My Neighbourhood Bites!

November 30, 2012 10:48 am
My Neighbourhood Bites

Taboo Eats presents My Neighbourhood Bites – an amateur cooking competition celebrating local foodies and their dishes across Ottawa. There will be up to 12 events this winter/early spring in various neighbourhoods with local amateur cooks competing with their best recipes, culminating in a finale bake-off between the winning cooks from each neighbourhood competition. The series kicks off with Wellington West on December 15 (6-10pm) at Cube Gallery, and will be followed by Centretown on January 12 (6-10pm) at Babylon Nightclub, Greely on January 25 (5-9pm) at A Visitation Centre, a Kitchissippi Catch-All on February 2 (5-10pm) at Kitchissippi Brewery, and Vanier on February 16 (5-10pm) at the Richelieu-Vanier Community Centre. More events will be announced at a later date.

Admission is $5 (kids get in free), and tasting cards are priced at two for $10 or five for $20. Local chapters of the Ottawa Food Bank will be on hand at each event to accept donations, and winning recipes will be published in a cookbook, with proceeds going to the Ottawa Food Bank.


The Canadian Museum of Nature unveils the new Vale Earth Gallery

November 29, 2012 12:39 pm
50cm wide

The Canadian Museum of Nature is reopening the Vale Earth Gallery tomorrow, after an extensive renovation. The new gallery has been expanded to 8,000 square feet and showcases new displays, activities, and interactive elements about the geological makeup of our planet.

Meg Beckel, the museum’s President and CEO, expressed her excitement over the gallery’s expansion. “We are confident it will be very popular with our visitors,” she said. According to Beckel, the team behind the gallery’s creation took a subject that is very challenging to present and made it fun and accessible to the public.

Dr. Scott Ercit, the museum’s resident mineralogical researcher, said the new Vale Gallery is not just an expansion of the old exhibit, but “truly a whole new gallery.”

A 6-foot interactive globe allows visitors to control the movement of the continents and tectonic plates.

Visitors are taken on a “journey through time,” as the gallery begins with the origins of the universe, the formation of the planets, and the inner and outer structure of the Earth. A massive six-foot-tall interactive globe gives visitors a chance to view and interact with the shifting of the tectonic plates, while new machines – like the Sedimentator, the Magmanator and the Metamorphicator – allow visitors to make their own kinds of rock. Interactive games, like make-your-own-volcano and cause-an-earthquake, let guests control the devastating power of our moving planet. A giant wall of sediment comes complete with dinosaur fossils. A walk-in limestone cave replica is adorned with a dripping waterfall, stalagmites, stalactites, and a few hidden bats.

Display cases contain almost 1,000 different mineral samples and are accompanied by touch-screen information panels that offer aspiring geologists and curious visitors a chance to know more about each sample, from the atomic makeup of quartz to where the name quartz came from in the first place. Dr. Ercit, whose extensive experience in the field of mineralogy has led to a mineral sample being named after him, said the museum’s collection is “one of the best in the world. “

Dan Boivin, head of exhibit design at the museum, observed that the Vale Gallery is “the most complicated exhibit in the museum to date.” For Boivin and the entire design team, creating the new exhibit was a “communication exercise,” mixing all types of media together to present an exhibit that is just as interesting to children as it is to university students.  “There are things you can touch, things you can do, things you can see, and all of it comes together to create an immersive experience.”

New machines – like the Sedimentator, the Magmanator and the Metamorphicator – allow visitors to use heat and pressure to create different types of rocks.


Explore a walk-in limestone cave replica, adorned with a dripping waterfall and a few hidden bats.

The gallery holds nearly 1,000 different minerals, gems, and rock samples, ranging between a few pounds to 225 kg.

The Vale Earth Gallery will be open to the public on November 30. For more information, visit

TOP PHOTO: Michael Bainbridge, Canadian Museum of Nature.

ALL OTHER PHOTOS: Jamie Kronick, Canadian Museum of Nature.

Café Ex Celebrates Ottawa Filmmaker Roger Wilson

10:10 am
Camera Paint

The Canadian Film Institute (CFI) is presenting the latest installment of its guest artist series, Café Ex, with special guest Roger Wilson. On December 6, the Ottawa-based filmmaker will introduce his films and engage in a discussion with audience members at Ottawa’s Club SAW. Admission for this event will be “pay-what-you-can.”

