Canadian Capers

Lawrence David Lederman is an old friend. When I first moved to Cleveland in 1990, he was the Canadian Consul-General to Cleveland, and we became friendly. After a few years, when he returned to Canada, we lost touch until a few years ago we realized we had good mutual friends. Since he comes to Cleveland often, we always go out for dinner, drinks, football games, etc. He often invited me to visit Ottawa (that’s the national capital city of Canada, FYI), but other things got in the way.
Last spring, his invitation struck home. Needing a step back from a precipice on which I teetered, a trip to another country sounded like fun. I’d visited Toronto before, but never Ottawa.
I had no idea how beautiful a city Ottawa is. The ancient Parliament takes one’s breath away with its gothic beauty, the rest of the architecture exists in a fascinating marriage between gothic and ultra-modern, the Canadians are friendly and open, the women are beautiful, and there are so many ambassadors from foreign lands who make Ottawa their home that I never stopped being impressed, having greeted ambassadors from Vietnam, China, Cuba, Croatia, Serbia, Guatemala, Albania, Estonia, and a few more I couldn’t keep track of—-PLUS the recently retired Canadian ambassadors to Russia, Ukraine, Ireland, Chile and Peru (I spoke at a rollicking dinner-and-drinks party for the lot of them), and everyone else Larry Lederman knows. And that means EVERYBODY.
There are beautiful parks, rivers and canals close to downtown Ottawa, there’s a Chinatown and a Little Italy, there’s good music, good theater and good art, spectacular food, and people from all over the world speaking different languages. Washington D.C. is naturally like that, too—but beautiful Washington is not quite as warm and friendly.
Larry is one of the most delightful guys I know—smart as hell, funny, knowledgable about his government and mine (he got us invited to the “Question Session” in Parliament where each side demands an answer from the other party, which is required to come up with a GOOD answer. I realize the U.S. Congress argues with each other, but this looked more to me like a bar brawl in a John Wayne western.) Larry kept me entertained and amused for five solid days.
Several people, Larry Lederman included, suggested I come back to Ottawa next spring with my recorder, and take notes about a novel they all want me to set in Ottawa, maybe as an eventual sequel to “WET WORK.”
Well—you never know….

About Les Roberts

Author, Internet and Radio Personality (, Teacher, Critic, not a bad jazz piano player, Cleveland lover.
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3 Responses to Canadian Capers

  1. Josh says:

    “Beautiful Washington is not quite as warm and friendly”? When’s the last time you were here, Roberts? I may not be an ambassador or a consul, but what AM I, chopped liver?!

    • Les Roberts says:

      My dear friend: (1) You are NOT chopped liver. Gefilte fish, maybe, but not chopped liver. (2) You don’t LIVE in Washington, unless I have your address wrong—and I wasn’t talking about you here, I was talking about the CITY. (3) As beautiful as Washington is, all white marble, etc., it doesn’t quite have the warmth or even the rumbling excitement that Ottawa does. Ottawa is basically a small city, and virtually everyone knows everyone else. (4) Do YOU know a bunch of ambassadors in Washington? Do you call them by their first name? Do any of the female ambassadors rush up, throw their arms around you, and kiss you? (5) If it makes you feel any better, Larry Lederman is VERY fond of Amsterdam. (6) Are there any photos of Larry Lederman on my website? No! How many photos of YOU on my website? Hmm, I might have time to sit and count them over the weekend. (7) How the hell are you, anyway? How is your beautiful wife? How is my favorite dog Tessa? (8) I still love you, amigo.

      • Josh Pachter says:

        Darling: (1) I don’t want to be gefilte fish. Can I be kreplach? (2) Point taken. I withdraw my objection. (3) Yes, but can you gas up your car at an OttaWaWa? If not, I’m uninterested. Oh, wait, no, Tim Horton’s. I’m interested again. (4) Yes. I call them all by *a* first name, although I admit that it may not necessary be *their* first name. Many of them throw their arms around me and kiss me, but unfortunately it’s mostly the men, and I wish they wouldn’t. (5) It *does* make me feel better. (6) There better not be! I would be jealous! (7) I am fine and dandy, keeping busy, missing you and Holly and Cleveland lots. Laurie’s health is trending better, which is an enormous relief. Tessa is puddlewonderful. (8) But it’s a manly love kind of thing, right?