Cold City. Warm Heart.

Steam Columns by Supreme Court

With this picture of steam rising from smokestacks near the Supreme Court building, as seen outside my north-facing window on the 21st floor of the Ottawa Marriott, I was severely tempted to title this blog “Who Says Ottawa isn’t Full of Hot Air,” but I decided that wouldn’t be kind. This city’s inhabitants treated me well. I had a good launch at Kaleidoscope Kids Books and saw some wonderful the wonderful sights that are part of Ottawa’s winter beauty.

Despite the OC Transpo strike, I managed to get around the city using cabs and lifts from my aunt Dorothy. Thanks to the times I travelled, traffic was heavy but not gridlocked. More trouble was had from the banks of snow at the curbs that needed cleaning off, and the trucks that blocked traffic while cleaning them off. I also think that the use of one-way streets throughout the downtown core hampers more than it helps the flow of traffic.

Vivian and I boarded a cab at our hotel for what should have been a ten minute trip south down Bank Street, but the driveway off our hotel exited onto Kent Street, which was one-way north. We head out onto Wellington and turn right, heading toward Bank Street and, coincidentally, the Parliament Buildings. Whoops, Bank Street is closed, so we proceed to the next street which will take us south — O’Connor — only to find that it’s been blocked by Gaza protesters. My taxi driver has no choice but to make a u-turn on Wellington, head back past Bank and Kent, looking for a way south. At this point, he decides on Bronson, which is an alternate through-route to South Ottawa. Turning left onto Sunnyside, we encounter the road blocked by snow clearing equipment, and the driver doesn’t want to select an alternate, because all the streets around us are complementary one-way.

This is a subject I’m going to have to talk more about, as a number of cities have adopted this feature, only to gradually revert one-way streets back to two-way in order to restore the pedestrian life, but in this case, by separating and categorizing the downtown streets into a series of one-way arterials, each serving a specific and different need, when one of those arterials gets taken out (by, say, a protest), alternates are harder to come by. So, Ottawa, you’d do well to revert those one-way streets back to two-way, in my opinion.

But, as I say, that’s another discussion for another day. This was why I left myself an hour to get down to the bookstore, and why I was quite happy to arrive with thirty minutes to spare. Kaleidoscope Kids Books is a wonderful store, making full use of their temporary space while their permanent digs are built. They have a full selection of childrens and young adult novels, and a steady stream of customers entering and exiting the shop. It was an excellent venue for the launch, and I even sold a copy of The Unwritten Girl to somebody who’d ducked in at random, and couldn’t stay.

I was pleased to meet all of those who turned up, who came from a variety of backgrounds — including Graeme Burk, who knew me from my days writing for DWIN, fellow bloggers Dr. Dawg and Lulu, and family friend Michelle, whom I’ve known since we were both babies. I mustn’t forget to mention my uncle Gordon, and Mike Park of Rational Reasons. The show of support was most welcome, and I thank everyone who turned up. Thanks also to Kaleidoscope Kids Books for providing the drinks and snacks and the venue. Finally, after the event, Vivian and I trooped off to dinner with Dr. Dawg and LuLu at the Barley Mow, where Vivian and LuLu bonded. Very good with children that lady is.

So, thanks again to everyone involved. A good time was had by all, and I look forward to seeing this city again. Possibly this coming June, when the tulips are in bloom, and my fingers are in less danger of freezing off.

Here are some photographs from the trip.


The venue, waiting for the launch

Smokestacks and Smoke

Smoke rising from the smokestacks near the Supreme Court of Canada building.

Ottawa River

The Ottawa River, frozen over. Looks cold, doesn’t it?

I heard later that day that Graeme was able to skate home on the Rideau Canal. And that’s what makes Ottawa really unique. Where else in this country can skating be a viable form of urban transportation?

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