Wilson has been producing some of the most daring and inventive experimental films in Canada by “pushing the boundaries of image construction and investigating how moving images make meaning,” according to CFI.

Wilson has lived and worked in Calgary, Winnipeg and Ottawa and held a variety of positions in the film industry, including Technical Director at The Independent Filmmakers Co-operative of Ottawa. His film Camera Paint won the Best Experimental Award at the 2008 Niagara Film Festival in St. Catharines, Ontario, while Knotashed: an Alderson Oasis was one of six finalists for The 2011 Georges-Laoun-Opticien- OBORO Super Short Film Prize presented in Montreal.

“Roger Wilson’s films boast remarkably perceptive approaches to ideas of landscape, sound and silence, memory and identity,” says CFI Executive Director Tom McSorley. “We’re thrilled to be celebrating the career of one of Ottawa’s great filmmakers.”

Still from Knotashed

For details, contact Tom McSorley ( or CFI Programmer Jerrett Zaroski ( at 613-232-8769.


Rare artifacts reveal the real meaning of Haiti’s Vodou tradition

November 26, 2012 12:45 pm
Musée canadien des civilisations, Artefacts = Canadian Museum of Civilization, Artifacts

A powerful new exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC) brings to Canada, for the first time, over 300 objects from one of the world’s most important collections of Vodou artifacts. (“Vodou” is the new politically correct word for “voodoo”.)

Vodou, which runs from November 15, 2012 all the way to February 23, 2014 (!), is a stunning exhibition that looks beyond the myths and manufactured Hollywood images that are commonly associated with “hot voodoo” to reveal a vital spiritual and social force that remains, for many, an important part of daily life in Haiti. Visitors will see that Vodou has very little to do with the Hollywood version of voodoo – with its enslaved zombies/walking dead, premature burials, and pins stuck in dolls. Voodoo dolls, said to unleash evil forces when stuck with pins, are a fictional creation manufactured by an entertainment industry eager to appeal to audiences’ fearful fascination with so-called “primitive” African-influenced religions, says Mauro Peressini, CMC’s co-curator of the exhibition. In actual fact, voodooists call upon the gods to cure illness, to protect the people from bad fortune… not to inflict pain, death or a mind-controlling trance upon them.

Vodou is a religion with rituals that remember the horrors of slavery and honor the spirit of resistance that has sustained Haiti through centuries of unbelievable hardship.

At the heart of the Vodou exhibit are more than 300 objects – including altars, drums and vivid representations of Iwa (or gods) used in Vodou ceremonies. In the room of mirrors, six ornate and macabre mirrors are elaborately carved with dark and fiercely exclamative voodoo figures and shapes. It’s all rather unsettling, but thrilling. So come on down to the CMC for a shuddering good time.

For more information about the Vodou exhibition, visit

ALL PHOTOS: Musée canadien des civilisations, Artefacts     = Canadian Museum of Civilization, Artifacts



Capital Clips: Experience Culture & Tremendous Athleticism

November 19, 2012 10:14 am

The world-class Shen Yun Performing Arts returns to the National Arts Centre over the December holiday season. As part of the New York-based dance company’s annual global tour, there will be five shows at the NAC December 27-30, 2012. Shen Yun Performing Arts offers an exhilarating production that celebrates the pure excellence and grandeur of classical Chinese dance and music. The show attempts to renew a largely lost cultural tradition that pays honour to timeless virtues and human dignity. The universal themes of compassion, courage and hope are hallmarks of Shen Yun. “Shen Yun presents 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture and history through beautiful dance and music and an uplifting spirit,” said Dr. Jean Zhi, speaking on behalf of the Ottawa local presenters. Tickets may be purchased at


Ryan’s Well® Foundation Launches Holiday Campaign Bringing Clean Water and Better Health to 2,974 People in West Africa

November 15, 2012 12:26 pm
Awatame nursery school girl

In one of the poorest schools in Lomé, Togo, children in pink gingham uniforms cook in a make-believe kitchen, take books from a play library and shop at a “store.” Learning life skills is part of the curriculum at Awatame nursery school. But when it’s time to go to the bathroom, these kids scamper outside and squat in the dirt. This school has no latrine. There’s no well or proper handwashing station either.

