Loft Studios Open House is a September “Must Do”

August 27, 2016 1:53 pm
Saskachewan Stephen Perry

Stephen Perry. Dog with Flock of Swallows 32″x 48″.

Beginning September 22, the Loft Artist Studios on Gladstone Avenue are opening their doors and sharing their work with the public. The open house will run for two weekends, giving visitors the chance to explore the workspace where 17 local artists create a dazzling array of diverse pieces.

“It’s one large open concept space with multiple artists doing everything from stained glass to mosaics, painting [and] working with fabrics,” says Stephen Perry, one of the studio artists. When people arrive at the open house, they’ll get a chance to explore the open concept space and speak with the artists who work there. This gives visitors who buy art a rare chance to see where their piece was created and learn more about the process it went through.

For Perry, the Loft is a great source of inspiration.

“I have two artists on either side of me…one is an abstract artist whose use of colour has inspired my use of colour. There’s an artist on the other side whose subject matter has influenced me as well,” he says. “And I can see that with a lot of artists. It’s kind of a cross-fertilization.”

Attending the open house is free, and the price of different pieces will be all over the map. The open house’s first weekend runs from Friday, September 23 to September 25, and the second weekend is from the 30th to October 2. Friday hours are 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays the hours go from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Scroll down to get a glimpse of the artists’ work and find out more about them.

Margery Leach

Blue Picture Small Margary LeachMargery Leach grew up in Ottawa and has been painting since she was a child. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at McGill University and has evolved as an artist from producing landscapes, still lives and portraits, to now focusing on abstract interpretations of her views on the world.

She has displayed her work at local venues like the Old Town Hall, Trella Bar and Grill, The Loft Artists, Art in the Park, Bess and Marge at the Ministry of Art, Arts Court, the Green Door Restaurant, and the Studio 59 pop-up vernissage.

Find our more about her at

Elizabeth Marshall

Elizabeth MarshalElizabeth Marshall combines her love of poetry and the visual arts with her commitment to youth. She has shared her art through bi-monthly painting workshops at the Ottawa Children’s Aid Society for youth in care as well as an intensive art workshop for disadvantaged youth focused on painting, drawing, poetry, and book making. She is currently teaching scriptwriting at Algonquin College in the Media and Design Department. She alternates her time between teaching creative writing and working at the Loft Studios developing her latest series of paintings.

You can find out more about her work by visiting

Justy Lisa Dennis


“Giantangle BW.” Acrylic on canvas, 30” x 40”

“Everyone needs art and sometimes they don’t even know it’s art,” says Justy Lisa Dennis. She creates art focused on the needs of the community around her, and tries to give locals every chance to have a look at it and interact with it. Her favorite way to do this is yarnbombing with her crew, The O-Town Bombers. “People either love it or hate it, but mostly they love it. It just brightens up Centretown.” She says.

Justy also has a serious approach to her art: what she calls “Giantangles”. They are large tangles of design that stem from one single line in the centre of the painting. She is currently working on the third of her series of Giantangles.

You can find more of Justy’s work at

Miki K.T. Chart

chart_itally_300ret2 Miki KT

“Ascorta, ti Ricorderà” (2015), Oil on Linen 20″x22″

Miki Chart is a contemporary realist painter trained in 19th century European classical techniques. Chart’s medium is mainly oil paint, but she also has experience with clay sculpture and pottery. Chart uses her work to express her ideas, stories and feelings. The canvas is her theatre, and viewers are encouraged to find their narrative in the pieces.

“If my work takes a moment away from viewers, I consider it as my success,” Chart says.

You can find more of Miki’s work at

Giulio Perroni

Worker Giulio Perroni

“Worker” Oil on canvas. “24 x 18” $800 US.

Giulio Perroni is a Canadian artist currently living in Ottawa. Self-taught, he paints primarily in oil.  His work is often centred around a simple image evoking a deeper reality or feeling. His underlying themes are the balance between masculine and feminine, and the inner wrestling with life. He says that “each painting is the recording of a dialogue of trust in oneself.”

You can find out more about Giulio at

Vanessa Coplan

Vanessa Blanket SongVanessa Coplan is a mixed media artist who introduced textiles in into her work in 2009 and began working with them exclusively in 2014. Currently she is working on the “I, Canada” project, a series of hand-sewn patchwork blankets made in a Contemporary Canadiana style. Some of these works will be exhibited this Fall in a group show at the Annex Gallery in Ottawa (Sept 29, 2016 to Dec 2016) and then again in a larger solo show at the Mississippi Textile Museum in Almonte (June 6, 2017 to Sept 2017).

You can find out more about Vanessa’s work at

France-Marie Trépanier

France-Marie TrépanierFrance-Marie Trépanier embraces the spirit of the abstract expressionists in her work. She tosses out most rules and conventions, instead focusing what her gut says about each piece. Since her first solo show in 1998, Trépanier has shown her work in Ottawa, Toronto, London and Montréal, as well as Wisconsin and New Hampshire in the United States.

“In the last four years, I explored all kinds of media on unprimed canvas to convey more depth and spirituality to my work,” she says. Trépanier teaches part-time at the University of Ottawa.

You can find out more about France-Marie at

Nicole Allen

NicoleAllen_Intermediary_acrylic on board_40x30_2016

Intermediary (2016) acrylic on board “40×30”.

Born in Oakville, Ontario, Nicole Allen developed an early appreciation for painting the Canadian landscape from her father. Allen has an undergraduate degree in Art History from Queen’s University, and an honours diploma in Applied Museum Studies from Algonquin College. Allen and her husband Jeff settled in Ottawa in 1997.

In her art, Allen seeks out “purity and truth in the natural world” for motivation. Her goal isn’t to paint an exact copy of the subject, but to convey its essence through colour, texture and simplified form. She loves to paint and is always striving to find new ways to convey life’s beauty through her work. Her method requires layers of acrylic paint to compose structure and depth. The work is then further defined through the use of ink, conté or charcoal.

You can find more of her work at

Anne-Marie Battis

Happy Swirls AnneMarieBattisA weekend workshop at an art gallery in Cambridge, Mass. inspired Anne-Marie Battis to start creating mosaics in 2002. In 2005 she attended a week-long session at a mosaic school in Italy, where she learned some of the ancient techniques. Despite this training, she prefers modern materials (mostly stained glass) and likes to include recycled frames and windows in her work. Her designs are sometimes abstract and sometimes geometric, with an emphasis on color and texture.

You can find more of her work at

Stephen Perry

Stephen Perry

Hello There! 20″ x 20″.

Stephen Perry’s background in commercial photography and graphic design informs his highly detailed painting style. The sense of light and colour and the stylized composition keep each work from being too photorealistic. He is a realist painter, but his work falls more closely to “conceptual realism.” There are often concepts and story lines at work in his paintings. A number of evolving themes thread through Perry’s work— both personal and universal.

You can find more of Stephen’s work at

Up for the Thrill of a Lifetime?

August 16, 2016 11:03 am

All photos by John Enaje

Are you looking for an adventure? A challenge? A thrill? Well, look no further, you can get all three right here in downtown Ottawa on the morning of August 18.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to join the ranks of the Ottawa YMCA-YWCA’s most fearless fundraisers, put your helmet on, strap in and get ready to rappel down the 16 stories of the Taggart Family Y building this Thursday.
This adrenaline rush is more than just a daring stunt – it’s an energizing opportunity to directly support families and individuals in the National Capital Region!

This year, all funds raised will help make camp experiences possible for kids. Raising $1000 to participate in the event might sound difficult at first, but the Y provides tips and tricks to achieve your fundraising goal. You also have the chance to compete as a team with your adventure-loving friends.

To get you even more motivated: $1000 is enough to send five kids to camp this summer!

To take the fear away from those who aren’t convinced yet: Everything will be safe and there will be professionals onsite showing you how to do everything. No experience is required for the adventure, just a little bit of bravery.



The YMCA-YWCA is a non-profit, charitable association that promotes healthy living, provides programming for youth and community members, helps those in need of support and so much more. From housing to summer camps, the Y is there. This is your opportunity to raise money for those programs that help so many people in the Capital.

To learn more about the YMCA-YWCA, visit

Prepare to be Wowed by the New Rideau Centre Expansion

August 14, 2016 3:53 pm

Yesterday, Fairview Cadillac opened the doors to the new Rideau Centre expansion for a media sneak peak, and it was quite the party. Blue cocktails, delicious finger-food and the people who made it all happen filled the four-level expansion with excitement for the future of the mall. Their official opening to the public happened today at 11 a.m., and there was no shortage of excitement there either while hundreds of people filing in to check out the new stores.


Ottawa has been going through some major changes, and nowhere is that more obvious than at the Rideau Centre. The shopping mall has been at the core of the city for the last 30 years, but has only recently been built up to fit its position in the nation’s capital.

Phase three of the three-year, $360 million expansion came to a glittering finale yesterday as Fairview Cadillac, the company that bought the Rideau Centre five years ago, invited members of the media to explore the massive expansion. The four-level oval-shaped addition has been under construction for the past three years, and stands where the old parking lot used to be, on the corner of Rideau Street to Nicholas. Over twenty new stores have been added to the shopping centre, many of which are new to Ottawa.

B+H was the architectural firm of record and implemented the main design for the expansion. Stephane Raymond, an architect involved in the design said that the expansion was meant to create new connections with the city, especially through its exterior. Raymond added that the addition of Ogilvie Square on the corner of Rideau and Nicholas was meant to strengthen the relationships between University of Ottawa, the Rideau Centre and the Byward Market, creating the space for pedestrians to easily explore the city.

The new design was created in an effort to “re-institute the vibrancy of Rideau Street” according to Wayne Barwise, EVP of Development for Cadillac Fairview. But the new design goes beyond simply building a larger retail space. Instead, Mr. Barwise said that they looked at not only how they would reactivate Rideau Street, but also how to inspire public art. The result: a 11,00 square-foot artwork by Catherine Widgery that faces Nicholas Street and Rideau Street and is now one of the largest outdoor art installations in Canada.

Anthropologie is something to get excited about.

Anthropologie is something to get excited about.

The stores in the new expansion are varied, and much wanted breath of fresh air to the downtown area. Finally, the Rideau Centre has an H&M, which of the two levels, the bottom opens right up onto Rideau street. There’s also the much anticipated Anthropologie, to many young women’s delight. The Disney Store was bursting with colour and all the classic characters, and even features a customized skyline mixing iconic Ottawa locations with popular Disney characters; it’s also likely the only place where you can see Elsa and Anna skating on the Rideau Canal.

Across the hall there is a delicious Canadian candy store called Squish has made its way to Ottawa from Montreal. They specialize in gourmet gummy candy; they have fat free, gluten free, vegan, and all the good things gummies don’t traditionally offer. All of their gelatin is sourced from Bavaria and they use fresh fruit juices and even fruit pieces to flavor their gourmet delights.


Somehow the neon sign made the Frank + Oak staff look even hipper than they are.

The hip Canadian men’s brand Frank + Oak shined with it’s neon signs and its partnership with Ottawa’s own barber sensation House of Barons, with three barber chairs in the back of the store. Modelled as an “all-in-one” shopping destination, where guys can treat themselves to a new hairstyle while shopping Frank + Oak’s classy menswear.

But what really stole the show was the new Simons and the Simons family for that matter. The two level department store on the third and fourth level hovers above Ogilvie Square and Rideau Street. The company has been in the Simons family for five generations; originally starting in Québec in 1840. But the current president Peter Simons made it clear that although the company is expanding, they’re still dedicated to the values that have kept them going for 176 years.

The escalators up to the second floor in Simons.

The escalators up to the second floor in Simons.

“I think we’ll see just how we integrate into a community, how we see our responsibility in a city and a society, and how we recruit; we find people who share our values, and I’m hoping it will make a different experience, just in terms of service,” Simons told Ottawa Life. “Beautiful stores and architecture are important, but nothing beats the human connections that happen in that space, that’s going to be it’s soul.”

