Sunday, May 19, 2013

Some observations on Ottawa's blogosphere

Readers of this site will have noticed that I have cut back on my blogging in the past couple of weeks.  A combination of being out of town and busy with other responsibilities led me to take a week off, and then in the subsequent week repost some of my recent Tour de blogosphere columns for Apartment613.

Hopefully I will return to regular blogging soon.  In the meantime, I want to take this opportunity to make some observations about local bloggers.  If someone were to ask you what were the most popular blogging subjects in the the National Capital Region what would you respond? (By "popular" I mean the largest number of blogs that focus on a specific subject).

Hockey?  To my surprise, I have discovered that hockey blogs only make up a tiny portion of the chatter in our region's blogosphere.  How about politics?  Again, political blogs are a small minority.  So what are the themes that are most covered by area bloggers?  Number one, without a doubt, is photography.  Photo-blogs are by far and away the most popular type of blog in the city.  Number two would be food-related blogs, which contain, among other things, recipes, restaurant reviews, weight-loss information and/or other culinary discussions.

The number three spot is more difficult to determine.  If had to guess I would say that living/family blogs take the bronze medal, although I need to do further research to know this for sure.  In the meantime, I have found a lot of blogs on music, art-related themes and, to my surprise, fashion.  Given Ottawa's supposedly bland sense of style, I was intrigued to discover that there are many local bloggers talking about the latest fashion trends.

In the future, I plan to write a series of posts that highlight some of the conclusions that I have reached after reviewing hundreds of blogs from the National Capital Region.  Until then, I am going to enjoy the rest of the long weekend!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Blogging cooks

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker courtesy of Flickr
(Creative Commons)

The following article first appeared on Apartment613 on April 27.

The Ottawa blogosphere is filled with blogging chefs who post their culinary secrets online. To showcase this celebration of cuisine, this week’s column will focus on local cooking blogs. Sites that primarily contain restaurant reviews and/or discuss culinary subjects in general will be covered in a future story.

Before proceeding, however, I would like to give a shout-out to foodiePrints, who compiled this great list of almost 150 food-related blogs. While some of these sites are dormant, most are active and provided me with a strong starting point for this post. (Note: foodiePrints also has recipes).

Cooking blogs

Double Trouble Kitchen Edition is written by Eleanore and Emily, two economists who love to cook. Eleanore is a marathoner who prepares balanced and nutritious meals, while having a soft spot for chocolate. Emily’s culinary repertoire includes traditional Chinese dishes and decorated desserts.

Tea for Two Sisters is also written by a duo, this time sisters Christine and Lucy, which showcases their cooking and photographic skills. Two Vegan Sisters, meanwhile, is managed by Tracy and Sarah.

Another collaborative blog is TBBs, created by six women who met while completing a residential décor program. While the site contains posts on wine, food travel, love, design and shopping, it also has cooking tips.

Kelly Brisson of The Gouda Life is well known in the local blogosphere for her excellent recipes. Her cooking suggestions include creative dishes like this recent post for caramelized fennel, roasted garlic and tomato soup with lemon.

Asha of beFOODled says that she likes to document her food adventures, be they successful, complete failures or moments of pure befuddlement. For its part, the blog Dude COOK! not only has a great name, but also shows the average busy person that they do have time to cook.

Sheltered Girl Meets World and Eaten Up, two blogs previously mentioned in Tour de blogosphere, are also worth checking out.

Handmade is an interesting site from freelance illustrator and animator Cara Rowlands, who combines her drawings with recipes.

One blog that I follow regularly is culinarilyinclined, which offers numerous suggestions. Recent posts include recipes for jam-filled doughnut muffins, baked artichokes, and baked eggs over sautéed mushrooms and spinach.

La Cuisine d’Hélène, which I reviewed on my personal site, is an excellent source if you want to expand your cookbook collection.

Sybaritica, which I also reviewed on my personal blog, is written by lawyer C. John Thompson. Despite living in Nunavut, (yes you read that right), he blogs regularly about Ottawa restaurants when not posting his interesting recipes, many of which manage to use tropical fruits.

