Archive for May, 2012

Urban Myths of Ottawa: Mussie, the Lake Monster of Cobden

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By Adam Slight

There is something about dragons, sea creatures, and giant monsters that captivates the imagination. Bigfoot, the Kraken, and Loch Ness Monster are mysteries that will always hold a grip on our collective curiosities.

Like many others, I was obsessed with dinosaurs at a young age. Not only was their sheer size an object of fascination for me, but I was also completely hooked by the weird uncanny feeling that indeed, these bizarre and awesome creatures once walked the Earth.

It is no wonder then that there are so many myths about prehistoric beasts that continue to walk the planet. While it is true that the woolly mammoth only went extinct only 5000 years ago, many believe that dinosaur-like monsters from millions of years ago persist to this day. The Loch Ness monster is one popular example. It is also believed by some that a jungle in the Congo escaped the Ice Age and is subsequently the current home of “Mokele-mbembe”—A modern dinosaur capable of “stopping rivers” and eating hippos and elephants.

Mussie, Cobden’s Bane

But the Ottawa Valley has its own pre-historic killer. If you’re at all familiar with rural Ottawa, then you’ve probably heard of Mussie—the giant serpentine creature of the Muskrat Lake, just outside of Cobden, ON. Mud trout beware!

One artist managed to get Mussie to sit still long enough to create this flattering sketch of the shy beast.

Some witnesses describe Mussie as a 25-foot long, serpent-like creature with three eyes that towers over its prey before going in for the kill. It is long, sleek, and scaly, with flippers to help it move through the murky depths.

Throughout the 1970s and 80s many witnesses came forward describing fins and humps cutting the surface of the lake—the fins and humps of a vicious lake-born killer! Apparently Mussie was even caught on film and studied by skeptical scientists. In 1988, enthusiast Michael Bradley performed a sonar survey of Muskrat Lake in hopes of locating the creature. He located…something…that he believes was Mussie.

Old Man Seymore was a simple God-fearing fisherman with an apparently delicious dog.

In the 1930s a local fisherman allegedly vowed to take down Mussie after the creature supposedly devoured the man’s beloved dog. The fisherman died filled with regrets, as Mussie probably picked its teeth with the dog’s bones.

Some say that Samuel de Champlain learned of the creature from the Algonquin natives when he travelled through the area (of course, there is no actual documented account of this). Propagating this myth, the Village of Cobden actually featured a sign at the entrance of the village displaying Champlain overlooking Muskrat Lake, with the three-eyed Mussie poking its head from the water.

Muskrat Lake was formed about 10 000 years ago when the glaciers of the last ice age receded. Eventually the Champlain Sea dried up, and Muskrat Lake was all that remained. It is believed that Mussie was once a prehistoric creature who inhabited the Champlain Sea.

Of course, modern accounts of Mussie have changed. Many, including Bradley, think that Mussie is just a large seal-like mammal living at the bottom of the lake.

And now I will issue a challenge. I will give 1 million dollars to the one who can bring me Mussie’s head so I can mount the retched beast on my wall.

 

 

Month in Review: Top 5 Articles from May

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Can you believe it’s almost summer? As we all eagerly await June and the summer ahead, let’s look back on our most popular articles from the month of May:

8 Strange Objects You May Find at the Great Glebe Garage Sale

by: Adam Slight

The Great Glebe Garage Sale is a treasure trove of strange and wonderful objects for sale. Here is a list of obscure objects you may find!

 

 

Three Ottawa Businesses That Would Make ‘the Donald’ Smile

by: Brian Clarke

These three business started as little local establishments and have since grown to put Ottawa business on the map.

 

 

Ottawa Too Immature for Sex Ed; Giggles at Naked Pictures

by: Adam Slight

Angry Ottawa residents force travelling sex ed exhibit to increase minimum age of attendance. Sexual health isn’t a priority here apparently.

 

 

The Rickshaw Retrospective: That Time I Was Almost Raped, Robbed, and Murdered on Canada Day

by: Adam Slight

Adam’s most harrowing rickshaw story tells of the time he went face-to-face with some of Ottawa’s worst villains.

