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:


the small positive world of ottawa

Meghan Wilmott photographed at Mint Hair Studio in Hintonburg.

I was lucky enough to meet up and photograph local artist Meghan Wilmott the other night while I was photographing a loveOttawa event for the Hintonburg Happening. Meghan was there sharing her friendly smile and her support for Hintonburg, where she’s called home for the past four years. She loves the great community feel of Hintonburg and she loves what a small world Ottawa is. “People still look up every now and then, for a friendly smile – and I often run into people I know. Ottawa is such a small world!”

Meghan loves the laid back life-style of Ottawa (great for hanging out with friends and family) while at the same time she loves how Ottawa inspires her art. “The colours, people and spaces of Ottawa are a constant inspiration for my art.”  It’s really cool how Ottawa is so many things to so many people at the same time. It’s a small town, an inspiring city, a caring community and a small world!

© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

Meghan really loves how Ottawa is taking grasp of it’s different communities, with more of a focus on community development projects. “It’s really nice to feel part of your ‘area of town’ and to feel like there is an opportunity to be involved whether its through volunteering or starting your own business or taking part in various events and fundraising.”  Meghan thinks its wonderful how people have become increasingly public and more aware of the support needed for mental health initiatives, and would love to see more awareness and events in Ottawa, like the recent Women’s Mental Health Run.

Meghan of course also loves the restaurant and cafés in Ottawa. “Oh there are so many!”

Pubwells on Preston is my absolute favourite comfort-pub.
I love Art -Is- In Bakery treats.
Everything is amazing at Indian Express.
Coffee from Pasticceria Gelateria Italiana on Preston.
Derienzo’s sandwiches.
Green Rebel salads are amazing for lunch.
Suzy Q Doughnuts or a Bridgehead Coffee.
Pholicious on Booth Street/Somerset.
Angelo’s Pizza on St. Patrick Street…this little place is such a gem!

Thanks so much Meghan for sharing what you love about Ottawa, for having an observant eye and a caring heart! For more information about Meghan you can find her on LinkedIn and you can learn more about her art at  You can also follow her on Twitter at: @megndub


a vibrant musical heartbeat throughout the city

Kent Aitken photographed in front of Irene’s Pub in The Glebe.

Local musician and Musical Underground Ottawa creator Kent Aitken is originally from Prince Edward Island. When he moved here, he figured he’d stay for three to five years then head back east. That was just shy of six years ago, and he doesn’t see any signs of budging, and it’s because there is so much he loves about Ottawa. He loves how everyone here plays an active part in the community – and seems to go above and beyond. He also loves from his home in The Glebe where he can easily bike to work downtown or even kayak along the canal to a bar on Dows Lake.

Having been interested in politics and how countries work since high school, Kent loves being a part of that process as a public servant, and loves seeing the government Parliament Buildings while walking around downtown.

© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

Two things stand out for Kent that are distinctly Ottawa – all of the public spaces and historical sites, as well as all of the events and speaker series. He loves to take advantage of the parks, the canal, Parliament Hill and monuments. “My group of friends and I have become downright masterful at biking food, beverages, music, instruments, games, and sports to the various venues around the city (Hog’s Back is a favourite).”  Kent also loves to catch events hosted by HUB Ottawa, Canada 2020, The Ottawa Economics Association, The Bank of Canada and others. “These events draw politicians, public servants, academics, citizens, journalists, you name it. The conversations taking place about public policy, politics, public administration, economics, social issues, etc. – between people that can bring weight to bear on them – are fascinating, and as a theme are one of my favourite things to do in Ottawa.”

Kent is also a big fan of the various music venues and restaurants in town, but qualifies his list of favourtites with “There’s a time and place for everything!” Here’s a list of some of his favs:

Eating + Drinking
Irene’s (for Saturday afternoons)
Union 613 (for lunches)
Parliament Pub (for really nice days)
Murray Street (for well…..whenever)
The Daily Grind and Pressed (are also top notch)

Avant Garde
Irene’s (of course)
The NAC Fourth Stage (great sound and layout – and cabaret style seating)

Kent is also a big fan of the local independent music scene in Ottawa, names like: Tariq Anwar, Dynamite Motel, Cooper MacLaren, Choopy McWilliam, Tindervox, Arrows and Anchors, and Little Stella. “There’s a vibrant musical heartbeat throughout the city!”

Kent’s been putting his love for music and Ottawa to work by creating a really cool street initiative called Musical Underground Ottawa – it’s about encouraging people to share the music they love to play. “It’s reverse busking –  that is, setting up in parks and public spaces and inviting passers-by to play for us. And, of course, filming the whole thing.”  Taking a close peek at this cool project is a must!

Thanks so much Kent for sharing and for creating Musical Underground Ottawa! You can follow Kent Aitken on twitter at: @MUOttawa