Back when there were only two licensed restaurants in all of Ottawa (in the 1960s, or so the old-timers tell us ) a cabinet minister from Quebec used to fulminate that the “only good thing about living in Ottawa was the 5.00 PM train to Montreal”. There would be no shortage of proud Ottawans to dispute that kind of slander today, but contained within his snide bon mot was the germ of something true, not just for Ottawa but for any city. Part of urban life is contingent on what is close by; that which we can experience without feeling that we are roaming to0 far from our home base.
One advantage of urban life in the nation’s capital is that things don’t always actually have to be so urban. Ottawa is situated cheek-by-jowl to farmland, small towns, rivers, campgrounds and parks. For the new resident who fancies local produce and Saturday-morning-only small-town charm, Ottawa’s location can come as revelation. Fifteen or twenty minutes in a car can bring many of us deep into the sort of natural splendour residents of Toronto or Montreal are an hour or more from even getting close to.
For Apartment613′s guest blog this week, we want to highlight some of our favourites from this unique zone of proximity, and reflect on what lies just beyond the urban core.
The give-or-take 100 mile diet
As a result of municipal amalgamation, Ottawa actually has 1,267 farms within its city limits. Whatever you might think about the legislated shotgun marriage between city and country, it’s fair to say that if the local food movement is really going to catch on in Canada, there is no better place to start than right here. We already have access to three seasonal farmers’ markets and the famous Suntech greenhouses keep us fed with local tomatoes twelve months of the year. This summer Apt613.ca visited some local farmers as part of a media tour. Remember the summer heat and fresh produce with our slideshow .
Free as in free beer
Something about living near Ottawa must drive our neighbours to drink. A short jaunt east or west will bring you to one of two wonderful microbreweries, each which serves up award-winning pints. Carleton Place’s Heritage Brewery is known for their powerfully-hopped ales, and the Lugtread lager from Beaus’ in Vankleek Hill is quickly becoming a staple on beer lists across the city. Touring a brewery is well worth the effort, especially when they host special events like Oktoberfest or the Heritage Hop Party.
Let your inner bohemian hang out
A quick trip across the provincial border lands you in Wakefield where you can treat yourself to expensive spas, visit small local shops or take a dip in the lake. Best of all, you’ll find “Ottawa’s” best music venue. Apt613.ca visited the small artistic community to suggest lesser-known spots where you can keep the party going as the moon glints off the Gatineau.
– Photo credit justinvl