 

Skycrapers in Ottawa – Are we reaching too high?

by: Brian Clarke

As the plans for the new tallest building in Ottawa are revealed, we ask whether you think tall buildings are a good thing in Ottawa.

5 Ways to Get Wet in Ottawa

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By Adam Slight

Just a month ago I was predicting a frosty summer, and expected we’d be sun-bathing in our cars at this time. The climate proved me wrong in a big way this week (not that I’m complaining!) While it wasn’t long ago that we were begging for this heat, I know that anyone who lacks an air conditioner at home is now desperate for ways to cool off. What better way to chill than to dip into some nice cool water.

Here are 5 ways to get wet (and beat the heat) in Ottawa.

Kanata Wave Pool:

When I was a kid I would beg my parents to take me to the Kanata Wave Pool in the summer. I was an avid swimmer, so the giant waves would captivate my imagination and make me feel like I was the sole survivor of a shipwreck, swept off to sea. I would battle the massive waves and let the current wash me out to the deep end. Then I would climb to shore and realize that my shorts had been tugged off in the undertow. And all the kids would laugh.

And I’d cry.

Ottawa’s Beaches:

The beach is usually the first body of water one would consider to cool off at, and Ottawa has a number of nice beaches. My favourite is Mooney’s Bay beach, which is probably Ottawa’s most centrally located beach, just of off Hogs Back. Be sure to check the health advisory before you go, just in case the City of Ottawa has decided to dump a million gallons of raw sewage into our water, and to make sure there aren’t any traces of Nuclear waste either. Also be sure to wear sunscreen, as it is easy to get a sun burn after you’ve had a beer or three (who said anything about beer? I did.)

Calypso:

The Ottawa area has recently been blessed with this world-class water park. The lines may be huge, but the waterslides are insane. If you don’t mind driving about an hour east of the city with some friends on a Saturday, then this is a prime location for a fun day of beating the heat and beating up the person in front of you in line.

Logos Land:

If Calypso is a bit too intense, busy, and expensive for your blood, then you might want to check out Logos Land, which is about an hour west of Ottawa. This park is distinguished by its “life-sized” Noah’s Ark located at its gates. The park features water slides, paddle boats, mini-putt and a giant water trampoline on the lake. This is a very family-friendly spot if you’re up for a road trip, but really, who couldn’t have fun with water slides and trampolines.

City-Run Pools:

Ottawa has a number of city-run public pools that are often overlooked in the summer (I really don’t know anyone who has attended these pools other than myself.) I used to attend one in the Merivale/Meadowlands area that charged something like a dollar for admittance. The pools are big, feature some awesome diving boards, lots of shade, and picnic tables to eat at. I visited one of these pools after a long day pulling a rickshaw. I took my shirt off to get in the pool revealing a very dramatic farmer’s tan. Then a bunch of 11 year olds shouted to me from across the pool, “NICE SHIRT!”

And I cried.

In the comments below, share some of your favourite water-related summer spots with us! What did we miss?

7 Spots to Enjoy “Just a Glass of Wine” in Ottawa

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By Holly Bruns

There are times when a wino may want a glass of wine; not a bottle, just a glass. Perhaps said wino is drinking alone and doesn’t want to look like an alcoholic, or may be dining with company, and while the delicate sole in lemon sauce is calling, everyone else at the table wants the hearty osso bucco. Maybe it’s just the desire to try something different, or wine schizophrenia may have set in.

It used to be that if you ate in a restaurant and wanted a modest, lone glass of wine you had to settle for the ‘house’ wine. It’s possible this was a carefully selected bottle, but more often it was cheap swill that could be marked up for profit, or offerings of what was left languishing in the cellar in order to move product. Either way it was a limited selection of choice: red or white. For those of us who occasionally like to have a glass or two, it was a dark, sad time.

Happily, times are changing; the day of the glass of wine has arrived. Consumers are more wine-savvy these days and drinkers are more open to experimenting at the dinner table with wine and food pairings. Establishments are likewise putting effort into their wines-by-the-glass offerings.

Here are a few favourites around town:

Play Food and Wine

(1 York Street): has it all – atmosphere, great food, changing selection.

Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro

(54 York Street): is good for the sheer volume of choice and variety of price.

