URBAN STUDY: Mary-Rose and Matt love downtown life at The Merit

This article first appeared in the September issue of Ottawa Magazine. Sign up for a subscription or order back issues here.

The core is in the midst of a dramatic renewal as Ottawa transforms from big town to small city. 
Ottawa Magazine visits the people who are flourishing in revitalized downtown neighbourhoods


She hails from Kitchener; he’s from Montreal. Mary-Rose Brown and Matt Eason both got to know the city while studying at Carleton University in the early 2000s, living here until 2008 before leaving briefly while Mary-Rose pursued a postgraduate degree. “We already knew the city — and this neighbourhood — was great,” says Mary-Rose. “And when we returned to Ottawa in 2009, we noticed right away how many new businesses there were along Elgin Street.”

Photo by Marc Fowler
In the compact living room, an elegant Japanese block print pairs well with a teak sideboard. Photo by Marc Fowler


The couple were renting an apartment on nearby Cartier Street when they heard about Charlesfort Development’s plans to launch The Merit. They signed on in 2011 for the yet-to-be-built condo. “That gave us lots of time to save for the down payment,” jokes Matt. When The Merit was finally finished this past spring, Mary-Rose and Matt were among the first residents to move in.

Photo by Marc Fowler
Mary-Rose Brown and Matt Eason inside their Cartier Street condo. Photo by Marc Fowler

Names: Mary-Rose Brown and Matt Eason

Occupations: Mary-Rose is a program manager for a philanthropic foundation; Matt is the city’s community liaison for the LRT project

Home: 700-square-foot condo in The Merit by Charlesfort Developments

Neighbourhood: Golden Triangle

Previous home: A three-storey apartment building on Cartier Street, just around the corner

Urban living quote:

Matt: It’s such an exciting time to live downtown! The city is in the middle of a transition from big town to small city, and the population can support cool niche businesses.

What drew you to this neighbourhood?

Matt: We got lucky. We were already living in the neighbourhood and loved it. When we saw that Charlesfort was planning to put up a building just two blocks from where we were renting, we had to check it out.

Photo by Marc Fowler
A close-up of the front entrance reveals an art deco sensibility inspired by the likes of New York’s Empire State Building. Photo by Marc Fowler

Why buy into a condo?

Mary-Rose: We don’t really need a lot of space because we’re usually on the go. The location was a bigger sell for us.

What specific elements did you know you wanted?

Matt: The rooftop patio. The views are spectacular. There’s a common patio and a barbecue, and it’s fully furnished.

Favourite features?

Mary-Rose: The finishings are amazing. We didn’t have to bother with upgrades because everything was beautiful.

Least favourite?

Matt: Because we moved in right at the start [April 2014], the building was still being finished. We can’t wait for everything to be done and everyone moved in.


Biggest challenges to living in this neighbourhood?

Mary-Rose: I can’t think of any. We’re not big drivers, so we don’t own a car. We have a VRTUCAR membership, so we’re not stressed about parking like some downtown residents. It would be nice to have a grocery store nearby, but we get more amenities all the time as the neighbourhood transitions.

Biggest benefits?

Photo by Marc Fowler
The dining room and kitchen are open to the living room. Pride of place goes to an aerial photograph of the city taken by Mary-Rose during a recent flying lesson. Photo by Marc Fowler

Matt: Location!

Mary-Rose: It’s amazing to be so close to the canal and to such a big proportion of the city’s major features.

How long do you plan to stay?

Mary-Rose: As long as we can. We’re incredibly happy here. Eventually we may need more space, so we’re always looking around the neighbourhood.

Advice to wannabe urban dwellers?

Mary-Rose: You have to be good neighbours. You live in close proximity to others, so you have to make it work.

Matt: Slim down on your possessions so you can make the most of your space.