(The Stittsville Jane’s Walk makes a stop in front of Hudson’s Insurance on Stittsville Main Street. Photo by Barry Gray.)
At the start of January of this year I wrote: “Compared to this time last year, I’d say the prospects for Stittsville Main Street are definitely looking up.” The same thing could be said today as well. It’s been an encouraging year. Continue reading →
(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.
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.”
If you were standing in front of Quitters during last Saturday’s Parade of Lights, you might have seen a little bit of holiday magic. Josh Gibeault, a volunteer firefighter from Stittsville’s Station 81, proposed to his longtime girlfriend Megan Faulkner, a nurse at the Granite Ridge Care Community.
On Monday, November 21st, I was pleased to attend the Stittsville Village Association event, “Reinventing Stittsville Main Street”. The discussion focused on potential business growth in the heart of our community and raised some insightful discussion amongst business owners, landowners and residents in the area. Continue reading →
About 45 people packed into Quitters on Monday night to take part in a panel discussion called Re-Inventing Stittsville Main.
I organized the event along with the Stittsville Village Association, the West Ottawa Board of Trade and Rick Tremblay from Quitters, with a goal of starting a conversation about the future of Stittsville Main. Continue reading →
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 →
“There is an exciting project coming to Village Square Park that I am pleased to share with everyone. A new gazebo will soon call the park its home.”
Councillor Shad Qadri’s newsletter, September 30
Councillor Shad Qadri recently revealed details about a gazebo being built at Village Square Park, at the corner of Stittsville Main and Abbott. The plan is to build a 16’x16′ raised stage at the east end of the park with electrical hook-ups, for use as a community performance space. The structure is already under construction and could be completed as early as November 1. Continue reading →
(FILE PHOTO: Unfinished “Stittsville Walk” condos, March 6, 2016.)
“I suppose the best one can say is that it is no worse than the original proposal.”
That’s the reaction I received today from a long-time Stittsville resident who’s been following the progress — or lack thereof — of the Stittsville Walk condo development at 1491 Stittsville Main Street. The project has been stalled since late 2013, and only one of the six blocks was ever built. It remains unoccupied. Continue reading →
It was worth the wait! This year’s Arts in the Park had to be rescheduled after being totally washed out in June. Dozens of artists and vendors packed Village Square Park for the annual event on Sunday, presented by the Stittsville Village Association. Barry Gray was there with his camera to capture some of the fun.Continue reading →
(PHOTO: Thom Johnson will run Steelwool Cycleworks, the bike shop, and Kat Kosk will run Blumenstudio, the cafe-florist.)
UPDATE (AUGUST 6): They’re not quite ready to open yet. Posted to their Twitter feed yesterday: “.we still have a bit of tweaking to do .trims details bathroom & so on .please stay tuned for stittsville”
Stittsville will get a taste of trendy Hintonburg when Blumenstudio opens its doors on Saturday.
The new location will be at 1564 Stittsville Main Street, in the cinder block building that’s also home to Capital Cabinetry. Renovations have recently been underway to replace bricks with windows at the front, creating a street-side retail space.
I dropped in on Friday night and met Kat Kosk, Thom Johnson and Paul Idone, the trio who are behind the venture. They were expecting a late night ahead as they prepared for a partial opening on Saturday.
Idone was building a bar near the front for the coffee part of the business, Kosk was moving in plants (lots of cacti and big leafy greens) and Johnson was building a web site on his laptop. Kosk’s dog was there to keep them company.
Idone owns the cabinetry business, and Johnson his business partner. Johnson will run the bike part of the business, under the name Steelwool Cycleworks. Johnson’s also an owner at Talltree Cycles on Wellington Street in Hintonburg.
Kosk owns Blumenstudio on Parkdale Avenue in Hintonburg. It’s a popular high-end floral shop and cafe that’s been open since March 2011. The location in Stittsville will follow the same concept.
Kosk said they had lots of neighbours dropping by today to say hello, and they’re looking forward to meeting more Stittsville residents when they open on Saturday. Johnson’s bike shop should open a couple of weeks.
It’s great to see another interesting indie shop opening up on Stittsville Main Street. Welcome to the neighbourhood!
The Stittsville Lions Club wants to add an accessible entrance to their building on Main Street, but first they’ll need approval from the City of Ottawa’s Committee of Adjustment (COA).Continue reading →
The Stittsville food truck scene already has a good amount of variety. Anne Wilby (pictured above) plans to add a lot more with Mellow Yellow.
Wilby is no stranger to the food business. Growing up with an Italian father and Polish mother, her family was always cooking. In the 1980s, she ran a hospitality training program for at-risk youth in Stittsville. She was also manager of Lousiannie’s on Main Street for 14 years, before it closed and burned down. Continue reading →
Here’s a note from Councillor Shad Qadri about a medical imaging centre opening at 1609 Stittsville Main Street later this year. That’s next door to the Dynacare medical lab next to Greco:
I am pleased to announce that a new Stittsville Medical Imaging Centre will be opening this fall. Services offered will include X-rays and ultrasound exams, including prenatal 3D ultrasounds.
