As September approaches, Ottawa will once again prepare for an influx of brand new university students that will take over the city this fall. With several universities and colleges in the capital – Carleton University, the University of Ottawa, Saint Paul University, Dominican University College, and Algonquin College – there is a plethora of options for all young people who are motivated to pursue post-secondary careers in Ottawa. As new people pour into the city, locals are quickly sought out as fountains of knowledge and information regarding the capital’s culture. However, it’s often these newcomers that are most filled with the spirit of adventure concerning the city and it is them that set out to explore all of Ottawa. The locals though they tend to hang back. While many will gladly tell their new friends about the Byward Market or even take them on a tour of Parliament Hill, the tourism train normally stops after the general (and obvious) sights have been been visited. Unfortunately, this means that most of the best places in the city are rarely discovered by newcomers until they have spent several years in Ottawa. The same goes for most of the locals, many of them are not acquainted with the cultural gems of their wonderful city even after having spent their entire lives here.
It’s truly a shame when one has lived somewhere as whimsical and wonderful as Ottawa for one’s entire life and yet one has never really taken the time to explore the city. Instead of confining oneself to the mainstream destinations listed in every single tourist manual and online blog devoted to extolling the merits of the nation’s capital, one should look outside one’s own windows to see the adventures that are waiting outside. In the fall, locals turn to their basic knowledge of the city in order to impress their new friends and keep them safe. However, there is a time, around November when those same locals begin to once again lose interest in Ottawa. They feel as if they have done their duty by their capital and only go out to the same old places weekend after weekend.
However, every now and then those locals are reminded of the beauty of their hometown. Sometimes all it takes to reignite one’s passion for the city is taking a turn down a road that one has never walked before. That path can easily lead one to stumble upon a fashionable boutique, a first-class restaurant, or an eclectic museum. Throughout the past few years, I have made it a personal quest to acquaint myself with everything that Ottawa has to offer (or as much as I can squeeze into the next few years of my life). Becoming reacquainted with one’s city is a task worth taking on, it’s an adventure and a project of epic proportions. So, when September rolls around, make sure that the new university students are not the only ones taking in the city. Remember that the people who know the city best are those who wish to explore it with you.