Celebrating the Flower of Freedom

May 14, 2015 12:00 pm

This month the 2015 Canadian Tulip Festival marks the 70th anniversary commemorating the close ties between Canada and the Netherlands. The close ties between the countries can be traced back to the liberation of the kingdom of Netherlands, when Holland’s Princess Juliana and her family sought refuge from the invading German military during the Second World War.

IMG_0249In 1943, Princess Juliana gave birth to Princess Margriet at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. The Canadian Government granted the newborn full Dutch citizenship; in efforts of ensuring the Princess maintain her line of succession to the throne. Canada was then presented with 100,000 tulip bulbs as an expression of gratitude from Holland. These roots stemmed the 1953 beginnings of the Ottawa Tulip Festival, which was later named the Canadian Tulip Festival.

Each year, the Netherlands sends 20,000 tulip bulbs to Canada as a symbol of their appreciation. The Canadian Tulip Festival attracts more than half a million visitors to the capital. It is the largest festival of its kind in the world.

On Saturday, May 8, I toured the first full day of the tulip festival with my son. I have heard it said that spending time with your children is more important than spending money on your children. The Ottawa Tulip Festival is definitely a great place to start!

We began our day with a complimentary horse and carriage ride—a return trip from Dow’s Lake to Somerset Street West. The tour was accompanied by great music, friendly smiles and an aura of patriotic freedom.

Wanting to take full advantage of the festivities, we cruised the Ottawa River in a canoe for an hour. A well-spent $16!

IMG_0207 (1)The festival is a garden of family-fun; with a blooming stretch of activities for children, including climbing structures, games, sports, arts workshops, souvenir kiosks, daily tea-time and cultural performances.

But what happened to the history of the festival, the patriotic ties and…well, the tulips? As I began writing this story, my six-year-old son commented, “Mom what you should write is that the tulips are not as nice this year.” Perhaps he has a valid point.

The tulips and all of their natural beauty seem to be taking a backseat in recent years to the other attractions being offered. The tulip stands as more than a flower, as it represents the liberation of the Netherlands from the grasp of Nazi Germany. We must try to remember this as we gaze at the 50 varieties of tulips on display at Dows Lake. The noted Ottawa photographer Malak Karsh spent his life photographing and capturing the beauty of the tulip and his memorable images remain as a testament to this wonderful gift from the Dutch people.

As my son and I took in the grand display of the flowers, I couldn’t help but think the real focus of the festival should be on what the tulip really stands for: the flower of freedom. After all, freedom is truly beautiful.

Make sure to catch the 2015 Canadian Tulip Festival, on now until May 18.

Click here for more info.

Folk Rock Hits the Road to Ottawa

May 12, 2015 12:07 pm
The River and the Road

Shining headlights across the country, Vancouver-based folk rock band The River and The Road are touring Canada in support of their new album. They will be stopping in Ottawa on Thursday, May 14, for a performance at Cafe Dekcuf.

the-River-and-the-Road-DinerThe band started off as a busking duo, consisting of singer and guitarist Andrew Phelan and Keenan Lawlor on vocals and banjo. In spring of 2012, they emerged as a quartet with the addition of drummer Cole George and bassist John Hayes. The band’s first full-length album was self-titled and released in the spring of 2012.

Throughout Canada and Australia, The River and The Road are recognized for their sincere lyrics, heavy percussion breakdowns and, above all, gripping live performances.

The band’s anticipated second record, Headlights, will be available for purchase on iTunes Tuesday, May 12. It features 10 diverse tracks according to Lawlor, ranging from ballads to bluesy folk.

“My favourite songs would probably be White Flag and The Bee,” he explains after much contemplation. “They turned out pretty well on the album and somehow resonate more for me than the others.”

Take a listen to the album’s single Mistakes and figure out why it is my favourite track.

“Our first album was put together by just me and Andrew with couple friends playing on it,” Lawlor says. “The new album shows off the four of us and is much bigger and a lot more exciting.”

Released through MapleMusic Recordings, Headlights is produced by Jamey Koch, who has previously worked with artists like the Tragically Hip, Michael Bublé and Ron Sexsmith.

“Jamie is probably the most passionate person I have ever worked with on a professional basis,” Lawlor says. “He just got a lot out of us performance wise and I think he really made us shine.”

Lawlor says The River and The Road have always had a good crowd at their shows in the Capital.

“We really enjoy playing in Ottawa,” he says. “Out of Eastern and Central Canada it is one of my favourite spots.”

