund. In addition to the grand prizes, the Broker Prize, and an At-Risk-Youth Prize, every idea that is voted into the finals will take home a minimum of $5,000.

To win a share of the Aviva Community Fund, the idea needs to:

  1. Meet the eligibility requirements for the competition.
  2. Receive enough votes in an initial open submission round to be one of the ideas that qualify for the semi-finals.
  3. Receive enough votes in the semi-finals to be one of the 30 ideas that qualify for the final judging round. All ideas qualifying for the judging phase will receive a minimum of $5,000.
  4. The Aviva Community Fund Grand Prize winner needs to get top marks from a panel of judges and have their idea completely funded.

Of course, that’s the prize Hannah is gunning for.

“Play is everything, and it’s the foundation of our kindergarten programs here. It’s pivotal,” says Hannah.

“This is the perfect example of how a community can come together to support each other. I believe that Connaught is truly a community school, and our philosophy is to best serve every single child.”

To cast your vote go to Hannah hopes that people will remember to vote every day, and keep voting if Connaught makes it to the semi-finals on December 2.

Remembering our veterans

By Kristy Strauss –

Despite chilly temperatures, mixed with rain and snow, the Westboro community gathered at the local cenotaph to pay tribute to our veterans on Remembrance Day.

Doris Jenkins, formally of Richmond road, attends Remembrance Day 
ceremonies on behalf of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps.
 Photos by Kate Settle.
Doris Jenkins, formally of Richmond road, attends Remembrance Day 
ceremonies on behalf of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps.
 Photos by Kate Settle.

The Westboro Legion hosted the annual ceremonies on November 11, starting with a parade – featuring veterans and the sea, army and air cadets band – that marched from the legion to the cenotaph. Approximately two hundred people came together to watch the service, which started with a performance by students at Churchill Alternative School.

The event also included a wreath laying by veterans and Westboro legion branch members, as well as Kitchissippi Councillor Katherine Hobbs and Mayor Jim Watson on behalf of the city.

Brent Craig, of the Westboro Legion, was the master of ceremonies and said remembering and honouring veterans goes beyond just one day.

“Although this is Remembrance Week throughout Canada, we will continue to honour and remember the sacrifices which have been made every day of the year,” he said.

Craig added that the service pays tribute to veterans, but also to the ones closest to them.

“We remember not only the men and women who fought for our country, but the many loved ones and friends who stayed behind – forced to wonder and worry for many days and nights,” he said.

Westboro Legion member and resident Barbara Pharand marched in the parade with her husband, Richard, and said she often thinks about her parents on Remembrance Day.

While Pharand was born in Canada, her parents were from Germany and lived under the Nazi regime in Berlin.

“My thoughts go back to the Second World War, and what my parents went through,” Pharand said, adding she heard many stories growing up about what it was like to live in Berlin at that time.

Her family was one of many who hid people from SS officers.

”My dad had to be a Hitler youth, he had no choice,” she said. “But at the same time, the family was hiding people.”

Pharand, who was born in Canada during the Korean War, said she often thinks of her family and the many others who displayed this kind of bravery and courage during the Second World War on Remembrance Day.

“It’s a different side to what’s written in the history books,” she said. “It’s a side that should be said.”

While she reflects on her family’s actions on Remembrance Day, Pharand also has hopes for the future.

“It would be great if we could have peace,” she said.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.