Based in Kemptville, Ontario, the Ryan’s Well Foundation announces its 2012 Holiday Campaign, bringing clean water, sanitation and hygiene to three schools in Togo, including the Awatame nursery school. With funds raised, a well will be drilled, yard taps installed, and latrines and handwashing stations built at each school. Children and teachers at all three schools will also receive lessons in sanitation and hygiene.

Every day, 4,000 children around the world die from preventable diseases associated with inadequate sanitation, poor hygiene and unsafe water.

The Ryan’s Well 2012 Holiday Campaign offers an opportunity to make a real difference. Donors are encouraged to give meaningful gifts in the name of family and friends this holiday season… gifts that will put 2,974 children and teachers on a path to clean water and brighter futures.

A water tank that Ryan’s Well funded in 2011 at a nearby school is similar to what will be built at the schools featured in the holiday campaign.

Jane Baird, executive director of the Ryan’s Well Foundation, travelled to West Africa this fall to visit the water projects for the first time since joining the foundation a year ago. “It was incredible – hearing from villagers, teachers, students – what it means to have a clean water well or a latrine. They’re no longer sick. The women don’t spend all day walking for dirty water. The kids are able to go to school regularly. It changes everything. ‘Water is life’, that’s exactly what they said to me.”

This handwashing photo is from the Awatame nursery school. The teacher actually buys that water every morning. She knows that a dozen little hands in the same basin of water isn’t ideal, but it’s better than nothing.

Visit or e-mail for more information.



David Usher – Ushering in the End of the World

November 14, 2012 10:30 am

Songs From the Last Day on Earth is David Usher’s eighth solo release since the heady days of Canadian super-group Moist, and seemingly the most sober in terms of subject matter and content.

Usher has said that Songs From the Last Day on Earth is a “theme” record in terms of all the material reflecting the same overall subject matter… namely, a group of friends gathering for the last time at the end of the world. The record centers on the idea of growth in relationships, and is a somewhat alternative-sounding – but adult-radio-friendly – record.

Usher’s approach on each of his albums has always been somewhat understated, but Songs From the Last Day on Earth reflects a true sense of minimalism insofar as Usher’s approach to songwriting and arranging is concerned. Usher says that having had the opportunity to tour as a three-piece, and play more intimate venues in support of his previous acoustic album, really illustrated how much more of a vulnerable and open experience that can be, and he says this experience very much informed the process of how the album was recorded.

The production is very light-handed, and there is also a certain rawness to it, which gives the songs more room to breathe. On the other hand, the lyric content is rather heavy and dark, as I suppose the title of the record would imply. “It’s not about the end of the world in a literal sense,” Usher clarifies. “It’s more about the idea that if you found yourself at the end of your life, in that final instant, how would you distill all your experiences down to the few moments that really mattered? If you read about people who find themselves at the end of their lives, and you hear what they talk about, it’s usually very specific and very similar. They talk about family and friends. They talk about the personal things they wished they’d taken the time to do, or of the things they wished they hadn’t been afraid to do. This record is a mixture of those ideas. The idea of being less afraid of the things that we’re afraid of, usually for the wrong reasons, and at the same time, keeping the moments that matter close.”

Usher’s distinctive and plaintive voice and vocal approach is what drives these songs, and his unique timbre and delivery really shines on tracks like City of Light and All These Simple Things. And while the arrangements on Songs From the Last Day on Earth are not particularly groundbreaking, Usher’s lyrics and vocals are solidly anchored and earnestly delivered. One of the standout tracks on this record – the piano-driven Stay – is a truly lovely piece of music. A repetitive piano line lies beneath Usher’s understated vocal, embracing it and giving it forward movement and warmth. The heartfelt and sincere lyrics to the chorus – Here in my arms, just stay – encapsulate and illustrate what really becomes important at the end of the world: connection. But with the advent of so many new forms of communication, how does one establish a genuine and real relationship in these fast-moving times?

