During the day, the Byward Market is a happening place to be. There's the iconic Ottawa sign, cute boutiques, restaurants, even a bakery where you can get the same exact cookie that Barack Obama got on one of his visits to Canada.
At night time though, it's a completely different story. No doubt, the Byward Market is still the place to be for Ottawa's nightlife scene. But, there's also a dark side to the market, where intense fights break out and get captured on video, which of course, go viral.
As someone who lived in Ottawa for four years while I was in school, I'm familiar with hitting up the Byward Market after dark. But, I can also attest to the fact that no matter who you are, it's nearly impossible to walk through the market without being catcalled.
It goes beyond just catcalling, though. The Byward Market has been home to some violent, tragic, and just completely ridiculous fights and attacks, giving it the reputation of the one neighbourhood in Canada with the most outrageous fights ever.
One of the most iconic fights to come out of the Byward Market, and one that went viral multiple times on Twitter, was when a brawl broke out in the McDonald's on Rideau Street, which has a reputation for being a hub of crazy activity in the market since it's open 24 hours.
During that particular brawl, one man shocked everyone by pulling out a baby racoon from his jacket, marking it most ridiculous incident to ever take place in the Byward market.
i don’t know how to describe this .gif of a mcdonald’s fight on rideau street except to say that at one point, someone pulls out a raccoon pic.twitter.com/auMdeHBwQK— Alison Mah (@alisonmah) 3 October 2016
That fight may make you laugh, but there have been a lot more incidents that are serious and incredibly dangerous. In 2015, the neighbourhood was plagued by a serial rapist who drugged women and brought them back to his apartment in the market to rape them.
Philip Wilson, who was convicted for these crimes in 2017, also videotaped all his attacks. At least 15 women were attacked by him in the Byward area, where Wilson was also a known drug dealer.
Then in 2016, a librarian in the Byward Market was brutally killed in broad daylight after a man stabbed her over what witnesses said was a money dispute. Multiple people chased the suspect which led to a brawl in the market, where another person ended up being stabbed.
The suspect ended up getting away at first, but was later caught by police and identified as Peter Herauf. He was charged with murder, assault, and possession of a weapon.
Then in 2017, there was an incident that led to a police chase through the market, ending in a fatal shoot-out between the suspect, an innocent man, and an Ottawa Police officer.
The gunman ended up fatally shooting someone in the parking garage while running away from the police officer. Eventually, the officer caught up to them all the while yelling at them to put down their gun. The gunman turned to shoot the police officer, who in turn shot the gunman, killing him.
The incident prompted an investigation by the SIU, which looks into fatalities involving police officers, who determined this past July that there was no misconduct on the part of the officer.
Coming full circle, just last night there was another incident outside the McDonalds in the Byward Market, the same location as the raccoon fight. Last night, a 23-year-old man was stabbed outside the fast food joint landing himself in the hospital in serious condition.
This latest stabbing and all the attacks previously mentioned are only the latest or most notorious attacks. But, there have been many other senseless acts of violence at the Byward Market in the past.
Already there is a regular police presence in the market to help combat some of the violence. But, with a municipal election coming up in Ottawa next week, it is now a question for the incoming government as to how they will continue to approach violence in one of Ottawa's busiest areas.