All posts by Rebecca Smart

Dancer celebrates Indian arts with Ahorha Fest

Stittsville’s own Anjali Patil is at it again.

The talented Indian Kathak dancer (pictured at top) has organized the 12th annual Ahorha Fest, a celebration of the arts of India in Canada.

This year, for the first time and in honour of Canada 150, the event will be bilingual, making it the first bilingual festival of it’s kind in Canada. Continue reading


Tyrone Henry brings home the gold from World Para Hockey championship

(PHOTO: Tyrone Henry is a member of the Canadian National Sledge Hockey Team that won gold in South Korea. Photo by Barry Gray.)

In 2010, a 13-year-old Tyrone Henry watched the Vancouver Paralympics sledge hockey games, mesmerized.

“The first time I saw sledge hockey – and I was an able bodied kid – I thought that I would love to play that. I didn’t know you could play it if you were able bodied,” said Henry. Continue reading


JUNO concert will fuse classical Indian music and dance with rock

The Beatles. The Rolling Stones. Cold Play. Beyoncé. Each of these artists has been inspired by the music of India and incorporated it into wildly popular rock songs.

“The Beatles put Indian classical music on the map – a lot of their songs used it after their trip to India,” explained Anjali Patil. Continue reading


Creative hub set to take over Bell House on Stittsville Main

(PHOTO: Story Art owner Mel Richer stands in the front from of the old Bell House at the corner of Stittsville Main Street and Elm Crescent. The main floor will be a boutique and showcase for local art. Photo by Barry Gray.)

Stittsville residents can look forward to having a new spot to be inspired and creative. Set to open on December 6, the owner of Story Art Creative Centre & Boutique wants it to be a gathering place for the local arts community.

“Why not a hub to spark creativity and have a place for arts in the community?” says owner Mel Richer. “We are excited, hopeful and hope the community will rally around us.”

Located in the old Bell House on Stittsville Main Street (most recently home to the Brown Bear Daycare), the beautiful house has found new life.

On the main floor, there is the crystal nook, filled with gorgeous rocks and crystals as well as jewelry. Rocks have a personal meaning for Richer.

“They help inspire my art work – the texture, the colour – they are beautiful,” she says.

Opposite the crystal nook, the room will be filled with curated art as well as vintage and retro antiques. Richer is looking for artists to display their art – and the definition of art is broad.

“Anything in the creative world,” said Richer. “I have a voice and something to share. I really want to help others share their stories.”

The boutique part of Story Art will open before Christmas. In the New Year, classes in the Creative Centre will begin. The second floor of the house will be dedicated to creative classes and will also have a space for children’s birthday parties.

The basement, which will be finished over the next few months, will be a space that available for rentals.

Paintings ready to be hung in the main room at Story Art. Photo by Barry Gray.
Paintings ready to be hung in the main room. Photo by Barry Gray.
The Crystal Nook at Story Art. Photo by Barry Gray.
The crystal nook inside the boutique. Photo by Barry Gray.


All of this is the brainchild of Richer. Born and raised in Kanata, Richer said she always knew that she wanted to be both a writer and an artist.

As a teenager, she studied art at De La Salle Secondary School and then photography at another school. After high school she headed to Algonquin College and that lead to a career working in marketing and communications.

So Richer’s dream to work as a writer had come true. The artist part of the dream was still a work in progress.

As life goes, art was on the back burner for Richer. Then, one day, she saw a call for applications for artists at the Ottawa Airport Community Art Program.

Much to her surprise, her application was successful.

“Oh my gosh. What have I done,” Richer says of her reaction. “But let’s go!”

And go she did. After the exhibition she had 25 pieces of work sitting around and Richer was wondering what to do with them.

Her son Oliver had the answer and suggested she hang them in the wall of her office. And she did. Having the art around sparked her creativity.

From there, she had an opportunity to submit some of her work for a fundraiser, so she decided to look at creating some work that was more accessible.

“What could I do that would be smaller or easier?” she says.

Looking into her yard, she took inspiration from the larch cones scattered across the lawn. She cleaned them and incased them in resin to create jewelry. After this successful jewelry creation, she started creating other resin jewelry using materials like dried flowers, mica and buttons.

As Richer’s art grew, so did her passion for sharing it. Soon she was looking for a retail outlet.


