CommunityEntertainment feature

10 Questions with Gabriel Yorke, Ottawa’s Local TikToker on the Rise

As a local TikTok creator, Gabriel Yorke showcases Ottawa in all its quirks and quibbles in his unique comedic style.

If you’ve ever fallen down the Tik Tok rabbit hole you might be familiar with Gabriel’s videos set to scenic views of our city.

You’re currently a student at Carleton University, what are you studying, and why did you choose this path?

I began my ‘academic career’ as a student in Environmental Engineering, and I actually hold the record in my family for the longest time in an engineering program…. One week! (Laughs) I realized that I wasn’t as interested in the field as I had thought, so I switched to the Business program because it was much broader. Once I switched, I was so much happier and more engaged in what I was learning. I think that is partially due to the fact that I can apply what I’m learning to my everday life. I’m glad I made the switch, and as a bonus, the program has a much less intense schedule than engineering, which gives me more time to make TikToks!

When did you start getting into content creation? What was a defining moment for you when you really decided to go for it?

I’ve been making videos since I was a wee lad! I, like many other kids at the age of 8 years old, went through the whole ‘making Minecraft videos for YouTube’ phase. Eventually, the content transitioned to a workout and fitness focus and I would post exercise and training videos. This transition happened when I was about 14 or 15 years old, because I was trying to get noticed by scouts for hockey. Long story short, the videos did not do that well. I think my only viewers were my mom, my dad, and my dog. It was my mom who suggested that I switch to TikTok to post my videos, and on January 1st, 2021, I created my TikTok account and posted my first TikTok. Now, this was not the first time I had downloaded the app. About a year earlier, I had found that I’d been spending way too much time on TikTok and subsequently deleted it, swearing to never open it again.

I have actually kept that promise to this day. When I redownloaded TikTok and decided to post my first video, I swore to myself that I wouldn’t fall down the rabbit hole of spending 5 hours + a day scrolling through content. I would simply be a creator, not a consumer.

A defining moment in my ‘career’ as a creator came when I posted my first video about Ottawa in July of 2021. Looking back on it, I have absolutely no idea what possessed me to make this video. But legend has it I mentioned something about “5 reasons why Ottawa was rated the most boring city in Canada” and it got a million views in 2 days. I decided to see where I could go with that.

Photo by Sean Sisk

Growing up, were there any people who inspired you (that you know personally or only through media/ internet) that influenced you?

I tend to get a lot of my comical inspiration from my idols, like Ryan Reynolds or Dave Chappelle, who I think have nailed the art of comedy. Alternatively, I find great inspiration from my mother. She has an incredible work ethic, one that I try to recreate every day. She’s routinely up at 5–sometimes 4–in the morning doing the stuff she needs to get done but she never ever says she’s tired. She is also the most helpful and loving person I have ever encountered. She could have just pulled a 10-hour work day after being up at 4 in the morning, and would still come out with me to the frigid winter streets of Ottawa late at night to hold the camera while I try to convince her that the stuff I’m saying is funny. She, like my dad and my sister, is very supportive and understands what I’m trying to do. She will help me come up with ideas for videos or help me work on the script of what I’m going to say. On top of being an absolute machine when it comes to work, she is also the most motivating person I know. How many other people have heard their mother say “I’m disappointed you didn’t make a TikTok today son” at 8pm on a Tuesday night?

What do you like the most about TikTok as a platform? What is one of the most surprising challenges about making content?

I really enjoy the fact that what I post to the internet can be shared by millions of people who can all enjoy and laugh at it the same way I do. I also love it when people come up to me in the street or at school and tell me how much they enjoy watching my content and that I made them laugh. I was never a popular kid in high school, so this kind of popularity is new to me. One of the most surprising challenges is trying to come up with ideas for my videos… that, or trying to combat Ottawa’s cold in the dead of winter. Seriously…a pair of thin gloves may be okay if you’re waiting at the bus stop, but when you’re standing outside for hours trying to wait for the perfect moment to say lines? That requires something a little more insulated.

What are your goals for your channel and for your career?

I hope I can take this all the way. God willing, I can make a career out of this and make people laugh for my entire life. Getting into the acting world would also be a dream come true and is also what inspires me to make these videos. I like to think of my TikTok account as a 21st century resume for anyone to see. My short-term goals, however, include getting to 100,000 followers and posting twice a week. Posting twice a week doesn’t seem like that daunting of a task, but when you’re also in university being plagued with assignments and midterms it can become quite a struggle.

What advice do you have for anyone aspiring to start their own channel?

Just start. Start today. You can think about how you will go about it for days/for months/for years but it doesn’t matter if you never actually begin. Perhaps the most important aspect of creating content for me has been trying to figure out who I am and staying true to that person online. Being yourself behind the camera will make the entire process exponentially more enjoyable.

Is it hard to put yourself out there in public?

It was at first. It did, and still does, take a lot of convincing and self-motivation for me to film these public videos. But overtime, I’ve gotten more comfortable with putting myself out there and being myself. Thankfully, I have never been camera shy which has helped me be more comfortable making these videos.

What do you like most about Ottawa? Any favourite spots or recommendations?

I like the scenery. At its heart it is a very pretty city. It’s filled with colour and great architecture and not-so-crowded streets.

You recently hosted the 2023 Ottawa Awards Red Carpet on February 18th at the Shaw Centre. What was it like?

It was so much fun! One of the things I enjoy most about interviewing people is getting to hear the stories of people who I wouldn’t normally get the chance to speak to. And I spoke to a lot of people while hosting the red carpet. I spoke so much that the next day I did not have a voice. Picture me going up to customers in the footwear department at SportChek with a voice that sounds like I had been coughing for 16 hours straight asking them if they needed help finding shoes. Yes…this happened… for 8 hours…the day after hosting the red carpet.

Lastly, what’s next for you?

To be honest, I’m not sure. If you were to have told me five years ago that I’d be posting TikToks instead of playing hockey in the NHL, I would have probably broken down and cried. Also, for the longest time I thought I would go through university studying to be an engineer, but I quickly changed my mind once I got there. All this to say I have no idea what tomorrow may bring. I hope I can keep making these videos, making people laugh and ideally making people’s days just a little bit better because it is what I enjoy doing!


Photography by Sean Sisk

Related posts

Amsted Design-Build is Building for the Future

Architecture and construction are like Steven Barkhouse and Kirk Haw, co-founders of Amsted…
Read more

The Passing of Former NHL and Ottawa 67’s Tough Guy Chris Simon

Former NHL enforcer and Ottawa 67 Chris Simon, one of the toughest customers of his generation, has…
Read more

Gail Sala: From Refresh To Innovative Design

Gail Sala is in the “refresh business.” Fifteen years ago, the personable Sala negotiated…
Read more