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3 Awesome Free Art Experiences in Ottawa

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By Erin Macnab

Tell anyone interested in the visual or performing arts that you live in Ottawa, and you’ll usually get the same response: “You’re so lucky! There’s always so much going on there!” It’s true that Ottawa is known throughout Canada as a centre of the arts. The National Capital Region is home to the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the National Arts Centre, to name a few. But, these large national institutions aren’t the only movers in Ottawa’s vibrant arts scene. There’s so much cool local arts stuff going on that, if you visited Ottawa and only saw the big museums, you’d be missing out! If you’re looking to get in touch with Ottawa’s local art scene, here are three free ideas for getting in touch and involved.

Byward Market Gallery Walk

With it’s monumental glass architecture and spider-and-spike sculptures, the National Gallery of Canada is a huge presence on the edge of the Byward Market. Don’t let this stop you from visiting some other great, local galleries on your way to or from the big guy! There’s all kinds of art to be seen in the Market. For me, the natural starting point is the Karsh-Masson Gallery – one of the City of Ottawa’s own gallery (not least because I helped out there in grad school.) The Karsh-Masson is great – the gallery features local artists, and the desk that greets you at the front holds massive amounts of resources about other galleries and events in the area. Pick up some flyers and explore!

The Karsh-Masson Gallery is located at 136 St Patrick Street:

Carleton University Art Gallery

Okay, as a Carleton graduate, I might be a little biased. But it’s not all alumni pride. The Carleton University Art Gallery, or CUAG, is a genuinely unique, interesting gallery featuring local and international artists, Carleton students and instructors, and art that ranges from historical to contemporary. Located in St Patrick’s building on CU campus, CUAG is open to everyone. Exhibits change all the time, and the CUAG website is a great resource for learning about presentations and performances related to what’s showing. The exhibitions are curated by CUAG staff, by Carleton students and profs and by local artists, so you’ll definitely see a wide variety of viewpoints presented!

If you’re a Carleton student, there’s no excuse! Head down to CUAG on your lunch or after class and get involved with the vibrant gallery located on your home turf. Hours and details of current and upcoming exhibitions and events available here:

Shenkman Arts Centre

Leaving the centre of Ottawa doesn’t mean losing out on great local art. The Shenkman Arts Centre, located at 245 Centrum Boulevard in Orleans, brings the community together through performances, workshops, classes and more. As you approach the Centre, you’ll notice something strange: even though the performances are supposed to take place inside, there seems to  be a large piano sitting on an outside stage – and the stool is a giant boulder! Maskull Lasserre’s Resonance incorporates a huge boulder discovered during the construction of the Centre. The artist encourages visitors to the Centre to interact with the sculpture – next time you’re checking out a performance or coming in for a class, play a few notes on the piano!

The Centre itself is a work of art. Ottawa artist Adrian Göllner was commissed to design a facade for the building that commemorates the trees that once stood on the site. The glazed colours of Stand vividly invoke the seasons and welcome visitors to the Centre with open arms. Once you’re inside the Centre, be sure to take a walk around. Much of the wall space is given over to works from the City of Ottawa’s collection, showcasing stand-out pieces from area artists.

Shenkman is also the home of great shows and classes. Check it out here:

These are just three of many awesome art experiences you can have in Ottawa for free. Walk into the galleries that dot every neighbourhood in the city, talk to street artists, see what students are doing at UofO, Carleton, Algonquin and more, watch performances at festivals or take a class at the Ottawa School of Art – there’s so many ways to get involved with the arts in Ottawa.


What are your favourite art experiences in Ottawa?


Erin holds a master’s degree in art history from Carleton University.


A Month in Review – January 2012

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Our first month of blogging has been fun and successful, but there is still a lot of room for growth and improvement. If you would like to submit a guest article, please contact us!

Here are the top posts from January:

A Guide to Public Drunkenness in Ottawa

by Adam Slight

A rickshaw runner has a sober view of a drunken  world. From this perspective we would like to provide this guide to public drunkenness in Ottawa.

The Rickshaw Retrospective: Sexual Harassment

by Adam Slight

Adam experiences some work-place harassment, pulling rickshaws in Ottawa’s Byward Market

Rickshaw Recipe: Trash-in-a-pan

by Brian Clarke

Brian shares this favourite breakfast recipe for rickshaw runners. It doesn’t look appetizing, but is healthy, delicious and satisfying.

