It’s been two months since I moved to Ottawa and I wanted to let the experience of living in Capital City saturate a bit before making a new post illustrating my initial thoughts on life here. Well I’ve always thought if you’ve lived two months anywhere you may as well have lived there a lifetime, so here it goes!
(That post title is a Simpsons reference. I’m not sure anyone here even calls it Capital City)
Cleanliness. Ottawa is by far the cleanest city I’ve ever lived in. Of course it helps that the city and the National Capital Commission spend a lot of cash making it look that way. Even though you see lots of people smoking outside downtown government buildings, you barely see vagrant butts blowing around the sidewalk. It seems there’s always someone there to sweep up the trash, and it also looks like there are multiple infrastructure jobs going on at once to make sure city streets are presentable.
Downtown Ghost Town. But if people inhabit downtown streets only half the time, is it worth keeping them so presentable? On any given weekday between 7AM-6PM there’s a vibrant buzz in Centretown because of the thousands of people who work there. But once quittin’ time rolls around, it’s dead. I see it every day because I live just a couple blocks from the heart of it. It gets really lonely and dark, and it’s hard to believe this is the core of a metro area of more than a million people.
Nightlife. If you end up feeling lonely on a dark downtown street, all it takes is a ten minute walk to lots of great restaurants, bars, and theatres. Bank Street is great. So’s Elgin. And the Market has lots going on pretty much any night of the week. A lot of people who are originally from here tend to apologize to me for the “lack of action” on evenings and weekends here in Ottawa. First off, there’s lots to do. I’ve seen great bands every weekend I’ve been here. And secondly, I’m 31 now dude – a little old to be needing that kind of “action” that regularly!
Arts and History. This is the national hub for museums, and I feel truly fortunate that I live within walking distance of some of the best in the world – namely the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Nature and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Status Aboriginal people can get into the latter for free – rightfully so, probably because of all the traditional belongings housed there. I haven’t had a chance to branch out to some of the smaller galleries, but they’re on my list.
The Nod. I’ve explained what “the nod” is a few times in past posts, but it basically speaks to the Aboriginal presence in an urban setting. When spotting a fellow First Nations person on a city street is rare, you nod at each other to acknowledge your shared background and plight as an “Indian in the City”. When there are lots of others, you don’t necessarily need to. Although it isn’t as strong as in western cities like Winnipeg or Regina, there’s a visible Aboriginal presence on the streets of Ottawa that reflects the strong sense of community here. Sometimes you nod at others, sometimes you don’t have to. There are great resources like the Wabano Centre and the Odawa Centre for everyone to rely on. Although I enjoy seeing all walks of life on city streets, it’s comforting to see a strong Aboriginal community in the Capital.
There are many other things I really enjoy about living here, like my job, having lots of family in the same town, and the proximity to where I grew up. I miss lots about Winnipeg and Toronto, but this is home for now and I’m gonna make the most of it. Thanks to everyone who’s been so accommodating, and if we’ve never met, keep an eye out for me!