For more information, including tour dates and tickets, check out The River and The Road website or Facebook page.

Pick Zaac For Your Weekend Concert

May 7, 2015 11:11 am
Zaac Pick - Purple Horizontal - 2015 - Photo Credit Rachel Pick - 1.2MB

Zaac Pick will have Ottawa stargazing with his performance at the Black Sheep Inn on May 7, where he will be sharing songs from his new folk-pop album Constellations.

The Vancouver-based singer-songwriter released his debut full-length album last month. Co-produced by Jonathan Anderson, the album was recorded over a span of nearly two years and across four provinces, with band members in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.

Zaac Pick - Constellations - Album Cover Artwork - 1.3MB“Ultimately I am making music trying to recreate how much music means to me—how it has accompanied me through good times or helped me through more difficult times,” Pick explains. “It is always incredibly rewarding to hear that your music has done that for someone else.”

Constellations is a collection of nine heartfelt songs featuring compelling lyrics and haunting melodies. Pick’s favourite track on the album is Kites.

“It is the song that I feel allowed me to explore some new possibilities and territory with my voice that I didn’t know were there,” he explains. “I am really glad that my producer encouraged me to explore my range a little more.”

Take a listen to the track here.

Pick has released two albums before Constellations. His first solo EP, Fierce Wind, came out in 2009 and his sophomore EP, Whitewater, in 2011. After two years of steady writing and touring, Pick has seen much growth in his music.

“If the albums were a painting, the other ones would be more muted and less saturated colours,” Pick says. “This one has a lot more texture and depth for sure.”

So far in his career, Pick has earned a West Coast Music Award nomination for Best Solo Roots Recording and has shared stages with acts like Grammy-Award winning duo the Civil Wars, Bahamas and Noah Gundersen. His music has also been used on primetime TV shows including Rookie Blue, Saving Hope, Bitten and One Tree Hill.

Pick is hitting stages across the country throughout April and May. He will be stopping in Wakefield, Quebec this month.

“I have had a few small, but really good shows (in the Ottawa area) so I am really looking forward to coming back,” Pick explains. “Especially being from the opposite side of the country, it is just a really fun place.”

For more information about Constellations or its release tour, visit Pick’s website.

Eat, Drink, pARTy

May 6, 2015 10:13 am
David Kaarsemaker

Artist: David Kaarsemaker

Looking for new artwork to freshen up your home?

The Ottawa Art Gallery’s leading fundraising event Le pARTy Art Auction will lead you to the perfect piece!

On Thursday, May 21, prepare to be whisked away in a cultural fantasy land surrounded by
Ottawa’s best food, drinks and of course, art!

Artist: Meredith Snider

Artist: Meredith Snider

The event is a silent art auction featuring the art of 65 accomplished regional artists, each individually chosen through a peer-based selection process.

While some of the participating artists are in the midst of their careers, others are new talents who are increasingly rising into the scene.

Featured in the show will be a variety of media types, including ceramics, printmaking, mixed media, fashion design, photography…the list goes on and on!

The selection committee puts a strong focus on highlighting every aspect of our region’s ethnic and linguistic differences, bringing attention to important forms of cultural expression in our community.

Whether you’re replacing an old piece of artwork or looking to add something new to your home, there’ll be a painting, a sculpture or a photograph that is destined to be adopted into your household.

For nearly 20 years, Le pARTy has been a primary source of the gallery’s overall operating budget. All funds from the event go towards preparations for the gallery’s new building, curating the famous Firestone Collection of Canadian Art and supporting Ottawa’s artistic community.

When the event arrives, take a moment to glance around the room for pink stars. These mark the five pieces included in the Critics’ Choice, which is an initiative that aims to shed light on the auction’s most noteworthy pieces. After being selected by a group of Ottawa’s arts experts the Critics’ Choices’ will be announced on Monday, May 18.

Join fellow art lovers and foodies this spring in the pursuit of the perfect piece.

Are you ready to place your bid?

Ready, Set, Race!

May 4, 2015 2:05 pm

There’s no denying that the Rideau Canal is the prefect route for a spring run.

Runners have already dusted off their shoes and have taken to the pathway to prepare for the upcoming races across Ottawa.

This season, Sporting Life will be hosting their first 10k event in Ottawa on Mother’s Day. The race route will run along the scenic route of the Rideau Canal with the post run party hosted at Lansdowne Park on Sunday, May 10. The run is perfect for families looking to support their community in a fun and active setting and it’s also a great opportunity for women to get out and celebrate Mom.