Kids taking a ride during Ottawa Rickshaws CHEO Fundraiser4 Great Exercises for Kids

By Omar Elamam

Resident fitness guru Omar Elamam describes some exercises for kids that frankly, we may all enjoy!

Wine: A Local Experience

by Holly Bruns

Accredited sommelier Holly Bruns describes the merits of drinking wine locally, with a few suggested Ottawa wines and vineyards for you to explore.

The Benefits of Yoga for Runners

by Tania Fréchette

Ottawa yoga instructor Tania Fréchette describes the many benefits to including yoga in your running routine.

What’s Happening in Ottawa This Week (January 30th to February 5th)

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Thursday, February 2nd to Saturday, February 4th – Winter Jazz Festival

Outdoor winter events are the craze this week, but if you do not enjoy the outdoors, there are still things to do.  The National Arts Center is hosting the inaugural Winter Jazz Festival, featuring many international as well as local artists. The full line-up can be viewed here.

Friday, February 3rd – 21st Annual Stew Cook-Off

If you’ve been following our blog lately, you may have deduced that we are big food fans.  So my excitement about this event may be a little biased, but I still think everyone should check this out! There’s nothing better on a cold winter day than a warm bowl of stew! The event is being hosted in the Byward Market, and more information can be found on their website.

Friday, February 3rd to Monday, February 20th – Winterlude

Ottawa’s marquee winter event begins this week with fireworks and outdoor music this Friday night.  This followed by a host of activities over the weekend that are too long to list. Whether you like food, art, sport or another activity, there is surely something for you! Visit the NCC website to see the full list of activities.


What other events are you planning to attend this week?

The Rickshaw Retrospective: Sexual Harassment

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By Adam Slight

A part of a rickshaw runner’s success lies in their ability to identify their own niche market and approaching that market. This often happens naturally for a runner. The runner quickly discovers that hanging around some bars brings them more fares than others, and if they’re smart, learn to steer clear of the dry spots. I’ve seen the mistake made a few times. An unsuccessful runner tries to catch some rides by following the successful ones, not realizing that they don’t appeal to the same crowds and clubs. Personally I realized I was more successful working outside of pubs than clubs. I’m not a clubbing kind of guy, so that must have something to do with it.

I also learned early on that for some unknown reason I appealed to elderly drunk gay men.

I’m exaggerating a little bit. Its not like old gay men line up to take rickshaw rides with me. Really I’ve only had five or six elderly-drunk-gay-man clients…but I’d still say that this is a noteworthy client-base.

My typical client is 60+, out alone, and pickled drunk. Given their behaviour and age bracket I also sense that these men are sadly not 100% certain about their sexuality. They tend to put on a front of heterosexuality before making an obviously gay proposal.

One night I had one such customer who would flip-flop back and forth. He was a drunk 60-year-old who paid me big money to rickshaw him to his hotel. As we drove, he would attempt to entice me to join him in his hotel room, making claims that his hotel room was a harem of beautiful women. He would then compliment me on my calf muscles, butt, and my cardiovascular. His final attempt to get me into his room was a large tip, which I accepted gratefully while declining his invitation.

The most extreme example was also my first contact with this client-base, which occurred within my first month as a rickshaw runner. It was 3:30 am and I was walking back to the Market after an exhausting ride down Elgin St. I was tired, starving, and sore. As I staggered towards the completion of my shift, I heard a man shout out from behind me.

“Hey!” He yelled.

I approached the man, towing my rickshaw behind me. He was 60, alone, and drunk. I was too green to spot the signs.

“How much is a ride just around the block? I’ve never tried one of these.”

Even though I was exhausted, this ride was very simple, and an extra $5 never hurt anybody.

“$5,” I said.


The man climbed into my rickshaw, and I began my very brief haul around the block to his hotel. He was a friendly man, and told me he was from Montreal visiting a friend in Ottawa. We harmlessly chatted back and forth before the man decided it was time to make a move.

“Can I tell you something kind of personal?” He asked.

“Sure,” I said. I figured he was going to tell me that his wife had passed away or something along those lines. Instead, the man said:

“You have a really nice ass.”

Fresh Meat

This was a bit surprising, but again, as a rickshaw runner, you hear a lot of things from ridiculous drunk people as you pull them, and this was nothing strange.

“Thanks,” I said trying to be polite. The man continued:

“If I gave you a little extra, would you give me something fast?”

