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Neighbourhood Wars! It’s down to Hintonburg vs. Chinatown for the title of best Ottawa ‘hood

By Apartment613 on April 6, 2011


Photo courtesy rgmcfadden on Flickr.

Tears have been shed, fists raised in triumph, and now – after two weeks of reasoning, pleading, slamming and calling out – we’ve reached the final of Apartment613’s inaugural Neighbourhood Wars tourney. And it’s Hintonburg vs. Chinatown for all the bragging rights on tap in the national capital region.

To be clear, this hasn’t been a coronation. Both ‘hoods have had to claw and scrape their way to the final, and you could make a good case that neither were favourites to make it this far at all. In one semi, Chinatown edged out the Glebe by a single vote. In the other, Hintonburg upset Centretown by about 10 ballots. Their respective advocates, contributor Sabrina Bowman and editor Trevor Pritchard, have employed their oratorical skills with grace and precision – and now, they’re unleashing those same skills against each other.

So, who will prevail? That’s for you to decide, readers! Voting closes Thursday at 4:30pm, and not a minute later. Glory and adulation await one neighbourhood; despair and dejection the other – at least, that is, until next year’s tournament.


Photo courtesy S.L.M.

Photo courtesy of Mariana Islands on Flickr.

Defending Chinatown: Apt613 contributor Sabrina Bowman, who wants to get her ‘fro trimmed at Fades but probably does not want a massage at the Colourful Health Massage parlour.Here we are in the final round, and I’m ready for battle.  Bring it, Hintonburg – we both know that everyone will be wang-chunging it tonight by the end of this post.

For location alone, it’s no surprise Chinatown has ended at the top of the heap in these neighbhourhod battles.  It’s located within 30 minutes’ walking distance of every neighbourhood we’ve covered (except for Kanata, but no one walks there).  It’s also served by several bus routes and is a hop, skip and jump to the Ottawa river bike pathway, the path at Dow’s Lake, and the Rideau Canal.

And then there’s the food.  I realize I always come back to this, but it’s an essential characteristic of the neighbourhood.  When people think of Chinatown, they think of steaming plates of chili-flecked chow mein, cheap ‘n portable Banh Mi subs, hot bowls of complexly-flavoured pho, and grocery stores with incredible varieties of vegetables, condiments, and seasonings.  We don’t need any gimmicky names to attract foodies to our ‘hood.  Your Hintonburger’s got nothing on our hot and sour soup on a frigid Ottawa winter day.

Chinatown is also, one might argue, most representative of the Canadian experience.  The history of this area tells the classic immigrant story of people arriving, often with nothing, making their way and establishing their community.  It continues to speak of the Canada we know and love with its plethora of cultures, small to multi-generational families, young professionals who jog along Somerset and ancient grandmothers who do tai chi in the park.  It’s truly representative of the modern Canadian city, with all its diversity, wealth, poverty, and diamond-in -the-rough quality.

Speaking of history, the name itself is indicative of the sheer awesomeness of this neighbourhood.  It’s named after China, home of over 1.3 billion people, some of the greatest technological and manufacturing advances the world has ever seen, the proud owner of a significant chunk of America’s dept, and quite possibly the next universal superpower.  Hintonburg was named after a guy who brought a post office to the old township of Nepean.

Both of these neighbourhoods are pretty fun places to be, and in this battle, rather well-matched.  But for diversity and proximity to downtown alone, Chinatown just has that extra edge.  And so, I can only come to the conclusion that come the results in the poll, I’ll be victoriously drowning a Hintonburger in some chili-laced pho.

Defending Hintonburg: Apt613 editor Trevor Pritchard, who was not at the fictitious Hintonburg KFC rally but nonetheless supports the imaginary cause.Well, Hintonburg army, we’re one step away from glorious, glorious victory. One step away from being able to call ourselves residents of the best neighbourhood in the nation’s capital. Feels pretty awesome, huh?

Of course, we’ve already come a long way over the past two weeks. We’ve shown we’re no longer just Westboro’s neglected little sibling. No longer are we that shady neighbourhood  downtowners avoided for fear of being eaten by the trolls that live under the O-Train bridge. We’re a force in our own right.

Yet we’ve still got one more fight to win, one more mountain to climb (well, aside from the dangerous precipice behind Tom Brown Arena that I tenderly refer to as Mt. Bayview Station). And for that final push, I’m ripping a page from our federal leaders, taking the campaign to the opposition ridings, and making my case for the ‘hood I call home.

Glebites: Personally, I’m not convinced there wasn’t some Zimbabwe-style ballot box rigging going on in that one-vote loss to Chinatown last week. What better way to exact some comeuppance by sending them to defeat in the finals?

ByWard Marketeers: Adore the stalls teeming with fresh fruits and vegetables? Enjoy chatting with the good folks who grow your food?  Then send some love to the ‘hood with the Parkdale Market! It’s intimate and laid-back, with a great selection and tons of spots to park your car or bike.

Centretowners: You fought an amazing battle in the semis, and I’d understand if you’re bitter – but friends, we should put our differences behind us! Chinatown’s moving in on your turf as downtown Ottawa ‘hood du jour. And you don’t want that. Plus we know how to party, too, whether it’s at the Elmdale Tavern, Daniel O’Connell’s, or one of the many art galleries that dot the area.

Little Italians: You know, deep in your hearts, that Chinatown just built that arch to lord it over you. Let’s plot our revenge over pizza at Tennessy Willems.

Kanatans: If it’s the outdoor life you love, Hintonburg’s just minutes from the stunning Ottawa River bike paths and not much further from the Gatineau Hills. There’s also the always-fun Hintonburg 5K!

Golden Trianglese: Um, the nickname of the Quartier des Artistes – the QUAD – is also vaguely geometric? Who am I kidding, I just wanted to coin the demonym “Golden Trianglese” (which perhaps speaks to the innate creativity of the Hintonburg scene!) before anyone else did.

Ultimately, I can’t hate on my Chinatown nemesis. Her ‘hood’s both diverse and delicious – though I do wish the head of its BIA would be more amenable to bike lanes on Somerset – and having made it this far, has proven its mettle. Yet the tremendous number of ballots cast so far by Hintonburg folk shows how much we want our community to succeed. We’ve got art, food, history, a sense of our potential, and – hopefully by Thursday afternoon – a new reputation as the best neighbourhood in Ottawa.

Cast your vote now – voting closes at 4:30pm Thursday!