“We are so excited to work with Sporting Life on their first 10k event in Ottawa,” says Connie Lebrun, Corporate Development Officer, CHEO Foundation. “With net proceeds going to the children’s hospital, this event will generate essential funds to further our support of local children and families in need.”

“When you weigh the price to run and what you get with the offering participants are virtually running for free,” says John Roe, Director of Marketing Sporting Life. “Plus you add in that when you raise over $100 you get your registration fee back…it’s a win-win for both the participant and the charity. What makes the Sporting Life 10k different than all others is that all the net proceeds go to the charity.”

There is still time to register. See you there!

Click here for more information.

Merivale Optometric Centre Patient Appreciation Trunk Show

10:48 am

Looking for your perfect pair of glasses? Don’t settle for anything less than the best. For a wide variety of glasses and sunglasses bound to suit your style and budget, don’t miss the upcoming Merivale Optometric Centre Patient Appreciation Trunk Show on May 7!

The third annual trunk show event is featuring glasses and sunglasses from Kate Spade, Jimmy Choo, St-Laurent Paris, Celine, Marc Jacobs and Max Mara, among many other high-quality brands at an exclusive discount. This is a great opportunity to browse entire collections of designer eyewear not often locally available.trunkshow

With complimentary food and drinks, giveaways and exclusive discounts on Varilux and Crizal lenses, grab your friends for an evening of fashion and fun!

Being a local independent clinic, the Merivale Optometric Centre enjoys supporting local causes. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Ottawa-based organization Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind. This incredible local organization helps visually impaired people stay active and independent. You’ll even get an opportunity to interact with one of the guide dogs and their foster family. Dogs, shopping and cocktails? Who can resist!

The Merivale Optometric Centre has been providing complete eye care to patients since 1987. The doctors and staff are committed to ensuring the comfort and satisfaction of each and every patient by providing the highest quality of vision care with an emphasis on eye disease prevention.

The mission of the Merivale Optometric Centre is to provide patients with professional optometry care, personal attention and thorough answers to any questions that may arise.

When it comes to choosing your perfect pair of glasses, you won’t be short on options! With over 1,000 pairs of eyeglasses and sunglasses to choose from for men, women and children, you are bound to find something to suit your style and budget at this can’t-miss local event.

The Merivale Optometric Centre Patient Appreciation Trunk Show will be held on Thursday, May 7 from 4—8 p.m. at Merivale Optometric Centre, located at 1547 Merivale Road.

For more information, visit merivale.net.

Don’t miss it!

The Musical Storm of Ash & Bloom

May 1, 2015 2:29 pm
Ash & Bloom_Spaceship promo_Emma-Lee Photography_1MEG

The powerhouse folk duo Ash and Bloom, is bringing a musical storm to Ottawa. Echoing thunderous harmonies and striking bolts of brilliant songwriting, these two are a must-see act this spring.

Hamilton-based Matt McKenna and James Bloemendal have been playing music together for almost a decade, originally meeting in the baritone section of a classical choir. They bounced around performing in various bands before establishing the duo in 2013.

“We are a great musical match,” says McKenna. “We are just always on the same page.”

CDE449Both of the artists grew up in musical households, coming by their talent honestly.

“It was sort of an everyday experience for me, but as I started getting older I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to play music as my job?’” McKenna explains. “I thought it would just be more of a hobby, but the more I did it the more it seemed possible—and here I am.”

Ash and Bloom made its first big step in the music scene two years ago when touring North America with Canadian singer-songwriter Justin Hines. Performing in more than 80 cities, all of the ticket sale money was donated to local charities in each location.

Shortly following the tour, McKenna and Bloemendal released their first full-length album Let the Storm Come on Toronto’s Orange Lounge record label. It features a dozen lyrically and harmoniously heart-warming tracks which have been praised across North America, New Zealand and Australia.

“We wrote maybe 400 songs for this album and boiled it down to 12,” says McKenna. “I like so many of the songs we wrote, but I think my favourite would be Let the Storm Come which became the centrepiece of the record.”

You can listen to the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GEQXKo1ZcM&spfreload=10

The making of the album was a team effort according to McKenna.

“James and I do all of our writing together on some level,” he says. “There are also a bunch of tunes where we conscripted the help of musical friends in and around the GTA.”

Some of the record’s co-writers include Juno Award-nominee Peter Katz, Caroline Brooks from folk-trio The Good Lovelies, along with singer-songwriters Julie Crochetiere and Rob Szabo.

