Archive for August, 2012

Why Ottawa Needs a CFL Team

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by: Brian Clarke

If you’ve been reading the local news over the past two months, and especially in the past few days, you’ll have noticed that the legal challenges delaying Lansdowne Park’s redevelopment and the eventual return of the CFL in Ottawa are all but over.

However, I still hear the same arguments over and over: Ottawa cannot support a CFL team.  And to this, I ask “Why not”?

Most people say Ottawa is too small of a city.  However, it is twice the size of Hamilton, which hosts one of the most successful franchises in CFL history.  Population size is not the problem.

Other people say that it is the culture of the town.  They say a city like Hamilton is a blue-collar working town, where people love football.  Ottawa, on the other hand, is a bureaucratic city that is not as interested in the sport.

This is the problem, I believe.  When we don’t have a team, we say we’re not a football town. But when we did have a team, the fans loved it.  The same thing happens in hockey, in my view.  Think about how much the Senators are integrated into our local culture.  It was only five years ago that the last NHL lockout occurred; during this year, I can’t even count how many times people said they didn’t care about hockey or the Senators anymore.  Two years later during playoffs the Sens Mile was the hottest spot in town.

This is the problem, in my opinion, and the main reason Ottawa needs a CFL team.  We have this attitude towards sports that if we have it, we love it, if we don’t have it, we don’t need it.

The reason our team folded twice was not the fans or lack of support, it was owners who jumped ship and didn’t stick around for the long run, and an old ailing stadium.  Admittedly, these are not easy or inexpensive fixes, but when the city ultimately comes up with coin, I think our culture and population that supposedly cannot support a football team will find a way.

However, I must admit that I am very biased as a huge football fan and former Ottawa Renegades season ticket holder.  I’m also not very educated on the economic aspect of sport, although I’m convinced a well-run franchise would create both a positive economic and cultural impact for the city.

So, I’m interested in hearing your opinions and thoughts, on both sides of the argument.  Should Ottawa have a CFL team? Does the city need one? Why or why not? Please discuss in the comments below.

Child Labour in the Byward Market

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By Adam Slight

Live music can often be heard in the air when one visits the Byward Market. As always, this summer saw many street musicians enriching our lives with their musical talents.

But there has always been something weird going on with some street musicians in the Byward Market.

Have you ever walked downtown only to see sweet little children performing music on the street? You probably thought it was adorable, tossed them a toonie, and went along your way. You may even remember that group of 10 year old kids who played in a classic rock band outside of Bluesfest for charity often stealing the show from the festival head-liners.

Well I’ve seen kids perform music on the street too, but I’ve stuck around long enough to see what’s really weird about the situation: the kids’ parents who sit on the sidelines forcing them to perform!

Does it sound crazy? Well it is! Once I saw a little boy, no older than 9 years old, playing classical violin in the Byward Market. The boy finished a song, and looked at his dad who was lurking nearby just out of sight. The dad gestured and mouthed “five more minutes.” With what could only be called a look of sadness, the boy resumed his performance.

Way to kill a child’s love for playing music! Now any time he hears Chopin, or Mozart he’s just going to think of his dad’s evil face leering at him.

This is not the only time I’ve seen a child playing street music with a forceful parent nearby. This is an actual thing!

So this is my message to the parents of these musical street performing kids:

Don’t push your children to do this. If you think it will help their career, it won’t, because they’re going to grow to hate playing music. If you’re taking a cut of their money…well that’s even worse!

Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to force children to rob banks for me, and then maybe send them down a mineshaft in a bucket.

Top 4 Ottawa News Stories of Summer 2012

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by: Brian Clarke

With summer dwindling away, we’ve decided to take a few days to look back and reminisce.

Today I will look back at the top news stories from Ottawa this summer.

The Drought

Ottawa and the surrounding area got hit by an unprecedented hot and dry summer.  Everyone was affected, whether it be from complaining about being uncomfortable, having an ugly yellow lawn, or rising food prices due to a poor harvest.  Well, maybe not everyone.  Those who went to the beach almost every day must have thought this was the best summer ever.

Here’s a small sample:

Heat warning issued for Ottawa

Drought fears deepen

And what we had to say on the topic:

How to Fight a Heat Wave with Water

5 Ways to Get Wet in Ottawa

Rideau Street Reconstruction

Already one of the busiest streets and worst traffic spots in the city, Rideau Street got a little worse this summer– But it is much needed, as the city has began a huge project to renew this old, and culturally important thoroughfare in Ottawa.

