Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ottawa in October

“IT IS OCTOBER 17, 2006. A cold rain is falling in a slant along Wellington Street, the lights from cars moving past Parliament Hill washing yellow down toward the parkway along the Ottawa River. It is nasty and miserable and those of us hurrying along the sidewalk are in danger of being splashed from the side as well as having our umbrellas ripped inside out from behind. We are heading this wretched night, heads bowed, collars tight to the chin, to the National Library to hear a panel discussion on what exactly makes a Canadian.

“True story.”

-From
Canadians, Chapter Two, “A Canadian Is…”
by Roy MacGregor

IT’S OCTOBER 17, 2008. This Friday night in Ottawa is crisp and clear and cheery. Happy Canadians, strolling, smiling and laughing, abound on Wellington Street. Parliament Hill’s street lights illuminate Peace Tower—the Maple Leaf lording over Timbit Nation—and reflect off the Rideau Canal, which feeds into the Ottawa River. North, across the watery border and into Gatineau, Quebec, the scene is also serene. Twenty-two kilometers west-southwest, in Kanata, the Ottawa Senators are trouncing the visiting Phoenix Coyotes.

Perfect conditions for conducting espionage. My mission, however, is not yet as clear as the weather; my superior has not yet provided details, only a general directive: Observe. Remember. Wait.

Saturday is another bedazzling day. After a brisk two-hour walk with Fort Collins’s Mr. Hockey (a.k.a. my dad), a hearty lunch, and then a briefing with my wife (a.k.a. The AMHL Photographer), my anonymous superior reveals details. I’m to identify Ottawa’s favorite donut and the city’s favorite Senator. I leave the safe house and return to Wellington Street.

True story (pretty much).

Of the thirteen Canadians I interrogate, two politely decline to answer questions and are released on their own recognizance. The others supply conflicting information: Two select the Old Fashion Plain as their favorite. Everyone else picks a different donut. All but one prefers Tim Hortons over any other donut supplier; the lone exception is vendor-agnostic: She prefers a Honey Cruller, no matter the manufacturer.

Of these eleven respondents, two don’t follow hockey; so I augment my findings about Ottawa’s favorite Senator with additional interviews and information provided by double agents. Two Ottawans select Chris Neil as their favorite Senator. Every one else picks a different player.

In the next week, I’ll release details of these conversations. But for now, do we conclude that the Old Fashioned Plain and Chris Neil are Ottawa’s favorites?
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