The irony, of course, is that the same advances in technology that enable these instantaneous connections also potentially keep us more disconnected and further apart than ever.

Usher says: “I’ve always been very much a first-adopter of new technology. I’ve always been very into it and aware of its impact, and I find the act of social media very interesting overall. The world today seems to sometimes move like a Facebook thread, in that our experiences all kind of float by us now. So much of this record is about flashes of memory, and trying to hold onto them; so much of it is about our inability to stay in, and really appreciate, the moment as it’s happening.

“There’s so little time for context these days, and we now all have to be so cautious of the ‘small information byte.’ There’s very little time to place things in some sort of conceptual space, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing either. There’s a lot of amazing things about the technology. It gives us so many new and amazing ways to communicate; it can be very connective as well.”

And having another language at his disposal, in this case French, widens the opportunity for Usher to make even more connections. Songs From the Last Day on Earth has two French-language version tracks on it: Partir ailleurs (Go Somewhere Else) and Répondez-moi (Answer Me). Usher’s decision to once again record a track that isn’t in his native tongue is a sincere one. “It’s pretty personal for me,” Usher confesses. “I live in a French neighbourhood, my kids go to a French school, and I’m endlessly taking French lessons and working hard on getting better at it. I did (the recording) because of where I live, and because of the fact that it was a fun and challenging thing to do. That’s always the goal for me with every record, to find new things to challenge myself with.” And having another language to draw from certainly gives Usher another potent tool to communicate with, and to help get his message across.

The theme of Songs From the Last Day on Earth is clearly illustrated in the video for the single – Rice Paper. The video summarizes six years in the life of a couple, all boiled down into a three-minute video; from meeting, to dating, to breaking up, to getting back together, and finally, to having a child. Rice Paper is shot using a uniquely point of view perspective, giving the watcher the opportunity to become more immersed and attached to the story and video. And while the choice to shoot the video from a first-person angle also gives the video a strange sense of distance, the story itself, conversely, draws the listener in. It’s an interesting effect and dichotomy in terms of establishing an emotional connection to the material.

“I feel connected to the record in the sense that it really is written about my experiences, my friends and family, and about my life here (in Montreal),” Usher says. “I’ve been very lucky to find myself in a position where I can write and record with my best friends. Songs was done in kind of a shambled way – partly at my house, partly in the studio – but we made sure it was always made in a way and in a place that we were all very comfortable with.

“Every record has been about change and transition, and that’s the nature and crux of the human condition. But we also tend to constantly work ahead and behind that change. We focus on the past or the future, but rarely do we work in the moment. I know it’s something that I struggle with. It’s something that’s very hard to do, now more than ever.” And with the release of Songs From the Last Day on Earth, Usher is reminding us to enjoy and appreciate being in the moment.

David Usher will be at The Bronson Centre Theatre in Ottawa on Friday, November 16.


The Canadian Mentorship Challenge Event: A Highlight of Global Entrepreneurship Week

November 10, 2012 7:56 pm
Ethos Logo 2.0

Living at One™ and Ethos Networking™ are partnering with Startup Canada, CATAAlliance, and the Canadian Youth Business Foundation to host “Ethos Mentorship 2.0,” a local event for the Canadian Mentorship Challenge, a national initiative to mentor 10,000 enterprising Canadians over the course of Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 12-18, 2012).

This free local event will take place on Thursday, November 15, from 1pm to 10pm at Living at One™ (160 Bank Street). The jam-packed day of mentorship includes a trade show from 1pm to 4pm where successful entrepreneurs receive the opportunity to “pay it forward” by inspiring those who are thinking about branching out on their own or who have already taken the entrepreneurial plunge.

From 5pm to 7pm, five panel experts will answer attendees’ questions during the two-hour live question-and-answer session. From 7pm to 10pm, the Open Networking segment of the event gives all attendees the chance to meet and mingle in a relaxed atmosphere complete with live music, drinks and appetizers. “Mentorship 2.0” speaks to the opportunities in mentoring that technology and social media have created in the new millennium.

