For decades the city was defined in part by its football team — the Rough Riders — but that name now belongs to Saskatchewan, which means the new team, set to debut in 2014, needs a new moniker.
The team's official shortlist includes, the Red Blacks, the Nationals, the Raftsmen, the Voyageurs and the Rush. Jeff Hunt, a partner in the CFL team, says the naming process has drawn in thousands of fans.
"What's interesting is the passion around a names, it's not like people throw out the name lightly," said Hunt. "They have great explanations and rationale and even ideas of what a logo could look like and that's been extremely encouraging."
Hunt said whatever the team is called, he understands that not everyone will like it — at first.
"Maybe in the beginning it's not going to roll off the tongue, but I think over time we're going to find a brand that the community will be proud of and support," he said.
For weeks now dozens of people have been involved in focus groups helping the team come up with a name that will be made official this spring.
Downstream, an American design and technology consultancy, is conducting the focus groups. Its creative director Alex Davidhazy says everything from history, language and political sensitivities were explored.
"I like to think of a name and brand as an empty glass," said Davidhazy. "It's a vessel that's going to be invested in and given meaning to over time...and you want to make sure that who you say you are, is in line with who you actually are."
On the streets of downtown Ottawa Thursday there was no clear majority, but just for fun, CBC's graphic artist came up with a few logo ideas — none of them official, but they do whet the appetite.