My Ottawa: Catherine Clark in a flap? Find out why and where she goes to rest and relax

Catherine Clark is the co-founder of podcast The Honest Talk and president of Catherine Clark Communications (supplied)
Catherine Clark is the co-founder of podcast The Honest Talk and president of Catherine Clark Communications (supplied)
Editor's Note

My Ottawa is an occasional column where we ask local business personalities about their life in the nation’s capital and what they like most about the city.

When Catherine Clark isn’t interviewing influential people or whipping up communication strategies for major corporations, she’s observing the wildlife and enjoying the outdoors in her little rural corner of Ottawa. 

A former OBJ Forty Under 40 recipient, Clark is a well-known broadcaster and writer, as well as the co-founder of the podcast The Honest Talk. She is president of her own communications consultancy firm. 

In this instalment of My Ottawa, Clark lets us in on all that is great about Carp, her favourite Ottawa things to do, and her pick for best conference. 

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What area of the city/region do you live in?

We live on a property in the western part of the city in a slightly rural neighbourhood near Carp that backs onto farmers’ fields and provides us regular sights of deer, coyotes, foxes and sometimes even bears. We also have wild turkeys, but I’m careful what I say about them, because I tend to use bad language when discussing that particular form of wildlife.

What type of car do you drive?

My husband and I have been proud customers of Myers Kanata Chevy/Buick/GMC for the past two decades because of the incredible service they’ve provided to us since we leased our first Ottawa vehicle from them in 2002 – a GMC Suburban at the time. Now I drive a Buick, and the ads that came out a few years ago are right. These are not your grandfather’s Buick!

What’s your favourite part of town?

My favourite part of town is my end of town – mostly because I’m happiest when I’m at home. But it’s also because we have fabulous local gems that make this area unique, like The Cheshire Cat Pub, the Carp Custom Creamery (their ice cream cakes are fabulous!), Ridge Rock Brewing Company (amazing sangria in a can!), Alice’s Village Café, and Eldon’s Pantry (hello Nanaimo bars!). We also have Ottawa Valley Grain Products, the popular local mill where I can buy all-natural flour sourced from local farmers for my baked goods. Alternatively, if you want to buy your groceries at the best organized grocery store in town, come out to Brown’s Independent in Stittsville, no lie. And once you’re done your shopping, you can relax at Mahogany Salon and Spa with a pedicure or body treatment – honestly, what’s not to love about this end of town!?

What is your favourite place to eat in Ottawa?

I am a big fan of Steve Beckta’s trio of restaurants – Play Food & Wine is my go-to lunch spot; Gezellig is where I can meet people half-way; and our family goes to Beckta Dining & Wine itself for important celebrations. But we also love our local Fratelli Kanata, where we feel like we’re eating among old friends – and my daughter and I are big fans of Pure Kitchen.

What is your favourite activity in Ottawa?

What I love most about Ottawa is that you don’t have to choose a favourite activity because there are so many options. We love being outdoors and we’re big skiers. Our kids were part of the racing program at Pakenham for years before our daughter moved to the competitive racing program at Calabogie. We also like to hike – Eagle’s Nest and Manitou Mountain at Calabogie is a great option – or the beautiful trail at the Carp Barrens. We also walk every day in our neighbourhood and back fields and that’s where I cross-country ski and snowshoe throughout the winter months.

But beyond the outdoors, Ottawa is rich with things to do. When my kids were little, we took out a membership at every museum in the area and it’s one of the best things I ever did. Every week for years we visited the Museum of Nature, Museum of History, War Museum, Aviation and Space Museum, Science and Technology Museum, or the National Gallery and they became like second homes. My kids learned a lot and I got a stress-free way to let them burn off steam and have a great time – if you have younger kids, I can’t recommend it enough. 

What’s your favourite local charity or cause?

I’ve been proud to be involved in numerous local charities over the years, so it’s impossible to pick a favourite – there are just too many fabulous organizations doing wonderful work to make our city a better place. However, I am proud to serve on the board of governors of The Ottawa Hospital, a health-care institution that has touched the lives of thousands of Ottawa residents in one way or the other and which is in the process of transforming health care in the region with its major new campus build. I’m also proud of my husband Chad Schella’s involvement with the board and foundation board of Queensway Carleton Hospital. We had our kids there and it holds a special place in my heart for the marvellous work it does to serve our community. And finally – Roger Neilson Children’s Hospice. Roger Neilson was a major influence in my husband’s early life and we moved back to Ottawa so that Chad could help build what was then called Roger’s House from the ground up. The incredible support that organization offers families and kids is just hard to put into words.

What’s your favourite business event or conference in Ottawa?

Well, I am thoroughly biased, but my The Honest Talk co-founder Jennifer Stewart and I are launching the inaugural National THT Women’s Summit in Ottawa on Oct. 4 in the Trillium Ballroom at the Shaw Centre – a full day of conversations and networking with remarkable, inspiring women – I guarantee it’s going to be my favourite event or conference for this year!

What’s your favourite thing about Ottawa?

My family and I love Ottawa because it provides us with the perfect environment in which to live a happy, fulfilled life. This city offers year-round activities, tons of green space, commutable communities, a downtown AND suburbs filled with great restaurants, vibrant arts scenes, great venues and good shopping. And it is filled with decent human beings who work together to try to make it a better place for all, whether that’s through organized charitable activities or just by being good neighbours. Ottawa is a perfect place to call home.

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