The store itself was a beautiful piece of architecture, dotted with smiling and friendly staff that greeted you at every 10 steps; they were happy to lend a hand or tell you about their favourite pieces in the store. Visual-nerds will enjoy the art hanging from the second floor ceiling, or the many unique mannequins with LCD screens in place of eyes that show off the exciting fashions Simons has to offer.

Obviously the new expansion was popular today, as hundreds of people rushed the new wing of the mall during its official grand opening. With all it has to offer, it’s hard to see how the new Rideau Centre won’t be bringing in droves of excited shoppers from all over the country.

This story was the joint effort of Isabel Payne and Alex Mazur.

Weekend What’s Up – August 12 to 14

August 12, 2016 9:32 am

Here at Ottawa Life, we are always looking for exciting events going on around our city. Here are some of the ones we found for you to enjoy this weekend!

Diefenbunker Beer Tasting– August 13 (7 p.m.), Diefenbunker Museum beer-1290633__180
There aren’t many people that can say they’ve ever been to a beer tasting in an underground bunker. You can, when you go to the unconventional underground tasting in the Diefenbunker this Saturday!
Unique and innovative brews from Big Rig Brewery, Covered Bridge Brewery, Kichesippi Beer, Stalwart Brewing Company, Tooth and Nail Brewing, and Calabogie Brewery will be served. On top of that, there’ll be delectable culinary samplings from The Swan at Carp to go with it.
Tickets start at $30 for the “Designated Driver Ticket” and go up to $55 for both beer & food samplings.

Art on the Farm– August 13-14 (10 a.m.), Experimental Farm cart-1049327__180
Art on the Farm showcases a wide range of original work from local and regional artists. There isn’t a more beautiful and peaceful setting in Ottawa than under the luxurious canopy of the Arboretum next to Building 72. There’s something for everyone, including a silent auction, an art book sale and refreshments. The best thing about it: It’s free. Rain date is Sunday, August 14.

Sunset Paddle Fest– August 12 (6.30 p.m.), Dows Lake Pavilionkayaking-1149886__180
Parks Canada is hosting a paddlefest for Youth Day and is inviting young adults (18-25) from around the Ottawa/Gatineau area to paddle the Rideau Canal at sunset. Don’t know how to canoe? Don’t worry! There will be a “learn to paddle session” so you can perfect your paddle skills. You can choose between paddling a regular canoe (2-3 seats) or grab a spot in the 27 foot Voyageaur canoe and paddle with nine of your friends!

TD SouthAsian FestAugust 11-13, Ottawa City HallSouthAsianFest-Logo-on-White
You can get the perfect glimpse of South Asian culture this weekend at the TD South Asian Fest. The celebrations start on Thursday already, so you can get into the weekend mood early. Non-stop performances, food and an art exhibition garantuee fun for the whole family.
This event is free!

Jacksonville Armada FC vs Ottawa Fury FC , August 13 (5.00 p.m.), TD Place StadiumWhat you need to know about Ottawa Fury-image2
For all you soccer fans out there: this Saturday chances are good to see the Ottawa Fury FC winning again. Ottawa Fury FC captured the game 2:0 last time they played against Jacksonville Armada FC and obviously we’re rooting for a repeat this time!
Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased here.


AsinFilmabka Film & Media Arts Festival , August 10-14, Ottawa
The Festivals aim is “Celebrating Indigenous Arts in Algonquin Territory” for 5 days in several places: Victoria Island, the Museum of Nature, Gallery 101 and SAW Gallery. The best contemporary Indigenous film, art and music from Canada and around the world will be presented.
Aside from screening great films, the Festival also offers traditional Indigenous music, dance and food.
Check out the schedule to convince yourself that every single day of the five days of celebrations is worth a visit!

Fiery Folk: Union Duke Lights Up the Blacksheep Inn

August 2, 2016 1:21 pm

Matt Warry-Smith, a member of the Toronto band, Union Duke, has a tattoo on his leg of the words “Keep Music Evil” that’s visible below the cut off point of his Bermuda shorts. The audacity of the phrase, coined by Anton Newcombe, epitomizes the band’s fresh and furious take on modern folk music. Although their style is less politically rebellious than the tattoo would suggest, their sound is as for-the-people as sound comes.

Last Friday, Union Duke performed at the famously indie Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield. To set the scene, picture a line of trendy Toronto guys in floral shirts with a tambourine and a lively set of vocals. The Toronto quintet began as a trio in High School, and after some rearranging of sound and members, grew into the folk frenzy that’s now touring Canada. The tour is in support of their new album, Golden Days, which comes out this week, on August 5th.


The Blacksheep Inn, just a stone’s throw from Ottawa

Union Duke’s live show is a thing to behold. Folk fan or not, their show’s vibe and energy promises an awesome time for everyone — I dare you not to have a good time while they’re on stage. Beyond the endearing twang is a versatility that actually has the power to support a thriving, young fanbase. With songwriting that’s different every time, Union Duke’s music is an eclectic mishmash of each member’s inspirations and exaltations, and you can see the joy of the artistry in their show.

Also playing that night was another up-and-coming Toronto band, Common Deer. Their style, which they call “orchestral indie,” is fresh as hell, and their concert is nothing short of epic. Underneath their creatively alternative sound is the clarity and precision of classical training, and they had the crowd’s attention from the second they stepped on stage. Both Union Duke and Common Deer have awesome things coming our way; just as Golden Days is expected this week, Common Deer have the release of their new EP on the horizon.


Union Duke performing Friday July 29

Chatting in the upstairs greenroom, Union Duke tells me: “We really like playing at the Blacksheep. This is our second time here, and we had a great time last time. We travel all over the country, but if there’s good people and cold beers then we’re pretty much happy anywhere.” Thus far the group’s performances have been exclusive to Canada, but they’re hoping to be able to expand their horizons soon.

If you haven’t already listened to their music then you seriously need to. Both Union Duke and Common Deer have the sound and talent that inevitably finds success, and they’re more than equipped to take on a larger and louder fanbase. If you need any more convincing of how furiously fun their performance is, just take a look at how inevitably blurry every photo of them is.


Union Duke performing Friday July 29

Find out more about Union Duke by taking a look at their websiteor find them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You can also stream Golden Days on who are the exclusive streamers of the new album. 

Check out Common Deer on their website, and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates on their upcoming EP. 

A Portrait of Canada

July 28, 2016 12:21 pm

Canada is a place of boundlesunnamed-5s natural beauty, and part of being Canadian means appreciating the natural wonders of where we live. Few understand this better than Leah Pipe, the BC-based artist who pens the awe-inspiring beauty of the Skeena Watershed area in Northern British Colombia. Beautifully arresting, rivetingly detailed and quietly absorbing, Pipes art communicates that unique Canadian essence through her minimalist yet detailed impressions of her surroundings wildlife and culture.

I would describe my art as capturing intimate moments in nature with a modern twist. Thats the small, short answer. Pipe says with a laugh. As a realist in art, thats what has sustained me for 30 years of making art  its the capturing of the subtlest of shades, and the smallest of details and the most poignant of light reflections.

The subtlety of her artistic style does not undermine the ferocity of her passion. Pipe describes the process and inspiration of her work as simply wanting to get her viewer to look, to really look at the astounding and subtle details of her subject. Anyone can see the devotion with which Pipe applies herself to her canvases  the beak of a raven, when illustrated by her hand, is infinitely faceted, textured and powerful; while each feather on an owls neck stands out as a masterpiece on its own. Not everyone has time to wander the vistas of British Colombia and see with Pipes detailed eyes, and that is why she paints as she does, collecting each minute detail that makes up her Canadian lifestyle.


“Cedar Sky” portrait of an Elder; 20 x 24″ :: pencil on paper; by Leah Pipe

Leah Pipe, like many others, began drawing as a child, and after showing some natural abilities at a young age, became determined to be become a fashion designer. But that career path was set to change.

“My mom brought home some fashion magazines to introduce me and to inspire me… and it pretty much changed the course of everything; I was just completely mystified and stimulated and excited by these amazing photoshoots and the details. And for some reason I was compelled to capture it.” 


“Warrior Wolf” Portrait of a wolf; 3 x 3 ft :: acrylic on canvas; by Leah Pipe

Pipe draws a great deal of her inspiration from her surroundings, which, for two decades, has been the Skeena Watershed area in northern BC.

“We have this amazing accessibility to wild rivers, clean rivers — you can actually drink out of the rivers up here — vast mountainscapes, and incredible moments. Even living in a small town in British Colombia, you can step out into your backyard and you’re part of a vista that is really inspiring to the soul.” Pipe tells us. “There’s many things we don’t have access to. And yet what we have access to is paradise.” 

Much to Pipe’s delight (and unsurprisingly, given her talent), the region has responded very eagerly to her artwork. Leah Pipe now works with the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition as the group’s Communications Director, using her knowledge of artistic form, and experience with creative communication in the Coalition’s design and marketing. Since joining forces, she has been working on building artful graphics and changing the way the conservation group connects with the rest of the world.  

“If you include art, if you incorporate art — art will have the power to compel someone to listen to your message, more so than standard advertising or standard design layout. Art has a great ability to move people and to stir emotion — asking people to ask themselves important questions.”


“Sacred Path” portrait of a salmon; 16 x 28″ :: pencil on paper; by Leah Pipe

Although she has now found her place in British Colombia, the army-brat-turned-artist once lived her life on the move.

“I happened to be born in Ottawa” explains Pipe, making a claim on our Capital city through lineage: “My mom and my dad met in Ottawa, at NDHQ, the National Defence Headquarters. My mom’s family is actually from the Ottawa valley, so Ottawa holds a part of my heart.” 

We asked Pipe what advice she would give aspiring artists, and she answered with a laugh. Most people who ask that question, she says, hope for a romantic answer, one that she wishes she could give them. The reality of being an artist, however, is long hours and dedication:

“There’s this joke between artists — we go, ‘What’s your day job? What’s your real job?’” Most artists, she explains, have a steady paying job during the day, and afterwords return home to work on their art which adds up to a full-time job itself.


“Beat the Launching Wind” portrait of a Raven; 3x3ft : acrylic on canvas; By Leah Pipe

“And my simple answer for people when they ask me this question is: it’s the midnight hour.” laughs Pipe. Despite all the challenges of an artist’s life, she concludes, “I can’t not pursue it. I can’t not creatively communicate.”

Luckily for Canada and for anyone who’s had the privilege of encountering her artwork, the artist’s life is one that suits Leah Pipe well. Canada may be one of the world’s most beautiful countries, but it becomes even more striking through the pens and brushes of artists like Leah.

For more information on Leah Pipe and her artwork, visit her Facebook page at and her website at

Interview: Why do Canada’s Children Lag so Far Behind?

July 26, 2016 1:00 pm

In a recent UNICEF report, Canada ranked in the bottom half of the world’s richest countries in overall child well-being and child equality.

Experts say that a lack of access to healthcare and inadequate supports for parents are reasons why Canada lags behind. In the video below, Dr. Denis Daneman and author Nicole Letourneau explain what were doing wrong, and how we can improve.

Daneman_Denis-photo_High-res-225x300Dr. Denis Daneman from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto says that when it comes to the welfare of children, not everyone is on an equal playing field.

Letourneau_Nicole-high res photo_2016Nicole Letourneau is an expert advisor with and the author of Scientific Parenting. She is a professor at the University of Calgary’s Owerko Centre focused on children’s neurodevelopment.

Interview by Dane Wanniarachige, journalist intern at

Your Right to Privacy

11:16 am

A Q and A with Jim Bronskill and David McKie on their new book, Your Right to Privacy.

Why is there a need for Your Right to Privacy?

We work, shop and play online, embracing all the wonderful things cyberspace has to offer. But hacking, snooping and harvesting of information are commonplace in the digital era. At work, on the road and even at home, your personal data can be seen and shared and your privacy can be violated.

There’s lots of advice out there on protecting yourself. But it’s scattered in many different places.

YourRightToPrivacy_coverWe have written a one-stop guide, a practical, easy-to-follow set of instructions to minimize your digital footprint, protect your vital information and prevent sensitive details from being misused.

