Store Feature: Hog’s Back, Ottawa
The Ontario sector of the cannabis industry is a popular topic across Canada and maybe even beyond. Retailers are both excited and fortunate to be opening locations in this province. Among these is a Spiritleaf location, now open in the district called Hog’s Back. This urban nature park in Ottawa was developed in the 1950s and currently occupies an area of over 20.8 hectares. The park features impressive waterfalls, a dam, picnic areas, historical displays, hiking trails, etc.
True to our manifesto, this location is locally owned and operated by some proud residents who have a long history with the district. Find out more about the attributes of the area and about this store owner’s participation in the cannabis community, in his own words below.
1. What is your name and professional background?
My name is Rich and I’m an IT consultant who worked most of his life in Ottawa.
2. Where is your store located?
This Spiritleaf store can be found at 7-888 Meadowlands Drive East, Ottawa, in Hog’s Back.
Hog’s Back Park and Mooney’s Bay are iconic landmarks in Ottawa’s west end. It is a busy but beautiful waterway that attracts all kinds of visitors from tourists to active locals and families. It’s a park you have to visit at all times of the year to truly appreciate everything it has to offer. In the spring, when the melt comes off Money’s Bay, the falls and river are a torrent. The crash can be deafening. The mornings in the summer are a Zen and centring contrast to the busy visitors and boating traffic of the rest of the day. The walk from Moneys Bay and down through the park in the fall is always stunning. Winter’s frozen falls continually change, throwing up jagged spines and carving smooth icy troughs. The park gets spanned by the parallel lines left by cross country skiers and the screams can regularly be heard from the big sled hill.
I grew up spending many hot summer days at Mooney’s Bay with my family and later I found my way back as a university student living in the Prince of Wales apartment buildings. I crossed the locks every morning on my walk down the canal to class and paid for my education working as a waiter in the Hog’s Back plaza and a bartender across the Hog’s Back Bridge at Ralph’s Marina. I knew the area from my youth and still drive through it every day on my way downtown.
We scoured the whole city for a location. I love that the one we chose was one that has already given me so much.
3. Why did you choose to open a Cannabis retail storefront?
A couple of reasons really.
My brother, Andre, lived with MS his whole life and was proud to have had one of the first medical marijuana licenses in Canada. The cannabis had a huge impact on his quality of life and I enjoyed being part of his community of support. The smoking was getting hard on Andre’s lungs so friends or my mom and sister used to come over and make canna-butter or infused olive oil. Then we would make batches of muffins and cookies. I even adapted my grandma’s fudge recipe into an infused chocolatey treat. It was just his normal and ours. I’m not a cannabis activist by any stretch but I’m pretty thankful it was available to help Andre out.
The other reason I’m getting into this is fourteen years ago, my son Jack was born and he brought a really cool adventure with him when we found out he has Down’s syndrome. He’s a teenager approaching adulthood and like any parent, we want to make sure he succeeds in life. We noticed other parents in Jack’s peer group seemed to have a common concern for where and how our kids would live as they become adults and beyond. Ontario and Canada have great supports for kids with special needs throughout their lives, but we have pretty high standards and wanted to make sure Jack and his friends had the best opportunities.
When Ontario announced the first lottery, I spoke to a few other parents and friends and thought it would be an “interesting” solution for supporting the kids – we all had different relationships with cannabis over the years, but nothing that qualified us as pot activists or connoisseurs. Another parent and I began to dig deeper and then some other friends and family started giving their energy to the idea. Soon I had the better part of a team sending me copies of their CannSell certificates – our origin story had begun.
After the romantic notion of the idea wore off, we began the mad rush to educate ourselves, find a partner and location. A few years and two lotteries later here we are.
We know that we have found not only a solid solution to support the kids but a meaty challenge we could really give ourselves to and share with our Hog’s Back community. The idea has attracted some pretty interesting people. Each with different, and in some cases, quite outlandish skills. Their energy is infective and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.
4. What attracted you to Spiritleaf?
It was pretty obvious that I was going to work with Spiritleaf soon after we started engaging with them. Not only did their store’s simple elegance call to me through their warm atmosphere and a general sense of Zen, but it also blended well with tech and that spoke to my inner geek.
Beyond the great team of people I connected with at Spiritleaf, the fact that they reach back into cannabis culture and speak of supporting their communities in their manifesto reminds me of the support my brother got from his community.
We know where we come from and our authenticity extends from the motivation of the people who have come before us.
– Spiritleaf Manifesto
5. Other interesting facts about you that the public should know?
I love “arting” and doing public art is by far my favourite. I get all giddy and distracted when it snows and can be found harvesting the white treasure from my neighbour’s lawns and driveways at some point during the winter. When the winter gives up the ghost and I’m not sculpting at 2 am during a snow squall, the mounds of snow on my front and back yard are replaced with mounds of sand. I’ve been known to spend 12 hours a day playing in the sand on holiday down south.
I do ink and clay as well but they just don’t have that scary vulnerable feeling you get when you take on a challenge beyond your skills with a temporary medium like sand and snow. The risk of failure is half the fun and the biggest reward is taking the chance that you can make what was once impossible, come to life.
#create #ontarioartist #sandsculpture
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