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Off The Cuff

Welcome to Miss Vicky's Offhand Remarks! On this page you'll find Miss Vicky's latest ramblings, but feel free to browse the various sections. You'll hear a lot about Kitchissippi, Miss Vicky's westish Ottawa community, but you never know what you might find. And feel free to jump in - this may be Miss Vicky's virtual soapbox, but she loves a good discussion!

While I'm at it

Miss Vicky Sun Jul 20, 2014

Sorry about the comment spam. I'm having the Webgeek look into it.

Comings and Goings: the overdue edition

Miss Vicky Sun Jul 20, 2014

So I have this anonymous member of Miss Vicky's Faithful Legion that has been sending me chiding messages every once in a while, reminding me that I am falling down on my duty of keeping the neighbourhood informed.

And it's true. I have been neglecting the blog. And I am sorry! I really should ramp it up, what with this municipal election looming and all.

And then there are the changes in the 'hood. So many changes. Some of them are great - like the soon-to-be-open West End Well. Or the opening of the long-awaited LCBO. Some of them maybe not so great, like the sudden closure of Isobel's and the loss of the Harvest Loaf, which I am still mourning. And 4Cats and Character, which really caught us all off guard.

Aside from the 4Cats closure, which was the result of a legal dispute with the franchise owners, the scuttlebutt I hear is that it is increasingly difficult for small business owners to meet the demands of some Hintonburg landlords who are hoping to cash in on the rapidly-gentrifying mainstreet. I've heard rumblings of a few more moves on the street - stay tuned in the coming weeks.

But let's not dwell on the negative. Let's talk about some of the OK things that have happened.

Marhsall's gym seems to be settling nicely into the basement of the Takahashi dojo. Hopefully the downsizing means that he'll be around the neighbourhood for a while. Miss Vicky has come to rely on the training!

The Studio Café is now open and offering art classes for adults and kids, studio rental, and gallery space as well as caffeinated goodness. And it looks like they'll be offering a much-needed after school program as well. I'm not sure it cane take the place of 4Cats but it is a welcome addition to the 'hood.

The latest from the West End Well is that they'll likely be opening in a couple of weeks. They've had a lot of bumps along the road to opening, but they've been selling shares in the co-op and holding workshops and generally working on building their community of supporters. Since the Café is headed up by Stone Soup Foodworks' Jacqueline Jolliffe, I am really anticipating some tasty food.

Michael Holland's Cake and Shake opened this past week on Armstrong, right beside the Carleton Tavern. We tried a shake today, and it was pretty tasty! Lots of interesting baked goods on offer (like the white chocolate and licorice cookie...got to say that was tempting). If you've tried any of the cakes or other treats, feel free to post your reviews in the comments!


Spring revival

Miss Vicky Mon Apr 14, 2014

Oh it is so nice to have the snow melting and be out and about in the 'hood once more. Was great to be on the street with the kids over the weekend, testing out the bikes and people-watching. Not so great to see the increase in people using the Hintonburger parking lot to turn around and go down our street the wrong way, or watch the short-cut-seekers speeding down our small street at an alarming weight. We may have to take some guerilla action....

At any rate, Miss Vicky received the following email today:

Hi Miss Vicky, it's your loyal web follower. I am wondering if you have any news for us about the neighborhood.

This is not the first email I have received recently reminding me I have been falling down on my self-appointed role as scribe to the comings and goings in our wonderful 'hood. I shall try to do better.

It is quite remarkable, how the street has changed. Here are a few things you have probably already noticed and maybe some tidbits that those not on twitter may not have heard.

LCBO has opened and there was much rejoicing. Now the speculation has begun about what should go in the large space next door, which formerly housed the restaurant supplies reseller.

Peekaboo Kids is closing and moving their business online. They'll be selling their fixtures, so if you're in the market, check it out.

The Studio is a combined studio/workshop space for artists and art instructors. Plans are underway for regular classes for kids and adults, and artists will be able to rent space to hold workshops. There will also be a gallery featuring both group and solo shows with an emphasis on contemporary realism, and a café component with rentable harvest tables for small meetings and gatherings. Sounds like a great fit for the Quad! Opening is slated for May 1.

Suzy Q Doughnuts is opening a second location by the Parkdale Market, in the former location of the Orange Gallery. Orange has moved to the City Centre in that amazing and underutilized heritage building (which used to house the CN Rail's bank).

Also moving to the Parkdale Market area is a new venture by pastry chef Michael Holland. Holland's Cake and Shake will be opening in the former location of Lulu and Coco.

With amazing desserts on the horizon, it's a good thing that Marshall's is still in business; they moved from their pricy location on Wellington West to the lower level of the Takahashi Dojo. It's intimate but you get the same great personal attention that you had in the own location and Miss Vicky is grateful they are still around!