107 Fourth Avenue Wine Bar and Cafè

(107-4th Avenue): always has a few interesting gems by the glass.

Petit Bill’s Bistro

(1293 Wellington Street West): has a diverse Ontario selection, and is a comfortable spot to belly up to the bar.

Taylor’s Genuine Wine and Food Bar

(1091 Bank Street): offers changing features along with wine flight tastings.

Murray Street

(110 Murray Street): has both variety and glass size selection, as well as Madeira by the glass.

Von’s Bistro

(819 Bank Street): is good for the cozy neighbourhood atmosphere and changing feature wines.

Holly Bruns is an accredited sommelier with degrees from Algonquin College and the Wine Spirits & Education Trust. She lives in Ottawa and is the drinking force behind the successful blog: Wine Out Loud.

8 Strange Objects You May Find at the Great Glebe Garage Sale

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By Adam Slight

In case you weren’t aware, The Great Glebe Garage Sale is upon us (tomorrow in fact!). If you live in the Glebe, now is your chance get some money for that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bed sheet and comforter set that you insisted was a collector’s item on Kijiji and Ebay. If you don’t live in the Glebe, now is your opportunity to acquire some rare Ninja Turtle bedding.

You see, the Great Glebe Garage Sale is just what it sounds like: A giant yard sale that basically covers the whole of The Glebe (Bank St, just south of the Queensway). Residents turn their front lawns into market-places, and bargain-hunters flock from far and wide to treasure-hunt.

What treasures will you find at The Great Glebe Garage Sale? Check out our list of 8 Strange Objects You May Find at the Great Glebe Garage Sale (If you live in The Glebe, it should read “8 Strange Objects You Should Sell at the Great Glebe Garage Sale”).

Jumanji on VHS

If I remember correctly, this movie was pretty cool. You have Robin Williams doing his usual thing, and you had rhinos messing up the town, the kid grows a monkey tail, a colonial hunter starts shooting at everyone, and there’s a sad part where the girl (Kirsten Dunst?) gets poisoned from a venomous plant. You may be able to find this, or many other VHS classics, for like 25 cents at the Great Glebe Garage Sale. These are perfect to play in the VHS player that will likely also be available. Don’t expect the tapes to be fully rewound though (Remember rewinding tapes?!?!)

Odd Cold War Relics

When the Berlin Wall fell, the USSR was ended. What the world lost in communist super-powers, it gained in ironic kitschy paraphernalia. See if you can find a KGB flask, or a hammer-and-sickle-adorned furry hat, or hell, even a disarmed submarine mine. Celebrate capitalism’s victory over the Red Menace by purchasing a little piece of the Motherland for your work cubicle.

Cool Hats

Hats are the last vestiges protecting our heads from the sun and unruly winds, and are (I am told) the only things that prevent us from growing 15 feet tall. The Great Glebe Garage will likely present a wide array of cool hats for your choosing, possibly including Viking helms, collapsible top hats, propeller caps, and 30lbs hats made of granite and marble. That last one may be a stretch, but I’ll give you 10 bucks if you find one.

Rare Gems

Last year I was pulling my rickshaw at the Great Glebe Garage Sale. A 4-year-old boy was selling shiny rocks that he clearly dug out of his backyard. He courageously shouted to me asking if I’d like to buy his rocks. When I inquired about the cost, he said that a baggie of rocks was $2.00. I asked if he had change for a 5, which he did. I am now the proud owner of a Ziploc bag full of rocks.

Old Clues to Dark Secrets

In books and movies characters often find old treasure maps, forgotten keys, and cursed relics at garage sales. These can often lead to long-lost secrets like pirate booty hidden in Old Man Wilson’s cellar, solutions to intergalactic conflicts, and incriminating evidence against overly-comfortable war criminals. Given that The Great Glebe Garage Sale is hundreds of garage sales rolled into one, the odds of finding one such item is heightened. Show up early and get a head start looking for dark and foreboding objects, eerily placed among the common goods.

