Trust a Local Under Pressure

Ottawa may be a big metropolitan capital city, but it is also a small regional town in certain respects. Business can be multi-national or family-owned. We all want to patronize the latter to reward that good old Canadian entrepreneurial spirit. There is anything from a restaurant to a locksmith shop in this category. There are boutiques and one-of-a-kind gift shops with handmade local items. You will also find bakeries, ice cream vendors, and shoe repair stores amid the multitude of ubiquitous mall chains. It is no wonder that when I spot a home-grown venture, I go with open arms.

Take the carwash around the corner. It has been family-run for a few generations and I can see gramps in the backroom looking over the books. The kids learned the ropes right there under the stream of water before entering management after college. It is open early and closes late because of so many fans with dirty cars. They wouldn’t think of going anywhere else. Pop is often credited with innovations. He keeps the machinery up to date and the cars sparkling. Only the best wax for his customers. He bought a couple of power washers a few years ago and what a difference a day makes.

Have you seen these dynamos in action? They can make mincemeat out of the worst caked-on dirt. If your van has been in the wilds during the rain, no problem. Bring it over. They might have to do some extra scrubbing with the brush attachments on the wheels and rims, but in the end, it will be clean and like new. Nothing is a challenge—not the chrome detailing, the spotty windows, or the filthy engine. It all comes at a very reasonable price! The family has been known to donate their services for charitable fundraising events. Actions speak louder than words.

If you enter the car wash and walk down the aisle as you witness the miraculous vehicle transformations, you will notice some framed plaques mounted on the wall side by side. There are also family photos from different decades scattered here and there. The gang is very proud of the business and what it took to get it started many years ago, and keep it successful. A lot of hard labor went in at first before automation took over. The power washer is a nice finishing touch, however, that still demonstrates the benefit of a little extra manual effort. Kids love to watch the spewing spray from the adjustable nozzle. Mine want one at home and are dropping intense hints. A new electric or gas power washer will do doubt appear in due time.

Meanwhile, we want to visit this illustrious award-winning venue and applaud the resistance to incorporation into an impersonal entity. I hear that they have had offers, but have not relented as yet. The residents are pretty happy about this, and if we have anything to say about it, a fight to keep things local will go on.

Hardware Home Improvement Store Sale

We all buy everything on the Internet at a discount from clothing and cosmetics to builders’ supplies and gifts. We get our music, food, and other life essentials on line. We look for those name brand coupons and website specials. Who pays full price! But there are times when you even go into a brick and mortar store to make a purchase, especially when you find a sale.

I am always doing DIY projects at home or for friends and family. It is a great hobby and relaxer. I help them, they help me. So, home improvement items are on my mind. I need some basic hand tools such as an electric saw, nail gun, and screwdriver. I must have paint, sandpaper, wood slats for repairs, and rollers. A ladder, a bucket, some drop cloths, and some plastic tarp are all handy essentials.

A trip to the home improvement store is fun and inviting. Recently the hardware department had an anniversary sale. I rushed over and joined the crowds. Handymen, painters, fellow DIYs, and assorted others filled the aisles grabbing the marked down merchandise. It was an old-fashioned experience. Someone’s kid knocked over a bin of nails that went cascading across the floor, stopping wary people in their tracks. That was a new experience.

I went to the mezzanine floor where they stocked handles and knobs. These can be very expensive—a couple of dollars apiece—and they add a lot to renovations of bathrooms and kitchens. Small things have a big impact. There were walls of stacked see-through boxes filled with pulls in every finish from satin, polished chrome, oiled bronze, to brass and matte silver. I counted out a dozen of three different types that I knew I could use in some upcoming projects. It was a great savings in the end. The important point here, however, is that I got to hold them in my hands, touch their surfaces, eyeball their size and shape, and assess their functionality in their new space. You can’t do that online! And you don’t have to wrap them and go to the post office to make a return.

I then went back down to the fan section and selected three ceiling models with different light fixtures. I would keep these on hand. They are some of the best ceiling fans on the market. Everyone likes them and they work in every room of the house. They can even go on patios. Again, I could look closely at the color, surfaces, and metal details. The woods were truer to life than photos on the Internet. Sometimes cherry looks too red and maple more like walnut. I bought a little portable number for the garage on a whim.

