Hey, wanna get away from all this honking and go for a walk?
Sure, how about Westboro?
In this series, I’ve been writing about doing Urban Retail Walks through the winter of our pandemic discontent. This week, I was going to tell you about a walk along the north part of Bank Street and across Sparks. But there seems to be something going on downtown, so we’ll leave that for another day. A walk down Richmond/Wellington in Westboro it is!
Westboro is where I started doing URWs since it’s quite close to home. It’s probably my favourite URW in the city. There is just such a variety of retail establishments there that you really can’t get bored. There is something for everyone! And lots of “C” things — coffee, cakes, cafes, condos and cannabis. Lots of cannabis.
I usually park at the western end of the retail strip on Byron, then walk east on Richmond. It’s right beside the bike path that goes down the old streetcar line — the Byron Linear Park. In the summer the lovely Westboro market is along that strip. If you have some groceries to pick up, another good parking option is the Real Canadian Superstore near Kirkwood. There’s an LCBO adjacent to that lot as well.
As we start our trek east from the linear park, you hit a lot of the coffee shops and cake places in the first few blocks — Bridgehead, Chez François, Starbucks, and Mamie Clafoutis. Don’t worry if you don’t stop at any of those; there will be lots more!
Next, you’ll hit the retail anchor of this part of Richmond, MEC. There used to be another outdoor clothing store directly across Wellington, but it moved a while ago. But Westboro still has a ton of outdoor gear retail square footage with Bushtukah and Fresh Air Experience. Pro-tip for walkers: nice bathrooms are on the second floor of MEC at the back.
Past MEC, you’ll see a lot of great restaurants in the upcoming blocks — Pure Kitchen, Gezellig, Brassica, Savoy and more. It’s a concentration that rivals Preston Street. Just before you get to Kirkwood, you can get groceries at the Superstore, wine at the LCBO, or a Subaru at Otto’s.
A few meters past the Kirkwood intersection is what looks like a heritage building at 150 Richmond. And sure enough, it is. Built in the 1830s, the Aylen-Heney House has been there for nearly 200 years!
After Kirkwood, the streetscape features a lot of condos until we cross Island Park Drive. Confusingly, we were walking on Richmond Road, but now we are on Wellington St. West. At one point in history, Richmond Road was a toll road and there was a toll gate at this intersection. Today, there is another giant condo building under construction across the street from Ottawa’s only heritage gas station.
We’re going to hang a left on Parkdale, but before we turn, there are a couple of unique places that don’t start with a C! It has a great retro street sign, and West Park Bowling is a great little bowling alley set incongruously in the middle of this retail strip. The next block is World of Maps. Can you guess what they sell? Well, it’s not just maps… they also sell travel books, globes, and flags.
At the Petro-Can at the corner of Parkdale, turn left and walk beside the empty Parkdale Market and dream about warmer days to come. Take another left on Armstrong in front of the historic Carleton Tavern. Next door is more coffee for you — Morning Owl. Loop around the lovely Parkdale Park and go back up Hamilton to Wellington and head back to where you started.
That’s my suggested Westboro Walk. Here’s another idea for a Westboro Walk that includes a giving component – Coldest Night of The Year. The CNOY Westboro walk is raising funds for Cornerstone Housing for Women.