Le Petit Chicago Getting Back in Style

October 28, 2011 9:30 am
4 Jeudis on Laval St

Walking through the old streets of the Le Vieux-Hull sometimes makes one wonder how life was at the turn of the twentieth century. Walking on the brick pathway of Aubry St. and come across the historic hotel Chez Henri in Place Aubry, where the renowned Al Capone smuggled booze, one speculates just how wild the Roaring Twenties were.

Martin Gauld offering free popcorn

While those days are long gone, on the night of the 26 of October these crazy years were relived during the Noble Experiment as the first edition of La Nuit Folle took place in Hull. Organized by Vision centre-ville Gatineau and its partners, the night’s theme focused on the 1920’s and 40’s. Those years were Hull’s epopee as Americans yearned for booze and Quebecers couldn’t get enough of it. During this time the region matured into Sin City as southerners fled the Volstead Act. Many commercial activities and establishments developed around bootlegging like gambling houses, cabarets and clubs attracting famous names such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

After the prohibition era, Hull faced a severe hang-over and with no available cure, the City succumbed to social problems such as drugs, prostitution and unemployment. Now, the revamped Hull, after expropriations, construction of major boulevards and erection of government complexes, is now trying to get back on its feet after withstanding a serious make-over. “The goal of this night is to restore a positive image of the Old-Hull,” said Marie-Ève Gratton, communication coordinator for the event. The whole night was also a collective effort to charm the delegates from Bienvenue Québec in town this week, to have Le Vieux-Hull become a recognized Québec tourist destination.

Marie-Ève Gratton enjoying a smooth cigarette

The representatives of Bienvenue Québec witnessed Hull’s transformation as residents disguised themselves in costumes of the era wearing top hats, long coats and suspenders. “The theme of the night was also to celebrate the working class culture of the area and its rich history,” said Gratton. A slideshow of old black and white picture’s in Place Aubry gave you an idea of what life resembled in the interwar period. You also had an idea of the prices of the time with signs advertising  5¢ shoe-shines and 25¢ haircuts, unfortunately beer remained at regular price.

All the bars and bistro’s in the area organized activities for the night. Pêle Mêle showcased an old black and white hockey game, the Troquet screened the Kino and Robe summer Slam free Jazz movie, 4 jeudis welcomed Hammerhead, a funk-rock band while the Petit Chicago hosted a Blues night. As for the Où…Quoi! Lounge Urbain it hosted the L’Omnium du Rock competition. There was also a 1920’s Halloween theme night at the Bistro and a cabaret theme night at the Bop Lounge. “I’m really happy that and all the bars collaborated with the event,” said Gratton. The bars were as busy as speakeasy’s and racked in a decent amount of money on a night which wouldn’t see as much cash and beer flow. Hopefully, the money will be re-invested into the community to see the return of the good old days in Little Chicago.



Locks for the Law: The Kindest Cut of All

October 20, 2011 4:00 pm

Ottawa lawyers made the kindest cut of all last week to brighten the lives of women touched by cancer. Organized by Borden Ladner Gervais, the Locks for the Law event involved lawyers from across the city who cut their hair and donated their shorn off ponytails.  The ponytails are to be transformed into wigs and given free of charge to women affected by cancer.

Event organizer Sybil Johnson-Abbott from Borden Ladner Gervais founded the event three years ago after she had her hair cut while on maternity leave. She donated her locks and found five other colleagues who met the criteria to make a wig – hair that has not been bleached or permanently dyed, contained less than five-per-cent grey and was 23 centimetres in length. Lawyers from Gowlings, Crystal Cy law firm and Kelly Santini and others participated in this year’s event.


Photograph: (left to right) Jessica Tremblay, law clerk at Borden Ladner Gervais, event organizer Sybil Johnson-Abbott from Borden Ladner Gervais and Victoria Ozimkowski show off their shorn locks. Photo by Catherine Lewis for Canadian Lawyer Legal Feeds

Lawyer Diem Nguyen from Kelly Santini LLP said donating hair was easy and it was something she had always wanted to do. “If it makes someone feel more positive, then why not? “Nguyen said.  Another lawyer Leanna Olson from Gowlings said she was excited to be part of the event. Olson had previously donated her hair while a student in Edmonton. “It is exciting that the legal community in Ottawa is doing this event.” Olson said.

