Previously published at the Toronto Star’s Intern Blog
Stop the presses! This just in…
Ottawa is making headlines in Washington, D.C.’s largest and oldest newspaper, even winning out over Toronto when it comes to subcultural kudos. (We’ll get to that.)
A freshly published article in the Washington Post celebrates the Canadian capital for evolving from a “city that never wakes” to a place characterized by an “unselfconscious cool.”
That’s right: A New-York based writer is calling Ottawa “cool.”
Michael Kaminer, the Montreal-raised journalist behind the piece, remembers 70s era Ottawa for its “somnolent streets, dull dining and nonexistent night life.”
But a recent visit to the city has changed his mind, even inspiring him to rank Ottawa above Toronto when it comes to its indie aesthetic.
Torontonians may be miffed to hear his derision of our “hipster posturing” and, as Kaminer clarifies, that little Ottawa isn’t trying to be like Toronto anyway.
(I guess he’s saying they’re not interested in giving us the highest form of flattery, but maybe some of this instead.)
Kaminer also praises Ottawa’s casual bilingualism, comparing it to Montreal’s more heavy-handed approach, as well as the capital’s underestimated food scene and local artisans.
(Food wise: I have to give Ottawa props for being the home of Dunn’s famous Deli. I know Shwartz-lovers in Montreal may come after me, but Dunn’s totally has the best smoked meat.)
The writer concludes with the possibility that Ottawa’s major attractions—like Parliament, Rideau Hall and the National Gallery—may not be the city’s most appealing features anymore.
So, I’m interested in what you all think.
Has Kaminer been bribed in beavertails or is he onto something?
Feedback: Ottawa is…
Toronto Star Blog Comments
Posted by: Sarah | 07/11/2010 at 02:40 PM
Isn’t the grass always greener?
Yes, Kaminer was born in Montreal, so it’s not like this piece was actually written by a “real” American, so it may not totally be a case of the grass is always greener.
However, it does show how much we Canucks want to be validated by our neighbours to the south — whether it be with our comedians, or musicians, or endorsements of our cities. That’s where the real discussion is here, I think. Why do we need American approval for something that’s ours? Why don’t we appreciate what we have?
Is Ottawa cool? Depends on your definition of cool, I guess. I think Ottawa’s a great city to visit, has great restaurants and, of course, our country’s history. And I’m a political geek, so yeah, Ottawa is cool to me.
But there are other cities in this great country of ours that are just as “cool” as Kaminer makes Ottawa out to be — perhaps we should spend more time visiting them instead of looking to the Americans for validation.
Posted by: “Mary” 07/11/2010 at 10:04 PM
I lived in Ottawa for 3 years and died of boredom as the city shuts down at 5 p.m. He’s just comparing Ottawa to Washington, which also suts down at 5 p.m.
Ottawa has no good night clubs, no good shopping malls, a poor transit system, cold weather. The only thing people do there is go drinking. Lame.
I’ve lived in Toronto for 24 years of my life otherwise, and it beats Ottawa every single time.