Until 2001, Rockcliffe Park operated as an entity independent from the city, and as such, it retains vestiges of its former self that differentiate it from the rest of Ottawa. The streets are laid out haphazardly; twisting in unorthodox directions, with no through streets and seemingly arbitrary curves and hills. Their arrangement seems to have been based more on the natural geographic features of the underlying landscape, and less on the ease of use of its inhabitants. One residential street splits down the middle and rejoins itself 50 metres later, leaving behind an island of grass, populated with trees and benches for neighbourhood dog-walkers and birdwatchers. One can find many of both roaming the parks, which are well-tended and welcoming to visitors.
Rockcliffe is the most affluent neighbourhood in Ottawa, with the average annual income of its residents double that of the city overall. Many of the homes would be welcome within the pages of Architectural Digest, with parapets and towers and wrought iron gates. There is a private boarding school and several small lakes with restricted access. Stornaway, the home of the leader of the Official Opposition, as well as the residences of many international ambassadors are located here. Kids keep their Fisher Price pedal cars out on their front lawns, adults keep their garage doors open with expensive power tools in clear sight of potential burglars. People here seem to feel safe.
The only looming question is how best to expand, with the most viable and contentious option being to convert the old Canadian Forces Base into a new residential area. Whatever the outcome of the dealings are, Rockcliffe Park will remain one of the most quaint and charming areas of the city.