An Ottawa citizen

A city without alleys

A city without alleys is no city at all — and yet, here I now live (again).

In truth, I have not yet revisited enough of our nation's Capital to talk about it as a whole, save to note the obvious. Ottawa doesn't feel like a city.

A city without alleys

A city without alleys is no city at all — and yet, here I now live (again).

In truth, I have not yet revisited enough of our nation's Capital to talk about it as a whole, save to note the obvious. Ottawa doesn't feel like a city.

The downtown core lacks high-rises by legislative fiat, in order that the Parliament Buildings are not (literally) over-shadowed, and even low-rise apartment buildings are few and far between. Most of the city consists of houses, older semi-detached and free-standing brick-buildings near the core and a seemingly interminable ring of suburban-style "developments" spreading outwards from the centre along with enough malls, parking lots and multi-lane roads to break the hearts of every ecologically-minded Canadian alive.

That said, my own neighbourhood, the Glebe, maybe a 20-minute walk from Parliament Hill, is a relatively tony, relatively (relatively!) dense and a rather pleasant neighbourhood of tree-lined streets and older homes.

A neighbourhood of fearless cats

I am west of the main drag, Bank Street, a long block away from a beer store and a Montreal-style, 24-hour bagel bakery, Kettleman's. As I said, the Glebe is a fairly well-to-do neighbourhood and Bank Street is chock-full of bakeries, cafe's, bookstores and bars — the usual Yuppie amenities.

What there aren't, and what this former denizen of downtown Toronto finds rather shocking, are such things as corner stores, competing fruit markets run by immigrants, or very many non-white people at all.

On the upside, pedestrians often make eye-contact with one another, and sometimes even smile. Strangest of all, the neighbourhood cats seem to be almost entirely without fear. In the not-yet three weeks since I moved here, I've met and petted easily a half-dozen felines, all sleek, all well-fed and so far, only one wearing a collar.

It is as if the dogs in the neighbourhood are all, always, kept on-leash and the children have never thought that chasing a small animal might be fun.

It is strange, coming from Toronto, but not at all an unpleasant way to live. At least so far — we'll see whether or not, in time, I begin to chafe under this apparent regimen of sedate decency.

Spread the word!