Going Out

HIDDEN OTTAWA: Burning ambition at the Bougie Doozy Candle Factory

Ottawa Magazine’s October issue uncovers “hidden Ottawa” with a hole-in-the-wall handbook that embraces the city’s undercover ambience, celebrating 39 overlooked nooks, hipster hideaways, secret foodie sources, and other mysterious locales. Get your copy at Britton’s magazine store and other newsstand locations around town.

By Paul Gessell

The workshop at Bougie Doozie Candle Factory. Photo by Aaron McKenzie Fraser.

In 1969, Bruce Langer was 19. That was the year his father gave him three choices: go to university, get a job, or move out of the family’s Toronto home. “I took door number three,” Langer says with a mischievous grin. Langer left, met a California candle maker in a bar, learned the trade, and started his own business on Toronto’s Queen Street West next door to his brother’s eight-track-tape shop. He has been making candles off and on ever since.

These days the 62-year-old Langer can usually be found in a dilapidated one-storey brick building that formerly served as the Old Chelsea fire hall. From this spacious, industrial-looking location on Old Chelsea Road, he and his business partner, Greg Brayford, have operated the Bougie Doozy Candle Factory since 2003. The village of Old Chelsea has not been the same since.

Upon moving himself and the business from Ottawa to the village, Langer immediately took an apartment a few blocks away in Old Chelsea’s Dunn House, a heritage building that back in the 1800s, was a hotel of sorts for loggers and, according to local legend, prostitutes. Langer started throwing dance parties — “love fests,” he calls them — in the candle factory. Some of the most popular love fests were held during the years when the owners of Dunn House staged annual erotic-art exhibitions around Valentine’s Day. (Today the exhibitions are no more and there are fewer parties at the candle factory, although a Brayford family wedding dance was held this summer among the colourful drums of molten wax.) (more…)