Melnyk’s Sens-backed RendezVous Group Chosen by NCC for For Future of LeBreton Flats

April 29, 2016 9:47 am
Courtesy of RendezVous Lebreton.

Courtesy of LeBreton RendezVous.

The National Capital Commission decided yesterday who would win in the bid for the long-vacant, and much sought-after LeBreton Flats lot downtown. Senator’s owner Eugene Melnyk backed the RendezVous LeBreton Group’s plan, which seemed the easy winner of the two bids, and it turns out it was.

Although the offer made by Devcore, Canderel, and DLS Group passed all the bid requirements, it was Melnyk’s plan for the 21 hectares of land in the heart of the city that wowed those on the evaluation committee. There were also nearly 8,000 written comments submitted about the proposals and 3,000 others who participated in public consultation over the fate of the LeBreton Flats.

Along with the possibility of a new arena for the Ottawa Senators, the RendezVous Group proposed a new Abilities Centre, a dedicated centre for the activities of those with disabilities, and to functionally incorporate the new LRT track within the architecture of the site, an element that the DLS Group did not do as well as its counterpart.

Also, Melnyk’s RendezVous plans for commercial spaces, retail opportunities, and residential areas, including their plan for affordable housing, was deemed the better option for the future of the city.

Although Melnyk’s bid was chosen Thursday, construction won’t start anytime soon. There are many plans for future negotiations, including Aboriginal consultations, and federal and municipal approval processes. Nonetheless, Ottawa’s downtown is one step closer to a major, and much needed, face-lift.

Ottawa Native Barbara Ann Scott is a Legend Among Champions

January 12, 2016 9:58 am

For many Ottawans, January puts a focus on setting personal goals and maintaining new-found commitments. Whether the plan involves a new diet and exercise regime or an increased dedication to your job, the aim of any New Years Resolution is to improve day-to-day living.

IMG_1241The question for many is where to begin. Change can be demanding and is often no easy feat. Given the hard choices involved, a great way to start is by looking at the achievements of inspiring people.

Take, for example, Ottawa’s Barbara Ann Scott.
When it comes to Canadian legends, this Olympian’s status is beyond Gold. During her outstanding career she was chosen time after time as Canada’s greatest outstanding National athlete and she even ranked above the prime minister as the most newsworthy Canadian of the 1940’s. Barbara Ann Scott is now a symbol of National Pride, an icon for upcoming champions, and a chosen name for municipally established community centers, exhibits, and arenas.

“The most important thing about skating is that it teaches you to do the things you SHOULD do before you do the things you WANT to do.”

Barbara Ann Scott

Located at 110 Laurier Avenue, An Ottawa City Hall exhibit displays Scott’s journey to fame; outlining the story of a young girl dedicated to pursuing her dreams with nothing more than a pair of figure skates, a small arena and a desire to conquer her goals. The beauty behind her success rests in her consistent dedication towards achieving a ‘personal best.’ During her prime years, Scott considered excellence “more important than show business,” and so she pursued excellence, practicing for hours everyday.IMG_1244

Ottawa City Hall also presents a showcase of her iconic Canadian achievements and awards. Bringing home numerous Gold metal wins for Canada, including the North American, European, and World Figure Skating championships, Barbara Ann Scott is now amongst the list of those awarded the Key to the City.

“The remarkable accomplishments of Olympic figure skating champion Barbara Ann Scott are showcased through historic photographs, trophies and her champion gold medal,” said a city spokesperson in a release describing the exhibit.

Barbara Ann Scott passed away in 2012 at the age of 84, leaving behind a pristinely captured legend of perseverance, dedication and success.

Her story compels us to follow Scott’s example. Set a goal and make it happen.

The no-cost exhibit is open to anyone and is wheelchair accessible.

Giant Gift Brings the OAG Closer to $3.5 Million Goal

December 2, 2015 10:18 am
Gallery 3

Design for the future gallery. Rendering by Barry Padolsky Associates Inc. Architects / KPMB Architects. 

The holidays have come early for The Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG), as it has just announced a $100,000 gift for the Art Now – L’art ici Capital Campaign. The gift will help establish the Lawson A.W. Hunter Permanent Collection Gallery. The new gallery will house the OAG’s growing permanent collection celebrating art from the Ottawa region and abroad.