Last year I connected with the business’ new owners and asked for Stittsville’s thoughts on such a service which was received with an overwhelmingly positive response. Now, I will continue to work closely with the owners to ensure that the needs of Stittsville continue to be met.
The branch will be located at 1609 Stittsville Main St and I will be certain to provide more details including a grand opening date as the time nears.
If you are interested in learning more about the services being offered or if you are a talented sonographer, X-ray technician or administrative staff who live in the area looking for full time or part time work, please contact Dr. Gregory Davies at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(ABOVE: Cathy Lytle stands in front of her family’s home at 1495 Stittsville Main Street. Photo by Devyn Barrie.)
After more than a century on Stittsville Main Street, the Lytle House is up for sale. The asking price is $499,000 according to Brent Taylor of Brentcom Realty. “Redevelopment ideal for retail, service commercial, office, residential and institutional uses, including mixed-use buildings, and excluding auto-related uses,” says the listing.
It’s a large lot, 100 feet along the street and 160 feet deep.
Cathy Lytle says the house has been standing since at least 1900, and it’s been in her family for 64 years. While it doesn’t have a heritage designation, it is on the city’s heritage registry. That doesn’t give it any protection, but if a future owner applies to demolish it, the City could do a review that could lead to full heritage designation.
DEVYN BARRIE: What can you tell me about the history of the house?
CATHY LYTLE: It was built in 1900 from a bachelor and it was sold four years later to a young couple… he was a tinkerer and they raised their daughter, Evelyn. She took cancer and died and then the father died of old age and the mother died after she sold the house to my parents… she lived with my parents for five years, she had herself written into the deed, for one bedroom and three meals a day and they got along fine, until she passed away.
DB: It must have been something to grow up here and watch the town change all around it, hey?
CL: It’s not the [same] town anymore. Doesn’t matter which window you look out, it’s not the same at all. It’s funny, we were just saying I can remember all the places we used to go and play and climb trees and whose farmer fields we used to run through. And I said, now people look at you and say “well no, there was something else” or “No, no that was just all field.”
But yeah, [there have] been changes, it’s been hard on some of the older ones to see some of the changes.
DB: What’s it been like for you?
CL: I’m okay with some of the change, I just don’t like people coming in and telling me how to live. They want certain things changed here… but you’re taking away the essence of a small town.
DB: Why sell the house?
CL: Oh, we can’t afford to keep everything up. [My mother is] 87, she’s not well. My dad was a small contracting excavator, he left her a little bit of money, she was only on old age pension, she can only do so much. I only work part time and I work a minimum wage job… I can’t afford it. So, we decided to go to something that we both can manage and enjoy.
DB: How does it feel to have to leave this house behind?
CL: I’m okay. I’m ready. And I think she’s ready too. She’s had [a longer time] here, she’s raised her family and I was born here. We’re all business and everybody else has gone out and done better, this will help pay for some medical bills coming down the road…
… It’ll be sad in a way, but we have our memories, we have our pictures and they can’t take that away from us.
DB: Any idea what might happen to the house if it does get sold?
CL: We’ve had a business here for 40 years, like everybody else on Main Street. They had their house and their business right there. Last 20 years my dad’s been dead and we got rid of the business, so it’s kinda nice to think that somebody else will come in and make a go of it… maybe put something in like an ice cream store or something that reflects the core, not an office building or something. But it’s up to them.
DB: What do you think about the state of Main Street in general today?
CL: Well, when I grew up there was no sidewalks. It was a main highway… the traffic was heavy but now… you can’t sit outside, it’s hard to hear outside, the dust picks up, people come in on either side of you… it’s changed a lot compared to what I used to play, run and climb every tree in this place. It was a lot different… I watch the kids over in the park, but it’s not the same. We used to like the trains coming in and watching the people and wave, you don’t do that anymore. You can’t, there’s nothing there. And these people who are using the park don’t understand what was really there and I think they would have enjoyed it a lot better.
The only heritage-designed building on Stittsville Main Street is up for sale.
The brick building that’s home to Hudson Insurance at 1510 Stittsville Main Street is listed for $1.4-million. It’s also home to Robin’s Nail Salon and Studio Esthetics.
“Iconic Heritage mixed use Building in the heart of Stittsville. This all brick building with wrap around porch features a mix of office, retail, and residential units. The extra deep 464 foot lot allows for the possibility to expand the building in the future. Plenty of on site parking,” according to the real estate listing. Continue reading →
What a gorgeous day for a walk down Stittsville Main Street.
About 40 people joined me on Saturday for Stittsville’s first-ever Jane‘s Walk. The walk was part of a city-wide festival celebrating Jane Jacobs, a writer and activist who was well-known for her thoughts about city planning. Continue reading →