The hardware home improvement outing yielded a bonanza of things I needed, wanted, and coveted. The budget covered a lot. More than I expected. I added some extras on my list including wood glue, rub on patina, cabinet trim, and more. It was a welcome relief from the impersonality of a website, more tactile, and more fulfilling. I will visit them more often in the near future.

Local Gym Profile

My gym in the lovely urban paradise of Ottawa is small and family-oriented. It has everything the big ones do, just less equipment and facility space. What it does have is a giant Olympic-size outdoor pool with lifeguard, a snack bar with “healthy” treats, tennis courts, and a basketball court. This is unusual, but it is more of an all-purpose recreation place than a traditional workout venue.

So there is a lot to do with people are scattered about doing what they like best from morning to night. The locker rooms are pristine and spacious with adjustable showers, easy touch sinks, and bathroom scales. The scales remind us why we are here: to keep fit, stay at the optimum weight, and live a long life Canadian style.

Getting on the digital scales the first time was somewhat daunting. Yup, there were a few extra pounds. How to get the numbers in my favor? The gym, albeit small, had helpful “motivators” or workout coaches to help set routines and goals. Try a little circular training or just use the elliptical. Do you like swimming, exercise classes, Pilates, or dance? I had some options and decided to try a few in full view of all in attendance.

The classes were on the ground floor next to the pool so after getting heated up, you can take two steps and cool off. The snack bar was calling my name. This was to be my dieting downfall. Even though it advertised healthy snacks, those protein bars have 300 calories! The fruit smoothies have more.

Back to the workouts. My favorite class was boxing—adults only. I decided to go regularly. On other days, I combined swimming and the treadmill. From time to time a little weight lifting felt good. I was on my way. The club trainers enjoyed watching my progress as did some of the regulars. At the small club, you knew everyone and helped cheer them on to new heights of fitness. The tennis people were another breed and seldom crept indoors. Same with basketball.

Okay. The time was now for truth telling. The best body fat scale I’ve ever seen was beckoning me to step on. It was time for My Weigh In. With a bit of trepidation, I did. Yay! I was within my target weight range and pleased as the complementary punch in a vat on the entry counter to the gym. I treated myself to a smoothie that day, but I was so stoked that I avoided them thereafter. When you lose weight, you feel euphoric. I do credit the gym staff for my results. Personal attention is the hallmark of the club and goes way beyond what you get at the big chains.

I want to compliment everyone for getting me on track and staying there. I have made new friends and look forward to every visit. It really is a way of life when you think about it. Whether you like the early morning, a lunch break session, or early evening, the gym is your go-to place for mental and physical refreshment. The scales are there to tell the tale.

Clothing Made Locally

  1. I admit it. Ottawa is not a hotbed of fashion to the outside world. The big designers do not inaugurate their lines locally and the press doesn’t flock here in droves to see runway shows. It’s still all about London, Paris, and New York, maybe Milan. Ottawa, however, has a style of its own and supporting the economy by buying regional designers is a point of pride. Read on and find out what you may be missing.

There are, of course, the usual big department stores like Holt Renfrew and loads of well-known boutiques. Shopping here instead of online would be very patriotic. Getting out of the house and away from computer could be eye-opening! There isn’t anything you can’t find from Europe and the US. Most Canadians also know that there, in fact, a viable clothing industry. We even export it. After all, it’s a big flourishing country. Elle Canada is a popular magazine that points out the assets of homegrown talent like Jeremy Lang, Pink Tartan, and Greta Constantine. Fashionistas also cite Denis Gagnon. These artists are getting more and more attention on the world fashion map. They are national brands with international cachet, but capital city Ottawa has also garnering kudos for locally-made apparel. Oxyrotin is a new status symbol for trendy sweatshirts, crewnecks, and hoodies in simple, basic colors emblazoned with great graphics. This is “fashionware” for casual hipsters of the younger set—super popular.

In the back of our city’s designer boutiques, you may see a leather sewing machine or two whizzing along, with operators fabricating special creations unique to the region. They are hard at work meeting growing demand. Here you get one-of-a-kind winter coats and jackets, handmade sweaters, gorgeous cocktails dresses, and sassy pants. Elena’s Creations, D’Aku, Yolande Deschesnes, McCaffrey Haute Couture, Sarah, and Teruko Creative High Fashion, among others, would be on anyone’s must visit list when looking for fine apparel. Add Lynne Kiel and Macleod fashion and you will see seasonal fare that is exquisitely made and tailored to the climate. Handbags, scarves, accessories, jewelry—a virtual feast for the eye.