The donor is Lawson A.W. Hunter, gallery board chair and a long-time local art supporter.

“The development of the OAG Expansion is a celebration of the arts in Ottawa alongside our national institutions,” says Hunter. “The importance of a municipal gallery is not only to tell the story of our City but also to help tell the story of our artists, to embrace the contemporary art of our times. Municipal galleries are launching pads for artists giving them their first exposure and creating opportunities to reach a national level.”

Related: OAG on the Verge of Expansion.

The OAG’s Art Now – L’art ici Campaign is well on its way to raise $3.5 million for the Expansion, with over $2 million dollars in donation thus far. The new OAG, set to open in 2017, also invites the public to join them in building Ottawa’s art gallery.

For more information on the Ottawa Art Gallery Expansion and Art Now-L’art ici Capital Campaign, please visit

Catch Them Before They Are Gone

July 2, 2015 10:00 am

Cirque du Soleil descends from the sky for 7 shows at the Canadian Tire Centre. Varekai is an extraordinary production complete with fantastical creatures, a mystical forest and an ancient prophecy, July 2-5, 2015. For more information visit:

PHOTO: © Martin Girard /

Counting Crows rocked the NAC

May 22, 2015 2:35 pm
Lead guitarist Dan Vickrey of the Counting Crows performs in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, May 17, 2015

Counting Crows rocked the National Arts Centre this week on a stop along their 2015 world tour. Promoting their seventh album, Somewhere Under Wonderland, the band has planned 16 dates across Canada. It’s their first tour across Canada in more than 15 years! Learn more about the album here.

Images provided by: Michael Wing | Photographer

 Lead singer Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows performs in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, May 17, 2015

Lead singer Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows performs in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, May 17, 2015


 Lead singer Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows performs in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, May 17, 2015

Lead singer Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows performs in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, May 17, 2015

Lead guitarist Dan Vickrey of the Counting Crows performs in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, May 17, 2015

Lead guitarist Dan Vickrey of the Counting Crows performs in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, May 17, 2015

 Lead singer Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows performs in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, May 17, 2015

Lead singer Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows performs in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, May 17, 2015

 Lead singer Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows performs in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, May 17, 2015

Lead singer Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows performs in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, May 17, 2015

Lead guitarist Dan Vickrey of the Counting Crows performs in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, May 17, 2015

Lead guitarist Dan Vickrey of the Counting Crows performs in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, May 17, 2015

 Lead singer Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows performs in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, May 17, 2015

Lead singer Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows performs in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, May 17, 2015

Inspiring Architectural Art

March 19, 2015 11:33 am
7. Sundown, 2012-2013

Observe one of Ottawa’s newest architectural wonders from an entirely new perspective. From May 8 to 23, Wallack Galleries will feature a solo exhibition by local artist Sheryl Luxenburg entitled The Elusive Window Reflections Of The Ottawa Convention Centre. Luxenburg specializes in hyper-realistic watercolour and acrylic painting. Her paintings, which can easily be mistaken for photographs, are visually astounding.

LuxenburgHeadshotThe intricate precision, detail and skill that go into every piece reflect Luxenburg’s dedication to the technique for over three decades. This collection of work studies the aesthetic interaction between the surfaces of the Ottawa Convention Centre and the Westin Hotel. On each canvas, Luxenburg captures the patterns created on the reflective glass surface of the Convention Centre’s exterior.

A portion of the proceeds from painting sales will be donated to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation. Whether you are an art aficionado or a newcomer to Ottawa’s art scene, Luxenburg’s talent is sure to impress. For more information, visit:

Curtain Call

January 20, 2015 9:30 am

Enriching lives through the magic of theatre, Phoenix Players is a registered charity dedicated to bringing high-quality, affordable entertainment to Ottawa communities. It has been a long journey to success for Phoenix Players. In 2001, the initial founders were motivated by their passion for theatre and wanted to improve the quality and accessibility of community theatre in Ottawa. Fast forward to present day, Phoenix Players is a staple at the Gladstone Theatre in the heart of Little Italy. The theatre company performs a variety of comedies, mysteries and dramas.