We spell out the small steps each of us can take to keep our important data out of reach while still participating fully in the new technologies

What are the biggest concerns for digital privacy today?

These days, governments, businesses and others want to know more about almost everything we do.

In that vein, the biggest threat to our privacy flows from the growing stream of digital data we leave as we go about our day – everything from swiping our bus pass in the morning to online shopping at lunch to posting a photo on Facebook in the evening.

We also look at emerging threats to privacy, including wearable fitness devices that can monitor the calories you burn or how well you sleep at night, genetic tests that tell you about inherited health risks, and the highly computerized efforts to crunch Big Data to discern previously unseen patterns.

What steps can we take to minimize our digital footprint?

First, stop and ask yourself some basic questions about your online interactions. Do I use strong passwords and change them regularly? Do I keep my computer up-to-date with protective software? Am I careful about the sort of companies I share my credit-card information with online? Do I post information about myself or my family on social media that could be used by people with bad intentions?

The book walks you through basic steps to help guard your privacy – from signing up to the do-not-call registry to encrypting your email – as well as what to do in the event of an incident.

The pages are filled with information about what you can do to protect your privacy when using a new mobile app, going through international customs and even travelling with sensitive business materials in a foreign country.

Your Right to Privacy can be purchased through and local bookstores. 

JimBronskillAJim Bronskill is a reporter in the Ottawa bureau of The Canadian Press, specializing in privacy, security and justice-related issues.






DavidMcKieDavid McKie is an award-winning producer with the CBC News parliamentary bureau.



The Very Best Summer Games: Indoor, Outdoor and Online

July 18, 2016 11:01 am
Frozentshirt game

Wondering what the best summer games are? Satiate your appetite with these winners!

Summer is in full swing and folks everywhere are being entertained in zany and unconventional ways. If you think you’ve seen everything, think again. There are myriad summer games that have emerged and they are unique and wildly entertaining at the same time. Imagine taking a handful of tie-dyed T-shirts, soaking them in water and freezing them overnight, only to play a frozen T-shirt game the next day. It’s a battle royale with friends and family to see who is capable of getting kitted out in a frozen T-shirt the quickest. This game is best played on a sweltering summer day with lots of company. And in 30° heat, a frozen T-shirt is the perfect prize.

Make a Splash with a Sponge Launch Context

sponge soaker

And while we’re on the subject of water-related fun, why not consider a water sponge catapult game as your next option. This is something that always gets the kids excited (and the parents too!). This is how it’s done: you take a bucket of ice cold water – it’s always best on hot summer days – and you soak as many sponges as you can find in the water. Then two people stand on either side of the bucket with a slingshot-style catapult and the third person fits a sponge into the centre of the catapult and launches it into the air. You could have opposing teams facing off against one another and see who gets hit by the flying water sponges.

Anyone up for Some Online Summer Fun?

Of course, not everyone wants to spend the summer outdoors in the heat – even if there are water games taking place. Sometimes, it’s nice to kick back, relax and power up your PC, smartphone or tablet and play virtual games. You can make a big ‘splash’ of another kind with terrific online games like Herotopia. This is one of those free-play games where you can manage your own superheroes and decorate them as you see fit. This definitely fits in the zany category of online games and it’s ideally suited to your PC, smartphone, or mobile tablet. Nothing says summer more than dapper superheroes set against a backdrop of a bright yellow sun, blue skies and green lawns.


For the parents, you may be looking for something a little more rewarding perhaps, but equally entertaining. If this sounds attractive to you, why not join a team of winners at one of the hottest UK online bingo sites – Wink Bingo. Now if you’ve never been to a summer-themed online bingo room, you’re in for a big surprise. Check out the cocktails and treats at this online bingo room with promos like the Juicy July extravaganza. Summer is always better at the hottest online gaming sites, and you’ll find gifts galore, friends and more waiting for you when you are ready to register, play and win.  It’s really easy filling up your summer days and nights with summer games. You can play indoors, outdoors, on your mobile, PC or smartphone. It’s always a great idea to mix it up so that you get maximum entertainment value from the sunshine and the moonlight!

Weekend What’s Up – July 22nd to 24th

July 15, 2016 10:30 am

Here at Ottawa Life, we’re always looking for fun events that our city offers each weekend. Here is what the city has in store for you this July 22-46. See you there!

Paint Therapy – July 24th, Parliament Hill 


Got a creative side? Feel like expressing it? There’s no better place to pick up a paintbrush than on Parliament hill this Sunday, where you can be a part of raising awareness of Paint Therapy for Mental Health. The Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health is providing everything you’ll need to paint — all you need to do is show up! Even though the event is free, you have a chance to donate here. All proceeds go to the Do If For Daren foundation. Don’t forget to share pics of your paintings on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook with the hashtag #painttherapyottawa.

Ottawa Chamberfest – July 21st – August 3rd 


As we all know, Ottawa loves its festivals. But no other fest comes with Chamberfest’s class. Chamberfest is a collection of concerts spread out around the city. For the full (and very cool) schedule, check out their website and see what concerts you could be going to this weekend — Hear Syrene Saxofoonkwartet, the all-female saxophone quartet, play ragtime outside the National Art Gallery on Saturday afternoon, or go see a Sunday morning Flute Quintet perform in the Beechwood cemetery. You can buy single tickets or a festival passport to get your fill of classical charm. 

5K Foam Fest – July 23rd, Ski Edelweiss


Ever heard of a mud run? This Saturday join in on the messiest obstacle course you’ll ever do. You can sign up to run as an individual, or with your family, coworkers, and friends as a team, or just come to cheer your friends on! The obstacles are challenging but doable. You’re guaranteed foam, mud, and water, though, so be prepared to get dirty. And don’t worry – there are staff and volunteers scattered throughout ready to intervene if things get dangerous. They recommend the usual kind of training you’d do for a 5K run, but maybe practice being sprayed by a garden hose first. For more information, and to sign up visit their website here.

Free QuietClubbing Beach Party – July 22nd, Mooney’s Bay 


Looking for a fun Friday? Starting at 7pm QuietClubbing is hosting a beach party at Mooney’s Bay! The best part? It’s FREE. Head over and watch the sun go down as you dance to competing DJs. Your glow-in-the-dark headsets let you change between 3 channels, so you can pick which DJ you listen to. So join Quiet Clubbing Canada at Baja Burger Shack in Mooney’s Bay and you and your friends can have a (quietly) epic night.

Free Outdoor Screening of ‘The Martian‘ – July 22nd, Dundonald Park


Presented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Centretown Movies is putting on The Martian for anyone who feels like watching an epic space movie under the stars. Like all Centretown’s screenings, the movie will start at 9pm. Its free and its fun for the whole family. Whether you missed your chance to see it in theatres, you loved it so much that you want to see it again, or you just want to spend your Friday night doing something, relaxed, fun, and summery, come down to Dundonald Park and make the most of the warm weather while its still here!

An Imperfect Offering

July 13, 2016 3:11 pm

Some Rain Must Fall
By Karl Ove Knausgaard

Reviewed by Don MacLean

Why has Karl Ove Knausgaard’s 5 volume autobiography made him an international literary sensation?

Karl Ove Knausgaard begins the fifth volume of his autobiography Some Rain Must Fall with a surprising admission.  The volume will cover the part of his life spent in Bergen, Norway from 1988 – 2002. Yet, he declares, there are few remnants left of the time in question. He has burned his dairies from those years and only kept a few photographs. He concedes that his memories are fading, incomplete and tinged with shame. The reader is left with the impression that what follows will be a series of imprecise, sweeping reflections on an otherwise long forgotten phase of the man’s life.

91QYxIVrBjLInstead, Some Rain Must Fall is a meticulously detailed account of the formative years in Knausgaard’s development as a writer and a young man. He arrives in Bergen to attend a prestigious writing academy. He’s also in love with a young woman with whom he’s exchanged countless letters but who he has only met once. She too will be arriving in Bergen to attend school. His expectation is thus that he’s on the cusp of a literary break through and sexual and romantic bliss. Alas, his experience at the school does more to shatter his confidence as a writer than to build it. The love affair ends on a hurtful note before it even begins. And so, like so many nineteen and twenty year olds before him, he’s plunged into a sea of insecurity and despair. Will he ever be a good writer? Will he ever publish the sort of novels that have for so long fuelled his imagination and his ambition? Will he find love? These are the burning questions at the heart of the fifth instalment of Knausgaard’s autobiography.

This reader, meanwhile, has his own questions. Why has Knausgaard become an international literary sensation? Why have the first four volumes of his autobiography captured people’s imaginations they way they have? Based on Some Rain Must Fall the answers are not necessarily obvious, for a couple of significant reasons. The first is the book’s uneven prose. To be sure, there are wonderful stretches on almost every page. Knausgaard’s depictions of Bergen’s rain soaked streets perfectly match his own often melancholy temperament.  Nonetheless almost every other page is also marred by some unseemly prose. Knausgaard has a propensity for run on sentences. When well put together, there is nothing wrong with sentences that stretch out over 4 or 5 lines of a page. Knausgaard’s, however, suffer from a problem all too familiar to undergrad students and the professors who must grade their papers. That is to say, they are too often grammatically unsound. He seems to think a few well placed commas is all an unduly long sentence needs to render it grammatically correct. It almost pains me to write about something as tedious as poor sentence structure, but it must be pointed out. Some Rain Must Fall suffers for it.

The other reason has to do with the arc of Knausgaard’s development. He desperately wants to live and, equally desperately, wants to write. He’s a young man with seemingly boundless energy and insatiable yearnings: for music and alcohol, for literature, for women and for love. Moderation is not an idea with which he is familiar. Much of his life seems to have been spent in a drunken haze. He is constantly out with his brother Yngve and their mutual friends drinking and smoking. Too much alcohol, however, renders him unpredictable: he steals bikes for fun and is prone to angry outbursts. On one evening after too much to drink he hurls a beer mug at Yngve, hitting him in the face. He rushes out of the bar after seeing the blood stream down his brother’s cheek.

On other nights, his drunkenness leads to infidelity. On one such occasion he meets a woman at a bar and, within minutes, they step into a taxi, rush back to his place, tear their clothes off and have sex. He wakes up the next morning and sees a beautiful but unfamiliar face lying next to him. He’s horrified: what has he done? How could he possibly be unfaithful when he has such a wonderful girlfriend who loves him with all her heart? He’s consumed by regret and guilt. He demands that the woman dress, ushers her to the door and begs her to never say a word to anyone about what transpired. The reader detects a pattern which, in turn, prompts an expectation. At some stage, one feels, Knausgaard will start to drink less, grow less impulsive and act more responsibly  where women in his life are concerned.  In other words, he’ll grow up.

The reader waits and waits. Indeed, that Knausgaard writes so much about his incessant drinking, his perpetual preoccupation with women and the self loathing it inspires is precisely why he has been accused of narcissism. There is much truth in this charge. For his excessive preoccupation with himself is at the expense of a larger vision. He writes very little, for example, about Norway as a country – the politics or the history or the culture. There’s even less written about the wider world. There is a reference to 9/11, but precious little else.  What are his politics? Where does he see himself in the world? The reader ends the book none the wiser on these questions then when she started. Similarly, he’s a student of literature but the insights into the books he reads are few and far between. He refers to writers he has read without ever actually telling the reader why he loved or loathed so and so.

Yet for all his narcissism there is something about Knausgaard’s life story that draws in the reader. His appeal begins with his insatiable appetites and his love for life. But it goes deeper than that. It’s also his elevation of the utterly mundane as worthy of literary treatment. Knausgaard writes about his coffee in the morning or the dinner he had that evening.  He seemingly mentions every cigarette he’s smoked, which is many. (To paraphrase the Canadian comedian Ron James, Knausgaard smokes like its a cure for cancer.) He describes countless nights out with friends at bars. In some writer’s hands, the mundane becomes the tedious. In Knausgaard’s hands, the effect of elevating the mundane is to elevate a life. It’s one of his great gifts as a writer.

