Friday, July 1, 2011

Is Ottawa Canada's New York City?

Yesterday my wife was waiting at the War Memorial for the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when she struck up a conversation with a lady next to her from Toronto. The lady, who visits New York City pretty often, went on to say that she felt that Ottawa was Canada's equivalent to New York City and that it is the place to be but people just don't know it. Many people would say that Toronto would be "New York North" but this Torontonian says Ottawa deserves the title.

To some Ottawa purists it's sacrilegious to compare our city to New York with its bright lights and "big-cityness", but to others such as myself, a tourist drawing comparisons between Ottawa and an international business, fashion and cultural centre like New York is a compliment.

I know. Is she talking about the same Ottawa that many of us love and many others hate?

Similarly, last year at the launch of the Re Hotel & Residences, Ashcroft's David Choo mentioned that Ottawa was more like New York and other heavy hitters than we realized. While it seems many Canadians, including some who live in the capital, believe Ottawa is a boring government town, others are seeing a cosmopolitan city.

I've only been to New York City twice in my life, the last time being in 1991, but still I don't know if I would personally compare the world's number one financial centre, and a global centre for fashion and culture, with our Ottawa. But if a woman from Toronto believes our city provides her with a similar experience to New York City that's her personal reality, no matter what any of us may think.

Perhaps our tourist friend from Toronto is simply seeing Ottawa's potential as a world city.

So what's the verdict? Is this tourist from Toronto right? Is Ottawa Canada's New York City? A budding cosmoplitan Canadian metropolis? Or is she out in left field?

Kevin Bourne

1 comment:

  1. It could be that the woman is delusional?

    Still, though, two points to note:

    1) What are the criteria of such a comparison?

    2) Shouldn't a city develop its own identity than being a poorer version of another city?

    I'm from Toronto. I like it, because it's not "New York North", it's Toronto. Unique in its own right.