You can get ready-to-wear, again locally made, or custom designs. Many women love to order mother-of-the bride and prom dresses for their daughters, or even summer travel garb. Work clothing is no problem. Suits for hard-to-fit ladies are a breeze in any fabric or style. Women want fashion forward and comfortable items that are memorable. When you have a long list of requirements, Ottawa’s designers are the absolute way to go. You absolutely must give them their due.

So don’t send your money off to China or Romania. Buy local and support the creative efforts of residential designers. Garment services include alterations and styling in many places. They are a one-stop shop for busy working women. Save yourself hours of scouring the Internet and big intimidating stores and find out the secret benefits of Ottawa’s finest. The tedium of keeping up-to-date and chic may be just a few blocks away.

What is it about Canadian Culture?

Canadian Culture

A country’s culture is composed of a myriad of things: language, customs, history and lore. It encompasses food and attire, lifestyle choices, political and social elements, and more. When you live a long time in one place, the culture sometimes fades into the distance as everything becomes routine and commonplace.

If you take a log-hard look at a local or regional culture, you begin to notice wonderful aspects that shine forth with clarity. The word is often nostalgic as one remembers their roots and the values of their forebears. When asked, however, about Canada, many don’t have much of an idea of how diverse the culture is or how much it differs from that of the United States. Some say it is more forward-thinking and liberal with benefits like public health programs and progressive taxation. It has strict gun control and a strong respect for ethnic diversity. Capital punishment has been banned. Like America, European influence is strong, but Canada has its own distinct kind of melting pot society and residual customs.

For one thing, the government is quite different, although democratic. It is a parliamentary system with a Prime Minister. It is also a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as reigning sovereign (with no political power however). The legislature is bicameral divided into the Senate and House of Commons. Americans who live in Canada express respect and understanding of the system. They feel quite at home in this northern land.

Ottawa is the country’s capital city, located in southern Ontario on the Ottawa River. It is a good exemplar of metropolitan Canadian culture at its best. Stereotypes abound about Canada in general and about Ottawa by default. People imagine ice and snow (rightly so in winter), beautiful vistas, natural resources, and a new land of opportunity. There is something that says pioneer about the area, however centuries old it may be. The Indian and aborigine heritage and fur trapping industry associations add to the myths. It is a hybrid culture to be sure born and bred of native and European influences, American dominance to the south, and a new world-wide immigration—Chinese, Indian Vietnamese, Lebanese, Haitian, Jamaican, Filipino, among others. Ottawa, like many other parts of the country, is a diverse society par excellence. French Canadian culture is strongest in Quebec but lingers in neighboring provinces.

Canada still has an aura of “land of opportunity” much like the U.S. had (and still does). People assume there is a vast area of growth potential for the enterprising adventurer. This explains the attraction and the continual draw of areas like Ottawa, dominated by the municipal and federal government as the major employer. The sophistication of urban Canadian is unmatched except for a rare few US cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, or New Orleans. As such, it could be a new relocation destination as the job market changes direction regionally. For those looking for more than jobs, a wonderful lifestyle awaits in Canada as a refreshing alternative culture with distinctive features all its own.

Medical Treatments in Ottawa

Foot fungus infection is a common occurrence, and it appears on fingernails and toenails. Your nails can turn yellow, or in some cases brownish. It is not always painful, but it can be though. Your nails if infected could become brittle, and there were cases when they even fell off. This kind of infection can be embarrassing.

You can get infected by sharing facilities, or by walking barefoot. You can easily get it at the gym or a locker room. You should be careful around public places. There are some precautions that you can take, like keeping your nails short and, changing your socks often, using powder to absorb extra sweat from your feet and things like that.

However, if you do get infected with toenail fungus, you can easily find medical treatment in Ottawa (among other available treatments). There are various treatments available for this kind of infection. You can choose between laser treatment and other alternative conventional treatments.

Do you avoid wearing flip flops and other open shoes because you have yellow or brownish nails? Do you go to the beach or do you stay away from it and miss out on fun due to your nail problems? Do you ever go barefoot or are you too ashamed? Do you ever hide your nails? Have you ever consulted with a specialist about this problem?