There is also his vulnerability and the frank, shameless way he reveals it to the reader. For all of his love of life, he’s also brooding and, as a young man, often awkward around women. Like most young men, he must find ways to compensate for a lack of physical intimacy. Knausgaard describes how he would hide books with pictures of beautiful women in his pants, go the washroom and masturbate. His tortured relationship with his father leaves him desperate for approval and forever insecure about his writing. He persuades himself that he isn’t smart or wise enough to ever be a literary writer.  When he’s at dinner parties with his writerly friends he is so intimidated that he often is suddenly quiet and withdrawn and plagued by dark thoughts. It’s this vulnerability with which many readers, despite the book’s recurring flaws, identify.

Related: A Good Life, A Flawed Novel.

He then meets Tonje. Like a school boy, he falls madly in love. By this point in his life, women are drawn to him and he is at ease around them. Tonje is different. He is at once tentative and awkward around her. He doesn’t lust after her, like he did so many other women. Such a feeling is too shallow; doesn’t come close to matching the depth of his love. So they instead get to know each other relatively slowly: they have a magical walk to her home on a cold, snowy night. They have tea as the day dawns. But when he leaves her home he can’t muster the courage to give her a hug, let alone a kiss. Intimacy would have to wait.

At this relatively late point in the book it appears as though Knausgaard is changing. He is less self absorbed. He is still writing exclusively about his life, his struggle, but his focus is more on the death of his father, the passage of time and his evolution as a writer. He finally establishes the discipline required to produce a novel. To spend an evening drinking would jeopardize a rhythm he struggled so hard to discover and which was so conducive to prose worthy of praise and publication. So he stays put days and evenings on end to the point that Tonje begins to suffer for it. She wants to be out with him, wants them to together experience the world outside of their little home. He promises that the endless nights spent writing would cease the moment his novel is finished and published. He keeps his word. The novel is published to great acclaim. Normalcy – and happiness – returns to their lives.

The reader’s expectation of Knausgaard’s growth is, at long last, realized. He’s an accomplished writer and happily in love.  Doubts, however, persist. Can his contentment possibly be sustained? Will he and Tonje still be together by the book’s end? Or will Knausgaard find a way to sabotage both his and Tonje’s happiness? Is it only a matter of time before he makes another horrible transgression? For all of his new found love and happiness the reader senses Knausgaard’s dark, brooding centre remains intact. For him at least, the light will never extinguish the darkness.

A Dash of Colour: Getting to Know Sara Alex Mullen

July 11, 2016 2:00 pm
page18_Gal_Opinicon Commission by SaraAlexMullen (2)

Sara Alex Mullen knew she had found her artistic calling when she made the final brushstroke on her first landscape painting. The local artist has been painting for 15 years, but discovered her real affinity for capturing the Canadian outdoors while taking courses at the Ottawa School of Art in 2009. Luckily for us, over the last two years Mullen has made painting a professional focus. Mullen is represented in Ottawa’s Santini Gallery and is a rising star within the Capital’s artistic community.

For those who have not already been struck by the elastic contours or piqued by the energetic colours, Mullen’s landscapes evoke the spirit of the land from which they come.

“I paint classic Canadian landscapes and I like finding my inspiration in my everyday surroundings.” says Mullen. “To describe it I would say I’m Impressionistic–using bold strokes and vibrant colours.”

page19_GALERY-SaraAlexMullen-1To anyone who’s been to a Canadian art gallery, these landscapes may recall the work of the Group of Seven painters, and rightly so.

“I love the Group of Seven,” says Mullen. “I love how they show so much underpainting through. I cover more of my canvas but I’m definitely inspired by them.” Underpainting, as the name suggests, is the process of layering the stages of a painting, gradually adding detail to the base colours which block out the scene’s compositions. The Group of Seven is famous for leaving chunks of these base shades visible underneath the detail, creating a collage of complementary colours. While Mullen’s local scenes recall this impressionistic approach, her work exudes a more youthful tone, with unrestrained brushstrokes and splashes of turquoise and yellow.

For her, finding inspiration in the everyday means never leaving the house without her camera. Working by photograph in her studio, Mullen then sits down to sketch and underpaint. Often planning the painting is what takes the longest, Mullen says.

“I like to put a lot of energy in my pieces so I like to complete a painting in one sitting. I try to paint different moods of nature and my mood is often reflected in the painting.” This kinetic energy visible in her work has becomes her signature, and her paintings owe their captivating quality to it. “I find if I pick up on a different day I have a different energy and it comes out disjointed,” she says.


Looking at Mullen’s paintings, you can trace her instinctive and intuitive process in every brushstroke. Mullen mixes colours before even setting brush to canvas, picking and choosing what to use as she goes. Painting with a limited colour palette of only four to five colours, and simplifying her scenes down to variations of the two main hues lets her kinetic and bravely intuitive energy shine from within the art’s surface.

“Once I sketch from the photograph, I never look at it again. Instead I paint based on my instinct and intuition, recalling my interpretation of colours from the live moment or letting my artistic senses take over,” says Mullen.

Mullen’s exciting career is expanding through a recent commission for 16 paintings by the new Opinicon resort, nestled among the Rideau Lakes. Her vibrant landscapes will be hanging above the fireplaces in each of the resort’s newly renovated guest rooms. The quiet but poignant energy that they exude makes Mullen’s work the perfect fit for the historic site’s reopening.

Another exciting spot on Mullen’s horizon is an event of her own organizing—a New Edinburgh Studio Tour (NEST). From September 17 to 18, Mullen, along with a dozen other neighbourhood artists, will be opening her studio to the public to give them a glimpse behind closed doors, and enjoy a free chance to engage with the artists in their space.

“Studio tours are a great way to engage with the public in a new way and make new connections with artists in the neighbourhood,” Mullen says. For this rising star, being active in the community and looking for opportunities to grow and evolve is an important key to her success.

For budding artists, she offers sage advice. “Study the art that you love. I spent a lot of time in the museum just studying Group of Seven paintings – looking at every brushstroke, dissecting them, thinking ‘how can I recreate that or interpret it?’” She suggests seeking out opportunities to grow, to challenge yourself, and engage with what’s around you.


With such a bright future, it looks like this young artist’s career is only just getting started. Mullen’s story can stand as a valuable lesson to those hoping for similar success. With such a positive attitude, obvious talent, and cheerful ambition, it’s no wonder that Ottawa is responding so well to the charming achiever. Needless to say, we wish the artist luck on her future plans, and will be keeping an eye out for more news of her success.

As well as her position in the Santini Gallery on Preston Street in Little Italy, Sara Alex Mullen and her body of work is taking flight on social media. You can find her online at, on Instagram and on Facebook for sneak peeks of upcoming works.

Bluesfest 2016 Kicks Off with a Rebel Yell!

July 8, 2016 12:38 pm
Day 1 (53 of 76)b

Photos by Andre Gagne. Billy Idol photos by Mark Horton supplied by RBC Bluesfest.

Billy Idol Live at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa, Ontario

When Billy Idol stepped onto the City Stage last night at RBC Bluesfest, two thoughts went through my mind: 1) for a 60-year-old who hit his peak in the ‘80’s this guy is jacked; and 2) does he live his life perpetually drenched in sweat, Sweat, SWEEEEAAAAT! No, wait, three thoughts! Was it a nice day for a “White Wedding”?

With his signature spiked platinum hair and “Rebel Yell” sneer, Idol returned to Ottawa for the first time since 2009 to headline night one of the festival. Even before the Stanmore, Middlesex born rocker hit the stage, fans roaming the festival ground were showing off their best Idol snarls and screams of “more, more, more” from the 1985 hit.

To many, there was no doubt that Idol still represented that defiant punk that helped define him in the ‘80’s. Day 1 (70 of 76)yells “He’s that angst inside all of us that we had as a teenager just trying to be ourselves, to express who we were in any way that we wanted to,” said fan Terry Steeves. “He took his punk rock and mixed it with rock and roll and just put it out there. Everybody identified with it.”

Idol’s first band, Generation X, would be more punk than rock with his sound taking shape when he went solo and moved to New York in 1981. His black cut gloves weren’t the only things that were the perfect fit. With glam rock being all the rage at the time, Idol’s look that also included studded belts, leather jackets, chains, and, of course, the spiked hair that would be emulated by many collided with the culture and it was the perfect time for the resulting explosion.

“His appearance made him cool,” said Ed Dykstra as he waited for Idol to take the stage. “It reminds me of back in the 80’s when London was big with the punk rock. You can listen to his music now and it still sounds relevant.”

Mark Horton_20160707_R8A6276

Steve Stevens

Though Idol’s self-titled first release didn’t crack the top ten, it did include one of his first big tunes: “White Wedding”. One year later, 1983’s “Rebel Yell” blazed up the charts with three hit singles including the title track. Inspired by swigs of the bourbon whiskey with the same name, the tune was co-written by guitarist Steve Stevens.

It was Stevens, who partnered with Idol for his first four albums, that began the show with a blistering guitar solo. There would be many more much to the elation of some in the crowd who came more for him then the lead. However, it was the combination of Idol’s voice with the guitar licks on tunes like “Shock to the System” and “Pumping on Steel”, along with how Idol pumped up the crowd to chant with him on songs like “Flesh for Fantasy”, that really fired up the audience.

“F*ckin’ hell,” Idol chucked, letting the crowd reaction barrel into him before punctuating the expletive with about six rousing “Yeahhhhhs” that the crowd echoed back, fists pumped into the air.Day 1 (11 of 76)

After the newest track on the 13 song set, “Can’t Break Me Down”,  things slowed only for a moment as Idol broke into the power ballad “Eyes Without a Face”. The road to the encore, though, would be paved with screaming guitar that paused long enough for the fans to sing back the popular call back to “Mony Mony”.

His voice may have waivered on a few tracks, but this crowd could care less. Billy was still the bad ass clad in a long, skull adorned black shirt that didn’t stay on long. Not to be outdone, Stevens busted out power chords in cheetah print with glam hair that flipped the finger to the fact that the ‘80’s were three decades ago. Oy!

Mark Horton_20160707_R8A6155


  1. Shock to the System
  2. Dancing With Myself
  3. Flesh for Fantasy
  4. Can’t Break Me Down
  5. Scream
  6. Prodigal Son Blues
  7. Eyes Without a Face
  8. Steve Stevens Guitar Solo mixed with Led Zeppelin Riffs
  9. Don’t Need a Gun
  10. King Rocker
  11. Blue Highway
  12. Rebel Yell


  1. White Wedding
  2. Drum Solo
  3. Mony Mony


Ottawa Life’s Festival City Series will provide a unique look at some of your favourite summer events.We’ll go beyond the music with artist interviews, volunteer profiles, concert reviews and spotlights on the tastes, sights and sounds of the festival season. Your city! Your festivals! Your summer! Like a good sunscreen, Ottawa Life has you covered.

Watershed Moment

July 7, 2016 3:18 pm

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been actively putting forward a different approach to governance: one that champions transparency, freshness, action, something that says this time it’s different.

One of his ministers in particular, seems to be the embodiment of that sentiment. There’s a positive vibe when entering Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s Centre Block office on Parliament Hill. Maybe it’s the young staff milling about, busy but polite, well dressed and intelligent. Or maybe it’s the tremendous birch bark canoe hanging from the ceiling, an emblem of Canada languidly floating over the bustling office.

It’s fitting then that McKenna associates herself with such a symbol. With her at the helm, she and Trudeau aim to steer Canada away from a fossil fuel based economy to return to one that works in harmony with the environment.

McKenna is a lawyer by profession and has experience in government, business and the NGO sector. She is not only calm, confident and focused, but she is also on top of her file, and fully aware that her role as Canada’s Environment Minister comes at a critical time.

“We have a Prime Minister who’s absolutely committed to climate change. He believes like I do, that this is the biggest challenge of our generation, and that we have an obligation to take action,” said McKenna.

She believes that unlike the promises in Kyoto, and unlike the past Conservative government, this time, it really will be different. When asked what makes it different, she was clear.