OK, that's enough news for one post. Stay tuned and we'll try not to wait months before the next installment.


A new winter tradition?

Miss Vicky Mon Feb 3, 2014

Our friends at the GT Express are hosting a snowman-building contest in Parkdale Park this Saturday. Sounds like the beginning of a great new winter tradition.

Here are the details. They are looking for pre-registration, so do let them know you're coming. we have a lot of kid shuffling on Saturday but hope to make an appearance at some point!

First Annual GT Snowman Event
Saturday, February 8th, 9:00am - 2:00pm
Parkdale Park (at Parkdale Market)

Families are invited to come to & build a snowman. Prizes to be awarded with the assistance of the Mayor. Proceeds from hot chocolate sales & donations will go to the “In From the Cold” program at Parkdale United Church.

Participation is by registration only & limited to the first 50 families.

Pre-registration preferred by calling (613) 722-9589 or in person at
GTxpress,1085 Wellington St. W.

Kringle and other holiday traditions

Miss Vicky Tue Dec 3, 2013

This Friday, come on down to the Hintonburg Community Centre for the HCA's annual Kringle Event - kids get to spend some time with Santa, make some crafts, consume a treat or two. It's a fun, free family event that takes place between 6 and 8pm (Santa arrives at 6:30). Bring a donation for the Parkdale Food Centre if you can!

On Saturday is Devonshire Community School's annual Gingerbread house decorating event - $20 gets you a pre-built house and plenty of candy and icing for decorating. More info and a form here - deadline is tomorrow!

Thursday evening is the Wellington West BIA's annual Shop Hop - plenty of deals to be had all along the strip, with extra savings if you bring a donation for the Parkdale Food Centre. While you're out, check out the Cube's Great Big Smalls show (another one of Miss Vicky's favourite annual events).

And of course, trees are now at the Market - we'll be strapping one to our wagon and heading home to decorate one of these evenings!


Mea Culpa

Miss Vicky Tue Nov 26, 2013

Miss Vicky received the following email in her inbox:

MISS VICKY! Shame on you, you used to give regular updates about the neighborhood on your site, now it's been over 3 months!!! and not a peep. Shame on you!

I am sorry! You are correct, I have been neglecting you all! I have no legitimate excuse, other than a busy work and family schedule, and much energy spent on the Near West Accommodation Review, the school board process to determine what to do about the overcrowding at Devonshire and Elmdale schools. By the time I get home and sit down to chill out (the time I would normally set aside for writing), I am spent.

But fear not! There are indeed some posts in me and I shall endeavour to get them up one the screen for you. Thanks for sticking with me!

Comings and Goings: LCBO edition

Miss Vicky Fri Aug 16, 2013

Well haven't I been negligent lately. So much going on! Time for a long overdue post on the business comings and goings in the 'hood, and then we'll try to catch up on other happenings in other posts.

And I'll do one. I promise. But right now I do need to share a little news. Longtime readers will recall the efforts that Miss Vicky and other community volunteers made to keep the Hintonburg LCBO from closing. For those new to the area, it was located where the CAA has its storefront now and was closed in order to clear the way for the big box that is beside the Superstore on Richmond. We fought the decision, arguing there was plenty of business to support both stores and that keeping the Hintonburg LCBO open would help support our walkable community. But we were unsuccessful.

Lately I have been hearing rumours about a new LCBO opening in the former location of Carpet Sense. I figured they were just wishful thinking (particularly since there is a big For Lease sign still in the window).

But I decided to poke around today (mostly because I have been hearing other rumours about a distillery opening so I wanted to see if I could substantiate anything), and check out what I found on the LCBO website:

Hintonburg - Store 645 [NEW]
981 Wellington St. W.,K1Y 2Y1
Fall 2013

Well, well. Welcome back.


Got kids?

Miss Vicky Tue Jun 18, 2013

So for the last few months a group of parents and community reps have been trying to figure out what to do about the overcrowding at the two schools providing french immersion to the Dalhousie, Hintonburg, Civic Hospital, Mechanicsville, Champlain Park and Wellington Village communities. The Near West Accommodation Review Working Group was struck by the OCDSB; they're tasked with coming up with a recommendation for trustees to debate in the fall, for implementation in September 2014.

It has not been an easy process.

The reality is we have two schools bursting at the seams, and other schools that are being underutilized. But there's no easy, one-size-fits all solution, and parts of many of the possibilities on the table are really unappealing to certain groups of families, for different reasons.

