Lots of discussion this week about Ottawa and whether it is a good enough G-7 capital. Macleans has a good discussion of Ottawa's pro's. Perhaps Ottawa is not a great city because people don't have that much to complain about? DC? Heaps of complaints about how broken their expensive mass transport is. London? Heaps of complaints about how unaffordable it is.
What is Ottawa's greatest flaw? Ok, it is cold, but any Canadian city outside of BC is going to be cold, so that ain't changing anytime too soon. It is "boring." Well, that is what my students at McGill said, but since I am not single and don't need a vibrant club scene (nor do most folks), I think we are ok. Ottawa's greatest flaw may be that it is not spectacular--as in not too many spectacles. As someone who lives here, I am ok with that.
Indeed, what makes Ottawa so great is that it is a very livable place compared to most major cities. Sure, it is not that big so we don't have as much of everything as other places. Not tons of restaurants but plenty of good ones, including ones that I can take my gourmand parents to with no same. It is an enjoyable city in that one get to what it has to offer without trials and tribulations. My wife still has nightmares about the time she tried to drive from suburban Virginia to Baltimore for a Friday evening birthday party. That hour drive took three plus hours. Whenever Ottawa ranks highly on bad traffic lists, I have to laugh. Rush hours are short and not that intense. Montreal had so much to offer and yet it became increasingly difficult to enjoy it since the infrastructure impeded rather than facilitated movement into and out of the city.
Maybe it helps that I live in a real neighborhood with neighbors I actually know and drink with. That the big ultimate frisbee field in summer is 15 minutes away. Tha the town is chock full of sharp, engaged people who mostly want to make a difference as they want Canada to make a difference at home and abroad.
I have lived all over North America from NYC to DC to Miami to Philly to
small town Ohio to San Diego to Vermont to West Texas to Montreal, and I
am quite pleased that this is where I have ended up.
Perhaps Ottawa is not spectacular, but it is pretty wonderful.