Simon and Garfunkel have had a large influence on the distinct sound of Ash and Bloom.

“We are huge fans of Paul’s song writing,” says McKenna. “James and I are both drawn to great lyrics and songs that play with harmonies.”

The duo is now on tour and stopped by St. Paul’s University Amphitheatre in Ottawa on April 11. If you missed out, have no fear. They will be returning May 2 on their way back to Hamilton for a show in Wakefield at the Black Sheep Inn.

“It looks like Ottawa is going to be the bread to the tour sandwich,” jokes McKenna.

Their first concert is being put on by the AIDS Committee of Ottawa, with all funds raised going directly to those living and affected by HIV and AIDS in the city.

“(ACO) is doing some amazing work for people who are struggling with AIDS and the people around them,” says McKenna. “AIDS is not one of those causes that gets really trumpeted so it is great that we can step in and call a little bit of attention to the stuff that the people at ACO are doing.”

Ash and Bloom believe the concert will be a moving experience for anyone who appreciates fine tuned harmonies and lyric based songs.

“If people are coming to sit, relax and experience the music then I think they are really going to dig our show,” McKenna explains.

The duo has a few places in mind they want to visit up while in the capital city.

“One of our favourite spots not only in Ottawa but in the world is the Art Is In Bakery,” laughs McKenna. “I feel like I want four stomachs when I go there.”

For more information about the folk duo or to purchase concert tickets visit the Ash and Bloom website.

Venture into the Mind of Experts with OSFAS

April 22, 2015 11:00 am

With our busy day to day lives, it’s not too often we get the chance to sit back and engage in something new.

If you have a passion for arts and sciences, here’s your chance to discover new information at the upcoming presentations from the Ottawa Society for the Arts and Sciences (OSFAS).

OSFAS is an organization that works with professionals in the arts and sciences, such as writers, scientists, artists and community leaders. In a community with so many cultural institutions, OSFAS was created to allow people who work in these fields to connect and share information.

Throughout the months of April and May, OSFAS will put on two lectures to revive a child-like curiosity from within, leaving you pondering about new material and theories throughout the entire summer!

Here’s what you need to know:

Beavers:  The Most Powerful Animals in the World

Thursday, April 23 at 7 p.m.

Micheal Runtz is an internationally known naturalist, nature photographer, award-winning instructor with the Department of Biology at Carleton University and an author.

In his vividly graphic presentation, Runtz will sway you with his findings, proving that despite popular belief, beavers are no pests.

Following the presentation, participants are welcomed to stop in at the Indigo Hotel just across the street for a casual reception equipped with a cash bar with wine and beer.

If you end the night feeling like you need to know more, Runtz’s eleventh book, Dam Builders: the natural history of beavers and their ponds, includes an overview which expands on beavers lives’ and habitats. The book also includes about 400 rare photographs.

Being Modern:  What the Enlightenment Can Still Teach Us            

Wednesday, May 27 at 7 p.m.

Professor Douglas Moggach, named Distinguished University Professor at the University of Ottawa in 2011, has held the University Research Chair in Political Thought and graduated from Princeton University with a doctorate, will guide you on your first step to a journey of Enlightenment.

This internationally renowned political philosopher insists the 18th century Enlightenment was the ultimate turn of the tide. In his presentation, Moggach will critically explain this, elaborating that The Enlightenment is far from over.

Both events will be located at the auditorium of the Main Branch in the Ottawa Public Library.

Bring along friends to share the experience and talk over your new discoveries!

Walk Towards a Cure

April 20, 2015 3:34 pm

When you were a kid who was your favourite super hero? Batman? Superman? Wonder Woman?

No matter who it was, you always admired them for their determination and courage. These qualities are equally demonstrated by the estimated 75, 000 Canadians living with multiple sclerosis (MS), an unpredictable illness that affects vision, balance, memory and mobility. On top of that, three more people are diagnosed with MS every day.

On Sunday, April 26, 1,100 members of the community will be stepping outside to participate in this year’s 24th Annual Mandarin MS Walk.

I’ve been participating in this event for a few years now and it has always been an opportunity to catch up with family and friends, get some exercise and raise money and awareness for a deserving cause.

With all donations being invested into groundbreaking MS research and valuable services for families affected by MS, the event embellishes positivity, inspiration and hope for a future without MS.

The walk offers 3 km, 5 km and 10 km walking routes. For those looking for something a little more competitive, there will also be timed 5 km and 10 km runs.

