Nice to see some folks disagree with me about Ottawa (honest!)
I took exception with folks in Ottawa who put their city up against the likes of New York and San Francisco. And, quite frankly people, I'm disappointed.
The Star story, at last check, had 55 comments attached to it. And hardly any of you want me drawn and quartered, with my pieces scattered around Byward Market (see photo during royal visit) or dumped in the Rideau Canal. Come on, folks. Did I pull my punches in the story? I guess I did say I like Ottawa just fine. And I guess I diffused some anger by saying Toronto could be a lot better. But where are all the hard-core Ottawa lovers out there? Come on - give me some acerbic put-downs already!
Okay, that wouldn't be very Canadian. And that's one of the things I love about this country. So I guess I should be happy that most of you agree with me or, if you don't, you're so damned polite about it.
Anyway, here's a sample of what folks have had to say.
"Ottawa, a nice place to walk in the park, see a museum and then take a long nap. Not enough for tourists looking for cheap thrills and a chance to spend wads of cash."
"The Museums are great and the parliament buildings are interesting, and the light show was great, but otherwise.... to quote a friend, It's The City That Fun Forgot."
"I've been there a couple of times in the past year and I've really enjoyed it. Of course I'm more of a day person who enjoys lots of walking and museums, so I can understand why they say the sidewalks roll up at 5, but it reminds there of what Toronto used to be: clean, friendly and genuinely happy."
A couple folks who follow me on Twitter (@jimbyerstravel is where you can find me) also weighed in. One person called Ottawa the Canadian version of Canberra, the Australian capital that is on almost no foreigner's to-do list when they go Down Under. Another person said she laughed when she recently saw an ad about how Ottawa claims it doesn't roll up the sidewalks at 5 p.m. "I beg to differ," she wrote.
Anyway, it's all good stuff.
I have to point out, in fairness to the CTC, that this IS NOT A LIST OF ANY KIND. It's not somebody's opinion on the top 48 things to do in Canada. They did not deliberately scorn Ottawa. I think they were silly not to go back and be sure the capital wasn't included but I guess they deserve points for being independent of potential critics.
Anyway, it's one of many programs the CTC runs. And this one is based purely on commercial enterprises such as the CN Tower or Fort Henry or specific tours. It's not a program that says, "Hey, rich tourist, why don't you go to Yorkville?"
A friend of mine at Tourism Toronto said they met for quite a while with the CTC and that they felt Signature Experiences was based more on purchasable products and tours than individual experiences a tourist might have. Which is why something like the Toronto Film Festival was a tough one and why a fun activity like touring Byward Market in Ottawa wouldn't have made the cut.
"People come to Toronto to explore and do lots of things, but they don't always lend themselves to a package," my friend told me. "They tried really hard to get more Toronto stuff."
As my story points out, the CTC hopes to expand this program as well. So look for more "Signature Experiences" in weeks or months to come, and keep an eye on other tourism marketing and ad campaigns for a better balance of what the CTC is trying to do.
Stay tuned tomorrow for a blog on my tour of downtown toronto on a doubledecker tour bus. Lots of fun and some good shots, I think....