Dusty Things for Hipsters

If you’re a hipster in the Glebe, you’ve probably been waiting for this day like it was Christmas. You’d better hit the sales early because you’ll be up against hundreds of other hipsters looking for ironic granny clothes to increase your Hipster Cred Factor Level (HCFL). If you already have a strong wardrobe of fur coats, ill-fitting paisley pants, and silly old shades, don’t worry! There is other awkward, nostalgic, and tacky stuff that you can buy for your apartment including: Old records, comic books, string instruments, dime novels, and novelty singing fish for your wall (that could be hip!) If this still fails to peak your interest, American Apparel is just a bus ride away.

Old Fixer-Upper Furniture

If you’re looking for some new furniture, there is no more frugal way to do it than to buy somebody else’s junk for refurbishment. Of course, you want to make sure that you are getting something that is perfect for your needs, or else you’ll end up with a huge pile of junk, and you’ll be selling it next year at the Great Barrhaven Garage Sale (does not exist).

Rickshaw Rides

Say whaaat?! So it turns out Ottawa Rickshaws will be present at The Great Glebe Garage Sale! Not only does this mean we will be providing our signature awesome rickshaw rides, but we will also be available to help you lug all your stuff to your car (because you’re going to park your car. Seriously, why do people insist on driving around the Glebe, blocking up streets and buying things from their vehicles?) Just keep your eyes open—You’ll see us around!

 

Three Ottawa Businesses That Would Make ‘the Donald’ Smile

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by: Brian Clarke

When you think of local Ottawa businesses, what comes to mind?  For me, it’s the Byward Market, Sparks Street, Westboro and the Glebe. However, local business is much more than the little shops and niche stores.

At Ottawa Rickshaws, we are passionate about this local business scene.  In fact, we started (or are in the process of starting), the Rickshaw Media Group to use our advertising space, knowledge of Ottawa and passion for local business to promote the Ottawa businesses.

Most people think of Montreal and Toronto as the business centers of Eastern Canada. But, there have been a few local businesses that have developed into large companies, with well known and liked brands.  And no, I’m not talking about Cognos and Corel and Ottawa’s tech industry (although they probably would be Trump-approved business)!

For all you with entrepreneurial spirits out there, maybe this can motivate you to help continue following your dreams and growing Ottawa businesses and the local economy. Let’s make ‘the Donald’ proud!

Here are three Ottawa businesses that have gone ‘big time’. I’m sure there are more, but these are probably the most well-known brands that have their roots right here in the Nation’s Capital.

Giant Tiger

The first ever Giant Tiger was opened up on George Street in the Byward Market in 1961 – and it’s still there now!  Its founder, Gordon Reid, noticed the lack of discount stores in Canada and founded Giant Tiger.  Today, his stores have grown to include over 200 locations spread across Canada. It is the largest Canadian-owned retailer and third largest discount store in Canada, after Wal-Mart and Zellers.

Lone Star Texas Grill

Born in Houston, Texas, Val Belcher loved his fajitas, but when he moved to Ottawa to play professional football for the Rough Riders, he noticed that this delicious Texas treat was unheard of in Canada.  After his football career ended, Val and one of his former teammates opened the first Lone Star Texas Grill on Baseline Road in 1986.  Lone Star has since spread across Ottawa and Southern Ontario, and more importantly, brought the word ‘fajita’ to Ottawa.

Farm Boy

Although Farm Boy has yet to spread outside of Eastern Ontario, it has still quickly become of the most successful and well-known local businesses. The first Farm Boy was opened in 1981 in nearby Cornwall and has since grown to include thirteen locations, including one as far away as Kingston.  Maybe Farm Boy is the next local business to sweep across Canada?

There are certainly other local businesses that I’m sure I’ve left out.  Maybe the Works? Or Gabriel’s Pizza? What are your thoughts and feelings on these, and other, local businesses that put Ottawa business on the map?

What’s Happening in Ottawa This Week? (May 21-28)

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Featured Event:

The Great Glebe Garage Sale:

Saturday, May 26:

The Great Glebe Garage sale has brought hundreds of Glebe residents together to sell their odds in ends from their homes since the 1980s. This year’s Great Glebe Garage sale promises to be the biggest yet. Come for a peruse in the Glebe neighborhood this Saturday and see what treasures you can find. Remember, come early because the best stuff disappears quickly!

Rickshaws will be in attendance!

Other Events:

Gatineau BeerFest:

Is there anything left to say? Its a festival for beer. Make sure to come on a full stomach (although I’m sure there is food there too).