Here’s a small sample:

Rideau Street construction begins today

Rideau businesses not bugged by construction

Summer Olympics

While this isn’t a local story, the Olympics sure were the talk of the town as they usually are.  You couldn’t go into a mall, coffee shop or bus station in early August without overhearing one person talking about the Olympics.

Here’s a small sample:

An American Response To Canadian Olympic Soccer Sportsmanship

Olympic relay athletes have Ottawa connection

And what we had to say on the topic:

Let Ottawa’s Olympic Cheer Be Heard from London

Music Festivals

Ottawa is home to many great summer music festivals, which received good and bad press in 2012.  Bluesfest continued to be on the world’s leading music festivals, while the Capital City Hoedown got cancelled due to inept management and Escapade, while a making Ottawa history, got scammed for $600K.

Here’s a small sample:

Metric: A perfect ending to Bluesfest

Curtain finally falls on Capital Hoedown

Police investigate $600k theft as Escapade Music Festival co-founder disappears

What was the most captivating Ottawa news story for you this summer? Is there one story that will make summer 2012 stand out for you?


Tips to Building a Lasting Fitness Schedule

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By Omar Elamam

Ever been drowned by your daily routine? I have and I’m sure you can relate. When it comes to your fitness, it doesn’t have to be so daunting.

When designing a workout plan, it is very important to start small and gradually build your way up. For a beginner, one should stay away from any sort of heavy lifting or complicated machines and stick to body weight exercises and focus on reps. Remember, you want to motivate yourself to going to the gym over the long run, so you have to pace yourself. Think of it as a marathon. Those who finish at the top pace themselves from the start and kick it into high gear near the end. If you complicate your workout plan from the start you’re essentially sprinting at the beginning of the race and will run out of energy and motivation over the long haul.

So what can you do on your own to help keep you motivated over the long run? As I stated earlier, you want your program to be simple at first. Make sure to target all the muscle groups throughout the week, but focus on one major/minor muscle group per workout. For example, you can target the pectoralis major (chest) and biceps/triceps in a single workout. The next day you can focus on the latissimus dorsi (lats) and core group. Try to avoid working out 2 major groups in a single day as this causes major stress to the body and takes longer to recover from. Remember, as a beginner you want to start off simple.

Results will come with time, but as with anything else in life you must be patient. Keep your workouts between 30-45mins, with 2-3 times a week. Usually you can move on to a more intermediate type of workout after 6-8 weeks of consistent training.

Keep it simple and stay fit!

Omar Elamam is a personal trainer in Ottawa and martial arts instructor at Winning Circle Martial Arts and Fitness Center.

What’s Happening in Ottawa This Week? (Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 2012)

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Last week of the summer! Well, not officially, but to a lot of people this is the last chance to do something before your kids, friends or yourself head back to school.

If you’ve let your summer slip away and are looking for something to do to salvage it, here are this weeks Ottawa events:

Tuesday, August 28th

Five Diamond Charity Golf Tournament in Support of The Canadian AIDS Society

Movie Night – What’s Organic about Organic?

Thursday, August 30th

A Night at the Races for Canadian Guide Dogs

Saturday, September 1st

Mudd, Sweat & Tears Ottawa (10K Mud Run)

3 & 8 km Run/Walk: A Fundraiser for Carefor

Ottawa Rhythm Festival

Sunday, September 2nd

Mudd, Sweat & Tears Ottawa (10K Mud Run)

Melt Gourmet Grilled Cheese Adds Much Needed Variety to Byward Market Fast Food Scene

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by: Brian Clarke

When I think of grilled cheese, pleasant childhood memories come rushing back.

So when a friend told me about Melt, a new gourmet grilled cheese restaurant in the Byward Market, my stomach immediately spoke up and told me to go.

In my opinion, it’s about time that we get some more variety in fast food options.  I mean this is general, but also for the Market and Rideau area specifically.  After years of rickshawing, the same old shawarma, pizza or burger options as a quick lunch or late-night snack have gotten boring.

And with my usual favourite Byward fast food spot – Burrito Borracho – closed for renovations, Melt did an excellent job stepping up to the plate!

Grilled cheese is so easy to make, so I’m surprised this is the first time someone has tried a grilled cheese shop downtown.  That being said, Melt gets full marks for taking the plunge and introducing something new and delicious to downtown Ottawa’s fast food scene.

They have everything any good sandwich shop has – fresh bread and a variety of meats, sauces and toppings for you to customize your sandwich.  Their grilled cheese sandwiches just take that a bit further with the crusty grilled bread and oozy melted cheese!