Again, naïve, I misunderstood what the man was proposing. I figured he wanted me to run faster or something.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Sex.” Is all he said.

I hastened my pace. His hotel was only 200 meters away. “Sorry, no thanks” is all that I could say. I dropped the man off outside of his hotel. He paid me $5 with a $2 tip.

“It’s too bad you’re straight,” he said, “you’re really missing out.” The 60 year old man then opened his mouth and provocatively flicked his tongue at me.

So this is what sexual harassment felt like.  I’m sure any waitress at a pub experiences this every day.

I silently turned my back to the man and began to walk away with my rickshaw in tow. Now I was exhausted, starving, sore, and traumatized.

I went home, showered, and lay in bed staring at the ceiling until the sun rose.

Wine in Ottawa: A Local Experience

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By Holly Bruns
Since its resurgence in the 70’s, Ontario wine has been improving with certain consistency. Easier to access and more affordable than ever, the trend has been towards quality, working with the terroir (basically the land and weather patterns), and exploiting the grapes that thrive in our marginal climate: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay. This is a great time to be drinking locally and that does not preclude our own Ottawa environs. While we are not exactly Napa North, the Ottawa Valley is home to a growing wine industry. To date, there are six wineries all within one hour’s drive from downtown Ottawa.

Local winemakers have found an innovative solution to creating a viable wine industry in an otherwise inhospitable climate: they grow cool-climate hardy hybrids that have been bred to withstand our harsh winters. These are unfamiliar grapes like Sabrevois,  Frontenac  and Marquette.  Then, they work with growers from Niagara to get the fruit they want and proceed to blend a little of what is grown here with a little of what is grown there resulting in something completely unique.  That’s not to say there aren’t some wines on offer that are created wholly from Ottawa vineyards. Frontenac Gris is proving to be worthy of a single varietal wine.  Fortified wines are popping up, and are usually made with the local hybrids, as are some lovely, crisp whites.

If you are interested in a weekend drive, Domaine Perrault is perhaps the closest vineyard, located in Navan and a quick thirty minute jaunt away. Bring a lunch and the sommelier on staff will pair a wine with your meal. Jabulani recently opened their doors in Richmond. They have eleven acres planted and Tom Moul, the owner/winemaker, is a charming host.  VanKleek Hill is the latest addition to the wine route with capacity to produce just over 21,000 bottles a year. Le Vignoble du Clos Baillie is over the provincial border in Aylmer; a working fruit farm they also produce an apple ice wine, and in Chesterville, Domaine du Cervine makes a white, a red, a rosè and a dessert wine. Head to Oxford Station to Green Gables Vineyard where the atmosphere is fun and the wines are aptly labeled Wild Woman White and Oxford Station Libation.

These wineries are open to the public in the summer months. On a warm day there is nothing better than sitting on the patio, enjoying the pastoral view, and having a sample of something crisp, refreshing, and completely local.

VanKleek Hill Vineyard:

Jabulani Vineyard and Winery:

Domaine Perrault:

Domaine du Cervine:

Green Gables Vineyard:

Le Vignoble du Clos Baillie:


Holly Bruns is an accredited sommelier with degrees from Algonquin College and the Wine Spirits & Education Trust. She lives in Ottawa and is the drinking force behind the successful blog: Wine Out Loud.

3 Fitness Tips for Our Hectic Lives

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By Omar Elamam


The life of a bug; it’s a hectic one indeed. Early mornings include scurrying around to find food in order to feed the colony, working overtime hours to please the queen without any extra compensation. Their greatest joy is surviving the day without being eaten by a foreign insect or being squashed by human beings. See the similarities? If you haven’t guessed it already, it is the lack of time in a day that you and a common bug seem to share. Time, seems to always be running away from us. The question now becomes not how to find more time, (the recent movie ‘In Time’, starring Justin Timberlake, gives you an awful rendition of that), but how to trick time. Tricking time, with respects to fitness, is not as hard as you may think; nor is it a new concept. Fitness gurus have been able to successfully trick father time for centuries. They may not have seen it as such, but I like to play with words when I can. I encourage you to read on if you hope to trick time yourself one day.