I'm not going to get into those tonight. But I do want to let you know that there is a public meeting on the Near West Accommodation Review this Thursday, June 20, from 7:00 - 9:00 pm in the Auditorium of Nepean High School.

There are a lot of parents out there who don't think this decision is going to affect them. But they just might be wrong. The reality is that significant numbers from each of Devonshire and Elmdale Schools need to be moved to another location. Establishing new programs in some schools might mean existing programs have to move elsewhere. This could mean English programs at Connaught, grade 7-8 programs at Fisher Park, MFI at Hilson, Summit Alternative.... or none of them. There's a lot up in the air, so if you've got kids in public school in the area, or you've got younger kids and want to help shape elementary education in your neighbourhood, then this is a meeting you need to attend.

Child care will be available. I think there will be breakouts so it will be a good chance to engage. See you Thursday.


Summertime and the weekends are busy

Miss Vicky Fri Jun 14, 2013

We're gearing up for summer at the Finishing School. That means that weekends are a frenzy of activity with no possibility of making all of the fabulous community events. But we sure try!

Here are a few things happening this weekend:

Saturday, June 15

Devonshire School is holding its first (and hopefully annual) Community Yard Sale and Carnival, at its location on Breezehill. Check out what your neighbours are looking to purge and score some great deals while the kids enjoy games and a BBQ. The yard sale and bake sale start at 9:00 and the games and BBQ will start at 10:00. The event runs until 1pm, leaving plenty of time for some of the other awesome neighbourhood activities!

It turns out that Mrs. Tiggywinkles and Lost Marbles have a warehouse right across from Devonshire, and they will be opening it up on Saturday to clear out some of their excess stock. They promise HUGE DISCOUNTS (yes, in capital letters). Sale begins at 8am and runs until 2pm at 75 Breezehill Avenue North.

The Mechanicsville community, which has been really getting organized and active this year, is hosting Mechanicsville Day at Laroche Park, from noon until 4pm. There will be music, a bouncy slide, a BBQ and bake sale. Somerset West CHC will host a Good Food Market and there will be info tables from Parkdale Food Centre and some of our other amazing local social service organizations.

On Saturday Evening, the annual Hintonburg Family Movie Festival resumes its showings. The indoor kid-oriented movie is Wreck-it Ralph and starts at 7pm in the Hintonburg Community Centre. The evening fare is Lean on Me and starts at 9. Snacks will be available for purchase but the flicks are free.

A hop, skip and jump across the train tracks from these events, you'll find a ton of activity in Little Italy. Italian Festival is always super busy and fun, but I wanted to highlight 2 activities this weekend.

On Saturday, the Preston Farmer's Market opens. We love this market - especially the amazing Farmer's Breakfast, where you buy a plate and then get a bit of something from several stalls. The market is open Saturdays from 9am to 2pm, in the parking lot of Il Postino at the corner of Preston and Louisa. Stalls include fresh produce, meats, hand-roasted coffee, baked yumminess, handicrafts, artisanal furniture, and jewellery. They also feature live music each week, so it's a great family outing as well as a place to shop.

On Sunday, there's a Family Bike Parade down Preston Avenue. Cyclists of all ages and abilities are invited to take part. The starting point will be on Young Street near the bike path. Bike Decorating starts at 9:30 and the parade down Preston St. and the new O-Train bike path starts at 10:30am sharp.

I am sure there are other things happening this weekend, so feel free to add events in the comments section!


Upcoming events! A Busy Spring Saturday

Miss Vicky Wed May 1, 2013

Now that the weather FINALLY seems to be getting nicer, the residents of the Finishing School are looking to spend as much time outside as possible.

This Saturday offers a number of opportunities to get out and about in the 'hood.

The Annual HCA-WWBIA Spring Clean-up the Capital takes place in the morning (registration is between 8:30 and 9:30am at the Hintonburg Community Centre). Once you register, you'll head out to one of the neighbourhood parks to rake, de-litter and generally make the space safe and tidy for the season. Garbage bags and leaf bags are provided; it's always a good idea to bring your own gloves, rakes and anything else you think might be useful (one family brought tongs for cigarette butt pickup one year - brilliant). Cyclelogik Coffee will be provided and volunteers will be provided a BBQ lunch, courtesy of our pals at the Hintonburger.

And once you're done the cleanup you can wander to the Hintonburg Fabric Flea Market at the Hintonburg Community Centre (10am to 2pm) or the Grace Manor Spring Craft and Bake Sale (10am to 3pm, corner of Parkdale and Wellington)

In the afternoon, SLOWest is hosting their Spring Gathering in McCormick Park (the one by the RBC). The party will launch RightBike's second season, and there will be kids activities, bike repair demos, and games.

Whew! I'm pooped and sunburned already!