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Street-level Perspective of Ottawa
20 Things to Love About Ottawa

20 Things to Love About Ottawa


By Adam Slight

We recently decided to put together a nice list explaining why we love Ottawa. But this time, it wasn’t enough for us to just write the list ourselves, so we hopped onto Twitter and asked a number of prominent Ottawans why they loved Ottawa. Here is what we came up with!

1. Food and Drink

Apartment 613 (@apartment613): “Just one? Awesome Food! Awesome music!”

Foodie Prints (@foodiePrints): “The archetypal Ottawa experience: burger at Chez Lucien, follow by a cold one at the Laff!”

Starfish Management Agency (@starfishevents) “Strolling down Bank St + taste testing all the yummy treats”

Holly Bruns/Wine Out Loud (@WineOutLoud) “Local Vineyards”

The Glebe (@intheglebe) “@bagelottawa in The Glebe gives us exactly 20 reasons to love Ottawa – is it bad to eat bagel sandwiches daily?”

Needless to say, this was a popular one, and the tweets really speak for themselves. Many appreciate the diverse food options available in Ottawa, as well as its growing foodie scene. Whether you’re into something exotic, greasy, or comforting, Ottawa has something to offer for everyone’s taste buds.

2. Surrounded by Canadian History

If you’re a history buff, namely a Canadian history buff, you’re at home in Ottawa. While it is true that everything is inherently steeped in history, Ottawa is steeped in the well-known grand history of our country (the history you learn in high school). Of course, I bet there’s a ton of other history that Ottawa is steeped in that you’ve probably never even heard of.

Some Further Reading:

An Irish Ottawa History

Urban Myths and Legends in Ottawa

3. The Byward Market

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson (@JimWatsonOttawa) “The Byward Market!”

Business Ottawa (@businessottawa) “The Byward Market!”

Rachel (@RaeRaePolite) “the beautiful Byward Market.”

Since we operate out of the Byward Market, we are a bit biased in our agreement with these Ottawa tweets. Mayor Jim Watson was quick to respond “The Byward Market!” when we asked him what he loves about Ottawa. Of course, no one can blame him. The Market is a thriving hub of local trade and tourist activity, making it an exciting (or relaxing) destination for anyone. While you’re there, you might as well indulge in the food that the Market has to offer (See number 1).

Some Further Reading:

Boxing Matches in the Byward Market

6 Awkward Dates in a Rickshaw

4. The Great Outdoors

If you’ve ever looked across Ottawa from a high-up vantage point, it almost look like the city is growing from inside a forest. Ottawa’s green space is a refreshing change from the concrete jungle of other cities. Not only are parks a frequent sight wherever you go, but Ottawa is also the place to be if you want to enjoy outdoor activities year-round.

Some Further Reading:

4 Ways to Stay Active Outdoors in Ottawa

5. The Rideau Canal

Claudia Petrilli (@ClaudsPet) “The Rideau Canal”

Zedrik Cayne (@ZedrikCayne) “@TomGreen: Riding your bike down the canal in the winter.”

We can’t forget that Ottawa wouldn’t be the city it is today without the Rideau Canal (literally–Ottawa wouldn’t exist if the Canal wasn’t built). The Rideau Canal offers beautiful scenery for those who wish to bike, walk, or jog alongside in the summer, and is one of Ottawa’s main winter attractions for any skating enthusiasts in the winter. It is also an engineering marvel that we should be proud of either way.

6. The Singing Bus Driver

Yes. I’m going there. And even though the infamous Singing Bus Driver has been recently silenced by a soul-less minority of bus passengers (OC Transpo ordered him to stop singing, because of several passenger complaints), the Singing Bus Driver represents a liberated spirit that should be a beacon for us all. While this spirit has been dimmed, I think it persists in all of us.

7. The Weather

Algonquin College (@AlgonquinColleg): “Just one? How about the beautiful weather on days like today?”

While Ottawa’s weather can often be unpredictable (and it is a fact that Ottawa is the coldest capital city in the world, during the winter), you can’t deny that Ottawa’s weather is one of its defining features. When its summer in Ottawa, it is SUMMER. When it is winter, it is definitely WINTER. If Ottawa can do one thing right, it pulls off its seasons handsomely.

Some Further Reading:

5 Ways to Beat the Heat in Ottawa

5 Ways to Enjoy your Winter this Summer

8. Squeaky Clean

Being the capital of Canada, the NCC makes sure Ottawa is sparkly clean so that foreign diplomats can go home and say how great and clean Canada is (that’s why those terrifying vacuum robots insist on patrolling our streets at night). Even Ottawa’s more peripheral or industrial neighbourhoods are pristine compared to the peripheral or industrial neighborhoods of other cities.

9. Restaurant Servers Know to Split the Bill!

Don’t you hate when you go to a restaurant with some friends and then the server comes with the bill and you have to spend the next 10 minutes splitting the bill, taxes, and tip appropriately between you and your friends? Well by some unknown phenomenon Ottawa servers just seem to know that you want the bill split (more than servers in other cities). I don’t know what gives Ottawa servers this gift of premonition, but I like it!

10. Our Schools

Carleton University (@Carleton_U) “Carleton U summer courses.”

