Guide to finding hometown goodies in the heart-shaped city
This gift guide isn’t made of the contents of a tacky tourist boutique – today, we were looking for items to embrace your Ottawa pride, not your capital of Canada pride.
Loving your hometown and your home-neighbourhood has suddenly become cool, and Ottawa creatives are slowly grinding away at the city’s underdog reputation.
The burgeoning “maker scene” and successful support local campaigns have helped – drawing on both history and good design to reboot Ottawa’s reputation.
Graphic designer Steve St. Pierre is the man behind a growing symbol of Ottawa pride designed for local culture website Apt 613’s “Support Local” campaign.
St. Pierre’s logo for the cause included the shape of the city’s boundaries – which happens to look just like a heart.
“It was pretty bizarre to me that no one had noticed before,” he said.
“But it was super great and people really latched on to it.”
Since then St. Pierre has more or less relinquished the design concept to the people of Ottawa – it’s now become popular on jewellery and posters.
Of course, we wouldn’t be Ottawa without self-deprecating humour and sometimes artists veer into the satirical.
You can buy a mug, for example, decorated with a “fantasy” subway line imagined for Ottawa’s (for now) subway-less terrain.
In 2011, St. Pierre won an Apt 613 t-shirt contest with a black design that proclaimed, “I am not a government employee.”
Local artist Stirling Prentice, who created Winged Beast Outfitters, sums up the city’s perceived lack of enthusiasm with his own t-shirt that simply reads: “Ottawa is a Place.”
“That’s the kind of pride you sometimes see around Ottawa,” explained Prentice. “We’re not always glowing about our city.”
That doesn’t mean we have nothing to glow about – the city is considered by locals to be a craft beer mecca, a rare champion of work-life balance and a place to enjoy the outdoors year-round.
These elements of the city were appealing to Emily Wilfong, a clay artist who moved to the city four years ago and is currently selling her Ottawa-heart-shaped necklaces out of the weekend Ottawa Farmers Market.
“When I moved here people gave me the impression of a boring city, but there’s all kinds of stuff to do here,” she said. “It’s just a city that makes a lot of sense to me.”
So go ahead, Toronto – embrace the “6ix” and keep your TTC token cufflinks – we’ll be here making sense of our stubborn love for “the city that fun forgot.”
1 Lapel pin made from Parliament Hill’s old copper roofs. Various shapes, $6.99
2 Various Ottawa neighbourhood hats, $38 from Tuckshopco.com or in store at Sporting Life.3.99 at the Parliamentary Boutique.
3 Ottawa is a Place Shirt T-Shirt, $35 from Etsy.com
4 Wildtree Ottawa Love Pendants, $44 from Workshopboutique.ca
5 Bytown Museum glass, $12 from Bytown Museum.
6 Ottawa Map Socks $25 from Ottawaest.myshopify.com.
7 Ottawa Jumbo Journal, $17 from Ecojot.com
8 613 Hand Stitched Pennants, various colours $32-42 from Drake General Store inside Hudson’s Bay, 73 Rideau Street.
9 YOW Ottawa luggage tag, $8.50 from Drake General Store inside Hudson’s Bay, 73 Rideau Street.
10 NDC “I Kinda Like it Here” Ottawa Trivet, $40 from workshopboutique.ca.
11 Dominion Brewing Co. Town and Country Blonde, $10.57 for 750mL growler from Brewdonkey.ca
12 Lissa Bowie Hottawa Studs from Etsy.com
13 Ottawa Food: A Hungry Capital, $21.99 from Chapters.ca
14 Ottawa Tube Map Mug, $20 from Ottawaest.myshopify.com.