If you answered yes to these questions, than you should seriously think about treating your feet once and forever. Ottawa offers great laser treatment, but if you are not up to it, there are other methods as well. People who have this infection are usually embarrassed and avoid places like the beach or a swimming pool. Some even go to greater lengths and have their nails removed. There is no need for that. There are specialist who know how to help you and treat your nails. The reason why it is so difficult to get rid of them is because it is very difficult to treat the area underneath the nail itself.

Medicine evolves from day to day nad now there are other treatments for this particular problem. Your doctor may prescribe you drugs:

  • Oral antifungal drugs
  • Medicated nail polish
  • Medicated nail cream
  • Laser and light-based therapies
  • and as a last option nail removal

So you see, there are many options. It would be best to see a doctor and listen to whatever he has to say, and than try some of these methods. Of course, start with drugs, do not have your nails removed immediately, this is the last option in case if nothing else works. Remember, take care of yourselves, do not use shared facilities unless you can not avoid them, do everything in your power to avoid getting infected. If you are a student living in a dorm, it will be difficult for you to avoid this because you have to share the same bathroom with others. Just follow the precaution measures, and you will be fine, if you still get infected, do not think that this will go away on its own, it won’t, see a doctor.

Jerry’s Generators

I was in charge of a local raffle not too long ago. It was grand opening time at Jerry’s Generators of Ottawa, a new store that specialized in all sizes of units for every conceivable use. I have a small portable camping model myself, and everyone I know has one or more at home. It may be relegated to the garage or basement, but it is there and psychologically comforting!

Nevertheless, I was familiar enough with the product and proceeded to plan the event. Jerry wanted to call attention to the new facility while supporting a favorite local charity for educating kids (a free after- school tutoring service). We could easily kill the two birds with one stone. PR is fun. We got out the ads, flyers, mailers, and press releases. We set up tables and chairs. We had selected a nice mid-range generator as the coveted prize. It was for personal or residential use in case of a power outage. We do get them now and then, and often when least expected. Sometimes even a small device saves the day.

Jerry agreed to donate one of the best generators he sells, the Honda Super Quiet Converter that runs about $1,000 retail. Tickets were purchased a week in advance and on opening day for $15 each. If you bought ten, you got a discount. The 2000 watt is a marvel of modern industrial science. It is a good choice for its additional RV application and camping use. It can power a hair dryer, refrigerator, a microwave, and small AC units. Since most people have a home version, this was a great choice. It comes with a spark arrestor/muffler, advanced inverter technology, and works well for computers and sensitive equipment.

It proved to be a winner. People bought the tickets and flocked to the opening to see who prevailed. They looked around the warehouse, and many generators from his small generator range were sold that day. I got accolades for my service. These things might seem run-of-the-mill, but you are never sure of attendance and the final outcome. Jerry was thrilled and the new store was launched in style. Refreshments were available and people spent a nice afternoon enjoying a local band and munching on delicious fare.

The store is modern, clean, and efficient. The samples are well-spaced with plaques noting features and usage. Prices are fair and there will be specials in the near future. The walls are colorful in a low-key way. Jerry had a previous business and is no novice. There is a small play area for kids while mom and dad shop. A soda machine and free coffee stand complement the family-friendly atmosphere.

The day’s winner was a young couple who had just gotten married. They did not get a generator, however, as a gift. They said they were really dying for one and thought they would have to wait. Jerry was pleased for them and hoped the new homeowners would come back later for a larger home model. It was a win-win for everyone and good feeling abounded. The charity was represented and thanked the owner for his thoughtful donation.

A New Life in Ottawa

A New Life in Ottawa

Have you been thinking about relocating? Maybe you are from a small town and want a thriving urban metropolis, but something unique and a bit exotic in cultural terms. Perhaps you are a city person through and through and want to stay that way. You are in a technological field and need a less competitive environment than Northern California. Finally, you may be tired of bland new-construction suburbia where no one has roots.