Feb15_CC_Rexy12x18If you’ve always dreamed of being on the stage, they are always looking for new members. Regardless of experience, the group offers a fun, welcoming and supportive environment. They regularly hold workshops in stagecraft for members to improve their skills and explore techniques. Their upcoming production is Rexy!, a political satire following Canada’s most eccentric Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King. The play covers King’s exciting activities prior to and during WWII. Whether behind the scenes, on the stage or in the audience, the Phoenix Players provide an unforgettable live theatre experience.

For more information, visit:

Making Music Magic: James Leclaire

July 3, 2014 4:33 pm

Today marks the opening day of RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest! OLM is ready to groove—and so is James Leclaire!

Leclaire and The Cable 22’s hit the Barney Danson Theatre tonight at 6 p.m. to bring you some of Ottawa’s best musical talent. Compared to the likes of Steve Earle, Leclaire is here to prove hard work and passion is a winning combo.

“I’ve been playing a lot of shows and meeting a lot of people and it just looks like the hard work is starting to pay off,” says Leclaire.

In June, Leclaire released his third album Of What is Left. Backed by The Cable 22’s, friends Michael Hunter on drums and Chris McLean on bass, and produced by Matt Ouimet, Leclaire’s success is spreading like wildfire.

Over 350 acts applied to perform in one of the 32 positions available for local artists at Bluefest. Leclaire won a coveted spot and could not be more eager to take the stage.

“I am very excited. It’s been a long wait of anticipation for it to finally happen,” says Leclaire. “It’s given me some gratification, locally, that I’m being noticed.”

The singer-songwriter from Renfrew looks forward to all of his live performances.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“When you play live, there’s this energy you get from the crowd,” says Leclaire. “People start stomping their feet and chanting along with you. The energy just builds and builds.”

His favourite song to jam out to on stage?

“I have a song on the new album called Back to the Wind. It’s kind of punk-country,” says Leclaire. “It’s the kind of aggressive, foot stomping, table pounding song that really gets people going.”

After putting out three albums in three years, Leclaire has been a busy man. But he says the rewards from performing and connecting with his audience make it all worth it.

“When someone comes and says that a song meant a lot to them or really hit them, that’s the hugest pay off right there,” says Leclaire.

Be sure to check out James Leclaire on July 3 at the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest at 6 p.m. or at Lowertown Brewery for the Bluesfest After Party at 11:30 p.m.

Can’t make it? No problem! Leclaire will also be performing at the official opening of Landsdowne Park on August 16.

Of What is Left is available now on CD and vinyl at local record shops or digitally on iTunes.

Samantha Testa: Sing Your Soul Out

June 26, 2014 10:00 am

Samantha Testa, 21, is a bona fide pop rocker. Writing music, playing guitar and piano and singing her soul out is just another day in the life for this young Ottawa talent.

From singing for the American and Canadian Women’s Olympic Hockey teams to co-writing with Suzie McNeil from Rock Star: INXS, Testa is making waves in the music industry.

OLM’s Marie Waine got an exclusive insider with Samantha Testa about her rise to stardom, passion for music and ever her guilty pleasure karaoke tune!

OLM: When did you first know you wanted to be part of the music industry?

Testa: I pretty much did what every little girl did when they were nine-years-old—I grabbed my hairbrush and I would be singing and dancing in my bedroom. The first time I sang for anybody in public was in my elementary school talent showcase and I think that’s when it really got started. When I sang for the first time, I really didn’t understand what would happen when I opened my mouth, or if I would say anything when I opened my mouth. I guess the response was enough for me to think how cool it was and to keep going with it.

OLM: What was it like at the beginning of your career?

Testa: We tried to get some anthem singing done within the city and some talent shows. It kind of progressed from there and it just became more fun for me. It started to feel normal, so we just went from there!

OLM: What has been your biggest inspiration?chosen30_JPGs-23

Testa: I spent a lot of time watching music videos on television and I used to read a lot of poetry. It was something about the way words and then the music would make me feel, that made me want to do something along these lines. Even today when I write songs, I listen to all the old music and try to understand how it’s making me feel and how I want to make people feel when I write.

OLM: Who are your biggest musical influences?

Testa: I would say Queen, the Beatles, Nirvana, Kelly Clarkson, Pink and Michael Jackson–all of those guys!

OLM: Those are major talents! Do you hope to reach their level some day?

