ottawa is such a jewel – la joya de la corona

Anita Ruivo and some really awesome kids visiting from Madrid, Spain.

The loveOttawa project is all about asking people what they love about Ottawa – and helping to reveal the heart of our city. As someone who lives here, it’s sometimes obvious to see this spirit and yet sometimes it’s something we can even take for granted. But to meet Anita Ruivo of Funlanguages Canada and a bunch of the teen students she’s brought to Ottawa from Madrid Spain (to improve their English and to help evolve their life skills) – it really helps to see our city as a great city to love. A city that truly is a jewel – la joya de la corona!

Anita loves that Ottawa is so perfect for the educational programs that Funlanguages provide. Ottawa helps to make the student’s time in Canada fun yet safe, enriching and such an authentic Canadian experience. “Our students are enamored with Ottawa. They love the people. Ottawans are friendly, always smiling and willing to lend a hand. Ottawans always say thank you! Ottawans are honest – they will even return a misplaced wallet or a lost phone.” Anita loves that her students can independently and safely venture around Ottawa on transit or by foot, which is so good to help build a young student’s self confidence. “The students have loved Ottawa so much, many of them don’t want to leave – and many will return!”




© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

For more information about Anita Ruivo’s work with Funlanguages Canada, please take a peek at:


a passionate culinary community connects the region

Marysol Foucault photographed in front of her Gatineau restaurant Chez Edgar.

What a treat it was to meet and photograph award winning Chef Marysol Foucault earlier this week and it was fun to do it while set up in the middle of the street in front of her restaurant. I’ve been following her on Twitter and Instagram for quite some time and everyone I know who’s eaten at her restaurant raves about her wonderful food and her humble yet passionate presentation of her restaurant. I feel like I’m the only person left in Ottawa who hasn’t eaten at her restaurant Chez Edgar, but I’m going to remedy that this week I promise!!!

To finally meet Marysol was to really experience her passion in person, and so cool to be able to ask her what she loves about the Ottawa and Gatineau region. I love that so many of her answers were focused on the dynamic connection between Ottawa, Hull, Gatineau and Aylmer. She really loves the abundance or green-space which keeps her grounded and at home here. “I love that we have cycle paths that connect the dots between Ottawa/Hull/Aylmer/Gatineau and allows us to really appreciate that we have so much green-space.”

© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

It may seem obvious, but Marysol really loves the booming local restaurant community. “I am proud to be here as the restaurant scene is booming and finding its groove. There is a great sense of community that is humbling.” It’s so difficult for Marysol to name just a few of the restaurants she loves the most in Ottawa, but some of her restaurant/bar crushes include Supply & Demand and The Wellington Gastropub which are closest to her home in Aylmer. Other Ottawa restaurants she loves are Town, Union 613, Murray Street and Allium. “I feel I can always just go as I am, even tired from work, dine or snack in a casual setting, and the guarantee that I will always have great food and excellent service.”

Marysol loves that the region is finding it’s culinary identity. She’s happy that we have less and less copies of successful restaurants from other cities, and less copycat restaurants in our own city. “There is a curiosity about craftsmanship that is beautiful and that will most probably result in restaurants/chefs each embracing a specialty.” The region is so rich with tradition and Marysol is very proud to know how to prepare Québécois dishes and it makes her so happy to share it at Chez Edgar – be it as small as a garnish of pets-de-soeur on a brunch plate, or going full-on ragoût de pattes de cochon and cipaille at Christmas. “It is who I am, no matter what language I speak, where I live, where I work.”

A close to home gem in Aylmer that Marysol loves is Cassis Gelato “Nami, the owner and her husband are such genuine people with such a good product.” She feels the same about Corazon de Maiz in the Market. “Eric and Mariana are amazing and such hard workers.”

Marysol has such a generous spirit and heart – she’s so proud of her team at Edgar and she is very passionate to be a part of the Ottawa/Gatineau culinary community. Giving back with her cooking talent is also very important to her – in November she’ll be cooking as part of a team for the Gala des Grands Chefs for a very important and very dear to her heart fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society. She also donates time and food to the Ottawa Food Bank and to Harmony House every year.

Thanks so much to Marysol Foucault for sharing what she loves about the Ottawa region and for being so passionate about our culinary community. To find out more about Marysol and Chez Edgar, you can take a peek at: and you can see loads of beautiful food on her Instagram feed at: @marysolfoucault  You can also follow her on twitter at: @chezedgar

significantly investing in biking infrastructure

Bridget Mallon photographed at Mint Hair Studio in Hintonburg.