With all the excitement this day brings you won’t even have the time to think about food. Luckily, you don’t have to! The event also offers a light breakfast and a barbeque lunch.

And your day doesn’t have to end when your walk is done! Stick around for more activities, like the MS kids area and visit the MS community village.

From Olympus to Krypton, this year’s walk is expecting appearances from a group of super-powered visitors prepared to walk. Participants from the community are also encouraged to come in costume. Mask, cape, running shoes and all!

Whether you’re in costume or walking attire, this year’s MS run will take us one step closer to ending MS.

Unable to participate on the day of the event, but still want to contribute?

Register as a Virtual Walker! This new feature is a way of contributing no matter where you are. Upon registering you’ll be set up with a fundraising page and then by simply doing your own walk or run, you are still qualified for all of the prize initiatives.

Why are you walking?

Hintonburg is Happening

April 15, 2015 3:12 pm
HH logo

Ottawa has experienced a long and chilly winter to say the least, but the snow is finally melting and patches of grass are beginning to show. This can only mean one thing! It’s time for the second annual Hintonburg Happening!

The nine day talk-worthy event is back! Last year the festival proved itself to be perhaps one of Ottawa’s best kept secrets. This uniquely entertaining event is appealing to people from all parts of Ottawa, as it showcases the heart of what makes the Hintonburg area special.

Beginning May 1 and continuing through to May 9, the Hintonburg community welcomes everyone to gather in Wellington West to celebrate in a variety of ways, demonstrating the authentic vibe that this area quietly encompasses.

Expect nothing less than the streets to be brimming with quality art, live music, bitingly tasteful foods and stellar interactive performances, all of which will be centered in the streets surrounded by some of Ottawa’s most chic businesses.

Located at Island Park Drive and continuing on to the O-Train Bridge, there is guaranteed to be something new and inspiring for everyone.

Whether it’s your second time-around attending the event and have been looking forward to it for weeks, are coming to scope out what all of the hype is about or are finally taking the time to check out that curious looking boutique you’ve been eyeballing for sometime now, this is for sure something you’ll want to attend.

This year’s festival promises to be even more engaging and enticing by showcasing the neighbourhood’s true individuality and, at the same time, raising awareness and funds for local art initiatives.

Look forward to the air bands, open pottery studio time, brunch, barbeques, kidzones, artist talks and tons of art on display.

Taking part in all of the action are businesses such as Twiss & Weber, Fab Baby Gear, Victoire, Clothes by Muriel Dombret, Oresta, Flock, Wabi Sabi and more! Additionally, this event is supported and sponsored by Tamarack Homes, the Wellington West BIA, Hintonburg Public House, Beaus Brewery and Character Creative.

Hintonburg has certainly proven itself to be a real gem. Now, let the festivities begin!

For more information of the Hintonburg Happening, click here.

Ottawa Celebrates Diverse Cultural Roots

April 14, 2015 1:07 pm
Photo courtesy of Connie Kaldor

Photo Credit: Connie Kaldor

Embrace a return to your roots by taking part in the fourth annual Ottawa Grassroots Festival.

The Grassroots Festival plans a spring weekend of family-oriented concerts and workshops each year thanks to its 100 per cent volunteer-run organization. The festival particularly focuses on folk music, dance and spoken word.

“The Grassroots Festival is above all, grassroots,” says producer of the festival, Bob Nesbitt. “It is meant to be a family friendly festival geared towards the community.”

Photo courtesy of Jake Morrisson

Photo credit: Jake Morrisson

The Ottawa Grassroots Festival will launch its celebration on April 23 with a Franco-Ontarian night. It will feature award winning francophone musicians from Ontario, including Stef Paquette and Eric Dubeau.

“There has always been the attitude of English people wanting to listen to English music and French people wanting to listen to French music,” says Grace Smith, publicity and communications manager of the festival. “We are trying to break down those barriers and give our anglophone festival patrons an opportunity to experience the French language which is really beautiful.”

Sarah Bradley will be opening for the two headliners. She is an Ottawa-based singer-songwriter with an esteemed spot in the Franco-Ontarian music scene.

“Events like the Franco-Ontarian night at the Ottawa Grassroots Festival are important — they allow a space for bilingual musicians to express themselves and engage with the audience in both languages,” explains Bradley. “I hope to see more events like this around Ottawa.”


Photo credit: Old-Man-Luedecke

On Friday evening, Old Man Luedecke will be taking to the stage with his toe-tapping music that mixes folk, bluegrass and pop genres. He is a two-time Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter and banjo player from Nova Scotia.