“I have young daughters and if we don’t take steps now to fix these problems, their future will be very different. I got into politics because of my concern for my kids and the problems with how we were treating our greatest resources and the planet.”

© Couvrette Studio

© Couvrette Studio

The problem is that the Liberals have many, and sometimes conflicting, promises to keep. Climate commitments, their promises to First Nations communities, and their guarantees to industry all hover uncomfortably, an unbalanced mixture that will surely test their leadership in the coming years.

But moving on climate change was one of Trudeau’s first big moves, and certainly one of his most visible. Just over a month after he was elected, he went to Paris for the snappily named United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for the 21st annual Conference of the Parties or (COP21). There, 195 countries signed an agreement to commit to keeping the world from warming above two degrees from industrial levels, a limit that if passed, scientists predict catastrophic consequences. Canada, for its part, has held to the previous Harper government commitments, and pledged to cut its carbon emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Promises roll off the tongue with ease, of course. Actions, however, are harder to implement, a reality that McKenna encountered in her first day of taking office. Fresh to her role as Environment Minister, she was tasked with whether to release billions of litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River, and she needed to choose quickly. Montreal’s Mayor Denis Coderre was insisting on its necessity for the safety of the city, while others cringed at the thought of sewage flowing through their water. Talk about a first day.

In the end, she decided to do it.

After the fact, Montreal released the results of their water quality testing, which showed bacteria levels akin to those during heavy rainfalls when sewers overflow into the river, and therefore not far out of the ordinary.

In the end, the controlled release got a go-ahead based on McKenna’s consultations with scientists, and from precedent, making it a fact-based decision. Unfortunately, Indigenous groups were not consulted prior to the release. Mohawk Council Chief Clinton Phillps in Kahnawake, whose community would be directly affected by the sewage, was highly critical of the dump, saying that he had only heard news of the decision in a quick call from McKenna right before the release.


Mohawk Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton.

Afterwards, in light of their concerns, McKenna sat down with Kahnawake’s Mohawk Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton and Phillips to discuss how she should move forward when dealing with First Nations communities.

“To be fair, we were somewhat critical but we also recognize that she just came into office and was thrown into this issue the day before heading to the Paris Climate Change negotiations. We welcome her commitment regarding these things,” said Norton. “She’s a very sincere person, but the issue will be how convincing she can be with other ministers to work with Kahnawake and other First Nations across Canada.”

According to Norton, the Kahnawake Mohawks and other Mohawks in the region have a long history of butting heads with their neighbours. Due to their geographic location, they have the rare position of being directly in contact with Canadian, Québec and U.S. governments on nation- to-nation negotiations on a variety of issues. Now with Trudeau’s and McKenna’s promises at hand, the Kahnawake Mohawks are in a prime location for the federal government’s engagement with First Nations, and they’re optimistic that further interactions can be constructive.

“The Trudeau government has made a pledge to take a very different approach regarding Aboriginal affairs. Hopefully it’s not all talk. They are going to need a coherent and clear understanding that Canada and Kahnawake and Canada and other First Nations are embarking on a process that is no longer business as usual. It’s going to take courage and creativity to achieve their goals. We’ll have to wait and see,” Norton said.

McKenna now has an Indigenous advisor on staff, and says that in hindsight, the sewage release was a learning moment for her as a minister; she realized that in the future she needed to have a framework for how she will approach difficult decisions.

“Listening and learning, and then acting when you have all the evidence and facts or the best information at hand, is very important to me,” said McKenna.

One major element she has to consider is Trudeau’s promise to tax carbon emissions.

Provinces in some cases have taken the lead on this. B.C. plans to tax carbon emissions at $30 a tonne, whereas Alberta has already set a cap on its greenhouse gas emissions from its oilsands to 100 megatonnes a year, and is also introducing a $20 carbon levy in 2017. Québec has been involved in an emissions cap and trade system with California since 2013, a system that Ontario’s Wynne government will now join, along with implementing other measures such as incentivizing electric vehicles.

But some experts don’t believe a hodgepodge of singular provincial regulations will do the trick, because some might choose to opt out completely. McKenna acknowledged that the northern territories expressed a carbon tax would threaten their diesel-based lifestyle. Saskatchewan, for its part, has been playing hardball, arguing that its carbon capture program will be enough of a contribution to Canada’s efforts to reduce its emissions.

Jeff Rubin, previously a chief economist for CIBC World Markets, argues that the only way to reach Canada’s Paris target is to implement a substantial national carbon tax.

“If it doesn’t cost to be dirty, then it doesn’t pay to be green,” said Rubin.

Rubin argues that if a national tax isn’t implemented, Canada will miss the 2020 target from anywhere from 120-150 megatonnes, and the 2030 target by as much as 300 megatonnes, which would constitute misses by 50-60 per cent.

He added that a key element to getting all provinces to sign on would be to level the playing field for the natural gas and fossil fuel industry in North America and apply a cross-country carbon tax.

Talks are underway between Canada, the United States and Mexico, but the outcome is murky so far.

A national tax may seem like the simplest route to curb our emissions, but adding stress on an already limping oil and gas industry isn’t just putting businesses at stake, but also the people who depend on those resources for their livelihoods.

This is why Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall argue for pipelines, they believe they are the only life rafts that will buoy their economies through troubling times. And although some Canadians fear pipeline expansion, Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) has approved both the Energy East Pipeline, a project that would potentially open up the oil supply form Alberta to St. John’s, Newfoundland, and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, that would bring oil from Alberta to the docks in Vancouver.

Both are meant to bring Canadian oil to Asia and Europe, markets that are meant to be more eager than the United States, who, thanks to their shale fracking boom, no longer rely heavily on Canadian oil. Trudeau is not about to leave those markets out of the question. He’s stated that he believes new pipelines are necessary, and that the transition away from Canada’s fossil fuel economy should be paid for by, ironically enough, the fossil fuel industry. But he can’t jump the gun on pipelines either, because pipelines do spill, and they will expand the oil sands, which is the country’s highest emitter of greenhouse gases.

That’s why the Liberals have implemented new interim measures to review major resource projects that include the consultation of Indigenous groups, as well as measures that weigh a project’s potential environmental impact. Along with these measures comes significant delay.

Oil pipelines regulated by the NEB

Oil pipelines regulated by the NEB. Photo courtesy of the NEB.


Conservative Environment Critic Ed Fast says that adding more hoops to jump through for projects that have already been approved by the NEB is hurting Canada’s economic prospects.

“They have injected an unprecedented uncertainty into the economy. The investment community has taken notice and that they are considering pulling money out of Canada,” said Fast.

Although Fast strongly welcomes the growth of the clean tech industry, he doesn’t believe that this could replace the contribution from the current energy sector.

McKenna has different views on innovative green technology. She referenced a study recently put out by the International Renewable Energy Agency stating that going greener could save the global economy over $4-trillion a year by 2030.

“I’m talking with all sectors, all industry associations, and everyone’s excited. This is an opportunity, and they recognize that we need to take action,” said McKenna. “It was businesses that were ahead of government on this. When I hear businesses saying yes, put a price on carbon, I know it’s good news. Businesses want certainty.”

In Paris, Trudeau also committed to participating in Mission Innovation, a program spearheaded by Bill Gates that includes 20 countries who have the intention to accelerate the development of the clean energy sector.

“We have a very serious process underway, with a timeframe,” said McKenna. She pointed to the federal government’s workings groups that will present solutions in the fall on how to reduce emissions in building, vehicles, the oil and gas sector, carbon pricing, adaptation, clean tech jobs and innovation.

Despite these steps forward, there are some other voices in Canada that claim the Liberals aren’t moving away from carbon emitting industries fast enough.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson travelled to Ottawa, along with leaders from First Nations communities to protest the Trans Mountain pipeline. Robertson argued that the expansion of the pipeline, which the NEB approved with only 157 conditions to meet, would increase tanker traffic by seven times in his city, multiplying the possibility of oil spills and the amount of emissions in Vancouver to an unacceptable amount.

Montreal, along with the Government of Québec, have openly blasted Energy East, stating that the project cannot go forward due to environmental risks, no matter what the cost to Alberta. Countless environmental groups around the country are vehemently opposed to any sort of pipeline, oil sands, or liquid natural gas expansion.

It’s clear that Canadians need some unification on what direction to take climate change policy, and nowhere was that clearer than when Trudeau met with Canada’s premiers to create his pan-Canadian framework on climate change in early March. This meeting was meant to delineate Canada’s climate strategy, but it resulted in delaying to finalize the plan in the fall.

“Canada is a federation, so we have to respect the right for governments to make the decisions they make,” said McKenna. She added that it’s more a federal responsibility to set the structure, and to listen to the unique needs of the provinces.

The truth of the matter is that if Trudeau and McKenna expect to hit their targets, there have to be major changes somewhere.

David Hughes, a scientist who worked for the Geological Survey of Canada for over 30 years, recently released a report called Can Canada Expand Oil and Gas Production, Build Pipelines and Keep Its Climate Change Commitments?

Hughes calculated a best-case scenario, which would allow for a 45 per cent expansion of oil sands production under Alberta’s emissions cap and the introduction of only one liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in B.C. by 2030. Although Hughes’ calculations assume just one of the five LNG terminals B.C. aspires to build go ahead, he argues that even with these relatively low expansions of emissions, the rest of the national economy would have to shrink its emissions by 47 per cent in every sector over 14 years; an outcome that he finds almost impossible without great economic damage.

Screenshot 2016-07-06 11.19.02

Graph taken from David Hughes’ report.

In B.C., Premier Christy Clark has promised several LNG plants as a way of paying off the province’s debts and creating jobs, and although several have been approved by the NEB, none have been built. LNG plants have remained in limbo for the same reasons new pipelines have, no one can find a consensus on if they should be built.

One shining example of this indecision is found in northwest B.C.’s Skeena Watershed. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) approved an $11.4-billion Pacific Northwest LNG plant, backed by Malaysian state-owned energy company Petronas.

Last year, Jonathan Moore, a professor from Simon Fraser University who specializes in aquatic ecology and conservation, studied the area and the effects of building and LNG plant where it was proposed. He then penned a letter, signed by 130 international scientists, addressed to the federal government, contesting the science reviewed by the CEAA.

Along with that letter, the proposal gained national attention this year thanks to the the efforts of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition (SWCC).

Shannon McPhail, the executive director of SWCC, said that the area proposed for the plant is the site of the second largest salmon run in Canada, and the rivers near the proposed site on Lelu Island within the watershed are where every year, anywhere from 300-million to 1-billion salmon come to spawn. She, along with many scientists, argue that the LNG plant would be catastrophic for the salmon’s ecosystem.

First Salmon - John Nole

Photo courtesy of Brian Huntington.

The salmon are a $110-million industry for the people in the Skeena Watershed, a community heavily represented by Indigenous peoples.

“When the salmon come, the entire community shuts down in a way, because we’re all out fishing, pulling nets, cleaning, soaking, smoking, canning, filleting,” said McPhail.

“Every leaf, and every needle from every tree in this watershed has salmon in them. If you cut down a tree and look at its growth rings, you can estimate how many salmon returned that year by the size of the growth ring: the more salmon that come up the bigger the forest grows.”

Petronas offered a $1-billion deal to the Lax Kw’alaams people of the area as compensation, which was in turn rejected.

McKenna admitted that she’s aware of the potential danger to the salmon, and also acknowledged that there will be significant emissions from the plant. The CEAA reported that if built, the plant would emit 5.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide yearly.

The B.C. government, on the other hand, justifies the plant’s construction on the basis that the natural gas shipped overseas would help ween China off of burning coal for energy, a big hitter on the global scale for greenhouse gas emissions.

Now tasked with making a decision on the plant, McKenna said that the federal government will weigh its choice on the best available science, evidence and facts. In reality, the decision is more complicated than just science and facts. Trudeau’s cabinet must consider it’s promises to Indigenous groups, to climate commitments, to industry, to the needs of B.C.’s economy, their own popular opinion, and the people’s lives who will be affected by the plant itself.