Tom Green (@TomGreenLive) “Skateboarding in the tunnels at Carleton U in the winter.”

Famously, one of Tom Green’s fondest memories of Ottawa is skateboarding in the tunnels of Carleton University being chased by Campus security in those golf carts they ride in. Of course, there are many other reasons to appreciate the post secondary institutions that call Ottawa home. We could start listing off the various accomplishments made by each school, but the schools are good enough at doing that as it is, so you might want to check out their websites for that kind of horn-tooting.

11. A Multi-Cultural City

Like many cities—especially Canadian cities—Ottawa is a giant mix of varying cultures. This is only evidenced by the countless festivals that Ottawa hosts dedicated to the array of international diasporas in Ottawa, and their various cultural movements and traditions.

12. Our Festivals

WhereOttawa (@whereottawa) “Our awesome festivals! There’s so much happening all summer.”

Ottawa Events (@ottawa_events) “Well we think there’s definitely more than 20 things to love but the Tulip Festival is pretty great”

Max Keeping (@max_keeping) “Best summer events: Bluesfest and GrandsFeux (Lac Leamy). Thanks for showing our great city!”

Hub Ottawa (@hubottawa) “Street festivals!! ie ribfest, buskerfest, jazzfest, bluesfest, tulip festival”

Ottawa’s numerous festivals are really the backbone of Ottawa’s culture. When summer is in full swing there are a number of festivals you could attend each day that would have something unique and exciting to offer. These festivals present Ottawa’s best in food, performance, and craft, and draw thousands from around the world.

Some Further Reading:

Ottawa Summer Events and Festival Calendar

13. Our Museums

Call me a big nerd, but I think Ottawa has some really cool museums! I mean, have you seen the Museum of Nature lately? That was a rhetorical question, but if your answer is “no,” then you know what you need to do. But if you’re saying, “Yes. I’ve been to all four of Ottawa’s museums, so what do you have to say now?” then I say, “Look, there are a whole bunch of other museums that you’ve probably missed. Check out this website!” And then you say, “Oh, thanks!”

14. The Ottawa Senators

Max Keeping (@max_keeping) “The Sens”

While we haven’t won the cup, we consistently make the playoffs, and consistently put up a good fight worthy of a few beers on the Sens Mile. We just have to keep our heads high and hope for a better “next year” (even though the Leafs have made a career of doing this, I’m confident things will pan out sooner for us).

15. The Great Glebe Garage Sale

I think the GGG is worth mentioning here, not just because it is an awesome, giant yard sale (which is already pretty cool) but because of grass-roots community spirit that drives the massive event. The Great Glebe Garage Sale wasn’t established by a commission or planned out by a committee—it was grown from the ground up by the community, and built and maintained over the decades on its own steam.

Some Further Reading:

8 Strange Items you May Find at the Great Glebe Garage Sale

16. The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario

Max Keeping (@max_keeping) “The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario”

Max Keeping is a huge advocate of CHEO, the renowned children’s hospital located in Ottawa South, and for good reason. CHEO nurses sick kids who have serious illnesses from all over Ontario, and is known for friendly and accommodating staff, medical innovation, and its special treatment of sick children. CHEO is truly something for Ottawans to be proud of, and an institution we should continue to support.

17. Affordable Cost of Living

The cost of living in some cities is quite ridiculous (Vancouver, NYC for example). A single bedroom apartment in Ottawa is about 2/3 the cost of one in Toronto, and like half the cost (and twice the size) of one in Manhattan. If you don’t mind making a few sacrifices in vogue-ness, or public transportation, then Ottawa will be gentle to your wallet.

18. City with Small Town Feel

Misa Kobayashi/Ottawa Magazine (@kobayashimisa) “It’s a city that still has small town charm, and that it’s just a short drive to other great cities and pretty towns”

While Ottawa is the capital city of Canada, it truly has a small-town atmosphere when it comes to community building. And while Ottawa itself is a beautiful city, something can be said of its proximity to hundreds of other beautiful communities and cities as well. You could easily hop into your car and make a day trip out of Montreal, or visit Toronto for the weekend.

19. Endless Potential

In line with number 18, I think Ottawa is great because of the endless potential that the city offers. In a city of 4 million people, it is easy to get lost in the crowd. Because Ottawa is a city with a small town feel, the city is ripe with opportunity for new and creative ideas, innovations, and events. With such a strong and close community at your back, it is easy to make new things happen.

20. Canada Day in the Capital

Canada Day in the capital is like nothing else. If you’ve been in Ottawa for Canada Day, you’ve experienced the mayhem and celebration downtown. Of course, if crowds aren’t your thing, there is stuff going on all over the city that you can be a part of—Or, you can always crack open a beer in your backyard, because it really doesn’t matter where you are. There’s nothing like Ottawa on Canada Day.

Now is your chance to turn this list from 20 Things to Love About Ottawa, to 1000 Things to Love About Ottawa. What do you love about Ottawa? Let us know in the comments section below, or on our Facebook page.


Patti on June 27, 2012 AT 08 pm

I love the cats of Parliament Hill. It is an amazing story of compassion and commitment.