Testa: I really do want to play big stadiums! I got a little taste of it in Toronto when we went to Toronto. I played for 6,000 screaming cheerleaders at one of their competitions. It was crazy. Having them sing along to not only the cover songs, but to my songs too, it was the most surreal moment.

OLM: That must have felt amazing!

Testa: Oh ya! You see Taylor Swift on television and people singing along and you always wonder, ‘That would be kind of cool.’ But until it happens—I stood back and was like, ‘Did that really happen?’ That is something I definitely want to make sure I can do in the future.

OLM: Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Testa: I like to brush my teeth before I sing. I don’t know why but it makes me feel like I sing a little bit better!

OLM: What is the best part about being on stage and performing?

Testa: The energy is pretty great. Once you have the crowd moving along and dancing along, I like to go in the crowd. Definitely interacting with people—getting near them, having them sing along with you, it is pretty cool!

01-Testa_webOLM: What is the best advice you have ever been given about the music industry?

Testa: It was that you need to stand out. Basically, no matter what you are going to do in your life, you need to stand out because that’s how people are going to find you. But you don’t need to be or pretend to be somebody else—you can stand out just being who you are.

OLM: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to make it in the industry?

Testa: I actually just told this one girl to just not stop. It doesn’t matter if what you think you’re doing on stage is going to be weird or if people are going to look at you. Just do what you think is cool and going to wow people and make them feel something. And don’t worry about a plan B. Once you go for what you want, you’re going to get it!

OLM: So you’ve been on the scene for a few years now, what keeps you passionate about the music?

Testa: There are certain people in the music industry that gave me a light and feelings towards certain songs that I can’t even describe to other people. I really want to be able to do what they did for me, to other people.

OLM: Just for fun—do you have a favourite karaoke song to belt out?

Testa: I do like to rock out to Stacey’s Mom by Fountains of Wayne quite frequently!

Samantha Testa will be playing at Fun Haven in Ottawa on June 27. Click here to find out more about the event.

To hear and download Samantha Testa’s music, visit her website.

Singing Her Soul Out: Kristine St. Pierre’s Infectious Sound

June 9, 2014 2:30 pm

From her light, delicate finger picking to the stomp of her feet, you can hear Kristine St. Pierre’s soul baring itself to the audience with every melody. Beneath her lyrics of heartache and self-discovery is an artist who has continued to develop her unique sound to become a celebrated local talent. Last year, St. Pierre performed in over 50 shows and most recently opened for Emm Gryner in Stratford. She’s also involved in both the Francophone and Anglophone communities where she’s collaborated with multiple Canadian artists. This month, St. Pierre is embarking on an even more impressive journey — a national tour by herself. “I’m extremely excited but quite nervous. I’ve been putting so much effort into this and I really hope it’s a success.”

Indeed, she has worked hard to get here. In 2010, she released her first EP, followed two years later by her first album, Call Me Crazy. For the past three years, she has continued her musical development as a member of the Ottawa band Old Whiskey Road, a country-alt group with a nostalgic sound.

In addition to her music ventures, she’s also completing a Masters of Journalism from Carleton University. After securing a grant from the International Development Research Centre, she traveled to the Congo to create a documentary on music in a conflict setting.

“I’m trying to do as many music things as possible. However, eventually, I’d also love to be writing articles and producing radio documentaries on music, peace and security, women’s rights and Francophone issues.” She added, “My experience in the Congo was incredible as I learned to tell stories but also how to include more colour into my writing, which also improves my songwriting.”

KristineStPierre3Music has been her primary focus and a constant throughout her life. As a child she performed in many musicals and was into acting, but never thought it could be a career path. Through university, St. Pierre took singing lessons as a hobby but it wasn’t until a tragic life-altering event happened that she decided to take her musical talent more seriously.

“My mom got very sick from breast cancer and it was around that time I started to do music more professionally,” she added. “She always wanted my brother and I to be musically inclined as she played a lot of piano herself. Before she passed away, I held a concert at the University of Ottawa to raise money in her honour. She got to see me play guitar for the first (and sadly, the last time) in a real concert venue. It was so special to me.”

Thanks to her coordination and dedication, the event raised over $1,200. Now, as St. Pierre continues her musical journey, she says she knows her mother is always with her.