Other sites worth checking out include the wonderfully named blog Bacon Avec Bacon, as well as these sites: Food Gypsy, Mon Food Blog, The Lemon Kitchen, AKsKitchen, Barrhaven Bites and Eat, Drink and be Murray.

Other blogs where I have seen recipes include Simply Fresh, Happy Mouth, Otownmommy, In a Nutshell, Thrive, Ottawa Valley Moms, a peek inside the fishbowl, Earthward by blogger Valerie Ward, and Meaghan to the Max, which I reviewed on my blog.

Zahlicious by Laura Zahody also has recipes, although the blog does not appear to have been updated since late-February. (Update: Shortly after publishing this post on Apartment613 Laura posted a new recipe online).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Family blogs

Photo by A. Alberto (copyright)

The following article first appeared on Apartment613 on May 4.

The National Capital Region has a lot of blogging parents. In fact, after viewing more than 600 local blogs, I would argue that there are more family-friendly sites in our region than those that focus on hockey or politics. With this in mind, this week’s column contains a round-up of family blogs.

Recommended Starting Points

The Ottawa Mommy Club is a fantastic source of information for parents and anyone else interested in family-related posts. Their list of bloggers alone has dozens of sites that cover everything from parenting to home design to managing family finances. Created by Lyne Proulx in May 2011 this is a wonderful resource.

One site that I regularly read is Kids in the Capital, which has numerous listings for family-friendly events. Thanks to this blog, I have found recommendations for children’s books, planned family outings and discovered kid-friendly sites, like this great post on different parks in the city.

Another blog worth checking out is Ottawa Valley Moms, which was founded in July 2012. You will find posts here that include parenting tips, product reviews, recipes and podcasts. (Note: I reviewed this blog on my personal site back in March).

Blogging Moms and Dads

The National Capital Region is filled with blogging parents. They include 2Cute, by a mother of twins, and Yes Please, Mom, which is written by a mom of a baby girl. Other blogging mothers includeCoffee With Julie, which I reviewed on my site, Mommy C and Trending Ginger Mom.

Katina Michelis, meanwhile, is the blogger behind You’re Pregnant, Now What? “I want to say that I hated being pregnant,” she writes on her blog bio. “Did it twice, and hated it twice.” This honest voice may appeal to readers looking for posts that describe, in real world terms, the good, bad and ugly side of parenting.

Correr Es Mi Destino is not a parenting blog per se. However, blogger Juliette Giannesini is a new mom and she regularly blogs about her son Mark. I also reviewed this blog on my site.

Not all blogging parents are mothers. If you want to see a blog written from the perspective of a father then read the QUINN’tessential blog.

Family and Living

Blogging parents will inevitably write about different topics. Whether it’s a love of photography, managing home finances, posting recipes, or discussing interesting moments in their lives, almost all family-related blogs will end up covering different issues. With this in mind, some sites worth checking out include a peek inside the fishbowl, Postcards from the mothership, Life in the Hutch,Otownmommy’s Blog and Mercurial Mind.

If you want to know if raising children on one salary is possible, then Christa Clips blog SAHM: Save-At-Home-Mom! is worth a look. Angèle Lafond, meanwhile, is the creator of Domestique Manager, as well as the business blog Making ¢ent$ of Business. For her part, Kamerine Gardam writes The Life of K. While Gardam is currently at home with her children, she also started her own business as a birth doula.

Finally, if you are a parent who likes to run, then the blog Running. Food. Baby. is for you.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Music Monday: Music Blogs

Photo by Active Steve Courtesy of Flickr
(Creative Commons).

The following article first appeared on Apartment613 on May 11.

Recently we profiled two local photographers who chronicle Ottawa’s music scene. In this week’s column, we expand our focus to include the numerous other music bloggers from the National Capital Region.

Music Writers

Most local bloggers probably don’t consider themselves to be journalists or writers in the strict sense of the word. However, given that many music-related blogs contain interviews, previews of upcoming shows, reviews of new releases, insightful analysis and interesting bits of information, it is fair to say that many area bloggers are producing work that is comparable to traditional music journalism.

