A Farm Surrounded

How does a sprawling city like Ottawa find a compromise between urban development and its agricultural roots? One needs to look no farther than Doug Woodburn. His family has been farming in the East end of Ottawa for generations. Over the years he has been witness to the gradual expansion of the city and has become a perfect example of how urban farming can work for both the farmer and the city.

Click here to watch a slideshow about Woodburn and his farm.

O Winter, Winter! Wherefore art thou Winter?

My family is from Zimbabwe, a country in southern Africa, so growing up it always struck me as a little odd how fondly Canadians embraced winter. Sure, there are always those grumblers who complain about too much snow to shovel and dreadful driving conditions, but overall, Canadians do a stand up job of celebrating some of the harshest weather Mother Nature can conjure up.

This past winter was different though. With above seasonal temperatures all winter long, the only thing Mother Nature could conjure up this year was a mere shell of winters past. No stronger evidence of this was there than this past week, when Ottawa broke seasonal records on multiple days.

The laughter and friendly jeering of neighbourhood kids could be heard as they set up games of road hockey, within a stones throw from where a beautiful outdoor rink, complete with boards and nets, had been only a few weeks ago.

“We would rather play on the ice in the park,” says 13 year old Aston Lawrence, pointing wistfully to where the rink now lies in puddles. “But it’s all gone so we have to play on my driveway instead.”
Melting ice city wide


It’s a trend being seen all over Gloucester and the rest of the city, with many outdoor rinks being out of commission for weeks now.

“It’s tough to upkeep the ice when the weather’s like this,” says Gloucester resident Matthew Warnholtz. “It takes weeks of cold to get skateable ice but only a day or two of warmth to ruin it for a week. It’s really frustrating to see all these rinks rendered unusable by the heat.”

For a few, the unseasonably warm weather is a blessing, foreshadowing the warmth of summer’s embrace. For Lawrence’s friend Kian Reid, it also means that football season is getting closer.

“I love that the ice is melting already,” he says with a sly look toward his hockey loving friend. “I like skating but we were only able to go on the rink every two weeks because the ice wasn’t good enough. Now we can get ready for summer.”

In a recent Huffington Post article, senior Canadian climatologist David Phillips said all of Canada has been affected by a warm winter.

“As far as you can see on the weather map, it just seems to be temperatures are a dozen degrees warmer than normal,” he said. “That is really shocking for this time of the year.”

Listen to what Gloucester resident Scott Reese has to say about what consequences an early spring has on one of his favourite winter pastimes: pond hockey.

A Refreshing Taste of Country

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There is a patch of land on the corner of Innes Road and Stonehenge Crescent that has always seemed out of place to me. Innes Rd has been synonymous with new development for years now, especially when it comes to chain restaurants and big box stores. In the midst of all this however, sits a farm whose barn has been converted into a store called Apple Saddlery. The fact that there was a farm there was surprising to me, but my surprise quickly grew when I learned that Apple Saddlery, sitting right across the street from a Rona and a MacDonald’s, is actually Canada’s largest equestrian store.

Walking through the front doors the first thing your senses catch is the smell of leather. From the rows and rows of saddles and cowboy boots, the reason for the smell is evident. The store is rustic with a dusty, Wild West feel.

“The equestrian market is something that is really untapped in Ottawa,” says Scott Keirstead, General Manager of Apple Saddlery. “We’re pretty much the only store who caters to horseback riders in the city.”

Opened by Evan Fowler in 1972, the first store was in a basement in Blackburn. It eventually moved to its current location when Fowler’s son, Paul, took over 20 years ago.

When asked if the 40 year old store has grown to the stature of local institution, Keirstead chuckles.

“Absolutely,” he says. “It’s become an institution both in the neighbourhood of Gloucester and the equestrian community. People really just want to be here and be involved.”

On a street that is nearly unrecognizable from only a few years ago, Apple Saddlery has remained unchanged, going a long way in salvaging a part of the area’s uniqueness and vibrancy.

Pineview Golf Simulator

 

As winter drags on there comes a time when enough is enough. Sure Winterlude is great and the Rideau Canal is fun, but those both involve actually having to go outside in the cold. For many, that’s just too much to take. Instead, their days are spent inside, staring longingly out the window desperately hoping to see any sign of beautiful green grass. Sadly, summer is still a long ways off, but there is a way for Gloucester residents to rekindle that old summer flame. Nothing personifies a gorgeous summer day more than a walk on the links and although the city’s golf courses are more white than green this time of year, Pineview Golf Course on Blair Rd has a golf simulator. It gives golf lovers a chance to dust off the clubs and iron out the kinks in their swing before the shots start to count. And the most important thing is the only cold you’ll be feeling is from the car to the entrance.