Skip To Content

Hood Wars Boonies Conference: Almonte vs Gatineau

By Apartment613 on May 4, 2012


Neighbourhood Wars is Apartment613’s yearly battle to determine which Ottawa neighbourhood can claim to be better than all others. The winner gets a year’s supply of glory and bragging rights. Show your support for your favourite Hood Wars contestant by heading down to Urban Craft this weekend to pick up our special hood wars pins (pictured to the left).

In the Hood Wars context, ‘boonies’ is a nice word. Not only does it sound like ‘bunnies’, but it is our catch-all category to describe all the lovely places outside the downtown core or that are not technically within the Ottawa city limits. This year’s Boonies Conference ends the Hood Wars preliminary round with what appears to be a mis-matched contest. Gatineau, aka “Golliath”, takes on the small town of Almonte. Will the Almonte get crushed? Or will this metaphorical David slingshot his way to victory. You decide.

As always read the arguments of the two defenders and then vote at the bottom of the page. The voting will last 24 hours, after which the winner will advance to the semi round next week.

Defending Almonte – Danielle WojtyniakI moved to Almonte in 2008, after living variously in Chinatown, Old Ottawa South, the Glebe and Nepean. Each neighbourhood had it’s perks (except Nepean – OH, SNAP!!), but I was always a small-town girl at heart. This artsy little river town charmed me and my now-husband, and we bought a house here. Having lived all over Ottawa, as well as in another small town in Ontario, I can safely say that Almonte is a uniquely awesome place to live or visit.

Almonte and Gatineau are similar in some respects; both have a heritage of milling, being conveniently located on rapids of their respective rivers. In both municipalities, a large percentage of residents commute each day for work in Ottawa. But do the similarities end there?

It’s Highly Scientific Statistical Analysis Time!

Population: Almonte – 5000 souls. Gatineau metro, 1.23 MILLION! (Why are we in the same category again?)

Number of Wal-Marts: Almonte, a delicious 0. Gatineau? 3! And a Costco! Damn the man!

Number of feet from the Beer Store to the Butcher Shop: Almonte? 20. Urban planning at its best. Beat that, Gatineau!

Now, onto some more “qualitative” observations I have made:

Almonte’s town motto is “The Friendly Town;” it’s written on the water tower in big block letters. When I first moved here, I thought this was just marketing hype. But after being warmly greeted by every passer-by, and chatted up by every stranger in the post-office, I started to believe it. Conversely – maybe it’s because my French is “pas si bon”, but I have never been greeted warmly by passers-by in Gatineau. Prove me wrong, Gatineau-ians!

Moving on toregional accents, the Gatineau accent is like French but with a bunch of marbles in your mouth:

“Mebbe I can’t torn right on a red, but tabarnak, I can go right tru it!”

The Almonte (Ottawa Valley) accent is almost East Coast: “More ‘an likely will be sooner rather ‘an later next week.” And all the men are called “Lads.” Charming. I’m scoring this +1 for Almonte.

History time! Around 1855, Almonte was renamed from the original “Waterford” (what, there’s another Waterford in Ontario!?) after Mexican general Juan Almonte. It was some kind of dig at our mutual enemy, the United States, during a post “War of 1812” rivalry; I’m not making this up.

As for Gatineau, no one really knows if it was named after the native word for the “river that flows from the North”, or for some dudes named Gatineau out of Trois-Rivieres. Advantage: Almonte.

Almonte is the birthplace of James Naismith, inventor of a little game I like to call “basketball.” You’re welcome, world. Gatineau, on the other hand, is the birthplace of Eva Avila. Gatineau, I hold you responsible for that atrocious “I believe” song that came to be associated with the otherwise awesome Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Thanks for nothing.

I believe that, armed with the facts, any free-thinking person will come to the same conclusion that I have: Almonte is a way better ‘hood than Gatineau. Come and visit “The Friendly Town!”

Defending Gatineau – Jean-Sébastien Chevrier is a Gatineau resident Have you ever had a little brother? No? Ok, well… A cousin? What about a younger neighbour? You know, a little boy that hung around but that you didn’t think was cool enough to be part of your gang.

Now that you’re both all grown up and you know him much better, you realised that the little boy is… pretty cool! You know his friends, you love his BBQs and also the fact that he’s got great taste in beer and knows how to party… what else can you say?

Well, Dear Reader, this awesome grown up boy is Gatineau! Some people in Ottawa (you?) don’t consider Gatineau to be a very cool city. The problem with them (You? I knew it!) is that they don’t really know the city! That’s OK Dear Reader, I’m here to tell you why my city is awesome.

People who know Gatineau as well as I do have so many reasons to love it.

They love to bike or cross-country ski in Gatineau Park.

They love going to the Piknic Électronik (otherwise only available in Montreal or Barcelona) or the PanoraMix to enjoy the best electro music in the area.

They love the small bars – Petit Chicago, the 4Jeudis, Les Brasseurs du Temps (better known as BDT), l’Autre Oeil and others – for their awesome French shows (sooooo exotique!) and the cheap and delicious beer (they also love the fact that they can buy it at corner stores! Vive les dépanneurs).

They love the Civilisation Museum – Ottawa’s claim to architectural fame – and the feel of Old Hull. They love to be able to go there with a BIXI.

And if they are looking for a place to live, they are extremely in love with the half-price houses!

What are you saying, Dear Reader? I haven’t talked about Almonte yet? Oh well, if you insist…

Far from be it from me to be disrespectful toward my honourable competitor, but I  don’t have much to say! Why? Well, I could turn the question around on you: What could you tell me about Almonte? Unless you work or live there (and who does anyway) you probably don’t have anything to say because it’s too far away and there’s nothing to do there.

Maybe you’ve been there once because you’ve been told it was cute, but for that old rural town feel you could always go to Old Aylmer (still in Gatineau! Did I tell you Gatineau is humongous?) You could do your outdoor stuff in Gatineau instead of “over there” since it’s way closer and its easy to grab one (or multiple) cheap beer(s) on your way back home. And if you love culture and music… there’s no contest.

So, Dear Reader, when it comes time to voting, I think you now have a better idea about the greatness of your sexy French neighbour to the North.

Voting ends on Saturday at 1pm



Preliminary Round

May 1 – Western Conference – Hintonburg vs Chinatown
May 2 – Centre Conference – Centretown vs The Glebe
May 3 – Eastern Conference – New Edinburgh vs Sandy Hill
May 4 – Boonies Conference – Gatineau vs Almonte

Semi Finals

May 7 – Hintonburn vs Centretown
May 9 – Winner Eastern Conference vs Winner Boonies Conference


May 14 – Winner May 7 vs Winner May 9