If any of these scenarios describes you, Ottawa could be your ideal choice for a major move. Why Canada? First of all, most people speak English, certainly in Ontario. Over 80% of the population in the entire country is conversant in the language. Next comes climate. While you might be imagining frigid temps and your kids skiing to school, the warm summers and cold winters are a nice contrast for those who enjoy real seasons of the year. (Californians and Floridians may want to undertake a reverse migration from hot to cold.) Given the many business and recreational opportunities, and the rich cultural heritage, air temperature should not be much of a factor. The city gears up well for the semi-continental climate; and if you love snow, you will be in heaven.

Next consider lifestyle. As the city offers great employment options with the Canadian and municipal governments, unemployment is less threatening than in certain areas of the US. Furthermore, there is a multi-cultural vibe to the area that attracts and welcomes ethic groups. The technological realm competes favorably with Silicon Valley in California with growth companies alongside blue chips like Hewlett Packard, 3M, Adobe Systems, and Bell Canada. You can live urban or rural and get the most for you money in upcoming neighborhoods. All the amenities are there for anything from a quaint, turn-of-the-century stone house to modern high-rise condos. You can even opt for a cozy apartment to a sprawling country estate.

Public transportation is great in Ottawa and can take you around to colorful neighborhoods like Spark Street Village, Beechwood Village, Glebe, Preston Street/Little Italy, Quartier Vanier (for Francophiles), Wellington Village, and Somerset Village, among others. Select a residential area that feels right. Businesses, shops, and services abound. Stroll or bike through the streets among landmark heritage buildings, pubs, and restaurants. The magic of Ottawa can be yours.

Beyond the job and home of your dreams, Canada offers political diversity: voting patterns in the city reflect liberal and conservative bents. It is first a foremost a democratic society with a parliamentary style of government. Entertainment and nightlife abound as well as family adventures and wholesome outdoor fun. For those who relish variety, sophistication yet earthiness, historical roots, and an open-minded warmth, Ottawa is a destination of choice for relocation.

Wood Stove Story

A good salesperson should be able to sell anything. There is an old saying about selling ice to an eskimo. In Ottawa, maybe it would be the same thing considering the frigid temperatures at least a few months of the year. One thing you do want to sell, however, is a good wood stove in a winter climate. As a teenager, I was looking for a job that a young person could do with little to no experience. People my age were getting odd jobs, so I figured I would find the right one to supplement my allowance and save for a fabulous summer vacation to remember.

It was winter and I didn’t expect to be out and about much, or on the road. Ha! My perfect first instance of employment was selling wood stoves to people who owned recreational cabins. I had to traipse around on snowy roads in the local ski areas, which weren’t exactly populated. Visitors rented for the most part and came and went with the season. I soon learned that with just a few prospects, you better have a good story to tell.

I would hang out in cafes and bookstores with my brochures and talk to anyone who would listen. I would extol the virtues of the old-fashioned concept and how quaint for one’s second abode. Wood stoves can be modern, of course, but there is no emotional appeal to a mountain dweller for state-of-the-art anything. I learned to get better at it and began to see a few people more than one or two times in the same places. I became a local fixture and even got invited over for a few hot toddies in front of the fire.

Finally, I met a girl about my age. She liked to frequent one particular eatery with her friends. We started to talk, realized we had a lot in common, and looked for one another during the evenings. One day, I spilled the beans and revealed my “secret” job with some humility and a bit of embarrassment. It was okay with adults, but with a peer, it was, well, uncool to sell wood stoves.

Salty, her nickname, was my savior that winter. Who knew? She not only had lots of friends with cabins, but her uncle was a builder. She introduced us and my career, such as it was, took off. He let me give my spiel and was impressed enough to buy 20 units for a new condo project. My boss was floored, my parents were awed, and I was speechless. I had my vacation money in a flash.

My working life thus began with a modest wooden stove in a mid-price range that came in four colors and three styles. I learned to ski, love the winding roads, and Salty. We saw each other for two years before she left me for college in New York. I was heartbroken, but will always be eternally grateful for her help, caring, and support. She was mature beyond her years, and I was the willing recipient of her generosity.

Surprise Destination: Ottawa

Rideau Canal in Ottawa

If you tell people your next vacation stop is Ottawa, they make look at you with some surprise. It is only because they don’t know what is there. The city is actually a big draw for tourists. Whether you enjoy outdoor activities, scenic vistas, walks on the beach, historical tours, or Indian culture, it is all there in one place. There is more than meets the eye to this capital city of Canada, and the third largest in the country. It offers everything from the regional and the quaint to the sophistication of an urban environment. There may be some aspects of the city you don’t know.

