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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

30 Years, Reflected — a poetic commentary

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In the summer of 1985,
my parents bought me
my first place ticket.

That ticket
brought me
out of the prairies,
from Regina
to Ottawa.

I’d just graduated
from high school.
My father?
Already here,
as his job required.

The rest
– mother, siblings, dog –
yet to join us.

Thirty years.
So much change.

A patchwork,
Cities, townships, villages,
All scattered parts of
One Regional Municipality.
Libraries, fragmented.
Policing, fragmented.
Waste disposal, fragmented.
Transit, united.

Two or three years young.
Still building stations,
Tunnels, roadbeds
Still underway.
Trains, still long ways
away from returning
to the transit mix.

Shopping malls, smaller
Mostly indoor experiences.
Malls of boxes
With only parking lots
To connect them
Just barely on our horizons.

At Lansdowne,
Still the Rough Riders,
A name still almost theft
To my prairie ears.
Not yet Renegades,
Nor Redblacks.
The strife of coping
With owners gone,
mad, yet to come.

The 67’s, ever constant.
The Nationals long gone.
New Senators not yet
An idea, much less
Skating under Lansdowne

Smaller airport.
Rockcliffe still military
And vital, not
That hibernating field
Yet to be reborn.

Orléans still a town
Divided ‘gainst itself
By old Gloucester
And Cumberland.

Nepean, ever boasting
Of balanced books
And being Ottawa’s
Birthplace of yore.
Kanata, yet a fortress
To the west.

Not yet an idea in
Minds of Queens’ Park.

So much change,
Yet some constants.
Ottawa the city,
Still also
Ottawa, shorthand
For the federal
Ever present.

Still, also, our homes
Built on land
As yet unceded
By Algonquin hands.

Should they ever
Be ceded?
A question
As yet unanswered
Officially at least.

Yet our homes,
And theirs as well,
Still they stand.
As they must
On the shores of
Once called Kitchissippi,
And both tributaries:
Rideau, and Gatineau.



  1. Awesome, Dwight! See what a sharp eye and a gifted hand can do.