The Tukimut Afterschool Program is one of several youth programs offered by the Inuuqatigiit Centre for Inuit Children, Youth and Families, the intended recipient of funds raised by StreetFest 2022. Source: Inuuqatigiit.ca
By Janet Uren
A new kind of neighbourhood fair is being launched in Ottawa on September 10 with a day-long feast of history, music, art and dance, and it could spell the genesis of a new chapter for Ottawa’s oldest neighbourhoods, including the Glebe.
The event is called StreetFest and though it will take place in New Edinburgh this year, organizers from IODE Laurentian, the Ottawa chapter of a national women’s charitable organization, hope it will become an annual event – they are already looking for another community for next year. They are seeking a neighbourhood with a long history, with visible institutions (churches and schools) and a vibrant music and art scene. That could certainly describe the Glebe.
A central feature of StreetFest is a 60-page Souvenir History of New Edinburgh, including a self-guided walking tour with 32 sites highlighted, and this will be given to every ticket purchaser. “This year, we’ve created a wonderful little snapshot history of New Edinburgh,” says Laurentian co-president Janet Stratton, “but I can see that in a few years, as we repeat this event in other neighbourhoods, we’ll have the basis for a little gem of a book on Ottawa.”
The goals of StreetFest are threefold – to have fun, to celebrate Ottawa’s rich heritage and to raise funds for a vulnerable community in Ottawa. The primary beneficiary of funds raised by this year’s event will be the Inuuqatigiit Centre for Inuit Children, Youth and Families in Vanier. With every $30 ticket sold, the future of another child in Ottawa will look a little brighter.
Most people know Laurentian for its annual House and Garden Tour, which has raised funds for Ottawa’s needy for many years. “Laurentian brought the idea of house tours to Ottawa in 1960,” says Laurentian co-president Marian McLennan. “In fact, we were about to celebrate the 60th annual tour in 2020 when COVID hit. After two years of cancellations due to the pandemic, we thought it was time to try something new.”
One of the strengths of this kind of neighbourhood celebration is that it can take place mostly (and if need be, entirely) outdoors, with verandah musicians, dancers, a streetside art show, horse and wagon rides, a barbecue, a beer garden and an antique car show. “We started off thinking about promoting mainly the history of New Edinburgh with walking tours, doorstep interpretation and speakers,” says McLennan. “Organizers have been astonished, however, by the explosion of energy and interest in the community and by the partners who have come forward to turn StreetFest into a real cultural event.”
Laurentian is grateful for its many partners and for the generous support of its sponsors: Beechwood Cemetery, Chartwell Rockcliffe Retirement, Elmwood School, Steve McIlroy of Edward Jones, Metro, the Royal Bank of Canada and Sezlik.com.
Janet Uren is a lifelong resident of Ottawa who lived in the Glebe for many years. She is a writer specializing in local history.