“She’s a huge part of my music and always will be,” she said.


Ottawa Symphony Orchestra: 50 Years Young

May 27, 2014 10:32 am

The Ottawa Symphony Orchestra is gearing up to start its 50th season on a high note. The OSO announced its milestone anniversary line-up at the final concert of its 2013-2014 season. The upcoming five concert series will showcase talents ranging from local composers to Juno award winners–sure to be music to everyone’s ears.

Musical Director David Currie chooses the selection of pieces for each season. This season, each night will focus around a different theme, hoping to attract a lively and youthful audience while maintaining the dedicated following it has.

“Some of the pieces we are featuring are a little more vibrant and light,” says Christine Séguine, marketing coordinator for the OSO. “We are looking to attract those general art lovers and music lovers in the community.”

logo.jpegThe OSO is not only busy promoting its anniversary selection of performances, but the orchestra recently launched a new logo to welcome the milestone. The new logo complements the harmonious unison of contemporary and classic imagery–something the orchestra always strives for. The orchestra prides itself on its ability to introduce world-premiere pieces alongside classic programming.

To keep up with its image, the expectations of musicians continue to grow. “It used to be an orchestra with a mix of professionals and amateurs, and we are now fully professional,” says Alana Gralen, general manager of the OSO. “The musicians are all members of the American Federation of Musicians and must all pass a rigorous audition process to win a spot in the orchestra.”

With the new logo and vivacious performances all ready, the OSO is excited to kick off its 50th season. “We are looking forward to featuring the musicians. We can’t wait to put a real spotlight on how long the orchestra has been together and how important these musicians are to the orchestra,” says Séguine.

A82J6151Some of these talents include Juno award winning violinist Alexandre Da Costa, Ottawa composer Kelly-Marie Murphy, Canadian tenor Gordon Gietz and performances with the Ottawa Youth Orchestra and the Ottawa Choral Society.

The Ottawa Choral Society will close the 50th season with as big of a bang as it kicks off. “With the Choral Society and the orchestra on the stage there ends up being 100 people. It ends up making this huge sound, just filling the space and it’s beautiful,” says Séguine. This will be the third season the Ottawa Choral Society joins up with the orchestra.

The OSO is the National Capital Region’s only full-size orchestra and is a large part of the Ottawa community. The orchestra plays a very active role in engaging youth with music. The Mentorship Program allows, “university students to audition for the orchestra and gain valuable experience while playing with and being mentored by our more experienced musicians,” says Gralen. “It is something that is truly unique about the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and so something to be celebrated.”

Other community engagement initiatives include student discount tickets, the elementary school program Symphony for Schools and open rehearsals for children to learn about instruments and hear a sneak peak of a performance.

For more information about the 50th anniversary season and to purchase tickets, visit the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra.

Ottawa Stakes Its Claim as a Destination for Big Music Acts

April 22, 2014 2:00 pm

Every summer, Ottawa is host to the RBC Bluesfest which never disappoints (this year’s entertainment being no exception). With this gaining traction, more and more artists are choosing to include Ottawa in their international tours instead of by-passing it on their way from Toronto to Montreal. These past few months of 2014 alone, the Canadian Tire Centre (CTC) has hosted some of the hottest acts in music — and their lineup is only getting hotter!

Sir Elton John graced its stage on February 13th to a sold out show with fans of all ages singing along to his numerous iconic songs. Sitting at his piano in his blinged-out blazer, John captivated his audience with this obvious talent, belting out everything from “Tiny Dancer” to “Benny and the Jets” (our personal favourite). For almost two-and-a-half hours, he crooned to the audience’s enthusiastic approval, as people sang along to hits off his latest album, The Diving Board, as well as classic favourites. The Rocket Man proved that he has not lost his touch or ability to bring a crowd to their feet.

Blue Rodeo

Blue Rodeo

On Valentine’s Day, Blue Rodeo made their annual trip to the capital to share some love. The Canadian rock band, fronted by Jim Cuddy, is touring to promote their latest album, In Our Nature. The band performs at the CTC every Valentine’s Day, providing a great way to make a tradition out of enjoying their music. Not only was the night one for romance but for family, as the opening act featured Cuddy’s son, Devin, fronting his own band, The Devin Cuddy Band.