Attendees will have the unique opportunity to meet New York Times best-selling author and trainer Peggy McColl;

Peggy McColl

Peggy McColl


esteemed restaurateur and entrepreneur Ion Aimers;

Ion Aimers

Ion Aimers


famed nutritionist, author and TV host Kathy Smart;

Kathy Smart

Kathy Smart


co-founder of Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company Tim Beauchesne;

Tim Beauchesne

Tim Beauchesne (right)


speaker/author Majeed Moghaarban;

Majeed Mogharreban

Majeed Mogharreban

and many others at this incredibly powerful mentorship event.

According to Roger Deveau, founder of Ethos Networking: “Our goal at this event is to provide a forum for successful business  owners to share some of their knowledge and experience in order to educate, motivate, empower and inspire people to follow their passion through entrepreneurship.”

“Mentorship is an essential ingredient for building a more collaborative and sustainable entrepreneurial culture in Canada,” said Victoria Lennox, co-founder of Startup Canada. “The transfer of knowledge and ideas is inspiring for everyone involved and contributes to the success of future startups.”

For more information on this event, visit To find out more about the Canadian Mentorship Challenge, visit

Lest We Forget

November 9, 2012 12:49 pm

Many years ago, I used to go to the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the War Memorial on Elgin Street, but once Canada became embroiled in international conflicts, the huge crowds of spectators on Confederation Square made it impossible to see, hear or park. Then I discovered Remembrance Day in Russell and Vars and other small communities. My personal favourite is Russell’s, which is held at the traditional time and date of 11pm, November 11 at the Legion (on Legion Lane) in Russell Village. It’s a big ceremony and includes a parade with OPP, RCMP, Air Cadets, Scouts, Guides and Legionnaires, among others. For the last two years, those paying their respects have also seen the CF-18 flypast out of Ottawa.

The RCMP lay a wreath during the Remembrance Day service in Russell in 2011, with the 5 Cyclone Squadron Air Cadets and over 200 Canadian Forces Men and Women on parade.

There are several other services, however, and since the ones just east of the city are mostly organized by the Legionnaires in Russell (Branch #372), they have staggered times and dates, starting last weekend.

The first one was in Casselman at the Cenotaph beside Ste-Euphémie Roman Catholic Church – a beautiful old stone building – and the Cenotaph and rue Principale provide lots of space. There are even bleachers to sit on. This ceremony was held on Sunday, November 4, at 10am.

On the same day, the Vars service was held at 2pm at the Cenotaph. The recently refurbished Cenotaph is set in a little park which provides a beautiful and quiet setting.

On November 11, besides the Russell service, the Limoges service will be at that community’s Cenotaph at 1pm and the Embrun service will be at 3pm at the Cenotaph in front of the Township Hall.

Legion branches in other rural areas also offer Remembrance Day Services, including Bells Corners Branch 593, South Carleton Branch 314 in Manotick, Orleans Branch 632, Osgoode Branch 589, Richmond Branch 625, Greely Branch 627 (which is near Edwards on Mitch Owens Road), and Stittsville Branch 618. Not all are at 11am on 11/11 so check online for times and dates.

If you don’t want to brave the crowds downtown, attend one of these Services of Remembrance. Elgin Street may have the Prime Minister, but sometimes the solemnity of war is best commemorated in a small and peaceful place.

Photo Credit: Candice Vetter

The Casselman Knights of Columbus form a striking honour guard at the village’s Remembrance Day services, which this year were held on November 4.



The Legacy Conference opens doors for Generation Y

9:30 am
Legacy Conference Featured

On Saturday, November 17, The Legacy Conference will be held at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre. The Legacy Conference is a meeting of like-minded individuals dedicated to creating open dialogue about the worlds of entrepreneurship and business. The conference is aimed at Generation Y in order to give these young people the skills, ideas and connections they need to survive and thrive in the postmodern world.

The conference was founded in 2010 by Mohammad Al Azzouni, a University of Ottawa student. Azzouni wanted to bring together a group of talented and intelligent individuals to discover what it takes to be truly remarkable in the world of today. The conference started small with 60 in attendance, but doubled in size by 2011.