“This feels like a good space for me” she said. “We are thrilled to be a part of Stittsville Main Street,” she says.

Now, Richer’s dream of being both a writer and artist have come full circle. A good friend and business advisor, Irene Jaroszuk of Savvy Sage Consulting, says “she’s had this vision forever.”


New chapter begins at New Queen restaurant

EDITOR’S NOTE: We kept reading rave reviews of what the new owners are cooking up at New Queen restaurant at the corner of Stittsville Main and Hobin.  Writer Rebecca Smart and photographer Barry Gray stopped in to find out.


For more than 30 years, Sunny Cheung (pictured above) has been working in restaurants, learning to cook traditional Chinese food in their kitchens. Continue reading


How one group of residents is helping Syrian families come to Canada

Refugee Aid Canada Members (L to R): Back Row: Sameena Khan, Susan Monaghan, Olivia Nixon and Heidi Brault. Middle Row: Amin Amlani, and Nilofar Amlani. Front Row: Marc Blanchard, Charles Gregoire, and Hassan Futainah. Absent: Nazmu Mamdani, Samira Ayad Yedri
Refugee Aid Canada Members (L to R):
Refugee Aid Canada Members (left to right). Back row: Sameena Khan, Susan Monaghan, Olivia Nixon and Heidi Brault.  Middle row: Amin Amlani, and Nilofar Amlani. Front row: Marc Blanchard, Charles Gregoire, and Hassan Futainah. Absent: Nazmu Mamdani, Samira Ayad Yedri.


“If not me, who? I need to do something,” said Olivia Nixon when she became aware of the plight of the Syrian refugees.

She wasn’t the only one compelled to act. Continue reading


Student combines a passion for animals and art

“If I’m going to draw, it has to be something I’m passionate about.”

Lions and tigers and bears.  Stittsville artist Rebecca Woodrow loves them all. Drawing is her passion and, about a year ago, a friend suggested she try and sell her art.

Using the name “The Creative Tiger,” Woodward started her own Etsy shop.

Rebecca Woodrow with one of her drawings. Photo by Barry Gray.
Rebecca Woodrow with one of her drawings. Photo by Barry Gray.

Continue reading


Local consignment store has a global impact

(Above: Sandra Edwards, the owner oinds Dandelions Consignment. Photo by Barry Gray.)

It’s often been said that it is better to give than receive.

Sandra Edwards, owner of Dandelions Consignment, has embraced that philosophy. Not just for the Christmas season, but as a way of life.

Her generous nature goes back to her childhood. “We would get a care package from Newfoundland,” she said. “We would sit on the floor and go through stuff. I did the same with my own family.” Continue reading


Mad About Patchwork becomes a hub for local quilters

(Above: Pam Denesyk with some award winning quilts. Photo by Barry Gray.)

Brightly coloured bolts of fabric adorn the shelves in the loft that is the bricks and mortar location of Mad About Patchwork.

A look around the loft, located on Huntley just south Fallowfield Road, further reveals a studio for classes and workshops as well as samples of project ideas – everything from an upholstered patchwork bench to quilts to new-sew Halloween bunting.

The person behind it all is Mad About Patchwork founder and owner Pam Denesyk. Continue reading


Black Family Farm helps Food Bank via Community Harvest program

(ABOVE: Tom Black in front of greenhouses with produce for the Ottawa Food Bank. Photo by Barry Gray.)

Every day there are people in Ottawa who go hungry. But they shouldn’t have to. At least that’s what Stittville area farmer Tom Black and his family believe.

“This is the land of milk and honey,” says Black. “No one should have to go hungry. Most people are not at the food bank unless they are desperate.”

In 2012, Black and his family were talking around the dinner table about what could be done to help the Ottawa Food Bank. Continue reading


Long-time nursery school teachers set to retire

(Photo: Sue Blackhall (left) and Judy Starr are two teachers at Stittsville Co-Operative Nursery School who are retiring this year after many years of working at the facility.  Photo by Barry Gray.)

“Goodbye my joy!”

In response, chubby little hands and arms reach out to encircle nursery school teacher Sue Blackhall before running off.

For the past 23 years, Blackhall has been teaching children and preparing them to enter school in a home away from home at the Stittsville Cooperative Nursery School (SCNS.) Continue reading