A lot of critics lambasting Ottawa's architecture as staid and boring. That is a bit unfair. It may be a somewhat studied attempt to blend Canada’s Anglo and Gallic identities but it belies the city's origins as a compromise for the rivalry between Toronto and Montreal, there is no way of escaping that. A common Canadian identity at least tried to cool down the centuries-old rivalry imported from the Old World. The result, a certain Châteauesque Neo-Gothic does have an attractive gravitas but in terms of establishing a national unity through architecture it proved still-born.
It never went beyond symbolic nor took root outside Ottawa’s central square mile overlooking the sulking Gatineau filled with post-modern monstrosities right across the river in Québec. Hotels de ville in the Québec countryside look straight from the Loire Valley while in the rest of Canada they draw inspiration from the British Isles. Two Canadas are still enjoying quite parallel existences culturally, never learning each other's languages beyond the required school minimum. A lucky exception, Montreal may be happily bilingual but you will only annoy Torontonians if you accost them in French (tried that!) and Québec City is happy to pretend to be thousands miles away from the USA (in fact, a 2-hour drive).
Heritage politics always naturally come up when talking about Canada but such cultural divides aside Ottawa is a very pleasant city. Clean, green and agreeably laid out, its historical neighbourhoods have never been bulldozed. Mercer claims it to be North America's least expensive city to live while Moody gives it a whopping AAA in recognition of the city's long history of smart financial policies. I wish more Americans brought up scared of "the Big Government" would go to see how people live in their neighbour's "bureaucracy-ridden" capital.
- Toronto - Hip And Laid-Back
- Montreal - Paris Of The Sub-Arctic
- Ode to Canada The Beautiful
- Quebec - The Most European City In North America
- Quebec's Tipping Point: Change Becomes Unstoppable
- Down The St. Lawrence - Quebec Countryside
- Acadia, New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia - Canada's Ocean Playground
- America’s Love Affair With The Automobile
- Maine: Acadia N.P. & Asticou Azalea Garden
- Amsterdam, NY - How Could We Have Missed That?
- Niagara Falls - Big American Disappointment
- Do You Really Know American Food?
- Niagara-on-the-Lake - Possibly The Twee'est Town On Earth
- Yes, Canadian Wine!