Growing up in Ottawa was an experience, if you will. Being the nation’s capital, Ottawa is definitely a unique place, for better or worse. Parliament, the Rideau Canal and the Tulip Festival are all fun and games and all. For tourists and retirees. For the youth of Ottawa growing up in this sleepy, mundane city it is far from fun and games. It actually pretty much sucked and I lost count of the amount of times I thought to myself as I grew up in Ottawa how much i’d rather be learning the ropes of life in a much more exciting, cooler city. And I know I wasn’t alone in this either. Here are just 10 reasons why growing up in Ottawa sucked.
1. Extreme weather (most extreme temperature differences).
This may be true for lots of southern Canada but Ottawa’s winters are deadly cold and its summers scorching hot. Sure we get a few weeks here and there where the weather is bearable but for the majority year it really seems like Ottawans are constantly complaining about the weather to some degree. It’s a constant struggle.
2. OC Transpo is the worst (and only form of public transportation).
Buses are almost always late, or just never show up at all. And Ottawa’s sad attempt at a subway system, a.k.a. the infamous O-Train might as well not exist at all considering the very limited, practically deserted locations it can actually take you to. Let’s just say trying to get anywhere growing up was more than a struggle. Coming home late from a friend’s place or even going to the movies past 9pm? Forget it.
3. The CF Rideau Center being your social hub.
As a kid in Ottawa, there weren’t many places that you could go to meet your friends and just chill without spending all your allowance. Especially in the winter months. The Rideau Center mall was probably the highlight of your youthful social years. Walking around the mall, sitting on benches with your friends, trying not to get yelled at by the bored security guards. Ah, youthful bliss. If only I could look back on it without thinking about how lame it really all was.
4. Ottawa’s RBC Bluesfest get very old, very fast.
Sure, the first few years Bluesfest finally brought started bringing in relevant artists were the highlight of my youthful summers in Ottawa (hey, Kanye even showed up once). However, Bluesfest and all it’s hype gets real old, real fast. Being one of the only festivals in Ottawa, everyone goes. Parents, teachers, your best friends lil’ bro. Sure makes it hard to let loose with your friends the way you really want. Then, as you get older the whole thought of it outright disgusts you. Every wide-eyed high school kid in the crowd looks like 12 year olds to you and you can’t believe you were ever one of them.
5. For a not-so-small town, it really feels like one.
Compared to Toronto or Montreal, Ottawa is a baby in terms of being a big town. Still, compared to lots of places in Canada, even Ontario, Ottawa really isn’t that small. The whole of the Ottawa Valley consists of around a million people which is definitely not tiny. But somehow everyone knows everyone. Which is pretty annoying when you’re trying to avoid an ex, have a falling out with a friend or just don’t feel like putting that much effort into your going-out outfit. Better believe you’ll run into someone you don’t want to, or someone you know, knows someone you don’t want to know…etc.
6. The Ottawa “elite” are way too elite.
Again, Ottawa feels like an even smaller town than it is. Nonetheless, if you’re a “somebody” in Ottawa it means you’re top of the food chain and there’s not much breathing room for anyone else to get up there with you. There is a huge jump between being a “nobody” to being a “somebody”. Unfortunately your social media following inevitably has a lot to do with this and dictates your entire social life, from which club’s guest lists you can easily get onto to whose party you’re going to on the weekend. This gets real tiring when you realize how arbitrary it is.
7. Ottawa’s “edgy-hipster/wanna-be-fashion/photographer/influencer” movement.
I don’t know where this started but growing up in Ottawa this trend was all around. And those who were trying desperately to “be somebody” and follow it could not be more pretentious about it. Yawn.
8. Every High School is its stereotype.
Went to Glebe High School, was on 10 sports team and can’t figure out why you’re being called a jock? Or went to Canterbury High School and keep getting made fun of for being a so-called hipster? I guess they say cliches are cliches for a reason but this rings especially true for Ottawa High Schools and the stereotypes attached to them. Which is fine. If your school’s stereotype was a good one!
9. Watching all your Quebec friends turn legal drinking age a year before you.
Ottawan youth have the unique experience of bordering Quebec (and their relaxed drinking age of only 18) with only a bridge to separate this law. This was torture when all you wanted to do in Grade 12 was finally be able to go to a real club with your friends and not being able to in your own province. And watching your Quebec friends live it up. And having to commute so, so far to join them, all while eagerly waiting to turn 19 to be able to party in back in your own province of Ontario. Not to mention Uber never works on the Gatineau-Hull side, so any time you go out in Hull you can count on the long walk back over the bridge to call an Uber in Ontario ( in winter months, this is not fun).
10. The glow-up from Hull to the Byward Market that finally comes when you turn 19.
When you finally do turn 19 and want to go out in the Byward Market, the real fun places are limited. Not to mention over-crowded and lose their charm real fast. (Ew to an over-load of basic El Furniture Warehouse mirror selfies), mean bouncers and over-rated clubs and bars.