Going Out

ASK A LOCAL: Elizabeth Hay, Jim Watson, Peter Herrndorf, China Doll, and Yasir Naqvi parse the Ottawa scene

Elizabeth Hay
Novelist and short story writer 

Why I came to Ottawa: I was living in New York City and homesick for Canada. My husband leaned toward Montreal, I leaned toward Toronto, and the compromise was Ottawa.

My neighbourhood: Old Ottawa South, where crucial things are within walking distance — like the canal, the Rideau River, the Sunnyside branch of the library, and the Mayfair Theatre.

Five words that describe Ottawa now: Isolated, tranquilized, congealed, fragrant, discreet.

Five words I hope will be used to describe the city in 15 years: Green, green, green, green, green.

Favourite spot: The Fletcher Wildlife Garden, especially its backyard garden, where everything is labelled and cared for yet relaxed and loosely arranged. A lovely spot that makes me feel 10 years younger.

Jim Watson
Mayor 

Why I came to Ottawa: To attend Carleton University because I was interested in journalism and politics. What better city and school to study these fields?

First Ottawa job: Tour and conference coordinator at Carleton University.

My neighbourhood: Wood Park.

Most accurate Ottawa stereotype: Long-winded memos.

Least accurate Ottawa stereotype: That it’s just a government town.

Proof I’ve made it in Ottawa: Restaurateur Dave Smith remembers my name.

Five words that describe Ottawa now: Caring, green, safe, stable, pretty.

Five words I hope will be used to describe the city in 15 years: The same as above, I hope.

 

Peter Herrndorf
President and CEO of the National Arts Centre

Why I came to Ottawa: I came here in 1999 when I was named president and CEO of the National Arts Centre.

My neighbourhood: ByWard Market.

Most accurate Ottawa stereotype: Outdoorsy and fit. It’s stunning how many people are out on their bikes (myself included) or running by the canal in any kind of weather.

Least accurate Ottawa stereotype: The uninspired, unambitious bureaucrat. The public service is full of incredibly ambitious, imaginative big thinkers. I work with them every day.

Five words that describe Ottawa now: Beautiful, friendly, cultural, caring, diverse.

Five words I hope will be used to describe the city in 15 years: Bold, creative, cosmopolitan, dynamic, imaginative.

 

Edward Kwan, a.k.a. China Doll
Drag karaoke impresario and performer

Why I came to Ottawa: Honey, I was conceived, born, raised, learned, earned, played, and will die in O-Town.

First Ottawa job: Washing mountains of dishes at our family restaurant, The Shanghai, at the tender age of 10.

My neighbourhood: Chinatown now and forever.

Most accurate Ottawa stereotype: You can get from Orleans to Kanata by car within 20 minutes if traffic is minimal. I’ve done it.

Least accurate Ottawa stereotype: Being called Coma Capital, the city with no pulse, especially after 6 p.m.

Proof I’ve made it in Ottawa: I went to the supermarket as a “normal person,” and a stranger came up to me and said, “Aren’t you China Doll?”

Five words that describe Ottawa now: Vibrant, calm, best four seasons.

Five words you hope will be used to describe the city in 15 years: Beam down to Ottawa, please?

Favourite spot in the city: Remic Rapids to see the rock sculptures (by John Felice Ceprano) and watch the fabulous sunsets.

 

Yasir Naqvi
MPP Ottawa Centre

Why I came to Ottawa: To attend law school at the University of Ottawa.

First Ottawa job: Research assistant at law school.

My neighbourhood: Carleton Heights.

Most accurate Ottawa stereotype: It is a city that embraces an active lifestyle.

Least accurate Ottawa stereotype: Sleepy government town.

Proof I’ve made it in Ottawa: Skating on the canal in -20 degree weather!

Five words that describe Ottawa now: Active, diverse, green, friendly, and cold!

Five words I hope will be used to describe the city in 15 years:  Active, diverse, green, friendly, and cold!

Favourite spot: My community of Ottawa Centre.