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December 30, 2013

What Ottawa was obsessed with in 2013 (a year-end list)

"Long may you run, you beautiful bastard," Instagram art by minkwilliams

Here's our third annual list of things that Ottawa was obsessed with (for better or for worse) in 2013.  (You can read previous year-end lists here.)

Sports Team Names

Ottawa’s new CFL franchise announced that they would henceforth be known as the REDBLACKS. (En francais: “Le Rouge et Noir d’Ottawa”.) The reception was lukewarm but I think it’s starting to grow on us. In February, Ottawa’s new National Basketball League of Canada team announced that they would henceforth be known as the TomaHawks, but after outcry from the community about racism, the team reversed their decision. In April, they officially re-launched as the SkyHawks. A similar controversy has also convinced the youth football Nepean Redskins that it’s time to change their moniker. They’ll announce a new name in the new year. There were even some suggestions that it might be time for the Ottawa Senators (hockey team) to change their name to distance themselves from the Ottawa Senators (politicians).

The Elk

This short-lived but intense obsession began the morning of October 8. We were glued to our Twitter streams watching a blow-by-blow account of how a police tactical squad took down an elk who wandered into downtown Ottawa in search of Art-Is-In bread. The elk meat was eventually donated to the Odawa Native Friendship Centre, who said in a statement that “Odawa is grateful to have been visited by our brother wapiti and that this is a good omen, the wapiti is a sign of male protection for females and a sign of love."

Food Trucks

The city’s new “street food vending program” launched in the spring with 17 new vendors, including gourmet food trucks and carts but hardly a hot dog in sight. Hard to believe but for years it was virtually impossible for new services to get a licence to operate. Now it feels like these trucks are EVERYWHERE. There were massive line-ups at a food truck rally fundraiser back in September, and a new poutine festival launched that attracted thousands out to Sparks Street on a cold weekend in November.

Movie Theatres

Even with most people watching Netflix from their living room sofas, Ottawa continues to be concerned about the future of our movie theatres, especially downtown. There’s a group that tried to save the World Exchange theatres from shutting down by the end of 2013, without success. (Management at the World Exchange complex is still trying to find another theatre operator to move in, but don't hold your breath.) There's also uncertainty about who exactly will run the new theatres planned for Lansdowne Park. Meanwhile, the theatres on the top floor of the Rideau Centre closed without too much protest or sadness back in March.  That leaves the Bytowne and the Mayfair as the only central movie houses left in the city.

Road Construction

This one could make the list every year, but each time we seem to top ourselves in our degree of obsessiveness. Once again there was a rapid bridge replacement on the Queensway where folks watched live from bleacher seats or webcam as crews moved the Kirkwood Avenue Queensway Bridge. Construction started on Ottawa’s new LRT system, which includes a large nasty-looking machine that proves that Ottawa is in fact NOT boring. And then there’s the airport parkway bridge debacle.  Are there any streets in Ottawa that weren't under construction this year?


Over 40,000 people ran in the 2013 Tamarack Race Weekend and the 2014 half-marathon is already sold out. Every weekend there’s an Army Run or a Run for the Cure or a Kilt Run or a Heritage Run or a Terry Fox run or a Spartan Run or a Nine Run Run or a Colour Run or a …. you get the idea. (There are dozens more…)  Ottawa loves to run, and not just for public office.

Geek Culture

Ottawa continues to embrace its inner geek with several successful "geek festivals" that keep on growing year after year. Just look at all the costumes from the second annual Comiccon. There was also the Ottawa Pop Expo and Wonder Geeks Activate, and the Geek Market is getting bigger each year as well.  Nuit Blanche featured a heavy dose of maker-faire and steampunk-inspired art.  The Aviation & Space Museum hosted a well-attended Star Wars exhibit, and Ottawa's Capital City Garrison (they dress up as Star Wars characters) are huge draws at events around the region. (Thanks Adam Tupper for the suggestion.)


We knew that Daniel Afredsson might retire after the lock-out shortened 2013 season. We were ready for that. We weren’t expecting him to jump town and join the Red Wings. Ottawa took that hard. Why did he leave? Was it us? Was it him? Was it team owner Eugene Melnyk? (These two guys did a good job at conveying the city’s collective sentiment.) Once the new hockey season began and Alfie’s return approached, we agonized over whether we should we boo him or cheer him. In the end, we gave him a big standing ovation, and rightly so. (We were obsessed with Alfie before he left, too: In April, he was featured on the cover of Ottawa Magazine accompanied by 11 essays on everything from his hair to his status as God.)

More things we were obsessed with in 2013

What have we missed?  

Add your thoughts in the comments below!  Happy New Year!

See also: Ottawa Media Guide
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  1. Anonymous4:18 PM

    You forgot to mention sinkholes and water main breaks in Orleans.

  2. Anonymous2:09 PM

    all the ash trees that were lost to City saws as they fought to 'contain' the elm ash borer.

  3. Anonymous12:15 AM

    You forgot to mention Capital Geek Girls, Whovians of Ottawa and the increasing burlesque scene in Ottawa.


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