As a case in point, Ottawa Showbox, which we have mentioned before on Tour de blogosphere, is a great blog for music news. (I reviewed OS on my local blog recently). Couch Assassin is another fantastic site where you can find, among other things, previews of upcoming shows and musician profiles. For punk rock lovers, Ottawa Explosion (alternative tumble site here) is worth checking out, while those interested in reading about classical music can link to The Heckeler. Music Inkorporated, meanwhile, is another blog that you can read to get news and music-related analysis.

Concert and Event Listings

Besides Apartment613, numerous local sites contain information about musical events in our region. If you are a fan of traditional Irish music, then the Irish Music Ottawa – blog is the place to go. Classical music fans can read Music and Beyond, while devotees of folk music should check out Spirit of Rasputin’s. For blues fans, Ottawa Blues This Week is an indispensable source of information, with its extensive list of shows and events.

Birdman Sound is another good site where you can find upcoming shows, along with posts that contain musical playlists. Hardcore and punk fans can read Ottawa Hardcore, while patrons of Raw Sugar Cafe can follow the hip cafe’s tumblr site to see upcoming shows. My Ottawa Show Listings was quite active last year, although it seems to be currently dormant. That said, this site is worth bookmarking in the event that it starts up again.

Blogging Musicians, DJs and Radio Show Hosts

Ottawa Live Music bills itself as the only interactive live music show in the city, while Harmony & Groove, who mix pop, funk R&B and soul, also have a blog. Ditto for local jazz vocalist and songwriterRenée Yoxon, who has a tumblr account, and piano player, singer and songwriter Tyler Kealey.

Local hip-hop innovators A Tribe Called Red have a blog, although it hasn’t been updated since this past January. Similarly, Brad Turcotte, who performs under the name Brad Sucks, has a web site / blog, though it appears to have been last updated in mid-March. The Souljazz Orchestra also has a site where they post news about their musical careers which is updated on a periodic basis.

Other blogs that you may be interested in checking out are the CKCU show Debaser, the site for DJ CPI, the blog of JayBizz LeFresh, and the one for DJ Hobo & Sweet Cheeks, who uses a SoundCloud account to post musical mixes.


Finally, Pearl Pirie, whose impressive blogging we have already profiled, started earlier this year the music-related site earworm curation.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Blogging will return next week

I'm currently out of town for work.  I had ambitions of posting during the week, but reality has set in and I now realize that I will be too busy to do so.  I hope to start posting again next week.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Blog Review: Shooting It

Photo by Brendan Montgomery (Copyright)

Last week I published several posts that looked at some excellent photographers from the National Capital Region.  Today I want to conclude this series by showcasing the work of Brendan Montgomery.  Note: My original aim was to publish a few more photo-related posts this week, but due to work and travel commitments I will have to postpone these stories to a future date.

Brendan Montgomery is a freelance photojournalist from Ottawa, whose work covers, among other things, political demonstrations, intimate profile shots and landscapes. His extensive work can be seen in his photo-blog, which includes links to his Flickr photographs, Facebook page, professional web site and Twitter account. This review, however, will only focus on his tumblr account called Shooting It.

"I suppose I'm a documentary photographer as my stuff consists of three flavours of documentary photography," Montgomery tells me in an email. "There's my photojournalist work covering mostly political protests along with other newsworthy events."

Photo by Brendan Montgomery (copyright)
The intriguing images of political protests is what first attracted me to Montgomery's  work. For example, the shot on the the left of a sax-holding, bandana-wearing protester laughing with police is wonderful.  One can imagine an interesting dialogue taking place that goes beyond the classic state-vs.-protest photo.

Then there are brilliant shots like the one at the top of this post with the two chess players, which was taken during the recent 4/20 pro-marijuana rally on Parliament Hill.  The shot is fantastic for so many reasons.  It captures two men playing chess (the ultimate game of intellect) during a protest for drug legalization (which is often stereotyped as being less than intelligent).  The sight of two thinking chess players questioning the war on drugs in the middle of a protest is awesome.  Like the photograph of the police and sax-holding protester, the clash of emotions forces the viewer to reevaluate classic debates in new ways.

Montgomery, however, does not limit himself to political protests.