May 25-27

Ottawa Race Weekend:

Come support the tens of thousands of runners in this world-class marathon hosted in Ottawa.

May 26-27

The Gloucester Fair:

May 24-27

Bring your family to the Gloucester Fair and enjoy all the excitement and fun that a fair brings in the summer!

Ottawa Too Immature for Sex Ed; Giggles at Naked Pictures

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By Adam Slight

Last Wednesday I read a newspaper article in the Ottawa Citizen entitled “No Sex, Please – Its Ottawa.” I felt the jab in the headline, but also expected to read about another “stick-up-the-ass” Ottawa moment that makes national news every so often. As it turns out, my expectations were correct.

This time the victim is an adolescent sexuality exhibit called “Sex: A Tell-all Exhibition,” geared towards teens in an effort to educate them about the zany and confusing world of sexuality that they are about to face as they go through puberty. Yes, the exhibit contains real life nudity, and yes, maybe even condoms, but that is sexuality. The intention is to make sure teens are better armed with information when they inevitably face their own sexuality.

The exhibit has been on tour throughout Canada, and has been met with general praise in Canada’s major cities, especially from parents. It opened yesterday in Ottawa at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, and Ottawans have already raised a stink about it. Many Ottawans seem to think that an exhibit about sexuality geared towards teens holds too mature a subject matter for most teens to actually witness. The museum received over 50 complaint letters before opening the exhibit, and they were forced to raise the minimum age for attendees from 12 to 16.

That’s stupid.

I grew up in the Catholic School system, and even they started teaching us about sex and reproduction by grade 3 (that’s about age 8). Sure, it didn’t involve condoms,

St. Gaviel, my sex-ed teacher in Catholic school

and was restricted to husbands and wives, but that’s a start. It still included pictures of naked people, which at the time we thought were hilarious. Nobody was petitioning the school board arguing that it was too young for us to learn about it.

I also recall in the same school system that some of my peers were having sex by grade 7 (that’s about age 12). I’m sure those who were petitioning this exhibit would argue that they were having sex at this age because they had been exposed to sexuality through the media, were hyper-sexualized youngsters and just wanted to imitate the media they saw.

I call it biology. Humans have been having sex at age 12 since they’ve been having sex

So what’s the point of barring this exhibit from young teens when it is designed for them, to help them make more informed decisions about their sexuality? Raising the age to 16 seems counterintuitive, insulting to the exhibit organizers, and frankly aims to teach young people about sex far too late in their teen years.

And what’s all the fuss about? The presence of “very simple and very honest,” non-pornographic images of naked people in the exhibit? That’s just life! I see a naked person every day when I get out of the shower (me).

What is really ridiculous, is that Ottawa had a small chlamydia and gonorrhea pandemic last year. Didn’t know that? Probably because this is a topic that people in Ottawa evidently don’t like to talk about.  Remember those ads on the OC Transpo buses that said “Go get tested.” Yeah, they weren’t kidding. Do you know what helps prevent the spread of such diseases? If you don’t, maybe you should be attending this exhibit yourself.

And despite sex ed being evidently of public importance in Ottawa, Heritage Minister James Moore still calls the exhibit an “insult to tax-payers.”

Nobody quite knows who it was who organized the onslaught of angry letters sent to the museum, but I can bet they aren’t concerned parents of teenagers. If they are concerned parents, then I recommend they redirect their concerns to the fact that their kids will be entering their sexual lives with little-to-no honest education in the matter. These parents should also expect to answer some big questions themselves if their kids come to suffer for their lack of readiness.

Ottawa should just brace itself for a wave of inbred, STD-ridden, crack babies in the near future.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

Some questions for the comments section:

  • Is 12 too young for kids to gain an education in sexuality?
  • What makes Ottawans so sensitive about sex education for kids?
  • Do you think some Ottawans shower with their clothes on?

Urban Myths of Ottawa: Mackenzie King, The Demon-Worshipper

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By Adam Slight
The world has seen some strange leaders in its time, and I could go on forever listing the various eccentricities displayed by some of the most famous of them (Louis XIV – what’s up with that hair?!)

