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Wills, Kate, and Moi

6 Jul

For her first Canada Day appearance on Parliament Hill earlier this month, Kate – the Duchess of Cambridge – did not disappoint either Royal watchers or patriotic Canadians. She emerged from her ride decked out in red and white, including a stunning cream dress by the British Reiss label, a red fascinator hat with a maple leaf motif designed by Sylvia Fletcher at Lock and co., and stylish red pumps.

The pièce de résistance, of course, was a diamond brooch in the form of a maple leaf, loaned to the Duchess for the tour by the Queen Herself, who first wore the same item of jewelry on her maiden tour of Canada as a young princess in 1951.

For my part, on Canada Day, I wore a fetching black-and-white striped, short-sleeved, buttoned-down-the-middle, wrinkle-free-cotton Arrow shirt (on sale at Zellers last month for $17.99), coupled with a pair of khaki cotton Timberland shorts and – in a Kate-like nod to recyclable fashion, and to the patriotic colors of the day – I topped off the ensemble with my four-year-old Ottawa Lynx red baseball cap.

Although I have been photographed wearing that cap on numerous past occasions, these are tough economic times and I need to do my part, however symbolically.

Later, the Duchess returned to Parliament Hill for the evening festivities wearing a striking long-sleeved V-necked purple Issa dress. She retained the Queen’s brooch. Unlike Kate, I opted to remain in my complete morning ensemble for the entire day. I even retained the cap (mostly because I didn’t want photos of my hat hair appearing in the weekend tabloids).

Actually, I missed out on all of Ottawa’s live, in-person Royal watching because of an out-of-town commitment, but I wasn’t left completely out of the loop. Because I am a member of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery, I got daily email updates from “Miguel”, Will’s and Kate’s (and also Prince Harry’s) personal press secretary, most of which detailed whatever outfit Kate happened to be wearing on that day.

The day after Canada Day, for example, Miguel informed me that Kate was wearing a grey Kensington dress by Catherine Walker. The following day it was a blue, lace ‘Jacquenta’ dress by Canadian designer Erdem.

I wrote back, asking Miguel to please inform the Duchess that I had on my red Montreal Canadiens 100th anniversary T-shirt, and that the mustard stain is now almost completely undetectable.

I really didn’t need to be on the press email list to be kept up-to-date on all of the Royal goings-on. With hundreds of members of the international media covering the first official tour of the celebrated newlyweds, every detail of it – Kate’s outfits and beyond – was covered instantly and extensively around the world and across the Internet.

Canada hadn’t been featured in so many international news stories since… well… since last month’s Stanley Cup riot.

But to what end?

How much of the frenzied and fawning attention to Will and Kate’s excellent Canadian adventure was due to the Royal couple’s Hollywood-like celebrity and how much of it was due to an appreciation of the Duke’s hereditary role as the future Head of State of our Constitutional Monarchy?

Probably a lot more of the former than of the latter. Canadians seem more interested in seeing Will’s face on the front cover of People Magazine than on the front of the $20-dollar bill (where it may one day be).

From the point of view of the Royal family, it probably doesn’t matter why we were all paying attention, only that we were. The Will-and-Kate show is the best PR in decades for that often controversial, sometimes scandal-plagued and frequently mocked institution.

For that matter, it’s not likely that any of the Canadian politicians sharing the stage with the Royal newlyweds – the Prime Minister, the federal cabinet ministers, the provincial premiers – were upset about the reflected attention they received as a result.

Whether you believe that the monarchy continues to have relevance in the 21st Century, or whether you believe that it is an archaic institution that has no place in a modern democracy, there’s no denying the Royal duo made a positive splash in this town and across the country.

As far as hereditary heads of states go, you certainly could do a lot worse than Will. But maybe we could consider putting Kate’s image up there with his on the twenty-dollar bill.

I’d even be willing to lend her my Ottawa Lynx cap.

Baseball’s Dead, Long Live Soccer

31 Aug

Driving home from a kid’s soccer practice tonight, we took a detour past this place:

Lynx Stadium

It is the beautiful home field of the Ottawa Lynx, Triple-A minor-league farm team of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Well, at least for a few more days, it is.

When the Lynx’ season ends this coming long weekend, the Lynx too will end, after 15 years as Ottawa’s minor-league baseball team.

Next season , they will be playing in Allentown, Pennsylvania as… I kid not… the Lehigh Valley IronPigs

The picture above shows a crowd only marginally smaller than those the Lynx usually get on sunny, baseball-friendly days – the main reason they will soon be gone.

When we drove by tonight, we saw more empty seats than fans for one of the team’s final games ever.

The Lynx are the latest – and the last – of Canada’s Triple-A baseball teams to depart for the United States. Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary all lost teams in the last ten years, leaving the Single-A Vancouver team as the only major-league farm team left in this country.

Of course, the Toronto Blue Jays are still around… but who cares, really?

Although some reports say baseball is alive and well in this country, that claim doesn’t feel right to me. When I was a kid, I played and followed the sport religiously and I could not only name every single player on the Montreal Expos, but also do a credible imitation of each of their batting stances.

The kids I know think of baseball as an old-man’s sport – they know who Barry Bonds is, but that’s about it. The kids I know are mad about soccer, a sport that was barely on the radar screen in my youth.

The empty seats in Lynx Stadium stood in contrast this summer to massive crowds across town at Frank Clair Stadium during the FIFA U-20 World Cup tournament.

The latest sign of Summer Sport Shift? News this week of a proposal to turn the soon-to-be-empty Lynx Stadium into a large soccer dome.

Additional reading on the subject here and here.