Ottawa’s Crows Nest Barbershop on Wellington Street
Just over a year ago, a Crows Nest Barbershop opened in Ottawa. Already being a fan of Crows Nest as a result of a great visit at their Toronto (Kensington Market) location already 3 years ago, this new shop was on my hit list.
Tonight as a result of our transportation arrangements and a free block of time, I had the luxury to drop in and finally pay them a visit. The shop is located in the lively Westboro neighborhood on Wellington Street. This stretch of the street has numerous shops and restaurants which make it very much like a proper Main street. It’s great to see people being out and about. Westboro is one of those few neighborhoods that have managed to retain that practicality of urban life where things are close and you can walk to them.
The Crows Nest is easy to find with the iconic Barber pole turning proudly. Being a Barbershop enthusiast, what I found inside painted a great big smile on my face. First off, the 4 Barbers on duty each had a patron in their chair while other patrons where waiting for their turn. The shop was done in the purest authentic fashion. You could easily let yourself think that it was 1952. There are distinctive touches everywhere. From practical to humorist, from sentimental to functional. The Barber closest to the door greeted me and made me feel right at home. I explained the nature of my visit and was given free range.
Since my first visit at a Crows Nest was in Toronto, I couldn’t help myself but to make comparisons. For my taste and being a vintage buff, I found the shop to be flat out beautiful. I hope that the pictures do the shop justice. The layout is straight forward, on the left are the Barber workstations and on the right are waiting area and cash. My comparison to the Toronto stopped fairly quickly as I found this shop to have a character of its own and in some way an Ottawa touch to it.
The fact that it is located in Westboro makes perfect sense as there are still spaces with that historic cachet. So much of our city is modernizing with fewer places left to remind us of past beauties. The mood of a Barbershop has everything to do with the Barbers who work there and their personalities. Jason and his crew clearly love what they do and the positive vibe is contagious. By its layout, a Barbershop is a fairly intimate space and the conversations become one and then their own again. Nobody seemed to mind that I was poking around in every corner trying to come up with that perfect shot.
Just like at the Kensington Market location, I was thrilled to see a plethora of hair product brands. Many of my favorites:
The pomade by 19 Fifties Union was among my firsts a number of years back and their new selection in the square cans have been on my wishlist for quite some time. This was a golden opportunity to pick some up. I will feature the Matte Clay and Texturizng Cream in a separate post. (Thank you Jason) BTW – 19 Fifties Union is a Canadian brand and a close relation to the Crows Nest.
Coming back to the touches and accents, the front window lettering and imagery is beautifully hand painted. This feature alone gives the place an incredibly unique and authentic persona. The work was done by Pascale Arpin.
If you expect the Barbershop to be a men-only thing, know up front that there are at least 2 Barber Ladies. I want to think that in this day and age, we are well beyond these gender silos.
While chatting with Jason, the Master Barber, I inquired about the age old question: Do you wash hair? Barbershop and Salon’s generally differ in this respect. The answer was no, but he does cut hair wet. There is a washing station and if this is part of what you want, it is possible.
Staying true to the tradition, you can show up for a cut without an appointment, but the shop also takes appointments to accommodate for busy schedules.
In closing, I totally enjoyed the time I spent at the shop. Everything about the Crows Nest makes it a traditional Barbershop destination. If anything, I am sorry that it took so long to get there. Thank you for having me.