I ordered The Prosciutto, which is exactly what it sounds like: a grilled prosciutto and cheese sandwich.  In fact, I ordered two (I was hungry that day!)  I loaded my sandwich with roasted red pepper, spicy eggplant, and garlic mayonnaise– And of course, lots of (Swiss) cheese.

I was not disappointed.  The guy behind the counter didn’t think I could eat the two sandwiches, but they were so tasty that I could have easily wolfed down four!

However, my only complaint about Melt is the lack of tomato soup! A solid grilled cheese sandwich needs a hearty tomato soup to dip it in.  If they add this to the menu, I can see myself spending many lunches at Melt this winter.

I will definitely be returning and trying a wide variety of grilled cheese sandwiches.  While grilled cheese sandwiches will always remain a staple dish of my childhood, I know that those classic Wonder Bread and Kraft Singles sandwich pale in comparison to something like The Prosciutto.

It is my personal mission to find that perfect grilled cheese sandwich at Melt to show my eight year old self what it was missing.

In your mind, what is the perfect grilled cheese sandwich? Please post it in the comments below, or try out your creation at Melt and let me know how it goes!

Let’s Be Proud of Our Capital Pride!

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By Adam Slight

This year for Capital Pride I think it is appropriate to reflect on how lucky we are to live in a country that recognizes and celebrates its GLBTQ community.

Ottawa’s Pride Festival really began in 1986 as a grassroots gathering in Confederation Park. Only 50 were in attendance, but this was enough of a following to give the festival momentum it needed to grow. By 1997, Prime Minister Jean Chretien gave official recognition of the festival which had grown exponentially since its founding. In 2010, two of Canada’s predominantly gay rugby teams even duked it out on the grounds of Parliament.

It is significant that gay pride is so openly celebrated in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, and has been recognized on a federal level. Maybe not recognized as best that we want it to be, but recognized none-the-less. This is important to recognize right now as homosexuality is so aggressively repressed in other parts of the world. In light of human-rights train-wrecks like the Ugandan Anit-Homosexuality Bill where the “offender” faces death or life-imprisonment for any outright homosexual activity, or the recent illegalization of pride marches in Russia which has led to Russia’s suing of Madonna for speaking up for gay rights at a Russian concert, it makes it more important than ever for us to exercise our freedom to support gay rights here at home.

And just so you know, you don’t have to be gay to attend Capital Pride (I’m not sure how exactly they’d screen that anyways…)! If you’re a straight person that supports human rights, has gay friends, or opposes authoritative stunts like the ones we’re seeing in Uganda or Russia, then partaking in the Pride celebrations in Canada’s capital city is a good way to show solidarity.

While Capital Pride is already in full swing, you can check out the event calendar here.

Summer’s Not Over Yet: Are You Getting Enough Vitamin Rosè?

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By: Holly Bruns

With its pink hue, crisp flavor and fresh aromas, rosè is a wine made for summer. And sure enough, when the earth begins to tilt a little closer to the sun in our northern hemisphere, the good people at the LCBO fervently stocks shelves, province-wide, with rosy-pink bottles.

In North America, we’ve come a long way from the white Zinfandel and Blush wines of the 70’s. No longer an insipid, sweet drink, rosè has become a wine in its own right. Usually made by allowing the juice of red grapes to sit on the skins for any time between 2 hours and 2 days, the types of grapes, the length of time spent on the skins, and the sugar levels at which the grapes are picked are all careful decisions made by the winemaker. These days, it is definitely okay to drink rosè; a simple flavor profile and palate cleansing acidity make it great with food too.

Try one of these inexpensive bottles the next time you find yourself in your backyard with a corkscrew in-hand.

Photos by David Shea

Remy Pannier Rosè d’Anjou ($12.95): The Loire Valley in France produces a lot of rosè; the cool climate means there’s usually something light and crisp in the bottle like this fruity, fresh version made from mostly Cabernet Franc grapes.

Mezzomondo Rosato ($8.95): This Italian bottle is so cheap you need to buy two. A little fuller than its French counterpart, in the glass it is dry with a slightly bitter edge that makes for good food pairings.

Sandbanks Rosè ($12.95): Don’t neglect the local market. We make great rosè wine in Ontario and much of it is well-priced. This bottle from Prince Edward County has a hint of honey sweetness if that’s your cup of tea.

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.

Top 6 Creepiest Things About Ottawa

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By Adam Slight

On the surface, Ottawa is just another quiet, clean, friendly city. Underneath, however, Ottawa has a perverse and creepy side.