Mixed Culture

Some of the less well-known aspects of Ottawa include its unique history starting with the tribe that arrived on the shores of Lake Huron as far back as 1400 after which the city is named (originally called Bytown). Other tribes like the Iroquois causes relocation of some members (some of whom returned) and an infusion of a different culture into the region—the Europeans of the fur trade. The French heritage enriched the native origins. Now it is a multi-cultural city with a diverse population. At a point midway between Toronto and Quebec City, it is the ideal location for the country’s capital.

Political and Technological Center of Canada

Once a town of sawmills and a thriving lumber industry, Ottawa is now the political and technological center of Canada. The downtown area houses the Parliament and the Supreme Court of Canada. Many buildings are done in the Gothic revival style such as the noted Peace Tower. It is a metropolitan area that incorporates Gatineau, home to national and international business. While politically diverse, the city has been known to favor the Liberal Party while certain regions generally vote Conservative or New Democratic.

Boasting the third highest income of Canadian cities, Ottawa attracts entrepreneurs to what is called “the Silicon Valley of the north.” Telecommunications, software development, and environmental technology dominate with companies like Hewlett Packard, Bell Canada, 3M, and Adobe Systems. Furthermore, the government is a major employer of the citizenry. All in all, it makes for great opportunities and an appealing and affluent life style.

Tourist Mecca

Tourism is big business in Ottawa. It is no surprise considering the wealth of attractions and historic sites such as Parliament Hills, Victoria Island, and Rideau Canal, the oldest continuously operating canal in North America. There is a wealth of festivals such as Winterlude and Canada Day held on Parliament Hill in addition to sites such as Confederation Square, the Château Laurier, and the Central Experimental Farm.

Sports lovers have plenty to do what with all the parks, beaches, hiking and cycling trails. Art lovers can gravitate indoors to the art galleries and museums such as the superb National Gallery of Canada. Foodies have more than they can digest with anything from world-class restaurants to local ethnic eateries.

In sum, Ottawa is a great destination for families, business people, and world travelers. Children love Calypso Waterpark loaded with slides and pools, while adults flock to the Casino du Lac-Leamy and its fine dining venue Le Baccara. Once visited, it will surprise no more and became a staple on your list of to which places to return.

Appliance Heaven

There is a wonderful appliance depot in Ottawa on the outskirts of the urban area to serve residents from the surround suburban areas called AppliancesReviewed.com. They come from near and far to buy the latest, greatest home implements including stoves and cooktops, refrigerators, dishwashers, and washer/dryer sets. All the latest models and colors are there. It’s fun and easy.

Moms bring their kids in tow. There is a play area in the back complete with miniature appliances and an easy-bake oven for the girls. Boys tend to favor turning whirring mixers and blenders on and off. If the children are well-behaved, an attendant makes fruit smoothies to taste. They will sit quietly for a moment and sip the delicious brews.

The patient mothers can then scrutinize the wares. Whatever is needed, ample offerings are available. Savvy consultants show the storage capacity of refrigerators and the digital wonders of stoves and dishwashers. Just in case mom shops on a whim, there are amazing new hand mixers in stainless, pink, red, blue, and yellow that even have digital controls and displays. She can treat herself to a new food processor with all the new settings and capabilities, or maybe a rotisserie oven.

The appliances send mom into a reverie. She daydreams of baking cakes and cookies, preparing a turkey breast, or chopping veggies for a salad. She imagines minutes to make bread and seconds to purée potatoes. What will she do with the old stuff? Donate or keep?

Mom sees a world where nothing breaks down and everything lasts a lifetime. No repairman will darken her door! But the choices send her into a frenzy of decision-making. Can she select more than one device? She came for the fridge but, ah, there is so much more….

The kids are happy off in the distance, mindful she is a few steps away. They throw balls, cast small fishing rods in an inflated rubber pond, and read books when they poop out early. Bored with the mini appliances, they go on to amuse themselves with other things. Mom, however, is in appliance heaven. Now she wants a new kitchen, even cabinets, especially a state-of-the-art cooktop. She uses electricity, not gas, and there are many fine smooth surfaces that glow with pride.

