Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Un Canadien Errant Part II: On to Ottawa!

After Montreal, I continued my Canadian adventures in Ottawa, Canada’s Capital of Boredom (coincidently, also the actual capital). I stayed with my friends Jon and Lindy and their kids Abby and Nate. I managed to catch up with Danielle to talk writerly shop before she fled Ottawa for the more stimulating environs of Rock Springs, Wyoming. I also managed to interrupt Julie from feverishly updating her blog long enough to have a quick lunch.

Jon and Abby, in the heritage garden where Jon is a volunteer.

However pleasant all this socializing may have been, I was a man on a mission. That mission: to uncover the truth of Canada’s invasion of Costa Rica in 1921.

Yes, the Great White North engaged - more than once – in some fairly Imperialistic muscle flexing in the Caribbean region in the early part of the last century. In Costa Rica, the immediate cause was a debt owed to the Royal Bank of Canada. According to a poorly remembered footnote in a book I read five years ago, Canada sent down it’s entire navy (all three ships!) to engage in a little gunboat diplomacy to encourage payment.

Reading this, I had images of blockades, the people of Costa Rica cowering as our warships fired warning salvos off their coast.

The truth, it transpired, was somewhat more polite.

The squadron showed up in one of Costa Rica’s ports, where it was greeted with a 21 gun salute. The three captains were then whisked to San José, the capital, by special train. There, they had a pleasant dinner with the President, and enjoyed an opera in his private box.

Not, to say the least, exactly hostile behaviour. Though legend has it one of Costa Rica’s bluebloods gave the Captain of the HMCS Aurora a dirty look when he applauded after the aria.

This is going to be a gripping article, I can tell.

Next: Camping adventures! Unless I get distracted!

1 comment:

David Beeson said...

Your account of what I suppose we must learn to think of as the San Jose incident puts me in mind of something I heard some years ago. There was at one time a British slang term for coitus interruptus which was 'a tug', a tug being a naval engagement without loss of seamen.

I suppose 'Canadian fleet action' could be a suitable alternative?