Here are the 6 creepiest aspects of Ottawa.


6. Maman, the Spider Statue

Ok. This giant spider statue located just outside the National Art Gallery is pretty creepy. I mean, one of Ottawa’s most controversial and well-recognized landmarks is a gigantic mother spider, creeping through the city. The legs are long and spindly and a gross pouch of marble eggs can be seen sagging underneath the monstrosity! To think, this sculpture was inspired by and dedicated to the artist’s mother!

5. The Ottawa Jail Hostel

This hostel located downtown Ottawa was once a jailhouse where local criminals were executed. It is said that the hostel is haunted by the tortured souls of the executed prisoners who lock and slam doors and appear at the ends of guests’ beds. This is enough to make the hair on your arms stand up.

4. This Eye-in-the-Sky Website

Do you get your jollies from watching people without them knowing? If you said “yes”, then this website is for you! You can monitor any of Ottawa’s major intersections in real-time from the privacy of your own home. Now you know that basically no matter where you go in Ottawa, somebody on the Internet can watch what you’re doing. Good luck sleeping tonight!

3. The Library of Parliament’s Glass Floor

The Library of Parliament is the official research resource for the Parliament Buildings, and the only part of the building to survive the fire of 1916 which burnt the rest of the Parliament Buildings down. There is an urban legend that the library’s frosted glass floor, which looks down on the archives below, was once see-through glass. This prompted several pervy parliamentarians in the 1960s to look up ladies’ dresses from the basement archives.

2. Le Bop in Gatineau

While I’ve never been to Le Bop, I’ve only ever heard horror stories of this Gatineau bar that has been attracting underage Ontario students for decades. Just because it is frequented by drunk 18 year old Ottawans doesn’t mean it doesn’t also attract aggressive 35 year old Gatinese men. Yes, there are plenty of equally creepy bars in Ottawa, but I thought Le Bop deserved a special mention.

1. Cleaner than Disney Land

While it is worth praising Ottawa for its cleanliness, sometimes the city’s spotless facade is just plain unnatural! Those street-sweeping robots are droning around on our sidewalks, scrubbing the city’s fingernails harder than a murderer with blood on their hands. What does our city have to hide? And where does all that dirt go……………….?

What do you find creepy about Ottawa?

Mission Impossible: Buy Bus Tickets in Downtown Ottawa

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by : Brian Clarke
This past weekend, I found myself stuck in an odd situation.

I was leaving the Byward Market to go home, but had no change or bus fare on hand.  So, instead of the vastly inconvenient option of withdrawing twenty dollars, breaking into change so that I have exactly $3.30, I obviously went on a search to buy OC bus tickets.

Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience. If so, you’ll know that it’s seemingly impossible.  No where within a couple blocks radius of the Rideau Center sells OC tickets!

I tried the usual suspects – corner stores and Shoppers Drug Mart.  No luck.  Surely, it’s because of the OC sales office in Rideau Center; why sell bus tickets through third party vendors on Rideau Street and in the mall when you people can just buy them from the source, right?

Well, the OC sales office is an equally inconvenient option. Actually, it is even worse – I’d rather break the twenty! When the sales office is open (which it wasn’t during my little treasure hunt), it takes a good hour to get through the line.

So, eventually I just gave up and took a taxi home.

Perhaps OC will read about my difficulties and make it easier to find ticket vendors near the Rideau Center and Byward Market.  This would certainly help them in their quest to have less people hopping on the bus illegally from the Rideau Center.  But alas, I know they won’t read this.

Instead, I went through the long list of OC ticket vendors and have compiled a short list of vendors closest – within short walking distance – to the Rideau Center and Byward Market.

After looking at how close some of these vendors are, I felt a little dumb.  However, I’m sure I’m not the first person who failed on a downtown search for bus tickets, and I’m sure I won’t be the last.  Hopefully this list will save at least one person from the miserable bus ticket search I endured…

Where to buy OC bus tickets near the Rideau Center:

Walking times are estimated by my good friend, Google Maps (using the Rideau Center as a starting point)

  • Pharma Plus – Rideau & Waller (3 min.)
  • Mac’s Milk – Rideau & Nelson (8 min.)
  • Loblaw’s – Rideau & Nelson (9 min.)
  • Blue Nile Store – King Edward & Murray (11 min.)
  • Astley’s Pharmacy – Rideau & Chapel (12 min.)
  • Quickie – Rideau & Augusta (14 min.)