Lansdowne News

Lansdowne continues to make headlines this month. Check out the coverage of the Urban Park grand opening, the Princess Patricias re-dedication ceremony, and the return of the Panda Games.

Lansdowne Urban Park opened in August

More of Lansdowne, the Princess Pats, and Patricia herself

Panda Game returns to Lansdowne


Lansdowne Urban Park opened in August

Scenes from the August 16 Lansdowne Urban Park grand opening. Photo: Soo Hum

Scenes from the August 16 Lansdowne Urban Park grand opening. Photo: Soo Hum

The much-anticipated Lansdowne Urban Park opened to the public on August 16, a cool, rainy Saturday. But rain did not deter visitors from enjoying the ambiance of an old-fashioned fair in the setting of a brand new park – the Great Lawn with kites flying overhead, the progressive tennis (courtesy of St James Tennis Club) on what will be a skating rink and Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group (GNAG) games such as potato sack races. Also for the kids were the Children’s Garden and the new skateboard park, as well as face-painting, jugglers, stilt walkers and acrobats, a Ferris wheel, a carousel and Clydesdale horse rides. For the food lovers, there was the Farmers’ Market, gourmet food trucks, cotton candy, and fresh-popped Papa Jack Popcorn, with Papa Jack himself serving it up.

City of Ottawa staff handed out maps and treats, and people wandered among the heritage displays by the Ottawa Fire Brigade and Ottawa Police, as well as FIFA soccer displays, Grey Cup photo ops, and sightings of the Ottawa Fury and Redblacks mascots.

This was the community’s first opportunity to revisit and enjoy the stunning architecture of the Aberdeen Pavilion and the Horticulture Building, and to begin to picture the promise of skating in winter, apple blossoms in spring – and a water feature to come…The Lansdowne Urban Park is a green and pleasant place, and Glebites would do well to take full advantage of this public space.

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More of Lansdowne, the Princess Pats, and Patricia herself

By Christa Thomas

Princess Patricia, colonel-in-chief of the Princess Patricia Regiment, with members of the regiment.

Princess Patricia, colonel-in-chief of the Princess Patricia Regiment, with members of the regiment.

The link between Lansdowne and the Princess Patricias is being renewed this month. A cross-country Memorial Baton Relay run by the renowned regiment, which was founded 100 years ago (as Clyde Sanger writes in the August Glebe Report), has arrived in Ottawa for a four-day commemoration that includes events at Lansdowne Park.

The relay left Edmonton on August 10, carrying the regiment’s full Honour Roll inside the baton. Serving soldiers have taken it across five provinces – Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec – with visits to the graves of former Patricias and stops in 23 locations en route to Lansdowne. The relay has been accompanied by a mobile museum display featuring equipment and uniforms used by the Patricias since WWI. The relay’s honourary team captains – actor/director Paul Gross (creative force of the 2008 movie Passchendaele) and former hockey player David “Tiger” Williams – have also been present at some of the baton’s stops.

The Memorial Baton Relay links the triad of activities planned for the regiment’s 100th anniversary. The route of the Memorial Baton, the commemorations’ centrepiece, from regimental headquarters in Edmonton to Ottawa, follows that of the original Princess Patricias (known as the “Originals”), many of whom were recruited from the West. The baton will also be taken to Le Havre, the regiment’s disembarkation point in late 1914, to be run to Ypres, the unit’s first overseas stop, where the baton will be on display at the Cloth Hall, and finally to Frezenberg, Belgium. There, a series of activities are planned (in May of 2015) to commemorate the Battle of Frezenberg, known as “the Death of the Originals” within the regiment because of its appalling number of casualties. The regiment, in its first major action, was instrumental in halting the German offensive at Frezenberg.

At Lansdowne, remembrance coincides with the arrival of the Memorial Baton from Alberta. The Ottawa commemoration includes, among other events, the dedication of an updated regimental memorial at Lansdowne (September 18; open to the public) and, as its main event, a Rededication Parade on September 20 during which the baton will be carried by descendants of the Originals. Its route will retrace that taken by the regiment on departing Ottawa on August 28, 1914, from Lansdowne to City Hall and the National War Memorial and the statue of Hamilton Gault (the regiment’s founder). There, Prime Minister Harper will be holding the baton while the regiment rededicates itself to the service of Canada. Some other Ottawa events are also open to the public (see the Regiment’s website at www.ppcli.com).

The festive commemoration this month is somewhat in contrast with the regiment’s departure from Ottawa 100 years ago. Although thousands of Ottawa residents turned out on that sunny Friday morning to send the Princess Pats off, the mood then was somber. There were no formal nor lingering farewells, and the unit was “embarked in a very few minutes.” Even so, the regiment’s gallantry and valour – which it would prove time and again, gaining a total of 39 battle honours and a reputation as being not only the first unit “on the field” but also the last to leave – were already developing into a myth of undeniable glamour and allure.