Having won numerous awards including both Grammys and Junos, Arcade Fire lived up to the hype with their performance March 14. For their Reflektor tour, the band performs under a pseudo-ceiling of hexagon shaped mirrors, with one of the lead singers, Régine Chassagne, decked out in metallics and sequins as well as a rotating human disco ball. Some songs were split between two stages: the main stage and a smaller stage near the zamboni entrance with members of the band running back and forth between the two as well as a power ballad where lead singers and real-life couple Win Butler and Chassagne stood on opposite stages and sang to one another.  Not only did Arcade Fire deliver an exciting show but went above and beyond the expectations of their devoted fans.

Still to come to the CTC is Justin Timberlake with his 20/20 tour on July 22. Tickets are still available at Capital Tickets.

This only names a few of the incredibly gifted acts that have made Ottawa a destination for their performances. Among others are Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line, who performed in February as well as living legend, Cher in April. With all this talent coming to the capital, it can only foreshadow more great things to come. One thing is certain, Ottawa is staking its claim in the music game — and rightfully so!

Justin Timberlake

One King West’s New Venue, Fifteen Hundred is Open for Business

February 10, 2014 9:33 am

If you are planning a conference, departmental or business meeting in Toronto, follow the growing trend of government agencies that are taking advantage of services offered by Toronto’s historic One King West. Located in the heart of Toronto’s downtown financial district, this architecturally significant and beautiful venue provides a great meeting space. The building is a superb example of early 20th-century classicism with ornate detailing including stately Corinthian columns and towering windows.

meeting-fifteen-hundred-02Fifteen Hundred is a new luxurious hospitality suite located on the 15th floor of the hotel and is perfectly suited for executive retreats, product launches and receptions. The bonus is that it is a 12-minute cab ride to Toronto’s Island Airport.

Beautiful Beethoven

February 7, 2014 9:25 am

The latest exhibit from graphic novel artist Christian Quesnel will be hosted by the Salon du livre de l’Outaouais from February 27-March 2, 2014. It features 24 original works from his latest book, Ludwig: Letter to the Immortal Beloved.

Ludwig 2The book itself sequences the life of Ludwig van Beethoven through inspired graphic polychrome images and is available from and $44.95

Let It Snow

February 6, 2014 1:20 pm

Curated by Bianca Gendreau, the Canadian Museum of Civilization is now featuring an exhibit that is the first of its kind in Canada. Surprisingly, it is about snow. More than 300 photos, artifacts and documents show the interesting lovehate relationship that Canadians have with snow.

IMG2013-0142-0028-DmLearn more about the problems the white stuff can pose and how we deal with them today as well as how we have adapted and dealt with challenges in the past. From foot warmers and snow shoes to skis and Ski-doos, the unique and creative presentation will, in fact, leave you feeling warm.


Ottawa student from Kevin O’Leary’s alma mater wins “Future Dragon Fund”

December 12, 2013 11:19 am

Wanted to share a bit of fun DRAGONS’ DEN news with you. The most recent winner of the Future Dragon Fund Contest is 17-year-old student Grace Noël of Ottawa. Coincidentally, the grade 12 student is currently attending Nepean High School – Kevin O’Leary’s alma mater! 


The Future Dragon Fund Contest will award 10 ambitious grade 11 and 12 students who show promise as future or current entrepreneurs with $5,000 each to fund the entrepreneurial pursuit of their choice. Grace Noël is the fourth student to be awarded since the Fund was announced in October.

Grace Noël is a multi-faceted design entrepreneur – she has her own card company, fabric design store and blog. She creates cards from various recycled items and sells them at craft fairs. In July 2012, she launched a website of fabric designs:

One of Grace Noël’s fabric designs will be featured in the North Carolina Museum of Art in April 2014, while another design has been used to design a collection of shoes by ‘Milk and Honey’. Her blog – Creatively Graceful – promotes art, fashion, crafts, decor, design and literature…

Grace Noël is interested in business management as an avenue to pursue her creative endeavours. Her ultimate dream is to develop a fabric company and have her own boutique with a physical storefront.