“If they were to approve this project they would send the message to First Nations and to all communities in the area that Malaysia and Petronas are more valuable to them their own citizens, and certainly more valuable to them than keeping their word about climate change,” said McPhail, who admitted that not even she would want to have to make such a decision.

It would take a miracle to make everyone happy, and at this moment, it’s unclear which direction McKenna’s canoe will take us. She and Trudeau have to choose to move the country forward, without leaving half the country behind. Whatever the direction, no doubt it will be a “watershed moment” for the Liberals and for Canada itself.


Correction notice: We at Ottawa Life would like to bring to notice the following corrections that were made from the printed version of the story.

The Skeena Watershed is not the second largest estuary, but the second largest salmon run in Canada, and it is the rivers around the area where the salmon come to spawn. This is also quoted as a direct quote from Shannon McPhail in the printed article, although it was a paraphrased. This was an error on Ottawa Life‘s part.

The SWCC did not write the letter to the federal government as previously published, but rather professor Jonathan Moore was the author.

We also did not specify that Petronas offered the $1-billion buyout to the First Nations Lax Kw’alaams people in Skeena area, of which they rejected.

Hit the Links with the Ladies’ Foursome at Hudson Village Theatre

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Summer is here and that means that the Hudson Village Theatre (HVT) season has finally arrived. It is one of the true joys of summer because without fail, the HVT offers up stellar theatre. Ottawa Life will feature more about the HVT in the days to come, but for now a quick review of its current show. This one only runs until July 10 so be sure to get there before it closes.

Canadian playwright giant Norm Foster’s Ladies’ Foursome opened the Village Theatre season. It being a Foster creation, the play is moving, witty, touching—at times biting—but thoroughly entertaining.

Every week for the last 14 years, best friends Margot, Connie, Tate and Catherine have met for a round of golf.  Following Catherine’s sudden death and wake, the friends gather on the tee to play a round in honour of their dearly departed. They also invite a newcomer, Dory, who is an out-of-towner friend of Catherine’s, to hit the links with them.


Without spoiling the story, as the game progresses, surprises and confessions emerge as the women discuss everything from life and children to love, men and sex. All four women are at various stages of life and bring a wide array of experiences to the discussion. Tate is a young, beautiful and frustrated stay-at-home home mother of three. Margot has a successful business and an estranged adult daughter. Connie is the local TV newscast host who is very much into herself, and Dory, the out-of-towner, immediately elicits suspicion of the others. These diverse backgrounds easily garner the empathy and understanding of adult audiences at all ages.

You won’t notice the time passing despite the length of the play (it goes through 18 holes of discussion), in part because of the fantastic dialogue, but also because the acting is phenomenal.  Without exception, all four women are outstanding

Do catch Ladies’ Foursome before it ends on Sunday. You can find out more at  Hudson Village Theatre is located in Hudson Quebec, off the 417 East about 30 minutes before Montreal.  Their productions are always worth the drive.

Weekend What’s Up – July 8 to 10

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Here at Ottawa Life, we’re always looking for fun events that our city offers each weekend. Here is what the city has in store for you this July 8 to 10.

Gbasketball_12ot Game Ottawa – July 9 to 10 (10 a.m.), La Cité Collégiale

Attention all basketball players! Think you got game? Back for a second year is the Got Game Ottawa basketball tournament. After player input from last year’s event, this year’s tournament is being held across two days on July 9 and 10 at La Cité Collégiale, a sponsor of the tournament.
Got Game Ottawa is a charity event which raises funds to help a different charity each year. This year, the goal is to raise $800 towards Shelter Them, a Canadian children’s charity which helps orphaned children in Rwanda. All proceeds will help develop a soccer program for the orphans by purchasing equipment and paying for coaches.


Photo by James Peltzer.

Northern Lights Opening Night – July 9 to September 10 (10 p.m.), Parliament Hill

The best things in life are free! And so is the Northern Lights Opening Night. The bilingual show is presented nightly from July 9 to September 10, 2016. So grab your friends or family a blanket and enjoy the show whilst having snacks out of your picnic basket!
For more info, check out their website.

Shakespeare in the Park – July 2 to 30 (7 p.m.), A Park Near Youcharacter-acting
Songs, Swords and Sorcery are coming to a park near you – and this time it’s the tragedy of Macbeth that will carry you back to England and Scotland during the 11th Century.
Host “Bear and Co.” promises that it won’t be the Macbeth you read in high school. Bring your loved ones, a picnic dinner and a blanket to keep warm whilst the tragic drama leaves you shivering from delight.
To find out which park it will be in during the day you’d like to go, click here.

Color Run 5km – July 9 (9 a.m.), Rideau Carleton Racewaygirls-438152__180
Get ready for the most colourful fun-filled day of your life! Lace up your (better not too new) running shoes and get coloured all over while sweating on the 5k run. There will be a dance party and colour throw post-workout, so it’s going to be a fun day without a doubt.
The Color Run is hosted by the Tropicolor World Tour- check out their website for tickets and pricing.

Donald Kinsey, The Kinsey Report, RBC Ottawa Bluesfest, July 2015 - © MikesMedia.comBluesfest – July 7 to 17 (6 p.m.), LeBreton Flats Festival Grounds
If nights of toe-tapping tunes, sultry sounds, soothing blues and jazz music sound like your kind of thing, a visit to the Bluesfest at LeBreton Flats is a must! The Ottawa Bluesfest – which is the largest blues festival in Canada – brings some of the greatest entertainers in the music industry to Ottawa. Apart from blues musicians, the Line-up also includes world-famous artists such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Billy Idol, The Lumineers and Sam Hunt.
For tickets, information and the schedule, click here.

Later in the week: 

paintHow Deep Is Your Rhizome? – July 14 (7 p.m.), Ottawa Art Gallery
Thinking ahead of the weekend: On Thursday, July 14 the Ottawa Art Gallery is hosting an interactive multimedia event called “How Deep is Your Rhizome?”.
The intention of the crowdsourced art event is to find out what old-growth forests, gift economies, and the Internet have in common.
You can even participate in the event by sending in links, ideas and projects  that deal with the themes of networks, systems and other nodes of connection. If you are interested in joining this free event, you can either check their Facebook page or their website for further information.

Locals Play the Blues

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Fuse Day 1 (94 of 102)

Feature photo by Andre Gagne. Article photos supplied by RBC Bluesfest.

RBC Bluesfest is known for bringing in some of the music industry’s top talents from all over the map and the 2016 festival is still globe trekking. There’s Sweden’s The Tallest Man on Earth, English singers like Noel Gallagher, Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol, Norway DJ Cashmere Cat, Ginkgoa and Madeon from France, Australia’s Archer, Niger’s Bombino, and Los Angeles funk rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

While you can musically travel the planet by stage hopping, the festival is also packed with musicians and bands from no farther then your Ottawa backyard. Local talent has been important to the festival since day one, not only as a way to fill the concert roster but also to showcase what our city has to offer. Often these locals can be found playing bars, but when Bluesfest sets up shop at LeBreton Flats, they get to perform on a larger stage where they can attract a new audience.

We chatted with 17 of the homegrown acts you can catch this year about what the festival means to local musicians, some of their past fest memories and what goes into prepping for a festival gig.

xl_artist_370_20160223074606_c280366dThe Peptides:
Sun, July 17, 3:00 PM > 4:00 PM | City Stage

How do the Peptides go about planning a festival show as opposed to, say, one of the more intimate club shows you have done of recent? Is there much difference, say, being on that gigantic stage instead of places where your hands hit the ceiling during the choreography?

DeeDee Butters: We love playing the more intimate spaces just as much as we love the big festival shows that we’ve done. For a festival we try to keep the songs upbeat and energetic. We design a more driving, danceable set that will keep people moving and cheering and twirling. For festival shows it also depends on the occasion – we would play a different set for a feel-good event than we would for a rough and rockin’ festival. For the more intimate venues that we play, we like to include some of our darker and more theatrical songs, as well as some of our softer stuff. Either way, a good setlist is all about peaks and valleys. We always like to open with a big number, then follow with 2 or 3 numbers that get more energetic than the last. Then we can relax into something more low-key and build another peak from there. Later in the set, we will land on a gorgeous ballad that will get people’s heart strings singing. Then we power up and finish on a high.

As a band that has played the festival before, can you tell me what a Bluesfest gig does for a group in the aftermath of a show?

Playing Bluesfest is a huge high for all of us! I remember when we played several years ago – it was our first main festival stage and we were so excited. It’s such a significant festival in music in North America…to be able to play there, and on such a large stage is definitely a benchmark. We were sound checking in the afternoon, and MuchMore Music heard us from across the field and came right over to see the show. And Bluesfest is a perfect place to launch something new, which is why we’ve always tried to have something fresh to offer for the big show. For many bands, playing Bluesfest becomes a major peak in summer activity. After the show, you can bask in the memory of the fantastic stage, the great crowd, the big adrenaline rush.

AmosAmos The Transparent:
Sun, July 17, 5:00 PM > 6:00 PM | City Stage

Can you tell me what goes into the prep for the band when it comes to a festival gig like Bluesfest or is it treated as any other show?

Chris Wilson: We always plan a little extra for sure. There’s always added comfort when considering the crews and technical abilities – those guys are fantastic so we like to take advantage of that. Be it a guest musician or two, a couple extra lines for different instruments, knowing that they are setup to handle anything… why wouldn’t we take advantage of that!

With so many acts from outside of the city coming into town over the two weeks of the fest, do you feel local acts get lost in the shuffle or get a better opportunity to attract a new audience?

Definitely the latter. The Ottawa festivals have always done a great job at sneaking the locals in with the big acts and that should definitely be noted and applauded. Sure, if your short straw is drawn and your scheduled to be on at the same time as Drake, your audience might be a little skimmed but the great part is the over spill and getting to play for so many people that otherwise might not come out to a club to check out your set.

As a band that has played a few festivals in town, how do find the overlap of choice this time of year? Do you see it as a hindrance at all or only just more outlets to perform?

Summer time is always a busy time wherever you go and there’s nothing anyone could do or should do to change that. Having multiple chances to get out and play outside is never a bad thing.

Monkey JunkMonkeyJunk:
Thu, July 14, 9:30 PM > 10:45 PM | Barney Danson Theatre

Monkey Junk has been involved with the festival for many years. Can you tell me some memorable moments the band has had there?

Matt Sobb: We have played this festival as MonkeyJunk since 2009 (and individually with other projects for much longer than that) but right after we formed MonkeyJunk, in 2008, we played 3 songs in the middle of Tony D’s power hour set. It was our first time showing the band to a bigger crowd. It was exhilarating and showed us we could grow the band to something much bigger than just a bar band.  More memorable shows ensued. We have backed some great blues artists like Johnny Sansone from New Orleans and James Harman from California. We opened for Drake in 2010 and had a much younger crowd see us. We rocked so hard, the power went out! The most memorable though would be a few notable sets of our own that drew big crowds on both the River stage in 2013 and Black Sheep stage last year in 2015. To be able to draw a few thousand people to see us play our songs at a festival in our hometown is very meaningful to us!

You are involved this year with the All-Star Blues Revue. Can you tell us about this multi-day event?

It will have the spirit of an old-fashioned blues jam but it will be more refined. It will be the 3 of us plus Mike Turenne on bass, plus the Texas Horns as the backing band every night. Then we will have 4 different guests per night and we’ll (mostly) know what we are doing before we get on stage. Don’t worry, there will lots of spontaneity and interaction as per usual! We are excited to play with some long time pals like Colin Linden, Paul Reddick and Sue Foley and are excited to meet and rock with some new friends like Jack Broadbent and Jeff Lang.

How would you define this festival to somebody who has never attended?

It is a really great music festival. Too many people get hung up on the name. This festival started as a festival that featured blues music. That is it’s roots but the festival grew steadily over the years and grew beyond one genre of music. It has been branded as Bluesfest but it is a great chance to see country, roots, folk, pop, electronic dance music, world music, classic rock, and lots of blues still!

