the power of the positive

An impromptu loveOttawa session across from our Parliament Buildings.

This week Ottawa found itself sadly and dramatically at the centre of our news world, with a tragic event reminding us all of the fragility of life and how profoundly valuable liberty is. The loveOttawa project has always focused on the positive and the beautiful – so I thought it necessary to set our canvas up this morning across from our Peace Tower and ask a handful of people what they love about our humble yet great city. And in light of a confusing week, I’m again refreshed and reminded that Ottawa is indeed such an incredible city to love and to be proud of!

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© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

A super big thanks to everyone today who braved our camera and shared their words – and thanks so much to Anita, Lucia and Juan for teaming with me to make this post happen!

teaching ottawa students about smart culinary choices

Chef Kent Van Dyk photographed at the Parkdale Market.

We all hear how important it is to shop and support independent restaurants and to buy our food from local producers – well Kent Van Dyk is going one step further and teaching Ottawa high school students about how to make those important choices. Kent runs a Barrhaven high school culinary arts program teaching cooking and restaurant management, with a focus on cooking from scratch, eating locally and sustainably. Kent is hoping in some cases to have students move on to the culinary world but he really wants to educate future consumers about what they buy, where they buy, how to cook it and the joy of preparing food from scratch and sharing it with people.  At the school they have a kitchen garden and in grades 9 and 10 the field trips they do feature visits to orchards, sugar bushes, Ottawa farmer’s markets and businesses that promote sustainability!

When I asked Kent about what he loved about Ottawa, it was no surprise to hear that he loves so many of the great independent sources for food. “I really like shopping at the local farmer’s markets (particularly Parkdale) and small local purveyors like Glebe Meat Market and Whalesbone Sustainable Fish Supply and then cooking for friends.”

© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

There is so much more that Kent loves about Ottawa – the multitude of music festivals from Folkfest to Arboretum to Chamberfest and everything in between.  He also loves all of the outdoor activities you can do in Ottawa – from hiking and cross-country skiing in the Gatineu park to walking/running along the canal. Ottawa has so much to offer all year round!

Kent’s attention, of course returns back to the fantastic restaurant/food culture in Ottawa. “I like a lot of different restaurants in Ottawa and I don’t want to leave anyone out but some of my favourite restaurants are Town on Elgin St.,  Edgar for brunch on the weekend and  Sidedoor for son-in-law egg and panang curry. I also really love Supply and Demand and Wellington Gastropub (around the corner from my house), Union 613 for Southern hospitality and of course El Camino.”

Kent is super happy that Ottawa’s old image of a sleepy government town is rapidly changing. “When I walk by restaurants on say a Wednesday night and people are still coming in at 9:30-10:00 for dinner…I’m happy!”  It’s so great that Ottawa has really evolved into a dynamic city that embraces eating locally and supporting the many artisanal producers in the region…from craft brewers to cheese makers to amazing farmers.

Thanks so much to Kent for sharing his love for Ottawa!

For more information about Kent Van Dyk:

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