This year marks the 150th birthday for our great county. And as millions of tourists are finding their way to Ottawa for the occasion, Ottawa Magazine has launched a commemorative issue The Big 150 to help tourists and locals navigate their way around the great city. We sat down with Ottawa Magazine’s editors Emily Kennedy and Chris Lackner to learn their insider tips on all things Ottawa.
1. Is Ottawa your home town or what first brought you to Ottawa?
Emily: Ottawa is my hometown, although I feel like I’m seeing it with fresh eyes now, having moved back after spending most of my adult life until recently in B.C.
2. What is it about Ottawa that you love the most?
Emily: Many things, it’s relatively safe, has beautiful parks, it’s central to Toronto, Montreal, and the US, and it’s friendly! But one of my favourite things about Ottawa is, and always has been, that we have a working farm in the city’s core: the Central Experimental Farm. Matt Harrison wrote a great piece about it for The BIG 150 (p.). Not only is it a working farm (and home to the Agriculture Museum), but there’s a network of the NCC bike pathways that wind through it and its adjacent Arboretum, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, and the Canal. Some people enjoy it to walk their dogs, in the winter you’ll see cross-country skiers and kite-snowboarders, and throughout the year there are students cutting through to Carleton University on its south-east side, and visitors, nurses and doctors from the Civic Hospital seeking a breath of fresh air on its north side. It’s on the farm’s roads that I learned how to ride a bike!
3. Where is your favourite place to dine in Ottawa?
Emily: The restaurant scene in Ottawa has been growing rapidly. As much as the buzz is around what’s new, one of my personal favourites is The Won Ton House on Wellington Street, it’s 37 years old! Ottawa restaurant critic Anne DesBrisay contributed a fantastic piece around the city’s restaurants that have stood the test of time (p.74) — so with my penchant for the tried and true, I’m keen to try more “old faithfuls.”
5. What are your favourite things to do in Ottawa?
Chris: The museums are fantastic. As Ottawans you sometimes forget we have so many in our own backyard. so we asked curators at the city’s national museum’s to share some of their favourite artifacts. I’m personally looking forward to spending a Thursday (many museums offer free admissions Thursday evenings) to check out the Canadian War Museum curator’s pick: a teddy bear that came back from the front-lines (p. 28) after he was given to a farmer who enlisted as a medic by his daughter.
6. What are you most excited for during Canada’s 150 year long celebration?
Emily: I’m excited to see the new NAC revealed. It’s such a special 150 project, considering it was originally constructed as a part of the centennial celebrations in the capital, and now revamped for the sesquicentennial… who knows how it will look in another 50 years!
Chris: I’m really curious to see Crashed Ice — the Red Bull event that sees skaters barrel down an ice cross course — especially on the Rideau Canal!