Luedecke has been traveling to the Capital City each year since 2004 to perform.

“I welcome the chance to come to Ottawa and play,” Luedecke says. “It’s really a unique music scene there. For some reason it’s one of the best places to play in Canada.”

Daytime workshops are open and free to everyone with various activities running from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. There will be a drumming session, ukulele building class, musical petting zoo and sing-along performances.

“When my kids were little, we couldn’t afford to go to much,” explains Nesbitt. “I have always remembered that and wanted to make Grassroots something that had a lot of free content so that all families could enjoy them.”

Saskatchewan folk musician Connie Kaldor is the final headliner scheduled to perform at the 2015 Grassroots Festival. Among her accomplishments, Kaldor has won the Juno Award for best children’s album three times in 1989, 2004 and 2005.

This year’s activities will take place from April 23-26 at the Royal Canadian Legion Montgomery branch on Kent Street. Although workshops throughout the day are free, evening performances are ticketed costing between $20-$25. There is no admission fee for children under 15 accompanied by an adult.

Shave for a Cure

April 7, 2015 10:05 am
Shave for Cure image03

During cancer treatment, patients often tend to lose their hair. A common way people show their support to family, friends and others going through treatment is by shaving their heads. It binds people together in an effort to show their love and care.

Shave for Cure image06On Wednesday, April 8, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., the Shave for a Cure charity event aims to do exactly this. Stop by Roger-Guindon Hall to have your head shaved while supporting a great cause that needs your help.

If shaving your head is a bit too much of a daunting task, rest assured there are so many more ways you can help. For instance, place a bid in the silent auction, stick around for live performances, get the kids involved with fun games or even a small donation alone makes all the difference!

The event is arranged by Smiling Over Sickness, a non-profit, student-run organization administered by the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, who also organize other numerous fundraising events like this one every year.

While last year’s event raised over $40,000, this year Smiling Over Sickness is striving to surpass this total and see even more community involvement. With all funds raised going directly to Childhood Cancer Canada for pediatric cancer research, there’s no better way to deliver hope to kids with cancer!

Shave for Cure image02On the day of Shave for a Cure, come with friends and family to the atrium of Roger Guindon Hall, located at 451 Smyth Road to participate in this annual spirited event. The participation of local organizations, businesses and community members are at the core of what makes this event thrive.

All donations contribute to granting kids with cancer a better chance for a cure to this complicated disease.

If you can’t make the event donate here in just a few steps!

Take Me Back to Coles Notes before Take Me Back to Jefferson

April 3, 2015 12:06 pm

Photo Credit: Katherine Fleitas

Before you head to the NAC for its latest production, Take Me Back to Jefferson, do yourself a favour and dig out your high school English class copy of As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, or at least your Coles Notes version if you still have it. If not, you may be taken aback by Take Me Back to Jefferson,  as it may at times seem disjointed, hard to follow and the content of the play quite gloomy.

Photo credit: Katherine Fleitas

Photo credit: Katherine Fleitas

Take Me Back to Jefferson is an immensely sad, dark play about the journey of a dysfunctional, dirt-poor family who must get their dead matriarch’s remains from its home to Jefferson, Mississippi, where she wanted to be buried. The Blundren family, consisting a father and five children (one of whom was actually fathered by the local minister, just to add a plot twist), drags her coffin on the voyage on a meagre wagon. Along that putrid voyage, as the body decomposes, the family deals with many obstacles.

This is not a “feel good” play, but then again, neither is the beautifully written book upon which it is based. It is hard to watch certain scenes—for example, the sons try to recover an escaping coffin from precarious situations. Scenes are kind of morbid and yet riveting at the same time.

The production itself is beautiful to watch and the lighting and sound are both perfectly haunting. The Theatre Smith-Gilmour Company is a theatre group that uses physical theatre to tell a story. There are minimal props (other than a few basic elements) and lots of physical movement to help tell the story. The actors capture the right level of quirkiness for their characters. It is, however, a bit off-putting when Addie, the dead mother, takes the stage and speaks. She has a distracting, thick French accent which doesn’t really fit in with the others’ Southern drawl.

Other than that, the production is interestingly intriguing on many levels. In fact, it also lingers with you for days as you contemplate the dire poverty of the family and how it copes with other very human and humbling experiences. Theatre need not always entertain in a way that makes you comfortable. This one falls into that category and is worth seeing.