She makes a list for dad, takes a few cell phone photos and sends them off in an email. “What a great place,” she coos. Dad replies, “go for it.” Mom is ecstatic. She has found Ottawa’s best and will take advantage of today’s special discount for two or more appliances. She orders stainless steel in just the right size with side freezer for the refrigerator and a matching chef’s stove. Stainless will be the new order of the day so she must have a companion blender and mixer, of course. “Mmmm,” she mutters as she contemplates the prices. “Not bad.”

The appliances will be packed and shipped that day and expedited to her home the next. Free installation is included. What an easy life, she thinks. The kids had fun, she was rapt with desire, and the whole experience was top-tier.

Faucet Favorite

Ottawa is seeing some construction growth with the influx of a new population seeking employment in this growing industrial area, particularly in electronics and communication services. Houses are going up or are being remodeled. You can still get bargains in pre-gentrified regions however. There are undiscovered oases of residential possibility.

Just because I happen to need one, I was searching the other day for a good faucet. It made me think about what it takes to start a business these days in Ottawa and how to take a simple product and make it grow as economic conditions change. If I had to write a business plan as an exercise, this is what I would offer.

Finest Faucets

The mission of the company is to supply commercial and residential real estate with an affordable selection of basic faucets for the kitchen and bathroom. Everything from retro to modern is provided to suit the décor of your home or business. Finishes range from chrome to gold-plated, with oil-rubbed bronze and nickel in between. Every taste and every style is accommodated.

Growth Plan

FinestFaucets.com will start with a manager and two employees, plus a clerical bookkeeper who does double duty tracking, billing, and ordering inventory. A rented space of 2,000 feet in a suburb within a few miles of the city center will house an ample display of the most popular options. Catalogues will supplement visual exhibits so that patrons may also order custom or limited-supply styles. The showroom area will be modern and clean with each faucet set mounted at eye level with information and pricing below.

Private retail customers will share this facility with wholesale buyers such as builders working on multiple housing projects, apartments, or condos. Office buildings use less equipment since bathrooms occupy less space, but will also be a focus of sales. All types of clientele will feel at home choosing and ordering either on their own or with a personal consultant.

Over five years, the owner will purchase the building and expand the inventory accordingly. Growth will come from PR, advertising, and local testimonials on TV, radio, and in print. Word of mouth will follow from the excellent service provided and the quality and wide range of the products. Discounts and specials will keep bulk purchasers coming back.

Advertising

From inception, Finest Faucets will purchaser marketing space, first at lower prices for remnant advertising and later at a more premium cost in glossy print decorating magazines, for example. A combination of radio, print, TV and Internet will be tested, with the winning tactics taking a front seat in future budgets.

Customer Service

The company will excel at marketing and sales externally and internally. Good customer relations are primary. No one should wait long for assistance. Repeat customers should be recognized and greeted. Mailers (snail mail or emails) will keep in touch to encourage company name recognition and respect. As the reputation of Finest Faucets grows, it will be expected that the sales staff will have design and construction knowledge on top of basic skills in quoting prices and describing features. Benefits to buyers will be clear and compelling.

Such is my imaginary world of faucets. I hope this model will spur an interest in not just these necessary, handy devices, but in starting a business in Ottawa, no matter how small.

Outstanding Eating in Ottawa

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As a major city in Canada (the sixth largest), Ottawa–the capital of the country–attracts visitors year-round. They are always on the hunt for great eateries after a day touring landmark buildings, the beauty of the river and parks, and the rich culture presented in museums and exhibitions. Ontario residents alike are eager to find great places to relax and enjoy a great meal in the best Canadian style. As it turns, out they have ample choices.

Each neighborhood (such as Preston, Wellington West, and ByWard Market) in the capital city is unique and is ripe for exploration of its varied ethnic food scene. Local markets are part of epicurean walking tours that also includes Chinatown, Eddy Street, and the Glebe area. Food artisans, chefs, and culinary hunters populate colorful districts like Little Italy. A nice treat can be found at the maple syrup production facility called Fulton’s. Families and kids have their own special places.
Some restaurants stand out, however, for their innovative and tantalizing cuisine. Signatures at Le Cordon Bleu, for example, tops many lists with critical accolades galore. It is part of the famed school that trains top chefs of the world.

