GEOG 350: Seminar 8 Reading Summary

One of the assignments for the course I’m taking at UBC requires that I lead (with a classmate) a half hour seminar on some of our daily readings. Part of leading the seminar is making sure that other students understand the reading, so a lot of the other students leading seminars over the past couple of weeks have written summaries of the readings we were discussing. Here’s the summary that I wrote for tomorrow’s seminar:

Citation: John Tunbridge. “Ottawa’s Byward Market: A Festive Bone of Contention?” The Canadian Geographer 45(3): 356-370.

Thesis: “The present paper examines its convergence with the festival marketplace model; and the distinct management problem created by increasing valorisation and private appropriation of this public space, causing contention between its different users… recent developments in the Byward Market area are producing a more specific convergence [between Byward and the festival market model], more than any of the various actors have necessarily intended” (357-359).

Definition of “festival marketplace”: “Festival marketplaces… are shopping malls reconfigured for inner-city tourist/leisure use, claiming to have recaptured the traditional social, entertainment and festive roles of market activity… [which] reflects [an] exploitation of an American malady: abandonment of city centres by the middle classes, who might however be tempted back to a nostalgic theme park of urban heritage values of public space, marketplace, festival and waterfront; privatized, sanitized and security enforced. An unresolved tension was created between social mingling, central to those values, and the exclusion of threatening social elements.”

Main arguments:

Tunbridge argues that Byward Market:

  • Has a long history stretching back to the early history of Ottawa, with periods of wide social use, urban blight/decay and gentrification (357-3588)
  • Has been influenced by multiple players (358-359; 364; 368):

o National Capital Commission (NCC)
o Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton
o Province of Ontario
o Department of National Defense
o Byward Market Business Improvement Association (BIA)
o Downtown Rideau Business Improvement Association (BIA)
o Byward Market Village Council

  • Has the following “attractive attributes,” that he claims are “diagnostic features of the festival marketplace.” (See 359-363).

o Heritage commodification
o Waterfront appropriation
o Exotic food focus
o Pushcart/temporary stall vending
o Entertainment
o Festival events

  • Has the following “control characteristics,” that he claims are also “diagnostic features of the festival marketplace.” (See 364-366).

o Management integration
o Spatial demarcation
o Temporal consistency
o Privatization of space
o Security

  • All the above characteristics are contested by various actors with different interests, as well as different conceptions of space and changing technological and infrastructure conditions (366-368).


Tunbridge concludes that:

  • His paper demonstrated Byward Market’s “convergence with key attributes and control characteristics” of the “festival marketplace model” (368).
  • Byward Market also has attributes similar to “the traditional public market which anchored the city’s foundation” (368).
  • Gentrification and up-scaling of retail types is problematic, since social exclusion has the potential to marginalize some users of public space (368).
  • That it is difficult to generalize about whether Byward Market (and other markets) actually fit into the “festival market” definition, because of local context and rapidly changing cities.
  • “Nonetheless, Byward Market holds lessons for others in the contemporary Canadian market scene: if it is a ‘festive bone of contention’, it is surely not alone” (369).

Here are two maps that Tunbridge included in his paper:

This entry was posted in Economy, Education, Events, Historic Sites, Ottawa, Public Space, Research, University Courses. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to GEOG 350: Seminar 8 Reading Summary

  1. Pingback: Geog 350: Wrap-Up « Vincent's Victoria

  2. Pingback: Geog 350: Intoduction to Urban Geography | Vincent's Victoria

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