I’ve been living in Ottawa for the past 3 years or so, and I believe that it’s been long enough that it’s only fair that I wrote a review about the city.
I will be covering points of view, such as likes and dislikes, opinions of people’s behaviour, quality of life etc..
First of all, I would like to start by saying this isn’t a rant, au contraire, Ottawa is an amazing town and I fucking love it
Ottawans seem to hate their city with a burning rage of a thousand suns.
One thing that I have noticed talking with people from Ottawa is that despite having a beautiful, cosmopolitan, charming city. They always raise negative points about it in the first opportunity they have. I’ve heard complaints about the city architecture, about the lack of action by its leadership, the lack of entertainment etc… and honestly, I found them all to be untrue.
Ottawa has one of the most beautiful architectures in the country, where old meets modern. It’s got a museum for every taste. While it’s true that the city is dominated by government buildings and unfinished constructions, touristic spots such as the parliament and the Rideau canal make up for it. People forget that Ottawa, unlike several other national capitals, such as Paris and Washington, D.C. was never built to a master plan.
Nightlife in Ottawa can be tricky. It’s def not as obvious and flashy like in cities such as Montreal or Toronto, but it’s got an intimate, small scene, great quality music, and some pretty decent clubs. People tend to be naturally friendly too, only bad thing is that the fun tends to end pretty early, and people don’t seem too eager to party afterhours.
Ottawa’s local government isn’t so bad in my opinion. They try really hard to make everybody happy but there’s just not enough resources and bureaucracy is a huge thing in a government town.
Everything is convenient enough that you can basically live an entire lifetime without ever leaving downtown/centretown, except for the occasional day trips to Gatineau, QC (just across the Ottawa river). As a general rule, Ottawa is pretty walkable, but forget about outdoor activities if you don’t own a car or know someone who can give you a lift.
Bonus: If you ever need a change of scenery, Montreal is only a 2h bus ride away. Great for weekend getaways. ;)
Weather can be an issue if you come from warmer places, but for me, coming from the North, it was a breeze :) It snows quite a bit, and it’s the wet kind of snow, not Toronto-wet, more like Montreal-wet. Summers are HOT, the hottest I’ve ever experienced in Canada, and I love it (mosquito-less) :) .
(Temperatures in the winter range from -10C to -30C and in the summer from 20C to 35C).
Here’s a few things that make me cringe about Ottawa. At the very top of my list is public transit. It’s just awful. Unusable, unreliable, incompetent. Just horrible. And it irks me that people don’t seem too bothered about it.
I’ve been to most of the major cities around the globe (New York, Chicago, Sao Paulo, Rio, Buenos Aires, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, London etc..) and have I NEVER seen anything that even comes close to how mediocre the public transit system is here. Buses will leave you out in the cold waiting for hours with no reasonable explanation as to why they’re so late. At $3.65, we are paying the highest fare in the country and perhaps one of the highest in North America.
A very distant second is the lack of variety when it comes to the dining industry. One could argue that Ottawa is a multicultural capital, but that’s not true either, Ottawa is perhaps an international city, but not very diverse when it comes to cuisine. It’s a hopeless search when you’re trying to find anything tasty that it’s not a shawarma in this town. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy shawarma, but there’s just too many shawarma restaurants around. Maybe try opening some decent Italian, Japanese, Argentinian etc…?
Bonus: Hockey Arena is way too far. (1h 20m from downtown :o)