AT APPROXIMATELY 10,000 km away from the city I have called home for the last 20 years of my life, I am beginning to wonder why so many people deem Ottawa a boring city. Being so far away from the comforts and familiarity of home has given me a new-found awareness and appreciation for a city I have admittedly been taking for granted. Ottawa may be filled with quite a few people who work in stuffy offices and deal with administration, politics, and the like, but does it really deserve such a stamp of disapproval?
Those that claim there is nothing to do in Ottawa are clearly dull and uninteresting themselves. How does the saying go—only boring people are bored? It’s comical to see these people declaring Ottawa a tired government town when we have so many things going on. In the previous issue of the *Fulcrum*, we outlined just a few of the festivals one can enjoy while spending the summer in O-town. From the Tulip Festival in May to Capital Pride in August, Ottawa is filled with events that exemplify the existence of a solid local art scene and the presence of cultural diversity.
In fact, this past Canada Day on Parliament Hill was an event that should have shut up every one of those naysayers. Hundreds of thousands crowded the Hill to not only welcome the royal couple but to also see great Canadian artists, such as Great Big Sea and Sam Roberts Band perform.
While watching our annual firework spectacle, I remember looking out into the sea of red and white along Rideau Street and witnessing a group of drunk dudes chanting “CANADA, CANADA, CANADA!” Perhaps the most heartwarming scene was amidst the deafening blows and bangs of the fireworks when a little boy—maybe six or seven—was screaming with passion, “I LOVE YOU, CANADA! WILL YOU MARRY ME?!”
The counter argument to what I have just described is that these events are few and far between. Again, I say dig a little deeper. Some of the best times I’ve had in this city have been walking down Elgin Street on a Friday or Saturday night, talking to other locals, or those times I’ve gone out to Mercury Lounge and watched slam poets mix, rhyme, and intertwine their words to put on an amazing show.
We may not be as exciting as some other cities out there, but let’s not discredit ourselves. At times, the art, music, and theatre may be underground, but that’s not to say it isn’t there. It’s quite the opposite, rather. This city is brimming with culture.
My final word of advice to anyone who finds themselves saying Ottawa is lacklustre is to stop complaining and do something about it. Step out of your comfort zone and go watch a local play or listen to a band you’ve never heard of before play live. You might like it and, maybe, not be bored for once.
Through The Lens is the column of arts and culture editor Sofia Hashi. To contact Sofia, email email@example.com, or call (613) 562-5931.