Soup for the Soul: Prescott Community Holiday Dinner Celebrates 10th Anniversary

October 17, 2011 4:07 pm

Soup for the Soul: A Christmas Cuisine, a community dinner established in 2001 by two Prescott-area youth, is celebrating its 10th year of bringing people together for a hearty meal during the holidays.

Soup for the Soul was started a decade ago by organizers Kaitlynn Dodge and Mackenzie Eaton in Prescott, Ontario, to ensure that everyone in the Seaway community had access to a good meal during the Christmas holidays and to bring together the local community at a free event.

Dodge explained the origins of Soup for the Soul to Ottawa Life: “Mackenzie and I aren’t social workers, but rather were young people who wanted to make a difference in our community. We both worked at Giant Tiger and saw a lot of people coming in around Christmastime, counting their pennies to make ends meet. We realized that there may be a lot of people in the community who wouldn’t get a hearty meal during the holidays and so we decided to do something about it.

“With that said, we wanted to make sure that it was a dinner for everyone – not just a ‘soup kitchen’ – so we invited all members of the community to come together for a meal. It serves the need for people who are hungry and could do with a good meal, but it also brings together people who want to feel like they are part of a community. This was very important to us – bringing together people from diverse groups within the community.”

For their role in initiating Soup for the Soul, Dodge and Eaton were awarded the Ontario Community Newspaper Association (OCNA) Ontario Junior Citizen Award and the Prescott Chamber of Commerce Connie Dickie Youth of the Year Award. (Both honours were given in 2003.)

Soup for the Soul was handed over to students at South Grenville District High School (SGDHS) when Dodge and Eaton left for university in 2004. Since then, Marla Campeau, a teacher at SGDHS, has managed the project’s succession to two new high-school students each year.

Numbers for the dinner have grown from 150 participants in 2001 to 620 in 2010. To date, about 400 of Prescott’s youth have volunteered to serve over 4,000 meals to residents of the town on the St. Lawrence Seaway 48 miles south of Ottawa.

Organizers hope to raise $5,000 through personal and corporate donations in 2011 to celebrate the dinner’s 10th anniversary and to ensure that Soup for the Soul will be available to the Prescott community for years to come.

For more information, contact Kaitlynn Dodge at 613.925.4665 or 416.835.0257.

Rogers Kaleidoscope of Hope Gala lights a flame against teen depression

October 13, 2011 3:18 pm
Screen shot 2011-10-13 at 3.15.56 PM

The inaugural Rogers Kaleidoscope of Hope Gala – to take place at the Westin Ottawa on Saturday, October 29 – will create awareness of youth mental health in Ottawa and increase help for the countless brave youth and families reaching out for support.

“Whether they are struggling with depression, bullying or suicidal thoughts, our young people should have access to the help they need,” said Sharon Bosley House and Tony House, creators of the event and parents of three teenagers. “As parents, we have seen close-up the distress of teens who face challenges that are too big to handle alone.”

The evening of dinner and entertainment will raise funds for the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa Charitable Foundation to increase mental health services for youth in the national capital region.

VIP guests supporting the Gala include Elizabeth Manley, Olympic and World Silver Medalist in figure skating; Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, a pediatrician and noted health educator known as “Dr. Paul”; mixed martial artist Daniel Puder, who founded MyLife MyPower to combat bullying among youth; and Leo Rautins, former NBA player, Head Coach of Canada’s Olympic basketball team and current Toronto Raptors TV analyst.

In Ontario, approximately 500,000 young people (1 in 5) suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder. A third of these cannot access the services they need. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers in Ottawa, and Canada’s youth suicide rate is the fourth highest among OECD countries.

Details of the Gala evening and live auction can be found at www.kaleidoscopeofhope.ca.

Participants at Open Ottawa Libre Brainstorm

9:03 am
Open Ottawa Libre, outside Arts Court, courtesy of Open Ottawa Libre

On September 28, Ottawa had its second Open Ottawa Libre event at Arts Court. Libre was a City of Ottawa-organised and participant-driven forum for creativity and innovation in Canada’s capital. This year’s event brought together about 120 Ottawa residents from all walks of life, up from 40 at last year’s inaugural event.

The idea started when the City had discussed the need for a “creative hub” in Ottawa at the 2008 Creative Construct: Building for Culture and Creativity international symposium at Simon Fraser University. Not only was Libre a test run for the creation of a permanent creative hub, but it dealt with the central question

“What do we need to do to create a place that sparks opportunities for creative thinkers to collaborate and innovate for a better Ottawa?” According to the website, a better Ottawa means a city that becomes a “centre of creativity and innovation.”