1. 20 min Peripheral heart rate circuit

This 20 min workout will be more than enough to get your heart rate going and to develop a good sweat. Whether it is in your home gym, or outside, you can design a workout that tailors to your schedule. Combine 3 to 4 exercises with low weights, and high repetitions. If you are a beginner, start off with body type workouts that do not include weights. Before starting, always start with a 5 – 10 min warm up to prevent injury. In this circuit, you want to include an upper body, lower body, and an abdominal workout in order from largest muscle worked to smallest. For example, for upper body I would include push ups, followed by body squats for lower body, and end off with floor planks for the abdominals. Proceed with repeating the same circuit without rest between workouts. You can increase the level of intensity to meet your needs, but don’t overdo the weights you use; this will tire your muscles out too soon. At the end of the circuit, you will feel like a new you, and then you may collapse and be carried out of the gym in a stretcher (I hope that doesn’t happen!).

2. Lunch hour jog

If your occupation involves sitting at a desk all day, this is for you. You spend the entire day on a chair typing away, glaring at the desktop with a zombie like figure (although what you’re doing may be quite fascinating) and you’re only given a 30min break. So you decide to spend your break sitting on different chair, doing something else. Seriously! That’s the equivalent of a criminal being given the keys to his cell for a chance to escape and refusing it to stay in jail. Run. Just do it, as NIKE would say. Many workplaces even have organized lunch hour runs. If your job does not have one, why not start it up yourself. Even if the run is only 15min, do not underestimate the power of running. It will increase your energy levels throughout the rest of the day, and also reduce the stress you’ve been building up before you took your break. I say that’s better than a smoke or a kit-kat break.

3. Functional exercises

I will let you in on a little secret. Every one of you is already doing some sort of a workout while you are at work; you just haven’t realized it yet. Whether it involves lifting a box, climbing stairs, or entering your car, your body is experiencing a natural workout. The problem is that your body has become accustomed to the same routine and the muscles being used are not being challenged. Without proper exercise and rest, you will remain at the same level of fitness without any improvements to your strength or power. This is where the functional part comes in. Ideally, you want to imitate actions you would perform on a daily basis in the gym and apply them to your exercise routine. I recommend beginners to stay away from machines entirely because they tend to be too one-dimensional and lack any realistic movement. Resistance bands and tubes are great for creating multi-directional movements and allow you to be creative with your muscles. A twisting lunge can emulate the action of entering your car, or a twisting tree trunk with a resistance tube has the similarities of removing items off a high shelf and placing it on the counter top (look for my future blog exclusively on resistance bands & tubes). The point is that your exercises become practical and fun, because too much of the old thing can definitely get boring (read into it however you wish).

That’s all for today folks. I hope you can take away at least one beneficial piece of advice and apply it to your daily lives. I live to serve and please my people, so consider yourself served!


Omar Elamam is a black belt instructor and personal trainer at Winning Circle Martial Arts and Wellness Center, and has been a rickshaw runner since 2008.  He enjoys martial arts, running, nutrition and personal fitness.

A Guide to Public Drunkenness in Ottawa

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By Adam Slight
One could say that I am an expert on public intoxication in Ottawa. Rickshaw runners work late hours, pandering to the bar scene in the Byward Market to earn their daily bread. Having once been a member of this bar scene, seeing it from the sober eyes of a rickshaw runner brings a lot into perspective. As a result, I have compiled this guide. I call it the Guide to Public Drunkenness in Ottawa. I want you to recognize yourself in this list, self-improve, and pass the information on to a friend in need of some lessons in drunken conduct.

Be a Fun Drunk, Not a Mean One:

Confucius said, “Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.”

This is sort of a golden rule for being drunk in public. If you and the boys/girls are out for a night on the town, you’re probably feeling pretty good. You’re prowling around in a group, like a motorcycle gang fueled by Jager-Bombs. Your over-confidence may lead you to ridicule strangers, kick over benches, and shout random racist slurs at people across the street. We don’t need this. Continuation of this kind of conduct will only end up with you curb-stomped on the side of the street—and frankly, maybe it should.

However, it is never too late. You can be saved. The Fun Drunk is the one who hi-fives every stranger in the Rideau Center, hands out $10 bills to homeless people, sings rowdy songs, and encourages excellence in their peers and those around them. These gallant paragons may be a nuisance at times, but they embody an infectious attitude that delivers a saving golden light to the hearts of surrounding drunkards.

