7 Things Only Ottawa People Will Understand That Aren’t Reality in Toronto

This Essay article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

Ottawa is a beautiful city, and all of its gothic-style buildings are definitely an amazing sight. Not to mention the two rivers, the Ottawa River and the Rideau River, that run through the capital. But when it comes to the Ottawa-Toronto rivalry (is there a lot of it?), Ottawa sometimes seems to have a serious inferiority complex.

Still, there are plenty of things to appreciate about Ottawa (it’s not just about honking truckers and Trudeau!). However, if you come from a big city like Toronto, like I did, there might be some things you need to get used to. Many of these things can end up enchanting you.

Here are seven things only Ottawa people will understand that aren’t true in Toronto.

Take the light rail instead of the subway and wait endlessly

How do you start a list about Ottawa and not mention the infamous LRT?

The two-line light rail O-Train has become the focus of a public investigation exposing significant safety issues, unrealistic budgets and uncoordinated planning.

Although Toronto is poised to get the new 25-station Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Ottawa beat Toronto to light rail, but perhaps at a cost? It is definitely something to be prepared for. Other transit options can be a bit…unreliable at times. (Hint standing outside in minus 20 degree weather for a bus that never shows up.)

Shawarma and poutine married in a happy partnership

Is there anything better than shawarma and poutine together? Ottawa is home to the popular “with a Canadian twist” Middle Eastern restaurant, 3 Brothers.

“Shawarma & Poutine” is literally in the name and describes this wonderful trend in the nation’s capital. You can get your dose of thinly sliced ​​meat and stacked carbs with cheese curds and gravy all in one place. Hmm!

Learn French because we are very close to Quebec

We love to speak French! If you’re from the Toronto area, you may leave your bilingual skills behind when you finish French class. But actually speaking Canada’s two national languages ​​is much more important in Ottawa.

First, we’re right next to the Quebec border, so you’re more likely to run into French speakers for a chat. But second, most services are available in both languages. Also, many jobs require bilingualism, so French is definitely an asset you’ll want to have!

Some of the best dragon boating and whitewater rafting

Ottawa is also home to the Tim Hortons Dragon Boat Festival, where boat racers row this Chinese tradition to the finish line. These skinny boats have dragon heads on the prow.

While Toronto has its own dragon boat festival, the Ottawa festival is touted as the largest in North America with approximately 5,000 rowers and 75,000 spectators.

Keeping with the water sports theme, Ottawa is also known for some of the best whitewater rafting in Canada with its Class III to V rapids on the Ottawa River. To enjoy the same kind of experience in Toronto, you would have to travel outside of the city center. Right in Ottawa!

St-Hubert and Swiss Chalet compete for the best roast chicken

Before I moved to Ottawa, I had never tried St-Hubert chicken, that’s because it doesn’t exist in Toronto. While Toronto is blessed with Church’s Chicken, it doesn’t have Swiss Chalet’s steakhouse rival, St-Hubert.

What a Canadian staple has been missing! The Quebec chain is over 70 years old, first opening in Montreal in 1951, making it three years older than Swiss Chalet, which first came to Toronto in 1954. At St-Hubert, you can get chicken! Indian style roast to boot!

Paddleboarding or skateboarding to work

Thanks to Ottawa’s iconic Rideau Canal, paddleboarding and skateboarding to work are totally viable options. Sure, like Toronto, Ottawa has its bike freaks. But if you live in the nation’s capital, you have a unique opportunity to be a little more adventurous on your green trip to the office.

Grab your paddle board, or sharpen your skates in the winter, and get to work!

Tune in to the House of Commons drama instead of watching Netflix

Maybe it’s just me, but the House of Commons’ ParlVu camera delivers some serious drama, rivaling shows like Riverdale either orange is the new black simply because it is actually real life.

Being so close to the action, it sometimes feels like you know Canada’s members of parliament. After all, you might come across one on your LRT ride. Watching ParlVu gives you a front row seat to listening to parliamentary boos from your living room. Take the popcorn and the Milk Duds!

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