Photo by Brendan Montgomery (copyright)
"I also do some street photography, although some purists may argue with my definition of it," he says.  "To me, street photography is a photo of anything I see while walking around when my only pretext for being there is to take photos of an undefined spontaneous event or place.  I am however pretty lax with my own rules and break them regularly."

An example of his street photography can be found just above (see original here). Like the best urban photos, this image  and others like it make the viewer feel like they are becoming better acquainted with their own city.  It's as if these photos were converting urban background noise into a beautiful song.

Photo by Brendan Montgomery
The final aspect of Montgomery's work comes from his own life, as well as landscape shots and other interesting images, such as the photo on the left (see original here).

"Lastly comes my personal photography," he explains in his email. "These are photos from my life.  They differ from my street photos as I’m not out there with the intention to take photos, I'm just living my life and have a camera with me.  These are usually a little more intimate then my street photos.  I also throw in the odd landscape and that pretty much sums up the bulk of my work."

Music Monday: Kings of Lowertown, Fire and Neon, Renée Yoxon, A Tribe Called Red

Photo by Nikita! courtesy of Flickr
(Creative Commons)

Happy Monday everyone!  Here are some music-related items from the local blogosphere to start your week.

New Releases and Reviews

Ottawa Showbox reviews the first single by Kings of Lowertown off their new album 60 More Miles that is scheduled to be released this coming October.  "The track, called 'Shotgun Preacher' is a short but sweet preview of what to expect form the upcoming album, and boasts dirty sounding blues riffs along with distorted vocals," says the post.

PhotogMusic writes about the new Fire and Neon album Intention. "Wow! They sure have come a long way from what I have heard like a year or two before seeing their live shows," reads the post.  "They sure have gone through the serious electro-synth pop-rock route.  Not really dark but more of a solid and tighter/proper sound in their music and lyrics."

Local jazz vocalist and composer Renée Yoxon posts on her blog some of the reviews for her album Here We Go Again.  For their part, Beau's brewing company has released a bubblegum pink vinyl record with tracks from five indie Canadian artists.

Upcoming Shows

The Big Beat notes that U.S. “proto-punks” Pere Ubu will be playing in Ottawa on September 16.

Finally, Ottawa Showbox reports that local, "pow wow step innovators A Tribe Called Red are going to be on the bill for this year’s Mad Decent Black Party."

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Recipe Sunday: Bircher museli, grilled caesar salad, sirloin steak, muffin in a cup

Photo by Tana Gandhi
(Creative Commons)

The weather is gorgeous and people are happily welcoming spring by being outside.  If you're not sure what to cook when you get home, however, here are some recipes from the local blogosphere to spark your imagination.


Gastronomy and Life's Other Pleasures tells explains how to make bircher museli.


The Gouda Life offers details on how to prepare an egg salad with tarragon and pickled celery.

Food Gypsy reveals how to whip up a grilled caesar salad.

Double Trouble Kitchen Edition can teach you how to make salad with goat cheese.


Eaten Up has a photo essay that could inspire some thoughts for the first barbecue of the season.

Sybaritica has a recipe for the intriguing sounding chili-mint lamb buns.

Mon Food Blog will make all of you carnivores smile with sirloin steak with cauliflower puree and caper salsa.


TBBs shares their secret for preparing a muffin in a cup.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ottawa Photographers: Take Five

Photo by Frank Kehren courtesy of Flickr
(Creative Commons)

This past week I reviewed the photo-blogs of four excellent local photographers.  In the coming week, I hope to publish some more blog reviews, in order to showcase our city's great photographic talent.  Before doing so, however, here is another summary of photo-blogs from the National Capital Region.  (Note: This is the fifth round-up of local photo-blogs that I have posted online  see here for one, two, three and four).


Abigail Doris is the creative mind behind The Merry Pedestrian, an interesting site that contains photos of Ottawa's urban landscape, as well as some really creative artistic shots.  "My goal with this blog is to connect with others through sharing my own experiences, feelings and ideas," Doris writes on her blog bio.  "In return, I hope to learn from the experiences, feelings and ideas of others. It’s all about interaction!"

Another site that documents Ottawa's cityscape is A Heart Full of Love, a photo-blog run by teens Cynthia and Alexa.