Be Careful Where you Pee:

Peeing outdoors can be one of the most liberating things a human being can do. I admit, dropping your shorts and taking a pee on the corner of Dalhousie and George is a good way to relieve yourself in an emergency, and will lead to stimulating and nostalgic Facebook interactions for weeks to come. However, you must make sure to be considerate and remember that the act of being urinated upon is considered a grave disrespect in most cultures.

Remember the unfortunate case several years ago when the young man decided to relieve himself on the Canadian War Memorial. He wound up with a photo on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen and was publicly disgraced–Not to mention that public urination is illegal. If you are about to burst, find some nice wild flora off to the side, pretend you’re talking on your cell phone, and return your water to the land. Do your part to restore nature to its former prestige.

No Shirts, No Shoes, No service:

Early human evolved to wear clothing about 650 million years ago. This was to protect them from their harsh surroundings as well as to cover up their disgusting human shame. Let us not undo evolution after we’ve made it this far!

Nothing horrifies me more than seeing young ladies walking the streets after the bars have closed in bare feet! They’ve been dancing in high heels all night, and their feet are sore—I get it! Well then pack some flats! In some cities you can actually buy disposable shoes in a vending machine for just such occasions. Girls, while you’ve been in there dancing, I’ve been watching these streets get peed on (see above), puked on, and pooed on…seriously! There is even broken glass and discarded needles lying around in some parts of town.

And guys — leave your shirts on. I don’t care how hot it is in Tila, or how many of your friends are doing it. You look like a dumbass. You’re not impressing your friends, and you’re certainly not impressing strangers. Basically, you look like that scene in Top Gun where all the pilots are slapping Tom Cruise’s butt in the shower (maybe I made that scene up…)

Don’t Stand Up to the Bouncer—you will lose:

There is a certain nobility in justly resisting the powers which govern and oppress us. This is, however, not the case when resisting the powers of the bar’s bouncer. The bouncer is a titan, whose whole purpose is to reject your pickled behind from the premises. You may think their judgment is unjust, and you may wish to rebel. You will only fail. Even if you are juiced on steroids, and your Ed Hardy shirt is on extra tight (and even if the designs on the Ed Hardy shirt are extra badazz), you cannot win. You will only get your ass kicked, and everyone will eagerly gather to observe your destruction.

Respect Cars, and their Rules:

Cars are high-speed, metal monoliths that threaten the safety of mankind. Because of this, there are many rules surrounding the usage of cars. One of those rules involves crossing the street: Don’t walk out in front of a moving vehicle when you’re crossing the street. If  you’re intoxicated, and decide to disregard this rule, don’t get mad when the car honks at you, and don’t slam your body down on the hood of the car. You’re in the wrong and should be ashamed of yourself, especially if there are impressionable children nearby. You will see this disregard for vehicular-dominance a lot on George St. in the Market.

Also. don’t pre-drink in your car. You’re playing with fire here, even if your keys aren’t in the ignition. You’ll probably end up on the side of the street filling out a police report, with passersby thinking you were apprehended for drinking and driving.

While we’re on the topic: Don’t drink and drive either— It’s stupid and everyone hates you for it.

Tip your Rickshaw Driver Well:

Your gratuitousness will bring good karma your way. You never know — you may need an emergency getaway vehicle some day. When this day comes, you’ll be happy you shared the love when you did.

Don’t think that this guide ends here. How do you think drunk Ottawans could class up their acts?


What’s Happening in Ottawa This Week? (Jan. 23-30, 2012)

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Sunday, January 22: Rideau Canal Skateway
The Rideau Canal is still only partially open, but our recent spell of cold weather has allowed for more sections to be safe for skating.  As of this morning, there is 4.4km of the Canal open for skating. You can find more info about which areas are open and closed at the NCC website. Now let’s hope that this rain in the forecast never comes!

Thursday, January 26 to Sunday, January 29: NHL All-star Weekend
Next weekend will be a big weekend for Ottawa hockey fans.  We’ve been looking forward to this for two years, ever since it was announced that the all-star game would be in Ottawa.  While the game itself is on Sunday, the festivities begin on Thursday when the Stanley Cup and other NHL trophies will be travelling down the Rideau Canal.  You can view the weekend’s complete schedule here.

Not a hockey fan? No worries! There is other fun stuff going on in the capital next weekend:

Saturday, January 28 at 11AM: The Human Library
This idea is so cool! Individuals sign up to participate as ‘books’ in the human library.  Others can come ‘check out’ and ‘read’ these books for twenty minutes (i.e. instead of learning from a written book, you are learning about the knowledge and experiences of another person through one-on-one conversation).  The event is held at the Ottawa Public Library’s main branch at 160 Metcalfe Street.  You can see more information on the event, as well as the ‘books’ that will be available to ‘read’ here.

