Archive for the 'Phototours' Category


The Many Faces of the ByWard Market

About a month ago, I noticed that the fire hydrant just down the street from my apartment was looking considerably happier than it had in the past.


Looking a little more gap-toothed, too.

Looking a little more gap-toothed, too.

Since then, I’ve noticed at least a dozen similar faces all over the Market, on mailboxes, streetlights, transformers and more. While the faces themselves are varied in expression, they always follow the same basic design; simple colours, generally bright, often subtle or hidden if you’re not looking at the right side of something, and always adding a splash of character to the streetscape.


Looking embarassed on Clarence

Looking embarassed on Clarence

One interesting thing about this random street art is that it always shows up on public property. I’ve yet to notice anything like this on, say, newspaper boxes or on private businesses. And perhaps even more remarkably, I’ve seen little evidence of effort to remove these faces, which is fantastic because they really make parts of the sidewalk interesting, adding some life to objects that are normally fairly boring and—pardon the pun—pedestrian. It’s also a joy to come across ones you haven’t seen before. Each one is unique, and though I’m no art critic, it appears that a fair amount of effort has gone into making them look interesting.


This streetlamp on Dalhousie looks as though it's come unhinged

This streetlamp on Dalhousie looks as though it's come unhinged

This kind of thing is why I’ve always been against any kind of blanket laws regarding graffiti. I can understand why it’s something that many people attack—after all, tags from gangs and messages on underpasses informing us that Frankie was there aren’t exactly a desirable part of the urban landscape. But at the same time, there are street artists out there who genuinely make the city a more interesting place to live, but unfortunately they often get lumped into the general category of “graffiti”, and their work is removed from the street. I don’t know who is responsible for these faces scattered around the Market, but whoever is has my thanks for making streetlights and trash cans something I occasionally find myself stopping and smiling at rather than simply ignoring. And that’s something I will always fight for having as an important part of any urban area.


Being a mailbox can get you down sometimes.

Being a mailbox can get you down sometimes.

For the rest of the faces that I’ve found (11 so far) head on over to my Flickr page.


The Canal

I was out on the Rideau Canal yesterday, which has to be some of Ottawa’s best public space during the winter, and I snapped some pictures. I skated from the National Arts Centre to the Bank Street Bridge and back, so they only encompass that part of the canal, but I still managed some nice shots.

Corktown Bridge

Free Hugs!

St. Paul's University

Go here to see the rest of the set.


On the road again: The Ottawa Project visits Saskatoon

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan last week for the 71st annual Canadian University Press conference, and during one of the few times where I wasn’t busy taking in the conference, I took some time to get out and explore Saskatoon.

My initial impressions were that Saskatoon is a very different city from those in Ontario. Most of the roads were quite wide, which made everything look very spread out to my Eastern eyes. Additionally, Saskatoon doesn’t use salt on their roads, so instead of the wet, slushy conditions you get on Ottawa roads and sidewalks during the winter, you tended to have a very hard-packed snow covering most paved surfaces. In fact, not once did I regret my decision not to take heavy winter boots with me—unlike in Ottawa much of the time, running shoes were more than adequate to keep my feet dry.

Over on his blog, my friend and fellow conference-attendee Carl Meyer described Saskatoon as a “cold desert”. While that may be scientifically accurate (I believe most of Saskatchewan falls a little short of being classified as a desert climate), I can certainly agree with the sentiment. The air is incredibly dry, and the cold is a biting one; you don’t really notice it at first, but the longer you’re out in it, the more it gets to you. All that said, I did find it to be an interesting city, one I’d like to go back and have a chance to explore more during warmer months. Follow the jump to see some of my pictures with comments.

Continue reading ‘On the road again: The Ottawa Project visits Saskatoon’


Diving into the past

Originally, I was planning on writing about the Rideau Centre for this post; where it came from, what it replaced and how it impacts the urban landscape today. However, whenever I set out to do something I almost inevitably get sidetracked by something, and while researching this post I ended up coming across a series of aerial photos showcasing the evolution of a particular area of Ottawa. And, if you know anything about me, you know that I was almost instantly fascinated, and I decided I had to craft a post around it.

It all started with this image, taken in 1920:


Photo courtesy Natural Resources Canada, Earth Sciences Sector

Confused and unsure of what it is you’re looking at? Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you—I know not everyone is as well-versed in analyzing these sorts of things as I am! Here’s a reference version:


Green: City Hall, Teal: Rideau Centre, Red: Conference Centre, Purple: WellingtonRideau St., Yellow: Elgin St., Blue: Laurier Avenue

Make more sense now? The dark section running up the middle, is the Rideau Canal. I find this image really interesting, because it really shows off Ottawa’s roots as an industrial lumber town. In 1920, Ottawa had been Canada’s capital for less than 60 years and it shows. Where the Rideau Centre is today, a large rail yard sprawls just a few hundred metres away from Parliament Hill. Next to it, a quay juts out from the canal, likely a staging ground for passengers and freight to change between the rails and the water.

On the subject of passengers, Union Station dominates a stretch of land next to the canal, a stark contrast to the carefully manicured pathways that exist there now. To the south, a large military staging ground occupies the land where City Hall sits today. If it weren’t for a scattering of prominent landmarks, it’d be impossible to tell this picture is of Ottawa. A lot has changed in the 88 years since it was taken… follow the jump to see some of them.

Continue reading ‘Diving into the past’


Phototour #1: Sandy Hill

Perhaps the best way to start this blog off is with something I’d like to become a defining feature—a photo tour, beginning with the neighborhood of Sandy Hill. Sandy Hill is located just east of downtown, and just south of the Byward Market. The neighborhood was, at one point during the 19th and early 20th century, the wealthiest neighborhood in the city, but as more bridges were constructed over the Rideau Canal and as streetcars began service into the area, it became much closer to downtown. The upper class citizens began moving to different parts of the city, while the wealth of the neighborhood dropped.

Because of this, Sandy Hill today is very strange demographically. On the neighborhood’s western side, you tend to find poorer citizens and students living in subdivided houses, while if you travel east, you very rapidly begin to run into a mix of wealthier citizens, attracted once again to the older downtown neighborhood, as well as many embassies and high commissions. All this combines to make Sandy Hill into one of Ottawa’s most interesting and dynamic neighborhoods, with significant demographic changes over the span of just a few blocks.

Population (2006): 12,078

Continue reading ‘Phototour #1: Sandy Hill’

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This is a blog dedicated to exploring and discussing Ottawa, Canada.



Email: dmccl033(at)uottawa(dot)ca

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