Neighbourhood Spotlight: Westboro
With Light Rail on the horizon, here at Ottawa Life we’ve decided to start a series where we break down each of Ottawa’s neighbourhoods. We’re profiling each area by price, transportation, and lifestyle. Whether you’re a young professional or a family-making nest-builder, we’re giving you the details on every corner of our city.
These statistics were found at neighbourhoodstudy.ca, point2homes.com, viewit.ca, and kijiji.ca. Ottawa Neighbourhood Study (ONS) is based at the Centre for Research and Education in Community Services (CRECS) at the University of Ottawa.
This week’s spotlight: Westboro
Westboro encompasses the stretch of Richmond Road between Island Park Drive and Golden Avenue. Residential streets extend to the Ottawa River to the North, and to the 417 Queensway to the South. It’s a quiet and dignified space, home to many families and retirees. As the name would suggest, the area is directly West of downtown. When Light Rail gets up and running, residents will have access to a Westboro stop along the East-West Confederation line — a quick and easy link to the downtown core. With all the shopping you could want within walking distance, near the Civic Hospital, and adjacent to downtown, Westboro is an attractive place for young people looking to invest in a condo, and those looking to downsize after retirement!
Thanks to it’s many advantages, the area is among the city’s pricier neighbourhoods. A two bedroom apartment goes for an average of $1,700 a month, and the average house price is $850,000.
Westboro is also one of Ottawa’s most eclectic neighbourhoods, home to a unique collection of local shops, bakeries, restaurants, and more! Most of the area’s attractions are collected along Richmond Road, the Western segment of the street also known as Wellington and Somerset. On it you’ll find everything from fine dining and novelty treats to flower shops and boutiques. Some bigger grocers like Metro provide residents with accessible essentials, while MEC and Bushtukah, Ottawa’s popular outdoor stores, give Westboro it’s reputation as an adventurous and active community.
One of the most popular and lively locales on Richmond Road is of course the Clocktower Brew Pub — Ottawa’s longest standing craft brewery. Since it opened in 1996, it’s managed to branch out into most of the city’s neighbourhoods, but the Westboro location has been drawing beer-lovers for years with it’s wide menu and ample event space! “Of course our biggest feature is our craft beer,” says Jackie Morphy, the pub’s Director of Operations. The most popular brews are Kolsch, the Clocktower Red, and Wisharts Bitter. “But this location’s got a lot of things going for it that are neighbourhood-specific!” Events are a huge part of the location’s charm: their back room is home to three types of occasions that happen regularly: “We have an Open Mic Night on Wednesday nights, Comedy Nights every third Saturday, and Trivia Night every Sunday Night — that’s from 7pm till about 9 or 9:30.” explains Jason Wilkinson, the pub’s General Manager.
The Westboro Clocktower actually has the biggest patio in the neighbourhood, seating 130 people. “It’s super vibrant in summer,” says Jason. On May 17th, actually, the restaurant will be hosting a BBQ party to celebrate the patio’s opening.
That’s not the only thing the pub has in store for Westboro; the kitchen will be launching an exciting new menu later this month! “We’re super excited about this menu,” says Morphy, “It’s of course got all the favourites, and then some great additions moving into the summer.” A great many Westboro customers benefit from the restaurant’s ability to cater to a range of diets: “We’ve always got vegan offerings, gluten free offerings, vegetarian offerings — all of these kinds of options are incorporated into our menu.” The new list will feature some extra Small Plates, a few new salads, and most anticipated of all, an expanded taco menu.
“I’ve worked in a lot of different restaurants across Canada and the vibe in Westboro is pretty unique,” says Wilkinson. “Our customers enjoy going out, but it’s different from downtown where it’s busy all the time. I would say our demographic is about 75% Westboro natives, and a lot of families; it’s really relaxing. And they love their craft beer here in Westboro!”
If you’ve been on Richmond Road, you’ve probably seen the pink awnings marking the home of the most colourful boutique around: Three Wild Women is a famously lively clothing and accessories store. It’s been furnishing Westboro with the finest of fun fashions since it opened in 2005. “Three Wild Women is special because we welcome all women of all shapes and sizes” Helen, Three Wild Women’s owner explains. “Our manifesto is to be sure that every person who walks in the door has a fabulous retail experience.” The staff don’t work on commission, so while you do get a personalized shopping experience, it doesn’t come with the pressure to buy! We asked Helen about her inspiration for the store: “Three Wild Women is me at 20, 40, and now in my 60's. I've been a totally different woman at every stage.” She continues, “The wildly stands for many things… wildly successful as women, mothers, daughters, friends, business women, adventurers, etc. It's so cute when our clients come in and tell us ‘I'm a wild woman!’ — they are so proud!”
Three Wild Women hosts regular in-store events: “We try to have an in-store event every month for our clients. It's usually on a Thursday night and we'll invite a guest speaker and do a fashion show as well. It's always a lot of fun probably because it's more informal and we don't take ourselves too seriously!” You’ll be able to catch Three Wild Women somewhere else this month too: On April 10 and May 12 the boutique will be participating in Manja Mackley’s Fashion Show series at KS on the Keys. Westboro is full of events like this! Helen reminds us of a neighbourhood favourite — Fuse Street Festival, which will be falling on August 18 and 19 this year. “It's a free street fair with musicians, activities for everyone, sidewalk sales, and much more. It runs for 2 days and the streets are closed to traffic from McCrae to Golden.” Three Wild Women, like Fuse Street Fest, is a perfect example of how relaxed, dignified, and welcoming the Westboro community is in Ottawa!
RAW Pulp + Grind is a fresh and bright member of the community and has been an instant favourite in Westboro since it opened last year. The juice bar is gluten-free, dairy-free, and 100% plant based, and serves a fresh and charming vibe along with it’s nutritious menu. “At RAW, we are passionate about nourishing our customers with pure, raw, plant-powered goodness.” explains Melissa Shabinsky, one of RAW’s co-founder. “We create delicious, healthy, cold pressed juices and food made from whole ingredients – the way nature intended.” Their most popular menu items are the PB Crunch acai bowl, as well as the Black Magic juice made with activated coconut charcoal and kombucha. “Our 1 & 3 day juice cleanses are very popular too – a great way to kickstart a healthy mindset!” Shabinsky adds.
We asked Shabinsky about the juice bar’s inspiration: “We really created this concept because we couldn't find a place where we wanted to eat ourselves — so we made it! We realized that there was not an option in our city for a healthy, fresh grab-and-go style store.” RAW was created to give Ottawa a spot where healthy could be both quick and easy! The store actually launched on Preston Street in 2016 before opening its second set of doors in Westboro a year later. “When we opened on Preston we had so many customers who lived in Westboro saying that they would love us to come to their neighbourhood,” says Shabinsky. “Westboro’s vibe is like no other in the city – we love that we are within walking distance for so many of our customers and that they can stop by after a spinning, yoga, or barre class, or even after a quick shopping trip to Lululemon. It is the perfect combo of fashion, food and family!”
Photos by Anne Dion