Little miss Ottawa

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Let’s set the scene…

A beautiful sunny warm but crisp morning in Ottawa, walking by the canal with a coffee from my local café on Elgin St. I can hear the water flowing and some birds chirping, and I can see some dog walkers, kayakers, runners, and even children learning to master the bike. 
I was born and raised in Ottawa, and I absolutely love it.  I now live in Scotland and I would be lying if I didn’t say that I miss Home every single day because it’s a beautiful place to live, and I am so happy that I am not the only who thinks so.

I discovered Little Miss Ottawa a year before I moved to Scotland, and kept thinking this is exactly what Ottawa needs! Julia is a great spokesperson for all that Ottawa has to offer and I am thrilled to be able to share her with you all!

 

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1/ Tell us a bit about yourself! What made you start documenting / sharing your adventures in Ottawa? 

This is one of my favourite questions because I think it’s something we can all relate to. When I was in University I went on exchange to Australia. It was my first time leaving North America and living on my own. It was an experience that had such a huge impact on my life and I made sure to make the most of my time while I was there. After Australia I also visited Thailand and London. When I returned home I thought, “why am I always waiting for my next adventure” and, “why don’t I start exploring Ottawa as a traveller would?” That’s when I started documenting my adventures as Little Miss Ottawa. It was a challenge to myself to get out and explore more of this great city. I think it’s easy to overlook where we live but it’s given me a whole new appreciation and curiosity for Ottawa. It’s crazy to think how this passion project has introduced me to so many incredible people and experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. You never know where passion will lead you. 

 

2/ When did you decide to pursue this full-time? Were there doubts or challenges that came along with that decision? 

When I first started Little Miss Ottawa I had a steady 9-5 in marketing. When LMO began growing rapidly I had to choose between my 9-5 or taking LMO full time. It was a scary decision deciding to take LMO on as my full time job, but it was the best decision I ever made. I had told myself that the worst thing that could happen is that I could potentially fail, but I think the regret of not trying would have been worse.

 I had the drive, perseverance and a few clients of my own so I was confident I could do this. I needed to give being a full time entrepreneur a fair chance and to see how far I could take Little Miss Ottawa and my personal brand. I can look back now and say it's one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The scariest decisions are when we grow the most. 

Listening to podcasts was a huge motivator for me when I was making the decision to work for myself full time. I was able to hear from successful people all over the world who also went the route of entrepreneurship and it gave me impactful insights. Each challenge I encountered, I was able to hear how others navigated the same obstacles. Self-doubt is going to creep in but you need to keep your wider vision in mind and push forward.  

Entrepreneurship is certainly not a walk in the park but I'm so grateful that I’m able to give put all my energy towards my own dream instead of someone else’s. It’s also given me the time and flexibility to really focus on Little Miss Ottawa and create even more resources. I never would have imagined this passion project would grow to what it has when I started. 

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3/ What would you recommend people to see or do in Ottawa? 

I remember when I first got to Melbourne and I would ask people what I should do they would always say “what are you into” and I feel like Ottawa’s very similar in that respect. No matter what you’re looking for, we have it. Whether it’s an urban adventure, escaping into nature, foodie destinations, festivals, photography tours, Ottawa will keep you busy. It’s hard to summarize it all quickly so I definitely recommend checking out my blog post for seasonal bucket lists, events, and more to guide your adventure here. 

For urban adventures, we have so many unique neighbourhoods to explore from Elgin Street, Sparks Street, Hintonburg, the Glebe, Carp and more. Each neighbourhood has something new to offer from murals, coffee shops, nightlife, unique shops and more. For nature, there are so many options! We’re right next door to Gatineau Park that's full of trails, lookouts, lakes and more. Parc Omega is one of my favourite spots to experience Canadian nature/wildlife in one spot! For beautiful sites, the Rideau Canal is one of my favourite locations to photograph. It’s stunning in every season and you can skate, walk, run or kayak along it! Andaz Hotel has a rooftop patio that gives one of the best views of the city! In terms of the foodie scene, we have such a great variety of restaurants whether you’re keen for brunch, something unique, date night and more. A few of my favourites are Citizen, Chesterfields, Cheshire Cat, Moon Room, Rabbit Hole and more. I have more recommendations on my blog, by neighborhood. 

We’re lucky to have 4 distinct seasons that bring an abundance of activities and events that we’re able to enjoy like Winterlude, The Canadian Tulip Festival and more. I share events year round on my event page on my blog so you can always find something new to do! 

 

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4/ What is your favourite season for Ottawa?

My favourite season is definitely summer.  There’s a special energy in Ottawa in the summer. Nobody lets the nice weather pass by without enjoying it outside whether its on a patio, kayaking on the canal, doing Parliament Hill Yoga! The Ottawa Locks is one of my favourite places in the world to watch the sun set. You’ll see beautiful colours dancing across the water. We also have so many incredible festivals and events celebrating from the International Fireworks Festival. If you have a dog you can take a day trip out to Carp and go to the Carp Farmers Market and then head across the street for a puppy cone at the Carp Creamery. 

 

5/ What is on your travel bucket list? 

There are countless places to see and activities I want to do, and my travel bucket list is always growing.  One of my travel goals is to visit 30 countries before I’m 30. I’ve been to 17 countries so far, and I’m making plans for Colombia, Belize, Philippines, Vietnam and Caribbean in the next few years. Specific activities on my bucket list are visiting the Bolivia Salt Flats, European Christmas Markets, the original underwater statues in Grenada, Spring in Japan and more. A lot of international travel inspiration and advice comes from my followers, I love hearing their experiences and recommendations! When I said I wanted to visit Colombia my followers who have visited, lived or used to live there reached out with their recommendations. I love hearing from my followers and keep a list of all the recommendations I receive from their journeys!

 

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6/ What is you go to Healthy is Hot moment?

My Healthy is Hot moment would be travelling. There’s something about going somewhere new that brings a special excitement and curiosity.  Travel is my favourite source of inspiration. I love learning about new cultures and adapting the things I’ve learned and bring part of my travels home with me. Every country you visit has something new to offer and it always gives me lots of food for thought when I come home. 

When I’m back home, I’ll recreate those travel moments with new activities like photo walks and “tourist days.” If you walk around your home and try and see things through a traveler's mindset, I think you’ll be very surprised with what you find!  It truly can make every day exciting and that’s my goal, to encourage people to get out, explore and find something special in their every day routine.

You can check the blog out at www.littlemissottawa.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @littlemissottawa.

With happy vibes,

Mary-Catherine xx