What other events are you planning to attend this week?

The Rickshaw Retrospective: The Rickshaw Diet

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By Adam Slight

When you rickshaw for the summer, you are always hungry. At least for me, my appetite was insatiable from May to August and the phrase “hole in your leg” almost takes on literal meaning. I found that even when I gorged and feasted, I was never truly full (and would be hungry again half an hour later.) While my business partner Brian has recently shared his take on the rickshaw diet, I feel like I have my own unique culinary reflections as well as some stories to share that show a different side of things.

About 6 months before my career as a rickshaw professional began, I was somewhat overweight. My post-athletic high school lifestyle had clashed with my University student lifestyle, resulting in a physique inspired by a Pop-Tart rather than classical sculpture. Sometime around Christmas in 2009 I had decided to make a change in my lifestyle. I was eating better, exercising more seriously, and I shed 20 lbs by the summer. By then I had begun pulling a rickshaw, where I lost another 7 or 8 lbs.

Having just lost 25 lbs, I was delighted to learn that when you rickshaw you can also pretty much eat as much of whatever you want without suffering the consequences. Our monthly all-you-can-eat buffets could attest to that, where Brian and I would compete to see who could eat the most chicken fajitas (Brian won with 17, while I followed with a dignified 15 fajitas, plus a bowl of ice cream). This was also demonstrated by our frequent trips to the nearby candy store, Sugar Mountain. When business was slow one of us would look at the other, suggest “Sugar Mountain,” and then run gleefully to stock up on sugary treats. More often than not, business would pick up immediately after we had each devoured 3 lbs of candy, and the ensuing rickshaw rides would make us all want to vomit.

Speaking of vomit.

Brian and I held another food-related contest in 2009. We each attempted the coming-of-age feat of drinking 4L of milk within an hour, without throwing it up. After about 45 minutes and only a half a liter of milk left to drink I could no longer bear the bloated pains and icy headache that I was suffering. I induced vomit only to engage in a hellish rapid-fire of consecutive mini-throw-ups (a passer-by confusedly shouted “Bud Light Lime!”. Brian on the other hand consumed all 4L of milk in about 20 minutes and only needed to hold it down to win the contest. As he sought refuge in his van, dazed and in pain, a fellow runner thought he would make a “milkshake” (ha-ha). Chris climbed onto the back of Brian’s van and began to bounce up and down, violently rocking and shaking  the vehicle, and subsequently the contents of Brian’s milky stomach. Brian urgently poked his head out the window in what can only be described as a dairy explosion. 4L of white milk waterfalled (waterfell?) from Brian’s mouth culminating in a vast ocean beneath the van.

If you haven’t lost your appetite, let me talk some more about food!

When you pull a rickshaw for the summer, the streets become your second home, and I think part of this has to do with the fact that you eat many of your meals in your rickshaw on the curb. You become very familiar with the different places to eat, and where you can get the most nourishing meals for for the least amount of money. I recall one runner in my first year eating a raw fish in her rickshaw. She was also known to eat cookies off the ground and donuts offered by a homeless man—but I doubt any of this is related to the fact that she pulled a rickshaw.

Early on, I fastened a cooler to my rickshaw, where I would store barbecued chicken breasts and steaks for later consumption (last year Brian bought half a cow’s worth of steak and would come equipped with roasts and home-made jerky). On Canada Day of 2010 I prepared for my rigorous day by consuming four delicious barbecued chicken breasts, and fueled my day with a disgusting constant feed of vector bars.

I think rickshaw runners are relatively blessed with a simple business model. Basically, as long as you have a functioning rickshaw, a road, and some people, you can make money. Often overlooked in this model is the required fuel for operating the rickshaw—that “fuel” being food. This is something that I overlooked when I first started operating a rickshaw. After about three weeks of work, after I had overcome the initial difficulties of pulling human beings in a cart, I noticed it was becoming increasingly difficult to muster the energy to make it up the hills. I mentioned this to one of my co-workers, and he gave me the seemingly obvious advice that my diet was lacking the needed protein.