Tina WallaceTina Wallace:
Fri, July 8, 12:00 PM > 1:00 PM | CF Rideau Centre Free Programming

Your Bluesfest bio states you are an expert breakup-song writer. Can you elaborate on why that type of song seems to be a theme in your music?

Tina Wallace: I think when I say that I’m an expert breakup-song writer I’m really saying that I’m an expert at writing songs about my own breakups. The pain of a jilted ex lover seemed to be the easiest type of writing for me growing up, and it formed into the type of songs that my audiences would say they related to the most.

What are you most excited about when it comes to your Bluesfest show?

Playing Bluesfest this year is a dream come true for me, so I’m pulling out all the stops. As a singer songwriter my shows aren’t very theatrical, but I’ve hired an awesome session guitarist (Charles Höppner of Valois) to help out with all the frills and face paint. We’ve got a really weird showcase planned, and I’m most excited for my folks to see it. They’re big music buffs, and getting to share this experience with them is going to be so exhilarating.

suitstoquesSuits ‘n Toques:
Thu, July 7, 6:00 PM > 6:45 PM | Black Sheep Stage

How would you describe the ska/punk scene in Ottawa these days?

Chris Ferrante: It’s OK. Honestly the turnout to shows have been great, the crowds have been great and the venues have been really supportive. We just need a few more local bands! There are a few ska guys kicking around but a few more would be nice. House of Targ is doing a ska thing monthly at their bar pairing up local guys with some out of town acts. That has seen great success so far. Also watch out for Ottawa Skafest in late September. It was a huge success last year. Both nights completely sold out.

What can audiences expect from your coming Bluesfest show?

High energy. Dancing, sweating, fun! We have a horn section of two saxophones and a trombone, accompanied by a couple of guitarists, bass and drums. Our style of music is fast, fun, and really translates well into a live show. We just be ourselves and really feed off the energy of the crowd. Really looking forward to bringing our A game at Bluesfest!

Sun, July 10, 6:00 PM > 7:00 PM | Claridge Homes Stage

You are in a few different bands in the city. How have you found balancing all those projects as we enter the festival season and how do you decide what band plays what fest?

Garett Barr: Fortunately for us, our major festivals such as Blues, Jazz, etc. are all pretty lengthy so the odds of two groups getting booked at the same time are low. I haven’t had a festival booking problem yet. With that said, it does always mess up everything else. The joke in Ottawa is always that, as a winter town, you stow away and record all winter, only to come out of your cocoon and play all spring and summer. As we get to be more of a festival town, the ability to play in bars in the summer lessens. Most festivals don’t want you to play within 2 weeks before or after, and band members’ schedules become full of weddings, baby showers, etc. on the weekends. Getting into the festivals and big events has become important, because the other summer options are a lot less satisfying and it becomes hard to justify getting a 6-piece band out.

What are you thoughts as to what Bluesfest adds to the city and local music community each July?

Every year I’m excited to see smaller touring acts at Bluesfest who wouldn’t normally make a stop in Ottawa, such as Charles Bradley, The Aggrolites, Shakey Graves, Shovels & Ropes, Cat Empire, or even Canadian acts like Bahamas. We are often a town that acts skip over, and so this festival is incredibly important for giving us an opportunity to see hidden gems at home. I also think that Monahan’s crew do a really great job promoting smaller and local artists within a festival that wouldn’t necessarily need those artists to make bank. This year they have 80 or so local acts and many on the big stage (like Steamers!) which is really incredible. I’m hoping that it helps the greater Ottawa community understand that we might have a home-grown version of their favourite artist at home, something that many of our suburbanites seem skeptical of. Local doesn’t always mean less than, and fame doesn’t always make a good artist, either. With that said, there has been a bit of chat about Bluesfest needing to take on more French Canadian acts, seeing as we’re in a bilingual region, so Steamers is very excited to be able to perform a few of our French songs and maybe help bridge the gap. There are a lot of amazing French Canadian artists out there that we adore, and we’d love to see them on the Bluesfest stage in future years.

You’ve played the festival before. Can you share with bands who may be playing for the first time what the experience is like and what a gig at the fest does for a band afterwards?

It’s a great festival to play. What I really appreciated the last time I played Bluesfest was the lack of distinction between “local” and “famous.” Local acts receive all the same amazing treatment like having a green room trailer. If you’re hoping it will make you famous, absolutely not. The festival experience is an awesome resume builder for bands and Bluesfest is Ottawa’s biggest festival, so it looks good. Again, it will not make you famous and it might even make it harder to find your place in the scene. For example, you might struggle with new questions such as, “do we headline or open for this show?” or “how much do we ask for now?” But if used as a very basic resume builder, citing a Bluesfest spot can help you find shows or festival spots in other cities.

MondayIMonday I Retire:
Sun, July 17, 6:30 PM > 7:30 PM | Barney Danson Theatre

So, you are a pretty energetic band that elicits a lot of movement from your audience. How do you think your show will fair in the theatre setting at the festival this year?

Mackenzie Di Millo: Honestly, it’s a pretty exciting placement for us. The artist diversity that Bluesfest is famed for really provides performers with the opportunity to reach out to audiences outside of their usual draw. Our placement in the Barney Danson Theatre not only gives us that aspect of the festival experience, it also allows for a sense of intimacy that the outdoor stages cannot always provide. That will be a treat for us, as we will be able to share both our grooviest, and our sweetest tunes, giving our audience a taste of MIR’s soft and heartfelt side, before getting them up on their feet to two-step the night away with us. It’s going to be great, and we totally cannot wait.

So, who first was told you had a spot performing at the fest this year, how did rest of the band find out, and what was your reaction?

Ben and I were the first to hear the news. We received an excited call from Ed, the head of our wonderful label London Gentleman Records (and you know Ed is excited when he goes full Brit on you and you can’t understand a word he says) stating that we got the offer. After a multitude of cheers and congratulations, Ben and I called the rest of the guys to fill them in, and thus began the phone party! After having such a great experience with Marvest last year (as part of the City Folk festival) we all knew that this time around would be a total blast. Growing up in Ottawa has allowed us the opportunity to grow up with Bluesfest, and all the magnificent musicians it brings into our city. After years of watching some truly inspirational acts hop on that big stage, it is an extremely exciting, and heartwarming feeling to know that we’ll be getting up there as well.

How do you feel a festival like Bluesfest helps promote local acts and talent?

Bluesfest does a fantastic job of shining light on Ottawa talent. It seems that the number of local bands in the festival line up grows exponentially each year, and the bands themselves just keep getting better and better. Bluesfest, through Blues in the Schools, their Bluesfest school of music workshops, and their partnership with CityFolk and thus, Marvest, has really created a special community for local musicians to not only gain extensive performance experience, but to also access information and inspiration from some of the best in the industry. Ottawa’s music scene is growing and glowing, and the Bluesfest/Cityfolk teams are enabling that in so many ways. It is an amazing feeling to see our name up on that line up list next to the likes of Dallas Green, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Brandy Carlisle (and the list goes on), but it’s almost an even crazier feeling to see it next to names like Suits n’ Toques and Amos the Transparent because it is pretty cool to know that us Ottawa kids are in this together, and that a great festival like Bluesfest is giving us a shot at shining a little bit brighter.

Lost to the RiverLost to the River:
Thu, July 7, 6:00 PM > 7:00 PM | Monster Energy Stage

How do you feel a festival like Bluesfest, while also bringing in outside acts, helps promote local musicians like yourself?

Arturo Portocarrero: Bluesfest has been loyal to the local music scene ever since its inception, with over 50 local acts per year it fuels and supports local music to its fullest. Being a local act and having the opportunity to play such a high profile festival not only gives they artists a sense of what the big leagues feel like but it also increases the amount of publicity, exposure and credibility local musicians get. Social media, nowadays, has taken a huge role when it comes to artist promotion, and Bluesfest is doing it right asit features local bands through their heavy visited and followed social media portals along the the way making local acts feel included in their festival artist roaster just as if you were any other international touring act. We’re all trying to make it, and Bluesfest is fairly helping us climb up the ladder. This year Lost to the River will play the Monster Energy Stage opening up for folk-rockers Boy & Bear and indie-rockers The Head and the Heart on opening day. It seems like Bluesfest is putting some thought into matching similar sounding artists on the same stage each day, this will immensely benefit attendance the day of their performance. We’re surely pleased and honoured to be opening for such great bands as many of our own members listen and follow them, if you’re looking to hear some good inde-folk-rock stick around the Monster Energy Stage July 7th!

You released you debut EP as part of CityFolk’s Marvest program, something that really promoted local groups. What was that experience like?

It was a surreal. We never thought Marvest and CityFolk would offer as much exposure, promotion, and prime time radio play as we got throughout the whole experience. Not only that, it also offered local artists the chance to mingle and connect with top industry folks while the festival was running. Lost to the River got to release their self titled EP in front of the most outrageously large crowd the day of their performance. What better feeling than to rock a huge festival to such a receptive audience? And on top of that LTTR was nominated and awarded the 2015 Stingray Rising Star Award. The Marvest program, heavily influenced by festivals like SXSW and NXNE, made us feel proud of Ottawa. It was something the Ottawa music scene needed and had never seen and experienced before, it was definitely a hell of a time show-hopping around town. We truly felt inspired by how receptive the crowds were not only at the Lansdowne locations but also at the out of site venues. Keep going at it, CityFolk.

LionylsThe Lionyls:
Sat, July 16, 7:00 PM > 8:00 PM | City Stage

How would you describe a Lionyls show to somebody who has never seen you perform?

Alex Jee: Our show is full of dancey rhythms, melodies that’ll touch your soul, and top it all off with a hint of some good ol’ fashioned rock. That being said, our shows turn out being a giant rock’n’soul dance party. The more energy we give off throughout the show, the more our audience gives it back. Its a very healthy cycle that helps us help the audience keep the party going.

Robbie Rigg: I would describe our show to be somewhat atmospheric, maybe overstimulating. For a small group (4 members), there’s a lot going on. Whether it be soaring vocals, blistering guitar solos, deep pocketed bass and drum grooves and the emotion displayed in the performance of our music, each member of the band brings something unique to the table that as a whole is exciting. When all of these different senses and factors are tied together every member of the audience enjoys their own unique experience.

Zach Raynor: We strive to create a performance that is dynamic and exciting; the songs are all very different from one another and our physicality compliments the music. We take advantage of every opportunity to connect with our audience. It is very important to us that the people who come to our show feel engaged, as their engagement and energy fuels us. There are funk, soul, rock and roll, and even some more contemporary pop influences in our sound, as we hope to give everyone (no matter their taste), the ability to enjoy our music and show.

How would you say playing a festival like Bluesfest helps out a new band like yourself?

Alex Jee: Playing a festival like Bluesfest is a great opportunity for any new and upcoming artist. It allows for people within the community to see the kind of great original music there is on the rise. Every artist comes from a town, and a chance to showcase ones talents in front their hometown is a great way to gain the community’s support for when its time to start a new chapter in an artists life, such as releasing a single or an album, or even going on tour. Also playing a music festival such as Bluesfest (which takes place over the summer) is a great way to get recognition from out of town visitors who are following acts from the festival.

Robbie Rigg: Well being allotted the time and stage we have, I would imagine substantially. I think it may change our community’s perspective on our group as well. Possibly giving those who have seen us in our beginnings the impression that we deserve and belong on bigger stages supporting larger Canadian and International acts. Also providing us the opportunity to reach more fans, whether from Ottawa or out of town, of all age groups. It’s a huge opportunity to gain some notice within our burgeoning music scene.

Zach Raynor: Playing Bluesfest legitimizes us in the Ottawa music community. We are being recognized by our peers for all the work we’ve put in over the past 3 years. And for the members of the band, a gig like this serves as a pleasant suggestion that perhaps we are worthy of the national, and even international stage. It’s a great confidence booster, especially since we’ve been graced with such a wonderful spot.

LindsayLindsay Ferguson:
Fri, July 15, 6:30 PM > 7:30 PM | Monster Energy Stage

I read that you sort of fest hop between Canada and Switzerland. What would you say are the main differences in playing festivals in both countries?