Take Me Back to Jefferson runs until April 11 at the NAC.

Around the World in a Day: The Ottawa Travel & Vacation Show

March 23, 2015 10:29 am

Photo courtesy of Lois Siegel

Bit by the travel bug? Your timing couldn’t be better.


Photo courtesy of Lois Siegel

The Ottawa Travel and Vacation Show is back to guide you every step of the way in planning your next trip!

Whether you want to bask in the sun on a tropical beach, immerse yourself in European culture or escape on an African safari, all the info you need is under one roof!

A wide variety of exhibitors from all over the globe will be in attendance. The show presents over 190 travel and vacation exhibits with over 50 countries. Bound to draw your attention, tourist boards or embassies represent their countries in a festive way that celebrates their unique culture. Together with tour operators, travel agencies and resorts, they are eager to answer all of your questions! Offering free informative travel seminars, you’ll be armed with expert recommendations and must-have travel tips. Click here for the full list of exhibitors.


Photo courtesy of Lois Siegel

We can all agree that one of the best parts of travelling is tasting the local food! Be sure to come with an appetite, as the Ottawa Travel and Vacation show highlights culinary tourism in a way that is sure to tempt your tastebuds. Celebrity chefs representing Aruba, Japan, Korea and more will demo their cultural delicacies.

The Travel and Vacation Show will be held in the spectacular Shaw Centre, formerly the Ottawa Convention Centre, a state of the art building offering panoramic views of Ottawa’s iconic downtown landmarks. The ideal location to spark your imagination for future travel destinations!

Feeling overwhelmed with all of the options? Now is a better time than ever to step out of your comfort zone!

If you are headed to to the Travel and Vacation Show, why not check out the India Tourism booth? India is a magical place waiting to be discovered. There is endless history, beautiful scenery and a culture unlike anywhere else! India offers exotic, elegant and eclectic options for every traveller. Why not learn about some of the beautiful festivals that are always going on or dig in to some of the delicious cuisine? Whether you are a nature enthusiast, looking to deepen your spiritual side or to learn of important historical sites, the India Tourism booth will be able to help you find what you are looking for!

You never know where your next adventure might take you!

When & Where:
Saturday, March 28 and Sunday, March 29
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Shaw Centre, 55 Colonel By Drive


Seniors (60+) free admission on March 28
Free admission for children 12 and under

More information:

Bon voyage, Ottawa Lifers!

Calling All Superheroes!

March 20, 2015 10:32 am
HighRes-Poster Image

Are you a geek? Well, it’s time to celebrate!

The Ottawa Geek Market is back at the Nepean Sportsplex to celebrate all things superheroes and gaming from March 27 to 29.

Imagine 40,000 square feet of shopping, games and superhero-themed activities! Is there anything else you would rather be a part of for three entire days? You can participate in hero training with Captain America, build superhero crafts, use bionic art skills to colour with superheroes and show off your jumping powers in a superhero-themed bouncy castle.

The best part about showing off your superhero powers? You and the Ottawa Geek Market will be supporting the charity Heroes Are Human-The Tema Conter Memorial Trust. The organization is a hub for research, education and training dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and operational stress injuries. Heroes Are Human was founded by former paramedic Vince Savoia and is a support resource for men and women serving in Canada’s emergency service, public safety, military, communications and correctional organizations. The Ottawa Geek Market has raised more than $18,500 for local charities since its first event in 2012.

OttawaLife_ImageSo, don your best costume and get ready to be a superhero in real life! Between participating in a geeky scavenger hunt (to win an Xbox One or a Go Pro!) and costume contest, you will be able to view a massive Lego display and get to know some of the best fan clubs around.

And don’t forget about Ottawa’s very first Capital Gaming Expo! The Ottawa Geek Market is proud to introduce a convention offering a wide variety of table-top gaming for all kinds of gamers at this upcoming event. Admission to the Ottawa Geek Market gives patrons access to unlimited free play and paid tournaments.

If you are ready to be a real life superhero or to game the day away, you will not want to miss the Ottawa Geek Market. Two dollars from each ticket and 100 per cent of the money raised at the silent auction will be donated to Hereos Are Human.

Admission is free for all police and RCMP officers, 911 dispatchers, fire fighters, paramedics, military personnel (including veterans), parole officers, probation officers and correctional services staff.

The Ottawa Geek Market cannot wait to meet your inner geek!

