The Witch Visits Ottawa

Byward Market Square, Ottawa

Mom and I hopped in the tiny black smart car and headed two hours east to Ottawa where my parents met and married. I lived there for a year when I was seventeen, but since have only come back once for christmas before my parents sold their house by the Rideau River and moved to the farm. Our first stop was the Byward Market downtown. It hasn’t changed much over the years. The food was great (Montréal smoked meat sandwiches and then gelato later, mmm), but the artisan market stalls were a bit disappointing – they’re much like the “hand assembled” shops on Etsy. I ended up only leaving with a green cotton summer dress and some gorgeous silver and lapis lazuli earrings from Afghanistan.


The majority of the market stalls were plants and local produce in season. One highlight for me was having Kloe from last season’s So You Think You Can Dance Canada helping me with the pastries I picked out for the dinner party later that evening. She works at the market square bakery when she’s not dancing. She’s just as adorable and sweet in person and she squeed a bit when I recognized her. The Byward Market’s been around for a long time, here’s a photo of it from York Street in 1911 from Library and Archives Canada (where I used to work):

Byward Market, York Stree, 1911 - Library & Archives Canada

…and here is the same location today – quite the difference, eh? Most of the buildings are all still there though – gorgeous old stone and brick shops.

York Street, Byward Market Today

Then it was off to the Eastern part of Ottawa to an old suburb for a dinner party with some local Pagans hosted by my friend Judith Crow who is my partner in mischief for the ogham deck. The others included Judith’s son and his lovely fiancée, philosopher and author Brendan Myers and Juniper of Walking the Hedge (who host the Standing Stone & Garden Gate podcast together). Judith put together a deliciously awesome meal of roast chicken, mushrooms with fiddleheads, salads, polenta, and other nibbles while we other witches supplied the wines and I brought berry custard tarts and meringue cookies for dessert. We ate outside in the backyard which Judith has turned into a microforest complete with resident wild hares, chipmunks, squirrels, and many birds. She has amazing gardens full of trees, herbs, flowers, and native plants all in your averaged-sized suburban lot – there’s lots of room once you get rid of the grass! She told me she’s a big supporter of creating the environment you want to live in where you already are instead of dreaming of moving to the country. It’s what I’ve been trying to do with my terrace garden over the years.

Juniper and Brendan with serious faces

We talked about everything from Paganism and Witchcraft to cats and James Bond… needless to say, much silliness ensued. Don’t let those serious faces fool you, there were Pagan jazz hands! Brendan kept stopping before my camera flashed, too composed to be caught doing jazz hands to his reading public, lol!

Pagan jazz hands

Judith and me

Judith and I, pretending to be surprised at seeing one another.

Then it was time to call it a night and say our goodbyes. My mom and I spent the night at my grandparent’s house in Richmond with its crucifixes and holy water (they’re the Irish Catholic side of the family) and hung with them until lunch the next day. Nanny gifted me one of her tea cups from her china cabinet to add to my collection (yes, I have china tea cups and crystal oooo). She also let me snag some embroidery floss from her stash and a gorgeous woven fabric with blue flowers on cream I’m thinking of re-upholstering my dining room chairs with. Then it was time to hug and kiss them goodbye and drive back to the farm after picking up some more plants for the vegetable garden. Now we’re back at the farm with cool cloudy days trying to figure out how to get me home since Air Canada wants to go on strike next week. Seems like everyone’s going on strike this month…

Oh, I almost forgot — here are the requisite tourist photos of the Ottawa Parliament buildings (taken from a moving car, as locals don’t do the tourist thing). Americans have a Whitehouse, we Canadians have a dirty but pretty stone building with a green copper roof. They just got pretty new copper roofs and the old copper was given to artists to craft with. My mom has a bird house made with parliamentary roofing – I guess you can’t escape Ottawa politics even at the farm!

Parliament building, Ottawa, Canada

Parliament building, Ottawa


No Responses to “The Witch Visits Ottawa”

  1. Ember says:

    Thank you for sharing all that warmth and hospitality with us. I sometimes get a little jaded and think the world is full of people who treat each other horribly and then I get these little glimpses (like treasures) and it reminds me that there is still goodness out there.

  2. Ryan says:

    It seems funny, but you are the first “outsider” (someone not born, raised, and living in the city) that I’ve ever heard talk about downtown Ottawa; it was a my second home as a teenager, and now I live in Montreal but still see it as “ho-hum, there’s parliament”.

    I often forget that people don’t know what our parliament looks like, and that downtown can be a tourist attraction. It’s kind of a nice feeling when I think about it; “I live somewhere special”. Hahaha.

    Even if the market wasn’t a blast this time around, I’m glad you still managed to have fun! As soon as this post started I was wondering “Hmm, I wonder if she went to visit Juni and Bren?”

    • When I visit Ottawa I’m more interested in visiting my family out in the suburbs than I am seeing the touristy areas (the Glebe is kinda awesome though, it reminds me of Kits in Vancouver). I used to work downtown at the Chateau Laurier so it all just doesn’t excite me after seeing it every day. We had to drive past Parliament to get to my friend’s house, otherwise there’d be no pictures of it! Byward is cute, but it’s no Granville Island… but then I’m a little biased being from BC, LOL!

  3. Shaman Dagaji says:

    I’m always happy to read your blogs! Thank you.

  4. Oh if only the white house was half as good looking as that building lol

  5. jonquil says:

    i like the way judith thinks! have you any photos to share of her garden?

  6. Hadaig says:

    “She told me she’s a big supporter of creating the environment you want to live in where you already are instead of dreaming of moving to the country.”

    A most excellent perspective!

  7. greycatsidhe says:

    So glad you enjoyed Ottawa. We live a couple hours away in northern NY. Maybe someday I’ll be lucky enough to meet up with you, Juniper, and Brendan. That would be absolutely amazing…

    The last time my husband and I were there, we went to an Irish pub called The Druid. The sign even has the awen on it!

  8. Mike Howard says:

    What is “sqeed”??

  9. I burst out laughing at “pagan jazz hands”, lol! And I love that the roofing was given to artists instead of ending up in a scrap yard somewhere; it really is a lovely material to work with.

  10. cinnageek says:

    :) Sounds like you are having a great visit! Hope you can get home ok. :)

  11. Juniper Jeni says:

    It was lovely meeting you. Bren feels badly that he forgot to thank you for reviewing his book(s)

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