Its findings could have a direct effect on Ottawa’s Arts and Heritage Action Plan, which is up for renewal – the last 5-year plan ended in 2008. According to Libre’s website, findings will be added to other consultations for cultural policy renewal – including to the City’s discussion paper, Culture and the Creative Economy, which introduced five strategies for Action Plan renewal. Julie Dupont, cultural planner with the City’s Cultural Services and one of the organizers, describes Libre as “different people from different disciplines coming together, […] talking about creativity and how do we move Ottawa forward.” She adds, “It’s always better to have a multidisciplinary conversation when you’re looking for change.”

The free and open-to-all event attracted representatives from both the public and private sectors. There were members from the NCC, the City, the two universities, the business and technology sectors, the culture and arts sectors, as well as organizations that work on building such conversations, such as the newly-formed Hub Ottawa.

Allyson Hewitt, Director at MaRS convergence innovation centre, was the keynote speaker. Hewitt remarked that a “convergence” of sectors needs to be part of the discussion at all times, just like at Libre. She also said that change comes slowly, and that Ottawa can only attain needed change with “relentless incrementalism”. Hewitt added that Ottawa can only do this by finding its own cultural voice: “How do we do things a little bit differently? How do we get Ottawa recognized for all the stuff that we’re doing in the cultural space? How do we not just get recognized as a federal government town?”

Ottawa-based collaboration facilitators CT Labs “custom built” this year’s proceedings according to its needs, explained CT Labs’

Open Ottawa Libre 2010 discussion group courtesy of Open Ottawa Libre

Christopher Comeau. First, participants were given the task to identify 12 to 15 topics based on the abovementioned central question. Then, discussion groups mulled over each topic, and came up with two workable recommendations for each topic. Participants had the choice to sit through the entirety of one discussion group or float amongst groups. Topics ranged from broad themes like defining Ottawa’s culture to narrower ones like architecture zoning laws. Conversations often centred on the creative and business sectors and how they depend on one another, and also about the needed interplay between the public and private sectors.

Finally, the hub system was rearranged to amalgamate all the groups into one grand discussion group.  Participants chose from the roughly 80 final recommendations that they believed warranted deeper discussion. These eight resounded most with participants:

  1. Expand Ottawa’s Electric Field festival
  2. Create engagement campaign to celebrate Ottawa’s unusual culture
  3. Develop networking medium
  4. Commit to leadership incubation
  5. Develop formal business mentorship
  6. More live/work spaces for artists
  7. Reach out to all media to bring Ottawa communities together – to design institutional goals that disrupt the status quo, but are ultimately good for all
  8. Encourage discussion between the City and the NCC

While those in attendance were excited about the event itself, many voiced their frustrations about the fact that previous forums similar to Libre have not gone past the ideas stage. Participants hoped the most popular at Libre ideas would eventually come to fruition.

Francois Levesque, co-founder of popular Ottawa culture blog Apartment613, was a participant. He found that, “We did move on certain things that are concrete. But I think to take it a step further, it would be amazing to have someone from the political world be a champion for arts and culture in the city. And I don’t think we have that at the moment.”

But are there any tangible outcomes? For one, the entirety of the proceedings is being organized and will eventually be put online. Moreover, this was an opportunity to try out local collaboration professionals CT Labs, instead of deferring to last year’s British-based Sandbox. There is opportunity here to build a permanent creative hub in a way that is entirely unique to Ottawa’s needs. Finally, participants’ recommendations could – though it is yet uncertain as to how – change municipal arts and culture policy.

To learn more about Open Ottawa Libre visit www.openottawalibre.ca

Law and Disorder: A Mockery of Justice

October 12, 2011 8:15 am
Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 11.05.14 PM

Calling Ottawa’s legal community: It’s time to laugh your “arts” off!  And the Ottawa Arts Court Foundation has just the event on the docket for you.

On November 3, from 5pm to 9pm, judges, lawyers, actors and comedians will gather at the old Carleton County Courthouse, now known as Arts Court, Ottawa’s Centre for the Performing, Visual, Literary and Media Arts (@ 2 Daly Avenue) for Law and Disorder – A Legal Comedy Debate.