Lindsay Ferguson: In some cases, the whole city (old section of the city) is involved, the café’s and restaurants, so each place has something happening, and you kind of bar hop/café hop, rather than outdoor stages. In other cities, there are stages set up around the town, here and there (outside) rather than one plot of land, (i.e. a farmer’s field or a sports field with stages at either end North American style). I guess the fact that you can drink anywhere in Switzerland (buses, trains, parks etc) leaves the festival plot way more free in the way it is set up! It can be pretty chaotic, so if you are arriving to the city as a first timer, it is pretty electric with a flow of many music Lovers! I will say that both Canada and Switzerland know how to treat their artists fairly; professionalism etc. I am quite thankful to have both places to explore.

Wait, you had tea with Bono?! How did that happen and what did you talk about?

Oh man, that is a memory that has stayed pretty perfect in all of its detail. From the Freckles on his cheeks to his gold pinky ring, to the weather outside… it amazes me what we do and how fearless we are when we are just getting our start. At this point, I had one song written/recorded and found out that he was coming to the hotel I was working at in Ireland. I was sure to bring my song in that day, so he could hear it. Without getting into the details of how it all happened (that would take up too much space! But I did write about it in my blog on my website and there is a podcast about it over at essentially he listened to my song. I had also prepared a tea tray for our little visit together! I was working as a server in the restaurant so I had access. While he was listening and as we were sitting side by side, his smile grew wide and he used some positive adjectives (Beautiful! Dizzy!) as well as recommending I stick to the natural folk/roots, the heart & soul flow of the music; suggesting I listen some Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young for more inspiration. At the time I had also been singing in an acid jazz band, as well as dabbling in blues. Before leaving me he turned around, looked and me and said “I’m sure I will see you again!” Those words rung in my head when I was in doubt, for many years. It would be Bono’s voice in my head giving me the ass-kick I needed, bringing me out of a slump, in a way? I suppose if Bono liked my music/sound then I was doing okay and had better keep pushing!

What do you feel the Bluesfest has done to personally help your career?

First and foremost, confidence. When I was growing up and attending various music festivals, I would stand in the crowd dreaming of being on stage. I wanted it so badly, I just needed the mileage! When I finally got to do that myself (Bluesfest was one of the first) it helped me believe in my ability. It wasn’t just my MOM saying it anymore! Also, the level of professionalism is huge. I had no idea what a Stage Plot, or Stage Rider was pre-Bluesfest. It has been instrumental in the rise of Lindsay Ferguson Music. Thank you Mark Monahan believing in me!

Can you share one of your favourite Bluesfest memories?

The Black Sheep Stage is a very special stage. It has introduced me to some of my favourite music of all time. I remember standing (almost) alone in front of the stage waiting for the artist to appear. I think it was probably a 3pm show. Then the crowd starting arriving in droves and this one dude comes out with his guitar and starts wowing us all. I had never heard of him and here was this huge crowd, singing all the words, and I was astonished. José Gonzalez is now one of my all time favourite musicians/songwriters! I am so thankful for that! Also, standing on the side of that same stage while Hawksley Workman invited a ten-year-old out of the crowd- to come up and sing with him… awww. The sweet joyful moments that can happen will just fill you right up.

Sun, July 17, 6:00 PM > 7:00 PM | Claridge Homes Stage

Bluesfest is really a multi-genre festival and sometimes takes a bit of heat for that. What are your thoughts on festivals like this one expanding to genres outside of the one used in their name?

James Rooke: Although we’re blues enthusiasts and play blues inspired music, I think it’s great for the festival and our city overall. The broader spectrum of acts generate more crowd and tourism for Ottawa. On a local scale it also allows non-blues bands an opportunity to perform a top-notch, professional show.

You come to Bluesfest this year promoting your first album. How did York St come together and why that particular street for the title?

The album York St and even leMeow as a band were created unintentionally. About 18 months ago Gin received a FACTOR demo grant for some songs she wrote. I was brought in to help with studio pre-production and perform on the 3 song EP. That EP ended up being called leMeow and was enough of a foot-print to get some festival shows which then required an actual band. When we received a second and thirdFACTOR demo grant we decided to compile the sessions into a full-length album. We called the album York St because of the title track but also as an homage to York St. It’s one of the most thriving places in town. There’s so much live music and sub-culture. I lived on York St for 8 years in my 20’s. Being that close to the ByWard Market accounts for a lot of shenanigans and memories.

FireAntlersFire Antlers:
Fri, July 8, 6:00 PM > 7:00 PM | Barney Danson Theatre

What would you say makes the Bluesfest so successful each year?

Travis Kinnear: The massive diversity of the acts is what draws me to the festival year after year. You get such an eclectic mix of performers gathered at one location, almost every night has something that any type of music fan would be interested in. I find that this kind of a set-up encourages festival-goers to take in sounds that they may not have paid much attention to prior to being exposed to it.

Who are you looking forward to seeing this year?

Every year Bluesfest seems to bring in a really great African act, and this year one of my favourite guitarists, Bombino, will be playing. Think Jimi Hendrix mixed with the desert blues of Tinariwen. So far, his new album is probably my favourite release of the year. There are also lots of great local acts who I’m really looking forward to seeing on the big stage: Pipahauntas, The Yips, Pith and the Parenchymas, Merganzer. I could go on and name just about every local who’s playing, Ottawa’s music scene never fails to surprise me!

What’s it like to play the fest?

Working towards the festival has been great so far, it’s actually been a lot of fun doing the technical stuff that we’ve never had the opportunity to do at the smaller gigs that we’re usually playing, like setting up a stage plot or arranging merchandise. Sounds a bit nerdy I guess, but it’s given us new perspectives on the variety of tasks that these larger acts have to prepare for every show. Over the past few months Fire Antlers has evolved from a 2-piece to a 5-piece in preparation to blast our songs into the stratosphere, and take our audience along for the ride!

Sat, July 16, 3:00 PM > 4:00 PM | Monster Energy Stage

So, who had the idea to start busking outside of Bluesfest each day and what went into getting all your equipment out there. What about the song choices?

Quinn Dubé: Busking outside Bluesfest kinda just shaped itself. We started busking on Sparks and in the market and when Bluesfest came around we were all kinda like “were doing this” because we always looked for the best places to busk. My dad had a big part, we would pack all the gear into the truck, it was about a whole trunk full of gear, and he would drive it to the busking site and organize pretty much everything. He was the sound man for all those shows. We were all having fun because our family had become a team. We were up late packing gear, unpacking, driving. It was a lot of work but definitely a great experience! We learned all the classics like Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, Nirvana etc. and organized a whole set of covers to perform. We played the songs we loved listening to, that’s it.

You’ve been asked to return again to Bluesfest. What would you say the festival has done for the band?

Jan Dubé: Bluesfest is great! They were really supportive of our busking efforts back in the day and continue to support all kinds of local talent. We are exited to be apart of it this year!

DanielleDanielle Allard:
Wed, July 13, 6:00 PM > 7:00 PM | Barney Danson Theatre

How do you feel a festival like Bluesfest supports locals like yourself while simultaneously having to bring in outside acts?

Danielle Allard: Having worked in many areas on stage and off in the entertainment industry, I know the struggle in booking acts and ensuring there is a space for emerging artists. I feel so grateful to be a part of the Ottawa music scene as so many of our festivals create a space for us to showcase to new audiences. We also need to support touring acts and these new projects visiting town build our scene but also build our audiences. Having toured myself, I know it is not easy, and I know the team at Bluesfest takes good care of artists. We want to make Ottawa a music city so we need to show visitors what a truly amazing city we live in and have them share that with the rest of the world.

What can festival goers expect at your coming show?

We are going full chameleon for this show! I do a lot of charity work and performances, so many people around town have seen me solo. For smaller shows, they usually catch a duo performance. For Bluesfest, we have a full 5-piece band featuring myself on vocals and guitar, Dean Watson on bass, Jamie Holmes on drums, Ed Lister on trumpet, and Sebastian Romanutti on piano. We will be playing the full album together with an addition of some new surprise material.

chpThe Chocolate Hot Pockets:
Fri, July 15, 6:00 PM > 7:00 PM | Barney Danson Theatre

What do you feel the festival adds to the local music community each summer?

Jamie Holmes: I think the festival adds a lot of excitement in our music community and pride since Ottawa often gets bypassed by touring bands who skip over us in favour of Montreal and Toronto so to have so much amazing talent at our doorstep for the entirety of the festival is a great thing. There always seams to be a buzz in the city starting around early June when the countdown to Bluesfest is on and everyone is eager to go out see a ton of live music which generally doesn’t happen here throughout the year. When the festival is on, it seams like nothing else matters in the city since Bluesfest is such a big deal so its a great time because live music is the most important thing happening in our city. For the local bands like us that get selected to play, its a real honour to be considered to participate in such a successful festival with some of the biggest names in the business. It gives us local bands a reason to keep growing and to continue to expand our fan base.

You guys have a really unique sound. How would you describe your music to others who may not have seen a Chocolate Hot Pockets show before?

Alex Moxon: We’re an instrumental funk band. We take solos. If you lived in a border town between Funkton, Jazzcadia, Greater NeoSoulia and the Hip Hop Peninsula you’d find people there playing the kind of music we do. Everything grooves super hard and is very specifically written out and hooky. It’s music that makes you want to move. On the other hand, we each have a strong jazz background so we take liberties with the music every time we play it. No show is ever exactly the same, except that you’re guaranteed to have a wicked time.

Touching upon multiple genres yourself, how do you feel Bluesfest helps foster different music tastes in the acts it chooses to showcase?

JP Lapensee: Bluesfest is really great and showcasing a wide variety of musical styles and bands. There is something for everyone at this festival and no shortage of talent. This is great for concert goers as it means that they have a great opportunity to hear world class music that they may not have been exposed to. Since there is so many bands playing every day, it is very easy to go and see the band you want to see as well as a number of others  you may never even heard of which is great because a lot of the time you will end up with a pleasant surprise and some great new music worth checking out. For local bands who may not have a huge draw, getting a chance to play on the same day as a major headlining act is a huge opportunity to get their music exposed to a brand new audience who may never have gotten the chance to hear their music.

BrockBrock Zeman:
Sun, July 17, 8:00 PM > 9:00 PM | Monster Energy Stage

Festivals offer a lot of opportunity to stage hop. Do you find playing Bluesfest helps introduce different people to your music that may not have discovered it outside of the festival setting.

Brock Zeman: It’s always great to play festivals because you get to connect with a whole group of people that otherwise would have to dig around to find us.

With 11 albums under your belt, you’re certainly your one of the most prolific locals performing this year. What is your advice for some of the newcomers to the festival and local scene?

Write and tour, write and tour, then think of better ways to write and tour.

pitchPith and The Parenchymas:
Sat, July 16, 3:30 PM > 4:30 PM | Black Sheep Stage

The band has played Bluesfest in the past shortly after releasing Song of the Neverending Ugly Lizard. Can you tell me about what that experience was like for you?

Chris Love: It was ok. My guitar broke on stage. We had to adapt the set a bit because of that. But all in all we pulled it off, barely. I’m excited to nail it for real this time. Also gonna be nice playin outside rather than the indoor theatre.

Here you again playing the fest after an LP release. Do you sense a theme here, album release/Bluesfest gig?

More or less yeah. Both albums took way longer than anticipated, so it’s hard to say that it was anything intentional. It’s probably just the way the toiling of winter untangles itself into the resolution of spring and summer, things start to feel done and fulfilled. It’s a natural time to drop an album.

What do you feel are some of the best aspects of this festival?

Really, as a local artist who has twice had the privilege of participating, I gotta say that it’s the bolstering of new artists that it provides. I hope the organizers continue to do so, and broaden this support to even more communities and scenes making music in this region.


Ottawa Life’s Festival City Series will provide a unique look at some of your favourite summer events.We’ll go beyond the music with artist interviews, volunteer profiles, concert reviews and spotlights on the tastes, sights and sounds of the festival season. Your city! Your festivals! Your summer! Like a good sunscreen, Ottawa Life has you covered.

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