7 Things Only People In Ottawa Will Understand That Just Aren't A Reality In Toronto

"Can I get poutine with that?"

Contributing Writer
Rideau Canal. Right: A 3 Brothers shawarma and poutine.

Rideau Canal. Right: A 3 Brothers shawarma and poutine.

This Essay article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

Ottawa is a beautiful city, and all of its gothic revival buildings are definitely an amazing sight. Not to mention the two rivers, the Ottawa River and the Rideau River, which flow right through the capital. But when it comes to the Ottawa-Toronto rivalry (is there much of one?), Ottawa sometimes seems to have a serious inferiority complex.

Still, there are a ton of things to appreciate about Ottawa (it's not just about honking truckers and Trudeau!). However, if you come from a big city like Toronto, as I have, there may be some things you need to get used to. Many of these things you may end up loving.

Here are seven things only people in Ottawa will understand that just aren't a reality in Toronto.

Taking light rail instead of the subway, and endless waiting

How do you start a list about Ottawa and not mention the infamous LRT?

The two-line light rail O-Train has become the focus of a public inquiry exposing major safety concerns, unrealistic budgets and uncoordinated planning.

Although Toronto is set to get the new 25-station Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Ottawa beat Toronto to light rail — but maybe at a cost? It's definitely something to be prepared for. Other transit options can be a bit... unreliable at times. (Cue standing outside in minus-20-degree weather for a bus that never shows.)

Shawarma and poutine married in a blissful partnership

Does it get any better than shawarma and poutine together? Ottawa is home to the popular Middle Eastern restaurant "with a Canadian twist," 3 Brothers.

"Shawarma & Poutine" is literally in the name, describing this blissful trend in the nation's capital. You can get your fix of thinly sliced meat and carbs piled with cheese curds and gravy in one spot. Yum!

Learning French because we're so close to Quebec

Nous adorons parler français! If you're from the Toronto area, you may leave your bilingual skills behind when French class is over. But actually speaking both of Canada's national languages is much more of a thing in Ottawa.

First, we're right beside the Quebec border, so you're more likely to come across French speakers to chat up. But second, most services are available in both languages. Plus, many jobs require bilingualism, so French is definitely an asset you want to have!

Some of the best dragon boating and whitewater rafting

Ottawa is also home to the Tim Hortons Dragon Boat Festival, which sees boat racers paddling this Chinese tradition to the finish line. These thin boats have dragon heads at the bows.

While Toronto has its own dragon boat festival, Ottawa's festival is touted as North America's largest with roughly 5,000 paddlers and 75,000 spectators.

Keeping on theme with watersports, Ottawa also is known for some of the best whitewater rafting in Canada with its Class III to V rapids on the Ottawa River. For the same sort of experience in Toronto, you'd have to travel out of the city centre. Right on, Ottawa!

St-Hubert and Swiss Chalet duking it out for best rotisserie chicken

Before moving to Ottawa, I'd never tried St-Hubert's chicken — that's because it's non-existent in Toronto. While Toronto is blessed with Church's Chicken, it doesn't have Swiss Chalet's rotisserie rival, St-Hubert.

What a Canadian staple to have missed out on! The Quebec chain is over 70 years old, first opening in Montreal in 1951, making it three years older than Swiss Chalet, which first hit Toronto in 1954. At St-Hubert, you can get Indian-style rotisserie chicken to boot!

Paddleboarding or skating to work

Thanks to Ottawa's iconic Rideau Canal, paddleboarding and skating to work are totally viable options. Sure, like Toronto, Ottawa has its bike fanatics. But if you live in the nation's capital, you have a unique opportunity to be a little more adventurous on your green commute to the office.

Grab your paddleboard — or sharpen your skates in the winter — and coast on over to work!

Tuning into the House of Commons drama instead of watching Netflix

Maybe it's just me, but the House Of Commons ParlVu camera offers serious drama, rivalling shows like Riverdale or Orange is the New Black simply because it's actually real life.

Being so close to the action, it sometimes feels like you know Canada's members of parliament. You may bump into one on your LRT ride, after all. Watching ParlVu gives you a front-row seat to the parliamentary heckling from your living room. Grab the popcorn and Milk Duds!

Sarah Crookall
Contributing Writer