Hosted by Ottawa actor, playwright and director Pierre Brault, this evening of droll finger-pointing will begin with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a rousing comedic debate. Pitting a prominent Ottawa lawyer against an irreverent actor/comedian, the two master debaters will deliberate the virtues and hazards of the arts and law. The featured lawyer and comedian of this night of gallows humour will be announced shortly.

The laughter continues as Ottawa personalities in law and politics, arts and sports are locked up in the courthouse basement jail cells. Patrons will then get the chance to bail out the “prisoners” in support of Ottawa’s arts community. Winning bidders will also receive a one-on-one dining experience with a celebrity jailbird. Stay tuned to find out which famous and infamous Ottawans will be behind bars.

David W. Scott, co-chair of the Firm and Counsel in the Ottawa office of Borden Ladner and Gervais LLP (BLG) is pleased to serve as Honourary Chair of this new event in support of the Ottawa Arts Court Foundation, a registered charitable organization that provides a forum for Ottawa’s performing, visual, literary and media arts. The proceeds from Law and Disorder will go directly to support Arts Court.  Tickets to Law and DisorderA Legal Comedy Debate range from $125 to $150 and are now on sale. Tickets are limited. Keep watching www.artscourt.ca for more details on this fantastic event or call Sam Awwad at 613-569-4821 x 234 for more details.

You won’t believe it can be legal to have so much fun!


Creating a Green Splash in Ottawa with the Aquabus

October 6, 2011 9:11 am
Aquabus Taxi Sign2

By: Laurent Robillard-Cardinal

A new green wave is splashing Ottawa. After the implementation of Capital Bixi, another eco-friendly method of transportation has hit the Capital. The Aquabus, a water-taxi service, is now available on the blue-line of the Ottawa River. “Seeing the space and the beauty of the region, we thought it would be a great opportunity,” said Jean-Marc Hénot, skipper of The Aquabus.

Part of the Au Feel de l’Eau fleet, the Aquabus shuttles between the Ottawa Wharf, near the Rideau Canal locks, and the Gatineau Dock, found behind theMuseum of Civilization. The boat also occasionally ferries to the Casino of Lac Leamy during the day.

The Aquabus started making headway on September 10, 2011. According to co-owner Sylvie Lyonnais, who discussed her project with Parks Canada and theNational Capital Commission, “there’s been a long wait for this service.”

Aquabus Dock

Offering about ten departures each way, this new electric powered pontoon can sit up to 12 passengers, rack up four bicycles and has space for two wheelchairs. “It’s important for us to be able to accommodate everyone, we wanted to offer universal accessibility,” said Lyonnais, wearing her navy white stripe shirt. Accessibility to all wasn’t the owner’s only concern.

Built by Montréal based Fabritekboat, the pontoon doesn’t emit any pollution. “It’s great, there are no fumes and no foul odours on-board,” said Hénot, co-owner of Au Feel de l’Eau and former skipper in the Antilles. The boat which travels at four knots is almost inaudible. “It allows people to relax and take a breather, while enjoying the sights,” said Lyonnais.

While the Ottawa River isn’t as busy as the days of the timber trade, it still attracts boaters. “During the summer it gets crowded here, but after Labour Day it dies down,” said Lyonnais. Travelling across the river allows you to admire the Nations Capital Region tourist attractions. “About 99 per cent of our customers are tourists at this point,” said Lyonnais. Once onboard, make sure to take pictures quickly because before you know it you will be exiting through the gangway. You won’t even see it coming with Hénot’s smooth approach.


As for Hénot, it wasn’t the smooth texture of wine that captivated him while growing up in France’s countryside, but rather another liquid, the sea. “I discovered sailing simply by going trough the school of life and just fell in love with it,” said the previous technical director for Sunsail Martinique, the largest sailing and water-sports vacation company. As for Lyonnais, she drifted across the Atlantic to France from her native Rouyn Noranda, following her passion for sailing. Now established in Outaouais, both Hénot and Lyonnais share their love for boating and the region, all for a reasonable price.

For the short trip across the river the fare is $5, as for the longer haul to the Casino its $15. The price is sensible when you compare it to cab fares. A taxi ride from the Museum of Civilization to the Bytown Museum costs about $7. You must hurry if you want to ride the wave because service stops after Thanksgiving Day. Service resumes on May Long Weekend. The taxi-service isn’t the hull of the Gatineau based company. They also offer private cruises, if you feel like going overboard with an event!

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