Brendan Montgomery is a freelance photojournalist whose work documents, among other things, political demonstrations and landscapes. You can see his extensive work on his photo-blog, which includes links to his tumblr account, Flickr photographs, Facebook page, professional web site, and Twitter account.

Cole Burston is another photojournalist who has an interesting site, in addition to having a professional web site and Twitter account.

Antique Skate is the tumbrl blog of the Antique Stake Shop at 9 Florence, and contains skate-related photos.  For more information check out the shops web site.  For more skateboard-related photographs, Ottawa resident Hugo operates the photo-blogs mechant and Awake.

What I Did Today is based on a personal challenge.  "My New Year's Resolution for 2013 is to take one picture everyday to record what I've done," reads the blog bio. While the blog has not been updated since April 15, (as of today, May 4), it does appear that there were regularly daily posts prior to mid-April, so perhaps daily postings will recommence in the near future.

Another interesting site is Keepsix, which has been documenting graffiti art in Ottawa and around the world since being created in 1997.  If you want to view more of Ottawa's graffiti artists check out Mike's Tumblr and

David Johnson is a 22-year-old photographer and student.  His intriguing work includes experimental photographs, profile shots and images of Ottawa urban fabric.  In addition to his main site, he has a professional web site, Flickr page, and Twitter account.

Finally, other photo-blogs that I have come across include Turn My Swag OnIt is Written108 Photographs, and rakerman's Flickr CC photos. (Note: for all of rackerman's photos, including copyright shots see here).

Friday, May 3, 2013

Book Review Friday: Summer readings

Photo by Ryan Smith Photography
courtesy of Flickr (Creative Commons)

Here are some book-related posts that have appeared recently in the local blogosphere.

Literary News

Ottawa writer Peggy Blair announces on her blog that her debut novel The Beggar's Opera has been listed by Booklist as one of the best crime novels published in the United States in 2013.  Congratulations Peggy!

Reviews and Recommendations

I Believe in Story lists five books that every woman should read, as well as eight books for mom.  For their part, Kids in the Capital have compiled a list of children's books on birds and bugs that are available at the Ottawa Public Library.  Emilie's Book World, meanwhile, has a post with recommended summer reading

I don't recall linking to a review of an audio book before, so this may be a first.  FireStar Books gives two thumbs down to All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.  "The audiobook just didn't work out for me," reads the review, which sums up the negative impression of this story.

Pingwing's Bookshelf was also not impressed by Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr.  In contrast, Ottawa Valley Moms enjoyed Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella.

A Glass of Wine writes about The Program by Suzanne Young, which according to the review, "is at once both a thoughtful look at suicide, and mental illness, and it's also a commentary on the pharmaceutical industry itself. The story was both achingly honest, and filled with gripping moments."

Finally, The Bookworm has posts on Schmidt Steps Back by Louis Begley, and Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Blog Review: Scott H. Wilson

Photo by Scott H. Wilson

The Ottawa blogosphere is filled with fantastic photographers.  Earlier this week we started a series that features some of the wonderful photo-blogs from the Natonal Capital Region.  Today we continue our  photographic journey by discussing the impressive work of Scott H. Wilson.

There are moments in life when your surroundings are so beautiful they take your breath away.  Whether it's the explosion of colour in the sky that accompanies a setting sun, the exquisite features of a love one during a romantic moment, or that special reflection of light into a room that somehow makes space shine brighter, we have all experienced those instants when we say, "I wish I had a camera so I could capture this moment."

The brilliance of Scott Wilson's photography is his ability to catch such moments on a regular basis.

"A couple years ago I became absolutely obsessed with photography.  Everywhere I went I was framing photographs in my head," Wilson tells me in an email. "Anytime I saw nice natural light I got excited.  I decided I needed to take it to the next level.  I upgraded my camera and started the blog."

Photo by Scott H. Wilson
The result of this decision is a tumblr blog that is absolutely gorgeous, and which perfectly captures the natural surroundings of Ottawa.  As a case in point, consider these images taken during a walk in Gatineau Park, which includes the photograph of the waterfall on the left.

