First Thursdays – a first for Stittsville

You must be asking – what the heck is First Thursdays? Well, when Nicole Chilton-Jones moved to Stittsville about a year ago, from her hometown in South Africa, she arrived along with her idea.

“South Africa has a lot of crime in it’s city centre and in order to encourage people to come back into the area the local art galleries started ‘First Thursdays’ which is when they open their doors until 9pm”, Nicole explained. Nicole is an architect and very passionate about ‘Urban Design’. She wanted to bring the concept for First Thursdays from her home town in South Africa where “the key to having a healthy city is to encourage walking in the city”.


This has now created a culture in both Cape Town and Johannesburg where businesses open their doors until 9pm every First Thursday and the surrounding streets become a booming hive of activity. Nicole says, “street markets stay open late and businesses such as offices host local artists – this allows people to explore a business that they didn’t realize was available in their area and even gives a local artist some exposure”.

Restaurants, coffee shops and pubs in the area had specials on during the event which drew people to come to their establishments and this has now created a “must-do” leisure activity that is even recommended to tourists.

On the first Thursday of every month, the farmer’s market, restaurants and local businesses in Stittsville will be open later than usual, with events showcasing the wealth of talent and activities that Stittsville has on offer – hence the name First Thursdays. The event is completely free, with no structured tour, and no schedule to follow, you are free to absorb it all at your own leisure.

First Thursdays is more than just an evening about local businesses. Yes, the businesses activities are the big draw, but as the sun sets, the farmer’s market, coffee shops and restaurants join in, while the locals spill out onto the streets, creating an electric vibe, drawing on the heady mix of local arts and culture and food and drink.

    Market at the Barn, Friday June 30. Photo by Barry Gray.

Photo by Katie Shapiro       Re-Read Used Books

Take your time…start off at Quitters for a drink, before browsing the Farmer’s Market in the Village Square Park, check out one of the activities or workshops being held in the park, stroll to Re-Read Used Books to browse their books, maybe catch a drink at the Legion across the street, grab a slice of pizza at JoJo’s or an ice cream – and finally settle in at The Jack Ketch for a sumptuous meal.

The Jack Ketch on Stitttsville Main. Photo by Barry Gray.      

“Arts, culture, food and drink – a perfect night out. See where your stroll takes you!” added Nicole.

A concept brought from South Africa, initiated by Nicole, to be enjoyed by all. ‘First Thursdays’ in Stittsville — come out and enjoy more of our community every month throughout the summer. 


4 thoughts on “First Thursdays – a first for Stittsville”

  1. An amazing initiative. I am a close friend of Nicole from South Africa and am so excited that she is spreading the culture. I will be visiting Stittsville in September and will certainly be joining in the First Thursday event

  2. Great idea! With more of a focus on shops, restaurants, etc. on Main Street rather than big box we have the opportunity to create a vibrant, walking community. This is a great start! Kudos Nicole!

  3. The Stittsville Branch of the Ottawa Public Library is excited about this opportunity to welcome residents into our branch for some old-fashioned lemonade and old-fashioned board games on the first Thursday evening of every month!
    Please pop down to see us at 1637 Stittsville Main Street!!!
    (Note: the branch closes at 8:30pm, which gives you enough daylight to make it home on your old-fashioned two-feet before dark 🙂 !)

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