I recently photographed communications strategist Bridget Mallon at a Hintonburg Happening event. It wasn’t surprising to see Bridget out supporting her favourite neightbourhood – like so many people who either live in/or just love Hintonburg, Bridget is always out supporting the many creative events that help paint Hintonburg as Ottawa’s creative neighbourhood. Bridget also loves Ottawa’s continued and great access to green-space, nature and wilderness, but is also really enjoying how Ottawa is evolving as a progressive urban city. “Compared to ten years ago, I love that we have many more interesting restaurants and watering holes, more creative food, and thriving fashion, arts and culture scenes.”  Bridget is also really loving that Ottawa, albeit slow off the mark, is making significant investments in bike infrastructure and better public transportation.

© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

Bridget’s favourite Ottawa restaurants and cafes are mostly all walking or biking distance from home, and are all very much about the people who are behind them. “Summer at the Hintonburg Public House, George and Donna at BackLane Café, Ian and Big Al at Cyclelogik Powered by Caffeine, the Elmdale Tavern,  Lisa at Tennessy Willems, Tracy at the MoonRoom.”  We’re all so lucky that Ottawa is in the midst of an independent restaurant explosion, which so many great locally owned and run restaurants to choose from.

Bridget is also a fan and supporter of the local music scene with the likes of Tribe Called Red, Sounds of Lions and Sue Foley – and when asked if she has a favourite venue, her answer was all about the festivals. “All the ‘fests!! Arboretum Fest, House of PainT were especially great last year. And of course Westfest and Bluesfest.” A cool note to make, is that one of Bridget’s favourite Ottawa non-profits Citizens for Safe Cycling, offered free bike valet parking this year at Bluesfest.

I love asking people if they have any hidden gems in Ottawa – I’ve learned so many new things about Ottawa by asking. Bridget has a favourite space, it’s the Fumihiko Maki designed glass building on Sussex that’s home to the Aga Khan Foundation. “It’s the most peaceful space I’ve ever entered. The Aga Khan is passionate about architecture and how the built environment can improve the quality of life – it’s worth going to check it out!”

Thanks so much Bridget for sharing! For more information about Bridget’s work with Rhetorica: and/or you can follow her on Linkedin.



ottawa is home, it’s where my roots are

Élise Gauthier photographed downtown on the corner of Elgin and Sparks.

It’s always so wonderful to photograph creative people who love Ottawa, they tend to see and feel the real spirit of our city – and they have creative ways to express that spirit. I not only got to meet and photograph Élise Gauthier for loveOttawa the other day, I also had the opportunity to be inspired by her passion for Ottawa. Élise eats, sleeps and breathes her city – and she loves to share her love for Ottawa with her art. It’s a little tricky to describe exactly what Élise is or does. She’s a actor, a playright. a director, an acrobatic stilter, an Ottawa tour guide, a theatre teacher and most impressively a poet. Élise has been creating a bilingual series of really touching and poignant video poetry presentations about loving Ottawa.

Élise loves that Ottawa is her home, the city she’s grown up. It’s where her roots are. She loves that every time she shares her city with someone, she learns to love it even more – and every time she learns something new about a specific part of Ottawa, she grows more attached. “It’s like learning to love a person, you discover their quirks, their hidden gems, their little secrets.”

© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

As an actor Élise really loves the theatre scene in Ottawa, especially the smaller theatre companies who are trying new things and are performing in less than traditional venues like a church, a park or even a house. “I’ll go wherever there’s good theatre!”  Élise loves how Ottawa is coming into it’s own – it’s growing and becoming more and more exciting. She loves that interactive city events like Nuit Blanche and Harvest Noir are being so well embraced and experienced in Ottawa.

The thing that Élise loves most about Ottawa is that it’s a city that’s easy to discover on foot or by bike (a big thanks to the OC Transpo bike racks). As a self proclaimed Ottawa nerd, Élise remembers as a teenager she’d take her friends around Parliament Hill late at night and tell them about all the statues. There’s so much history and so many stories behind those statues. She also loves to take people on a walk through the Byward Market, telling them about the history of the people who used to work and live there. This rich history of the Byward Market includes her family’s history – where her grand-mother grew up, where her grand-mother’s grand-father had a blacksmith shop, and where her great-great-grandmother came to sell her butter. “I think the best way to share a city is to talk about the people who lived there, it makes the history more real.”

Thanks so much to Élise Gauthier for sharing her love for Ottawa and for doing it so creatively and passionately. For more information about Élise’s projects you can take a look at her blog and seeing her video poetry is a must. You can also follow her on twitter at: @OttawaZel

the parkdale food centre BBQing up so much sunshine

The Parkdale Food Centre annual family BBQ today in Laroche Park.

Today was beyond cool and oh so humbling – and this post is perhaps a testament to why I personally love Ottawa. At noon we took the loveOttawa canvas down to the Parkdale Food Centre’s annual family BBQ to see if perhaps any of the food centre’s clients might like to get a photograph taken for loveOttawa. It quickly evolved into shooting over 20 portraits of families, volunteers, children, men and women of all ages. The mix of people reminded me just how diverse the client base is who rely on the centre for basic food and resources, and just how vital the service is to the community. The folks who came out were treated to a lovely summer BBQ, cake for dessert and ice cream from The Merry Dairy. It was a truly awesome experience and my hat is humbly off to Karen Secord from the Parkdale Food Centre and her team of incredible volunteers – they truly delivered sunshine today to so many people!