Today, however, I will be talking about one of Canada’s own leaders—Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King—best known for steering Canada through one of the western world’s greatest struggles, World War II.

Unlike most world leaders, King lacked the charismatic personality to command droves. Instead, it is said that the 10th Canadian prime minister had strengths that were uniquely appropriate for running an unusual country like Canada. He was made famous for placing Canada as a middle power in the world stage, and was recently ranked the #1 Canadian Prime Minister by one group of prominent historians. He was quoted as saying “A true man does not only stand up for himself, he stands up for those that do not have the ability to.” Good work Bill!

Of course, the true William Lyon Mackenzie King would be introduced to the world after the Liberal Party leader died in 1950. It was then that we got to take a peak at his personal journals.

And all I can say is, holy #$@^!

So it turns out Mackenzie King was a huge spiritualist, and frequently communicated with the ghosts of the dead.

Ok, that’s not a big deal, right? A lot of mainstream religions believe in communication with the dead.

But no. Mr. King’s beliefs went a bit further than saying “Hi” to grandma in heaven, and even affected the way he ran the country.

Communication with the Dead

1953, Time Magazine reported that Prime Minister King had been the proud owner of both a Ouija board, and a crystal ball.

His personal diary describes direct communications with the ghosts of Leonardo da Vinci, former Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, his dead mother, his dead grandfather, as well as many others. On many occasions he would consult these figures for guidance in running the Liberal Party and the Government of Canada. He described one conversation with his dead mother that “spoke of the present elections, of seeming defeat, of the party being in a stronger position a little later on.” Strangely, this conversation took place months before King was elected out of office (and indeed, he would be re-elected years later).

Communication with Dead Dogs

Mackenzie King was also passionate about his Irish terrier, Pat. When Pat passed away, King was passionate about his new Irish terrier, Pat II. When Pat II passed away, King was passionate about his Irish terrier Pat III. And so on.

When these dogs were alive, King considered them as human, and claimed to even be able to communicate with them.

This communication didn’t end at death. King was so passionate about the Pat dogs that he reportedly held séances with them as well. Like with his other séances, King consulted the dead Pats in manners of international political policy, conscription, and Party Leadership.

What did Pat have to say about the founding of the United Nations after WWII?

“Woof.”

King and Numerology

Mackenzie King also had a strange obsession with numbers, and the magical, prophetic powers that he thought they held (most call it “math”). I have trouble describing the logic behind this obsession, so I’ll leave you with a quote found in King’s diary:

“… I had thought yesterday of ’47′ being the figures ’74′ reversed which was the year of my birth. Curiously enough someone remarked this to me. I had another rather odd thought related to numerals which was that in thinking of the Rebellion of 1837-38, thought of my age  –  73rd year –  which is ’37′ reversed. Were one to live to a very old age, 83 would be reverse of 38.”

Good observation Mr. Prime Minister! You may also notice that “plug” spells “gulp” when read backwards.

Mackenzie King and Hitler

During the late 1930s, and Hitler had risen to power in Germany, most world leaders actually respected the man that we now associate with European domination and genocide. Hitler was charismatic, and on the outside, it appeared that he was pulling Germany out of economic despair.

Mackenzie King’s early affection for Hitler ran deeper than political endearment.

King was a huge fan of the German composer Richard Wagner, and the godly mythology often depicted in Wagner’s compositions. Hitler was also a big fan of Wagner.

King believed that Hitler embodied the spirit of a Wagnerian Norse god, and that Hitler was guiding his people to triumph. He believed that it was his own higher mission to lead Hitler to peace, and this actually affected Canada’s relations with Hitler. While King disagreed with Nazism and the oppression of Jews, he wrote “the world will yet come to see a very great man-mystic in Hitler…[Hitler] – the peasant – will rank some day with Joan of Arc among the deliverers of his people.”

No one has ever called me a “man-mystic.” :(

This just goes to show that you can never really know your country’s leader. You look at the Parliament Buildings and imagine politicians inside putting motions forward, yelling at each other, and breaking down in tears, when in actuality, they’re throwing sticks at ghost-dogs, praising Hitler, and counting down to their champagne birthdays.

William Lyon Mackenzie King: Politician, Leader, Friend, Lunatic.