The elegant figure of Princess Patricia herself, patron and colonel-in-chief, was part of that myth. As the daughter of Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught, she was Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, and widely acclaimed as a natural beauty. Mackenzie King reportedly was “a little in love with her.” She had designed and embroidered not only the regiment’s colours but also the cap crest and collar badges, a single daisy, reminiscent of “the age of chivalry,” and in honour of Gault’s wife, Marguerite. On their departure, she told the unit that she would “follow the fortunes of you all with the greatest interest” and wished “every man good luck and a safe return.” The regiment was present at her wedding in 1919 to Sir (later Admiral) Alexander Ramsay. Princess Patricia was also an artist of considerable talent. Canada awarded her the Canadian Forces Decoration in recognition of her services. She remained colonel-in-chief of the Patricias until her death in 1974.

Glebe resident Christa Thomas is a university lecturer and writer. She has extensively researched the involvement and role of women in both world wars.

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Panda Game returns to Lansdowne

By Joe Scanlon

For decades, the “Pedro the Panda” football game between Carleton and Ottawa U was the biggest annual Canadian university sports event, bigger than the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) football championship, the Vanier Cup. That ended in 1998 when Carleton cancelled football.

Pedro the Panda, the original stuffed bear for whom football battles were waged. The Panda Game returns to Lansdowne Park on September 20. Photo: University of Ottawa Athletics Department

Pedro the Panda, the original stuffed bear for whom football battles were waged. The Panda Game returns to Lansdowne Park on September 20. Photo: University of Ottawa Athletics Department

Thanks to $5 million of alumni support, football returned to Carleton last season and at one o’clock on Saturday, September 20 – after a 16-season absence – the Panda game returns to Lansdowne Park.

Pedro was born in 1955, the idea of a University of Ottawa student, Brian McA’Nulty, who wanted to increase interest in Carleton-Ottawa football. He produced a special trophy, a stuffed panda bear, Pedro the Panda.

McA’Nulty placed Pedro in the window of Jack Snow Jewellers (now Bijouterie Richer & Snow Jewellers) and had it “stolen.” Ottawa police, in on the stunt, announced they were searching for the thief. McA’Nulty, of course, had Pedro and brought him to the game. In 1955, the University of Ottawa was a perennial football power. Tiny Carleton College had a limited athletics program. But Carleton won 14-6 and a legend began.

That fall a group of students returning from a World University of Canada sale at a downtown theatre discovered the old Carleton College building empty after a Commerce Club dance and Pedro – the centrepiece at that dance – left unattended. They stole Pedro – this time for real – and kept him hidden until the next Panda game in autumn 1956. (Ottawa, humiliated by the first loss, won that game 44-0.)

Thus began a series of thefts and surprise appearances by the stolen panda. Pedro ran for president of the Carleton University Students’ Association, appeared on a National Hockey League telecast from Maple Leaf Gardens, and even – after being stolen by Queen’s students – travelled to Alabama and California.

Interest in the Panda game grew until it became the biggest event of the year for Carleton students and the biggest game for the Carleton Ravens. Students would walk from Carleton to Lansdowne and home again, often leaving a trail of empty bottles. One season, seven people showed up for a home football game, but 16,000 showed up for the Panda game. The students’ antics – and the drinking – worried the organizers and security costs climbed until the game was a major annual headache to both universities’ athletics departments and, despite its popularity, a money loser.

In 1987 when the fledging TSN sports network decided to broadcast the game, football was forgotten when a railing on the main stand collapsed and students fell to the concrete below. One student broke her neck and spent 20 days in a coma. Many suffered serious injuries. The incident was a nightmare for Carleton because parents, having seen what happened on TV, started phoning the university. Carleton, of course, had no idea where students were spending Panda weekend and – in the days before email and cell phones – could do little to satisfy anxious parents.

Though problems overshadowed the football, the game had its moments. One year, Gerry Palmer (later drafted by the Edmonton Eskimos) ran the opening kick-off back for a Carleton touchdown. (The first thing he did after scoring was look to see if there was a flag on the play – there wasn’t). Once, the Ravens scored four touchdowns in the final quarter for a come-from-behind win.

But Carleton’s ability to win went steadily downhill. The football Ravens have had only one winning season in their last 11 years, and three times the team went winless. Finally in 1998, Carleton president Rick Van Loon, who played in two Panda games (he was a 155-pound offensive lineman, and the player he was trying to block was 260 pounds), cancelled Carleton’s football program. Van Loon, incidentally, is not the only former Panda player to go on to a distinguished career. Pierre Benoit, who played in that first Panda game, became mayor of Ottawa. John Redfern, also in that first game, became chair of Carleton’s Board of Governors.

The Carleton Ravens football club was reinstated in 2013 after a 16-year hiatus. Last season, the brand new Carleton team lost to Ottawa 35-10; despite the score, the game had its heroics. Tunde Adeleke took a missed Ottawa field goal and ran the ball 129 yards for a Carleton touchdown. This season – now that Carleton has a year’s experience – the game should be closer.

Joe Scanlon, former director of the Carleton School of Journalism, has had a long acquaintance with Pedro the Panda. As a student reporter, he covered the first Panda game. He was also one of the students who stole the Panda after the Carleton dance.

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