After a hard night of running, food is on everyone’s minds. Trips to the 24-hour grocery store are an after-work tradition, where you spend $12 on cheese-sticks, cookies, chocolate milk, yogurt, pizza buns, and whatever else is within arm’s reach. We would stay in the parking lot until 4:30 am goofing off, holding immature competitions (see above), recounting that night’s stories, and making fun of each other. These trips to the grocery store became something we would look forward to.

While Brian is correct–quality food is necessary if you don’t want to face exhaustion when leading a highly active lifestyle– if you could get away with feasting on buckets of candy with no repercussions, wouldn’t you?

3 Principles of Nutrition You Can Learn from a Rickshaw Runner

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by: Brian Clarke

“How much can you eat!?” “You must eat like a cow!”

As a rickshaw runner, I hear comments like these all the time from passengers. And yes, it is
true – I have a big appetite, especially during prime rickshaw season. But this does not mean that
I just devour anything resembling food. I, as well as my fellow rickshaw runners, am aware that
this job requires good nutrition in order to sustain this active lifestyle and perform my rickshaw
runner duties well. One of greatest skills I’ve learned from this job is how to appropriately fuel
an active lifestyle.

You might be thinking, “I don’t pull a rickshaw all summer, this doesn’t apply to me and I
don’t really care if you can eat a lot”. Yes, I realize rickshaw runners aren’t exactly average on
the clean-out-a-buffet scale, but I believe the principles I’ve learned can be applied by anyone
who performs any sort of regular physical activity. The difference between my diet in the
rickshaw season and that of a single mother who does yoga three times a week is not necessarily
a difference in strategy, but a difference in scale.

I hope to share some of the lessons I’ve learned with readers, so you can apply them in your diet
in order to adequately fuel your activity.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional nutritionist, these are simply practical tips that I have found
to be useful. I have however had my fellow rickshaw runner and certified personal trainer, Omar
Elamam, look over these tips to make sure the advice is reasonable. (You can read some of
Omar’s tips on staying fit in winter, and exercises for kids).

So without further ado, the three principles of the ‘rickshaw diet’:

1. Hydrate!

Water is the source of the life, so use it! I learned this the hard way. Twice in my rickshaw
career, I have suffered from dehydration to the point where I was physically ill. It was not fun.
Even when I wasn’t at my worst, I can notice a huge difference in energy levels and physical
performance when I don’t drink enough water. We all know water is important, but sometimes
it’s so obvious that we forget about it. I’d suggest finding a way to ensure your consistently
drinking enough water, and hold yourself accountable. Paul Graham (owner of a local personal training company, P.E.A.K. Personal Training) wrote this really good article on hydration, why it’s important and some practical tips on staying disciplined.

2. Focus on quality, not quantity

Just like running without adequate hydration, running without enough food is brutal. If I start
limiting my food intake, my energy levels disappear. However, most diet plans are stressing
people to cut intake, cut calories, and so on. I’m not advocating eating like it’s your last

meal at every sitting, as overeating is obviously dangerous. But in order to sustain an active
lifestyle, you need to eat enough. Your body tells you if you’re providing it enough food to
fuel your activity, so listen to it! If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re full, stop eating. Spending time
calculating calories, carbs, points or whatever, like you’re trying to diffuse a bomb, is stressful
and not necessary in my opinion. Focus instead on eating good quality, non-junk foods, like
fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, eggs, nuts, healthy oils and milk.

3. Don’t let nutrition become an obsession

This definitely sounds contrary to the rest of this article, but hear me out! As a rickshaw runner,
we are often on the run (pun intended) and don’t have time to always be worrying about what
to eat. Personally, I try to adhere to the two principles I’ve listed above, and other nutrition
advice, as efficiently and cheaply as possible. While it’s certainly not harmful to be constantly
aware of nutrition, the majority of people want to eat healthy in order to support and enjoy their
active lifestyle. I have found that using tools such as casserole dishes, Dutch ovens, blenders and
crock pots are excellent ways to quickly throw quality ingredients together in advance, and have
a good, tasty, nutritious meal come out that can feed me for a few days. This means that I can
maintain good nutrition without constantly worrying about it, and am able to focus on pulling my

In summary: drink water, make meals that include quality ingredients, and that involve as little
time and monetary commitment as possible without sacrificing the other principles. In coming
weeks, I will periodically post recipes that adhere to these three principle of the ‘rickshaw diet’.

Get started today! If there any issues or questions, please comment below or contact me.