Ottawa Guide: Vintage Finds

It’s a city full of history, landmarks, museums and national monuments – but beyond the paperback travel guides’ list of historical must-sees in Ottawa, there is an emerging culture of vintage seekers looking to preserve the city’s past in more tangible ways. For a unique Ottawa experience with a flair for all things retro, plan a stop at these city favourites.

What to do

Mayfair Theatre

1074 Bank Street

This picture house originally opened in 1932 and has kept its doors open ever since, making it the oldest movie theatre in the city. Even the concession stand holds some vintage history. A new addition to the theatre itself, the space was once a penny store where neighbourhood kids would stop by to fill up little brown bags with penny candy before heading to the theatre for serials after school. The theatre showcases everything from new releases to indie films, cult classics and the occasional vintage flick projected from 35mm film. Be sure to look for the row of original seats in the upper level and take in this historic theatre’s ultimate charm.

Where to shop

Wiseman + Cromwell

548 Gladstone Avenue; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Fri and Sat), 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Sun) 

Vintage eclectic meets minimalist in this epically curated showroom set in a historic walk-up in Ottawa’s Centretown neighbourhood. Liane Eng, owner of Wiseman + Cromwell, has designed a visual palette of vintage decor that retains a modern aesthetic. From gold and glass barware to pastel art prints and mid-century modern upholstery, Wiseman + Cromwell takes the search work out of finding quality vintage homeware while preserving all its delicate charm.

Bellwethers Vintage

9 Florence Street

This pristine vintage shop is run by Maddison and Carol Kelly, a mother-daughter duo who curate a collection of truly authentic vintage pieces. Many of the shop’s treasures are tokens of Ottawa history from the wardrobes of women who lived in the city throughout iconic fashion eras; pieces like a 1970’s Christian Dior trench coat and a custom-made Burberry cloak from the 1940’s. Also be sure to check out the homeware goods part of the Found Objects collaboration pop-up.

Where to eat

Chesterfield’s Gastro Diner

1433 Wellington Street, closes at 2 p.m. daily

Designed with the intention of casual dining and soul-filling comfort food, each table at this gastro diner offers chesterfield seating – a Canadian nickname for the American sofa.  As part of their effort to remain ethical and environmental, along with their “not-so-greasy-spoon” cooking philosophy, Chesterfield’s Gastro Pub has pulled from preloved decor to fill their cozy space. Snuggle up on one of their velvety chesterfields and chow down on a Veggie Benny and Kingsley Potato Cakes, Steak and Hash or Air-Fried Chicken and Waffles on any morning of the week.