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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

More love for the back alley

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A few months back we ran a post about back lanes in part as a response to the topic appearing in Maria Cook’s Designing Ottawa blog. Maria had noted that City planner (and Spacing Ottawa contributor Alain Miguelez) was scheduled to talk to residents of Overbrook  about the possibility of including laneways in an infill project slated for that community.

As I recall the accounts of that subsequent public meeting, it seems that Alain all but had rotten tomatoes thrown at him for daring to suggest that back lanes would be a useful addition to the infill project’s built form. Lanes really do seem to divide opinion; people that never had them seem to instinctively view them as an access corridor for thieves, but people (like me) that grew up with them recall them fondly as a kind of a charmed place, where children and cars could co-exist safely, and neighbours from “across the way” became as well-known to each other as neighbours on the same street. We’re in the minority in a city like Ottawa, it seems, so that is why I was heartened to read the news of an upcoming exhibition by a group of artists that share my fascination for back lanes and alleyways. It starts this week at the Cube Gallery:


Tuesday, March 29 at 10:30am – May 1 at 5:00pm


Cube Gallery

1285 Wellington St. West

Ottawa, ON

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Cube Gallery

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PREVIEWS Tues. March 29th til Thurs. April 7

Opening Party: (Meet the artists): Thu Apr 7th, 2011 — 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm

They can be quaint or grotty, neat as pin or sketchy and scary. These are Ottawa’s back alleys – those surprising service lanes and discretely annexed arteries that harkens back to an era when kids, delivery boys and repair men were politely but firmly instructed to use the rear entrance, please. A place for a quiet puff, a purview of the back yards and back doors of the nation’s capital. See how eight Ottawa artists explore and depict the back alleys of our city. Hard on the heels of last year’s hugely successful show, “Champlain Lookout,” the same group of painters spent the past 52 weeks walking, haunting and exploring Ottawa’s alleyways. Their unique portrayals of the urban landscape are every bit as skillful, sensitive and intriguing.

Featuring the work of:

Jay Anderson, John Jarrett,

Strachan Johnston, Olaf Krassnitzky, Pina Manoni-Rennick, Karole Marois, Paul Schibli, Karl Schutt


One comment

  1. I’d love to see this show! Alleys are a gem of a resource for blocks and communities as far as I’m concerned (and I didn’t grow up with them) – one of my favourite pastimes is alley/laneway wandering!