This year, The Legacy Conference will feature talks from the owners and founders of several local businesses and a motivational entrepreneurial speaker. The keynote speaker this year is Saul Colt, the founder of SAUL! – The Idea Integration Company, a key instigator of, and the man responsible for introducing Zipcars to Canada. Colt will be discussing the tension between inspiration and influence within the business world.

Also scheduled are panel discussions about failure in entrepreneurship, a necessary topic that is rarely discussed. These panels will feature the founders and owners of online retailers Frank & Oak, Inc, CanvasPop, DNA 11 and, as well as the founder of Fight for the Cure, the charity-boxing match put on this past March that featured Liberal MP Justin Trudeau and Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau.

According to Azzouni, the conference is about balancing knowledge and experience with imagination to help individuals exceed their own expectations and achieve great things for their communities. This year, the Legacy team is aiming to bridge the gap between different disciplines and industries to promote the sharing of ideas and innovation in the business community. Young people not directly involved in business or entrepreneurship are encouraged to attend as well.

The Legacy Conference is a not-for-profit organization that is run entirely by volunteers from Carleton University and uOttawa who are passionately excited about the unique learning opportunities afforded by this event.

 The Legacy Conference will be held at the National Arts Centre on November 17 from 8:30am to 6pm (EST). Tickets are available at

The Ottawa Pet Expo – The FIRST-EVER Ottawa festival for pets and their owners

November 7, 2012 2:14 pm
3 musketeers

Ottawa-Gatineau pet lovers unite to celebrate their love of pets on November 10 and 11 at the CE Centre. The Ottawa Pet Expo, in support of the Ottawa Humane Society, welcomes your whole family to the show, including four-legged family members. This is a great opportunity to enjoy a weekend with your pets!

Have you ever seen dogs fly?
Check out the spectacular Ontario DockDogs competition! Watch as dogs compete in this high-flying canine competition. With four exciting events including Big Air, Speed Retrieve, Extreme Vertical and Irondog, see if your dog has what it takes to be a DockDogs champion. With no pre-registration required, your dog is welcome to participate in the public dog Charity Jump with proceeds going to the Ottawa Humane Society.

See Cub Carson from 93.9 BOB FM compete against the dogs in the big pool! If that isn’t enough canine canoodleing for you, watch the Airborne Disc Dog Club’s amazing demonstration of dog tricks with Frisbees, and the Treibball (ball herding) demonstration.

Shop for the latest in pet toys and accessories
With Christmas on its merry way, this is the perfect time to shop for your pet. Find the latest in pet toys and accessories, from LED light-up leashes and collars, to winter coats and booties for your fashionable furry friends.

Protect your pet at the microchip clinics
The safety of animals is always a top priority so The Ottawa Humane Society is running an on-site, microchip clinic from 11am to 2pm, on Saturday and Sunday. The Ottawa Pet Expo is also offering doggy first-aid workshops during the show.

Learn from the pet experts
A wide range of exhibitors are on hand to provide information on the health and nutrition of your pet along with educational seminars running all weekend on dogs, cats, rabbits, parrots, exotic pets and even little pigs. Many breeders will be at the show, ready to answer whatever questions you may have about your animal companion’s health and nutritional needs!

Educational demos for kids of all ages
Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo will be at the show, presenting the zoo’s famous critters – from snakes and lizards to tarantulas and the world’s smallest crocodile babies! Bring the kids – Ray has an interactive demo for them too! Also, check out the family-friendly Kids’ Zone featuring crafts, activities and face painting, all with an animal theme. And best of all, kids get in FREE!!

Lots of fun extras for pets and owners alike
Do you think your animal is hiding something? Get to the bottom of it by checking in with Wendy the Pet Psychic. Don’t miss the pet fashion show, and the pet and owner look-a-like contest, both hosted by BOB FM’s Sandy Sharkey. And to complete a fun-filled day at the show, be sure to visit the charity photo booth for a happy snap of your best friend.

So, walk, run, fly, slither, hop, lurch, crawl, pounce or swim your way to the Ottawa Pet Expo this November 10-11. Your pets will thank you!

Tickets are available at the door for $12, or you can get discount tickets online at
Kids 17 and under get in for free. The show is open from 10am-6pm on Saturday, and 10am-5pm on



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