Furthermore, for gourmet French delights, Le Baccara in the Casino du Lac-Leamy is a must. The incomparable food will please the most discriminating palate, not to mention wine aficionado (its cellar boats 13,000 personally-selected bottles!). Why not combine nightlife and fine dining in one venue.

While international fare is within easy reach (you want French, Italian, Chinese, steaks or seafood? You got it!), for Canadian specialties, there are many restaurants of note. Some serve the regional dish “poutine” of Quebecois origins that features French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds, a local favorite. (There is also a stuffed potato dumpling version called “poutine râpée.”) Chocolate lovers will gravitate to A Thing for Chocolate on Wellington West for their proprietary gianduja spread. Highly recommended!

Every taste can be accommodated in Ottawa with a bit of research. Word-of-mouth says that patrons love the Empire Grill (sexy door with chic martinis), Shore Club (succulent prime Alberta beef), Perspectives (local ingredients only!), the Fish Market (a nautical delight), Social (playful and experimental, Murray Street Kitchen Wine & Charcuterie (strictly regional and seasonal), Restaurant E18hteen (classy, funky, and trendy), Courtyard (contemporary flair), among many more. You won’t run out of options in this sophisticated and worldly city. Bonuses are the microbreweries for diehard beer enthusiasts. Stop in enjoy local flavour magic. In addition, the Ottawa Specialty Foods Association offers food markets during the year and keeps on top of local vendors.

With so much to offer, it is no wonder that people in the know consider Ottawa a true world-class culinary destination. The city is working on a program called Savour Ottawa to inform locals and visitors of the rich traditions of the city. Soon everyone will know that it is a secret foodie paradise available to all adventurous gourmets.

A Tourist Day Trip in Ottawa

A Tourist Day Trip in Ottawa

People are familiar Montreal and Toronto, but fewer know that Ottawa is the capital of Canada, located in the province of Ontario in the southern region. It is a picturesque city, located on the banks of the Ottawa River, beaconing visitors to enjoy its many treasures. Not to miss are many historic buildings and landmarks as well as the exciting city center. It is easy to spend a day taking in the local culture, fine eateries, and the scenic beauty of Victoria Island.

Tops on any tourist list is Parliament Hill, the seat of the federal government. The reconstructed Gothic structures (built after the fire of 1916), including the Peace Tower, dominate the city and reflect the solidity of the country’s democratic principles. The grounds feature Canadian art and the famed Changing of the Guard ceremony. The evening Sound and Light show is any visitor’s entrée into the splendor of this heart of the city.

For another important government building, the Supreme Court of Canada is the next stop, just west of the Parliament. Architecture lovers will enjoy the Grand Hall, part of the design by Ernest Cormier. It is loaded with gracious marble and two elegant candelabra-style metal lamps. Lavish, exotic woods adorn the courtrooms. Along with the outdoor fountain and terrace, it is a feast for the eye and the mind.

While landmark buildings attest to Canada’s rich political life, other venues speak of local heritage and historic lore. The MacKenzie King Estate, a one-time refuge for a long-time Prime Minister, is a romantic paean to the historic resident. Rideau Hall, the governor’s official home, is open to the public. If you like Victorian, the Laurier House is a perfect example, located in the downtown area of Sandy Hill.

For scenic tours, the Rideau Canal that travels to Lake Ontario dates back to 1832 and is still an engineering tour de force today. Numerous parks and trails along its edges are home to hikers, picnic enthusiasts, and cyclists. Outdoor attractions also include Upper Canada Village, Ottawa Gardens, the Ottawa River rapids, and the Algonquin site called Aboriginal Experiences on Victoria Island. Here you can imagine their venerable ancestors trading, celebrating rites with dancing and powwows, and sharing story-telling with the tribe.

Of course, you can’t do it all in one day and also expect to taste the culinary delights and unique shopping of the region. There are special events galore, gallery and museum exhibits, a casino, and more. Choosing what to do is never a problem in this engaging city. In addition to the waterways and greenery, sports opportunities abound. You can swim in Gatineau Park or spend an afternoon at one of the many fine beaches, not to mention golf, a water park, and bungee jumping.

It is clear that Ottawa is a singular city with ample attractions and festive festivals. If you have never visited, your first experience will be one to remember. You will want to return again by train, car, or air, and explore more of what the best of Canada has to offer.