My blog does not do justice to Wilson's work.  Re-posting his stunning images only provide a tiny taste of what he can do.  To really get a sense of his amazing work you have to visit his tumblr account. Here are some examples: these winter photos are so vivid you can feel the snow; these photographs of the river during sunset are awesome; the fiery colours of autumn are on full display in pictures like this and this; while the joy of summer can be seen here and here.

"At first it didn't really have a theme," Wilson says about his photo-blog.  "I just tried to get out everyday (even if it was for 5 minutes) and shoot things that caught my eye. 

"Now what I hope I'm doing with the blog is telling a short story. Whether it's just going for a walk with my dog or wandering around the city with my girlfriend.  I hope people can relate to my photographs.  Feel connected to them.  I aim for simplicity, trying to make everyday normal things look beautiful."

As a third-party observer I agree with Wilson's description of his photographs. Like I mentioned at the top of this post, what I love about his photographs is that they capture those magical moments in life when life is beautiful and your mind is in awe of the images that are passing before your eyes.  

Photo by Scott H. Wilson
As a parting thought, while most of Wilson's photos are in natural settings, he also shoots urban landscapes, such as the photo to the right (original here).  You can see more of his urban images here and here

If you want to see more of his work, go to his professional photography web site, or follow him on his Twitter account.

New eating establishments, upcoming foodie events and restaurant reviews

Photo by Michael Davidson courtesy of Flickr
(Creative Commons)

A lot of foodie-related posts have appeared in the local blogosphere.  Continue reading to find out more.

New Eateries

Ottawa Citizen food blogger Ron Eade has a post on the opening of the Savoy Brasserie in Westboro, which is taking over the space of the legendary Newport Restaurant that recently closed.  Looking further west, Eade writes about  NEXT, a new dining venture in Stittsville that, "offers banquet, meeting, restaurant, catering and takeout services."

The City Bites blog from Ottawa Magazine reports that Chez François, a fine food store for francophiles, just opened up at 427 Richmond in Westboro.  In a separate post, City Bites interviews LeRoy Walden, the self-described Soul Food King, who is opening up a food truck this spring.

Upcoming Events

Simply Fresh writes about the charity fundraiser Bon Appetit Ottawa, a fab cocktail party with delicious food taking place on May 7, from 5:30 to 9 pm, at the Ernst & Young Centre at 4899 Uplands Drive.  Tickets are $85, which includes a $50 tax receipt.

Restaurant Reviews

Capital Dining reviews Cyranos at 39 Robertson Rd in Bells Corners.  While noting that the meal did not rock CD's world, the post went on to say that, "Cyranos doesn’t tend to do that.  It’s been a reliably good unremarkable restaurant for many years, in a part of town that needs those, and it carries on in that vein."  In a separate post, Capital Dining gave a generally positive review of Thai Flame at 1902 Robertson Rd.

For their part, Tea for Two Sisters were pleasantly surprised by their experience at Bar & Grill at 2525 Carling Ave.

Gastronomy and Life's Other Pleasures has penned a couple of recent reviews.  The first is of Siam Bistro at 1268 Wellington St. W.  "Siam Bistro is definitely one of my favourite Thai restaurants in Ottawa," reads the review.  "[I]t is always high quality food, great service and lovely ambiance!"  The second is of Bistro Fifty Four at 54 Springbrook Dr. in Stittsville.  "We would definitely return to Bistro Fifty Four," says the review.  "[T]he food and service were great, and we’d like to try more of the menu."

Foodie News / Interviews

City Bites has a story about a new soda pop that is being created in Ottawa.  The article begins with these promising words: "When word got around that Paul Meek, the face of local brew darling Kichisippi Beer Co., was in the process of starting up a line of 'olde fashioned' soda called Harvey & Vern’s — let’s just say the city’s gourmet geeks were like kids in a candy store."

Branch Out Bakery interviews Jacqueline Joliffe, owner of Stone Soup Foodworks Food Truck (see Facebook page here).  In a separate profile, Ron Eade of the Citizen features David Godsoe, 22, from  Indulge Kitchen & Cocktails.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Blog Review: Location Vanier

Photo of Richelieu Park sugar shack
by Eva Russell (Copyright)

Today we continue our series on great local photographers that I have found on the blogosphere.  In this installment we look at the work of Vanier resident Eva Russell.