Event Info: 

Admission prices:

Friday $15 in advance ($20 at the door). SPECIAL: Valid for 2-for-1 entry.
Saturday $15 in advance ($20 at the door).
Sunday $10 in advance ($15 at the door).

Weekend pass $20 ($30 at the door).

Children 12 and under get in for free when accompanied by an adult

Hours of operation:

Friday March 27th, 2015 – 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Saturday March 28th, 2015 – 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Sunday March 29th, 2015 – 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

For more information, please visit the Ottawa Geek Market.

The Best Brothers at the GCTC

March 17, 2015 1:18 pm

Photo credit: Andrew Alexander

They say weddings and funerals bring out the best and worst in families. Old rivalries and wounds resurface with a vengeance together of moments filled with tenderness and love. You get both in Daniel MacIvor’s play, The Best Brothers, playing at the Great Canadian Theatre Company. Plus, a lot more!

Photo credit: Andrew Alexander

Photo credit: Andrew Alexander

“Bunny” passes away, leaving two sons, Hamilton and Kyle, a dog and a lot of resentment and heavy sibling rivalry. On the surface, Hamilton is the more reserved, serious and perhaps, even more responsible brother, while Kyle is more outgoing and free-spirited. Hamilton is the classic resentful brother who, at the beginning of the play, oozes contempt for his seemingly oblivious brother. Of course, not everything is at appears and the layers are unravelled throughout the play. Interspersed in the warring brothers’ scenes, (which are sometimes fabulously funny as you can see here in the trailer) as they figure out everything from the obituary to what to do with their mother’s dog, are episodes where their mother takes the stage, offering the audience her posthumous thoughts on her life, her sons and her dog.

Ultimately, the brothers come together and, in the end, are closer, having gained more insight into the other’s perspective as well as their mother’s. The play has everything. In spite of the seemingly sad topic, there are funny, moving and touching moments throughout.

Both actors, John Ng (Hamilton) and Andy Massingham (Kyle) are perfectly cast. Both also pull off playing their mother (they take turns doing so).

The set is worth mentioning as, despite being minimalist to the extreme, it works brilliantly in every one of its required uses.

Catch The Best Brothers by clicking here for tickets and more information. It runs until March 29.

Outstanding Obaaberima

March 11, 2015 2:14 pm

Photo credit: Jeremy Mimnagh

Looking for something incredible to do this week? Head to the National Arts Centre to see its latest production Obaaberima. Playwright and actor Tawiah M’Carthy won a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best Outstanding Production in 2013 for his masterpiece. The play actually won three Doras in total: Outstanding Sound Design/Composition and Outstanding Lighting Design set. Rightfully so. Everything about this play is powerful and engaging. It runs until March 14.

Obaaberima (which disparagingly means ‘girl boy’ in Ghana) follows the story of Agyeman, played by M’Carthy, an African-Canadian man who is in prison for committing a violent crime. It is the night before his release and Agyeman, a gay man who has led a life of dual existences, shares his life story. The audience follows him as he journeys back to Ghana, where as a child, he first noticed he was different, relishing in wearing his mother’s clothes and heels.


Photo credit: Jeremy Mimnagh

That is the first time Agyeman experiences what becomes an often-felt confusion and sets him on the track of a life of mixed identities. Agyeman moves within the worlds of gay and straight, black and white, African and Canadian; sometimes with sad outcomes.

You meet his former lovers, some of whom he had when he had barely moved into teenagehood.  There is his secret lover, Opayin, the older tailor, who liked Agyeman to dress up as a woman they called Sibongile (symbolizing the female side of Agyeman). Then there is his school-aged lover from the same stage whose heart Agyeman breaks.

When Agyeman escapes to Canada to study, you see how the duality of his life continues.  He strives to live a straight life and meets and dates a woman from Ghana also in Canada and even talks of marrying her. Then you see his separate gay life and how he maintains both lives even when he moves in with his gay lover he dearly loves.

Every character is played to perfection by M’Carthy.  He is smooth, captures the essence of each and in every case, makes you see the character’s perspective just as much as you understand and see Agyeman’s. M’Carthy is absolutely breathtaking. He grabs at your heart over and over again, eliciting sympathy, empathy, understanding, sadness and some smiles too.

M’Carthy has the help of music, dance and cultural legends to tell Agyeman’s story, accompanied throughout by musician and composer, Kobena Aquaa-Harrison on various percussion-type instruments.

Obaaberima is magic from the second M’Carthy walks on stage until the second he leaves. Catch it now until Saturday March 14.

For more information and tickets, click here.

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