Arts

David Ebere (left) and Zainab Muse, the co-founders of Wingd who are working on a guide to challenge Ottawa’s dull reputation. Photo: Kim Wiens.

‘Ottawa may be the city that fun forgot, but we love it just the way it is’

Although many still view Ottawa as the “city that fun forgot,” University of Ottawa alumni David Ebere and Zainab Muse disagree with this sentiment—and are writing a book to prove it.

The duo, who met during high school and stayed friends while studying health sciences at the U of O, began the blogging website Wingd in 2013, the final year of their undergrad, when Ebere had the idea to start an online blog for intellectual discussion on global news topics. The bilingual website has a team of 15 writers and 10 photographers, most of them from Ottawa.

The book, in a way, will be an extension of the blog, but with more of a specific focus on the city that they love. “I’m the kind of person that hates a large crowd, (so) I think Ottawa is just the perfect place for me and one way I could give back to the city was by taking on a project like this,” says Ebere.

The book will be split into two parts, with the first focusing on the travel, culture, and community aspect of Ottawa, and the second offering essays from Ottawa locals that encompass and relate to the city. Ebere and Muse are hoping that this will represent more people’s view of the city, giving a deeper inside perspective of what it means to live in Canada’s capital. 

“We’re from Toronto, so we have friends who say ‘Ottawa’s boring, Ottawa’s governmental, Ottawa’s the place that fun forgot’,” says Muse. “Everyone talks from the outside in, we find that not a lot of people talk about the city from the inside out, so that’s what the book was about as well.”

Ebere, who is originally from England, also noticed how people talk about Canada’s capital differently from other capital cities and wanted to change the conversation.

“When you talk about the U.S. and the U.K., you always hear about the Capitals, but why is Canada different? Why is Ottawa different?” says Ebere. “This city has a lot to offer.”

The idea for the book also stemmed from their desire to take their blog in a less Ottawa-centric direction, as it had become after its inception, while still yearning for a  a place to talk about their love for the nation’s capital.

“It was interesting to just see the site gravitate from this very diverse content to being very linear about one place, about Ottawa,” says Muse, who ultimately decided that the website would work better with its original international focus.

The site was also recognized with a silver medal for Best Blog or Column at the Canadian Online Publishing Awards last year, putting them in the same ballpark as Maclean’s and the Globe and Mail, among a host of other Canadian news outlets. At the awards ceremony, Muse noticed how little representation there was from Ottawa, encouraging her even more to work on the book.

“Ottawa may be the city that fun forgot, but we love it just the way it is,” says Muse.

Whether it’s the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica on Sussex, one of Ebere’s favourite local spots, or the Rideau Falls, which Muse assures readers is beautiful no matter what the season, the duo is hoping that to show people the variety of exciting spots Ottawa has to offer in their book.

Muse and Ebere are hoping to have the book, which they are raising money for on their website, published by July 1, 2016, and have it available everywhere. They also encourage U of O students to share their own stories about Ottawa by emailing info@wingd.ca with a maximum of 200 words by April 8.