Clear with a Chance of Start-ups: Ottawa Celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week

December 4, 2013 3:20 pm

Jessie Pierre mingles among the buzzing crowd at the Heart & Crown pub on Preston Street. She came to celebrate the launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). It’s a week of events and activities celebrating successful entrepreneurs – with the aim of inspiring more people to start their own businesses.

Pierre wants to start a business that will organize events, festivals and fundraisers. During GEW, she hopes to meet other novices like her and be advised by experienced entrepreneurs.

GEW Ottawa participant Jessie Pierre hopes to take a few lessons from experienced entrepreneurs.

GEW Ottawa participant Jessie Pierre hopes to take a few lessons from experienced entrepreneurs.

“I want to make some connections and find future partners,” Pierre said. “For example, I am looking for a website designer; maybe I will find one and we can work together.”

Pierre has just returned from attending one of the week’s events that left her more than satisfied. “It’s called ‘Mentor Madness’ – it is speed-dating for entrepreneurs. We’ve spent seven minutes with each mentor explaining our business and getting advice from people who are established in the city.”

Launched in 2008, GEW is the world’s largest celebration of innovators and startups. In Ottawa, the week is organized by Invest Ottawa in collaboration with the city’s business community.

“GEW celebrates entrepreneurs and those people who take risks and believe they are better off creating their own job than getting a job,” says Invest Ottawa’s communications manager Alex Pugh.

Ottawa has a strong business community that is open to collaboration, Pugh said. Invest Ottawa has 200+ mentors who volunteer to help out fledgling businesses. The only thing Ottawa lacks, says Pugh, is a strong capital funding environment.

“We have to take our companies to where these venture capitalists are – we need to put Ottawa on the map,” Pugh noted. “What we are hoping is, Global Entrepreneurship Week will help change people’s perception of Ottawa as a government town, and help them understand that there is a very strong, thriving business community here.”

Technology is warming Ottawa’s business climate

Ottawa’s business climate is getting hotter. Each year, temperatures rise with the appearance of another high-tech company on Ottawa’s business map.

Franco Varriano speaks for Startup Ottawa – a not-for-profit, grassroots, volunteer-run organization that provides startups with resources and advice to foster further growth. He says digital, technical and mobile companies dominate Ottawa’s business scene.

CEO of Invest Ottawa Bruce Lazenby (center) at GEW launch party.

CEO of Invest Ottawa Bruce Lazenby (center) at GEW launch party.

“It’s because of history. It’s because of older entrepreneurs in Ottawa who have those connections within the city and in other cities. They were all software and hardware companies. Kanata is a huge tech area, and it’s got translated into a new generation of startups downtown.”

There is a large concentration of young founders between the ages of 18 and 25 in the mobile scene. Varriano explains this phenomenon by low-cost, low-barrier entry, and availability of technology.

“Everybody has got a smartphone, so it makes sense: that if you are going to start a new company with almost no experience or limited resources – you would start at the lowest-costly barrier, which is mobile.”

Varriano says startups face many challenges, from receiving funding to attracting talent. As a result, many founders end up leaving for Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver where they pursue accelerator programs.

“This is the nature of startups: figuring out where we can get the best resources, and how we can overcome these problems in order to make something that people want, and hopefully, make enough money to keep the lights on.”

Last year, GEW hosted 65 events in Ottawa with more than 2,500 people attending. The nation’s capital was the most active city in Canada, GEW-wise.

This year, according to Kathryn Moore, the executive director of GEW Ottawa, the week was “an unmitigated success”, with about 7,000 participants at 83 events across the city.

“What we are hoping to do is really shine the entrepreneurial spotlight on Ottawa,” Moore says. “We want to be the number one city in Canada for entrepreneurism.”

Mayor Jim Watson and Bruce Lazenby, the CEO of Invest Ottawa, congratulate entrepreneurs at the GEW kick-off.

Mayor Jim Watson and Bruce Lazenby, the CEO of Invest Ottawa, congratulate entrepreneurs at the GEW kick-off.

Mayor Jim Watson and Bruce Lazenby, the CEO at Invest Ottawa, joined Ottawa’s entrepreneurs at GEW’s kick-off party.

“The only career you can’t get fired from is entrepreneurship,” Lazenby said. “Your business might fail – you just start another one. It can be a surprising job security and a lot of fun too. Entrepreneurship is a career choice and that’s what people should understand.”

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