Eva Russell is an architect and photographer who came to Ottawa from Nova Scotia in 1999 to study architecture at Carleton University.  Before moving to Vanier two years ago, she tells me, the furthest east that she had travelled in the city was probably St. Laurent Mall.

"I had rented in the Glebe, Old Ottawa South, and the Golden Triangle," she says in an email.  "However, when the time came for my partner Jim and I to get on the property ladder, Vanier was on the table as the one of the only options to own and still be close to downtown."

Photo by Eva Russell
Russell fell in love with her new community and launched Location: Vanier, a photo-blog that shows Vanier's overlooked spaces, from sugar shacks (see above) to local landmarks (see left) to area business (see below).

"Vanier may have gotten a bad wrap in the past but it is definitely one of the best neighbourhoods in Ottawa," she says. "It is an area that is constantly undergoing change, and even in the past two years I have seen my neighbourhood transform with safer streets and younger families that occupy the parks and splash pads around where I live."

Photo of by Eva Russell
In addition to her photographs of Vanier, which she takes with an iPhone camera, she also shoots pictures of Ottawa that showcase the city's natural surroundings and urban landscapes.  As an example, see the picture of the Rideau Canal that can be found at the bottom of this post.

While her tumblr account is relatively new – her archives only go back to November of last year  this is a site that I quite enjoy and look forward to following in the coming months and, hopefully, years.

One thing that I particularly like about Russell's photographs is their rustic feel.  On several occasions I felt like I was going through an intimate family photo album from decades ago, which displayed tender moments and good memories.

In my view, this feeling of intimacy allows this photo-blog to present Vanier (and Ottawa) in a positive light.  While some of the photographs do capture some of the gritty parts of Vanier (see here and here), overall this is the photographic equivalent of a love letter to this east end neighbourhood.

Photo of the Rideau Canal by Eva Russell
"After we had moved in, I began to explore the winding streets north of Montreal Road, many without sidewalks, and started to discover some of Vanier’s hidden gems," says Russell.

"This winter I started walking down Montreal Road to go to the gym ... and was fascinated by the illuminated empty store fronts that lined the street. Armed with only an iPhone camera, I began to document and record framed images that I wanted to capture: overlooked spaces such as the empty Laundromat, the pawn shop and the cash stores that lined my route."

If you want to see more of Russell's work or follow her endeavours you can go to her web site or Twitter account.

Young artists display work; Art Battle Ottawa; Northern Scene; finding lost art

"Art Hunters" by Lazy Artist courtesy of Flickr
(Creative Commons)

Here are some interesting art-related posts from the local blogosphere to begin your Wednesday.

Upcoming art shows

Councillor Tim Tierney notes on his blog that the work of some of Ottawa’s best young artists will be displayed throughout the city in late April and May. (See here for schedule).

The Big Beat has a post on Art Battle Ottawa that is taking place this Sunday, May 5, at Arts Court Theatre at 2 Daly Avenue.  The event kicks off at 7 pm.

“'Art Battle 52' is coming to Ottawa for the first time, after 51 skirmishes in other cities," says The Big Beat. "The on-stage events, with local painters 'battling' on canvas in front of an audience, are held monthly in Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax, and could soon become a monthly event in Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton and Saint John, N.B."

Photography projects and news

Ottawa Start blog writes about an interesting project by local photographer Stephen Harrison who is taking pictures of trash that he found along Poole Creek in Stittsville.  

For his part, Patrick John Mills has posted a great story of finding some lost etchings dated 1972 of St. Andrews United Church in Williamstown, approximately 100 miles from Ottawa.  "There were low run, only six of one and seven of the other had been printed," reads the post.  After making some enquiries the prints will be donated to the Church.

TheheARTbeatgal, meanwhile, has a slideshow from Northern Scene on a show of designers from Canada's north.  Finally, Ottawa photographer Tony Fouhse writes on his blog that he has been invited to the Big Apple by The New York Times: see here and here.


Claudia Salguero is offering workshops on Corel Painter on May 4 and 5, as well as next September.  Click here and here for details.