If you’d like some information about how you can help the centre provide much needed food to their clients, please take a peek at their website at: and/or you can follow them on twitter at: @parkdalefood











© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

a family friendly city with such heart

Katherine Dines photographed in the Majic 100 radio studio in The Byward Market.

It was so nice to meet and photograph radio personality Katherine Dines recently for loveOttawa, and it was cool to be able to photograph her right in the Majic 100.3 studio where she works the Midday show from 9:00 – 12:00. Katherine is such a busy Ottawa personality – with her radio gig, being an emcee at countless events, doing voice overs and other acting projects, helping with many non-profits in town and her most important job – being a mom of two lovely girls. Katherine’s family means everything to her and it really drives what she loves about Ottawa. “It’s a family friendly city buzzing with so much to do!”

Katherine loves that many of the things you can get up to in Ottawa as a family, are even free for families on a budget, like the Alcatel-Lucent Sunday Bikedays on Sunday mornings, with many of the Ottawa parkways reserved for cyclists, in-line skaters, runners and walkers. The National Gallery and many of the museums in Ottawa and Gatineau are even free on Thursdays from 5:00pm – 8:00pm. And of course skating on the canal in the winter is free and so fun for families.

© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

With Katherine’s work with local charities and non-profits she gets a first hand view at how philanthropic and generous Ottawa is. Being a mom, she especially loves how generous Ottawa is when it comes to helping foundations like the CHEO Foundation which helps so many kids and families who are faced with unfortunate health challenges.

When I asked Katherine if she had any favourite Ottawa restaurants, again her answers revolved around her family. Their ulta-favourite family burger spot is The Hintonburger and they also love The Great Banzini in Wellington West – and for a treat there’s no better place than Suzy Q’s (her youngest loves the raspberry cassis!)

Thanks so much Katherine for sharing what you and your family love about Ottawa. I totally agree, Ottawa is a great city for families! For more information about Katherine and her work in Ottawa you can take a peek at her Linkedin Page and you can follow her on twitter at: @KatherineDines

a pretty exciting place to be a part of right now

Andrew Reeves photographed on Elgin Street in front of El Camino.

I love how architects see a city, not just how it looks and feels but how it’s used by it’s people in their everyday experiences – so it was great to photograph local architect Andrew Reeves the other week and to ask him what he loves about Ottawa. Andrew loves that Ottawa is in a state of positive change and flux and how it’s making some big and important moves that will make it so much better in the very near future. “Recent residential and commercial builds (particularly restaurants) as well as larger projects such as the new light rail, Landsdown, the Rideau Centre expansion are changing this city for the better.”

Andrew loves the quality of life in Ottawa and the privileged access to the greenspace. Ottawa is a city that you can be downtown at an event or restaurant and then be in a huge protected park with biking, skiing, swimming and hiking in 15 or 20 minutes? He also really appreciates that Ottawa has such a nice mix of French and English language and culture, making it such a great environment to raise his daughters.

© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

As an architect and as a professional with a civic vision, Andrew is loving the neighbourhoods of Hintonburg, Mechanicsville, New Edinburgh and Beechwood. “Mechanicsville and Hintonburg are great neighbourhoods with history and some grit. Both are forming their own particular characters and nurturing a slew of artists, entrepreneurs, retailers and restaurants. While New Edinburgh and Beechwood have everything – parks, schools, proximity to downtown, it just needs better retail and street appeal – it’s coming though.” It’s really great to see how Ottawa’s neighbourhoods are all finding their own distinct personalities.

I love asking people I photograph how they feel Ottawa is progressing as a city and this was a great question for Andrew as it’s a topic he’s quite passionate about. He loves that Ottawa is evolving into a world-class city with it’s big infrastructure developments like the the light rail project, the expansion of the Rideau Centre and Landsdown – all mixed with some cool and much smaller-scale growth and development that is affecting the personality of Ottawa. “In this time of immense growth and development it’s hugely important that urban planning issues such as scale, walk-ability and community are properly taken into account. Ottawa is certainly gaining confidence and I think that because of its size, people feel connected to what is happening in the city.”

Some of Andrews favourite Ottawa restaurants are El Camino (which he designed), Town and Fraser Cafe – all for their amazing food and cocktails. He’s also a fan of The Highlander pub in the Market (close to his office), The Heart & Crown and The Clocktower.

Thanks Andrew for sharing what you love about our city and some of your insights into Ottawa’s growth! For more information about Andrew Reeves and LineBox Studio: