Yang Li, photographed in Hintonburg in front of The Ministry of Coffee.
We photograph such a wide variety of people for loveOttawa, all with different backgrounds and unique stories. Art Director, Yang Li, has a very cool story and perspective. As a new immigrant, he moved to Canada from Bejing, China when he was 18. He attended art school in New Brunswick, then landed his first job as a graphic designer in Ottawa. He quickly fell in love with the city. Yang really enjoys the friendliness, the freedoms that living here offers and he loves how Ottawa is progressing as an entrepreneurial city.
You moved to Canada from Beijing when you were 18 to go to school. You could have moved and lived anywhere after school – why did you choose Ottawa, and why did you stay?
“Serendipity brought me to Ottawa. Little did I know, I’d end up falling in love with the city! In the past 10 years, our city has been going through gentrifications, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, and it’s happening at a steady pace. I’m really starting to see a more progressive city and people really do care about supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs. I think this is very important, because they shape the commercial landscape and make Ottawa unique.
As a creative person, I love visiting big cities like New York City, Paris and Helsinki…but I always think to myself, “If everybody moves to the ‘cool’ cities, who will be building and adding to the coolness of our own town?”. Most importantly, in Ottawa I have met so many great friends over the years whom I see as my family.”
Are there any specific things about Ottawa that you love the most?
“I love going to art exhibits at the National Gallery of Canada or watching an old movie surrounded by Mayfair Theatre’s old world charm. The Rockcliffe Parkway is my favourite drive in the city. I also love how close I am to nature, the Rideau Canal, the Ottawa River, city wide trails and paths and Gatineau Park. I adore Lansdowne Park because I believe public spaces play a vital role in creating a sense of community and promote human interaction. We need more urban parks.”
As a creative person, what are your favourite places to spend time? Do you have any favourite restaurants, bars or cafés?
“Ministry of Coffee in Hintonburg is my favourite place to have a morning coffee and kick start my day, but I also like Bridgehead as it’s conveniently located in my building. I like Dosa, Streetside Curry, Flapjack’s and Urban Cowboy food trucks for lunch. I love El Camino on Elgin when I get my taco cravings and I go to Local at Lansdowne if a game is on. The newly opened Belmont in Old Ottawa South has a cool menu for food and drinks. For special occasions, I go to Taylor’s Genuine Food and Wine Bar. They source fresh local ingredients and prepare them with heart.”
As a relatively new resident of Ottawa, are there any hidden gems that you love, that you’d share with someone new to our city or even just visiting?
“Water Plaza, located at the southeast corner of the Great Lawn at Lansdowne Park, is a nice place to hang out with friends or just to read a book. In future, it will be a reflecting pool with the soothing sounds of cascading water from the “uplift” monument. I was there while it was still under construction, so I can say that I got first dibs on those cool multi-tiered continuous benches.”
You like to get around on your long board. Do you use it to commute or is it more for leisure? Where do you love to take it?
“I do the occasional commute to work on my longboard, but I use it mostly for pleasure, a weekend or evening ride along the canal.”