Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 12.13.09
Stanstead, Quebec


The Olympic Torch Moves West

As a nation, Canadians are expected to muster up plenty of patriotic zeal for the Olympic torch as it crosses the country, well in advance of the games themselves. This is like trying to generate Christmas spirit in...well, most any time. But how can you feel zealous when you're entirely zeal-less?

It turns out that, just like the way music from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" can set off the warm fuzzies, it doesn't take much to get the ol' Olympic pride-o-meter stirring. With that, allow me to share my Olympic torch moment with you.

My friend and colleague Eryn was one of the 12,000 Canadians selected to carry the torch. If that isn't cool enough, she also gets to keep her white Olympic torchbearer outfit, which looks like the official pyjamas of the Canadian Dairy Association.

Eryn's run took place in Thetford Mines, Quebec, on Saturday. Her leg of the relay was only about 400 metres, which doesn't seem that long but is tougher than you think. I'm not sure I could do it. I get winded running a temperature.

But that's not my Olympic torch moment.

I couldn't watch Eryn carry the torch because my daughter Katie had a basketball tournament at Cégep de Sherbrooke, all day Saturday and back again Sunday morning. I felt like a hockey parent, except warmer. And less compelled to abuse the refs.

There was a long break between Katie's first and second games, so we decided to head for the mall to do our part to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas economy.

Shopping is exhausting but Christmas shopping is exhausting and headache-inducing. So much stuff! How are you supposed to pick a gift when everything just seems to blur together? It's like you can't see the forest for the Tremendous Yuletide Savings!

We soon gave up on shopping and went for supper; I had spaghetti con funghi (because I'm a fun ghi... get it? No? Neither did the kids). Before I could make any more bad puns, we decided to head back to the cégep for Kate's evening game.

As we approached our intersection, however, the road was blocked by police cars. An accident? A William Shatner sighting? Whatever. We needed to get to our game. We decided to try from the King Street side. We moved forward with the traffic, which seemed especially heavy for this time of day. Christmas shoppers? "Star Trek" fans?

Just further on, the exposition grounds was full of cars and people. There was a stage, a large video screen and music in the air. Aha! A concert. That's why the road was blocked. I forget sometimes that Sherbrooke has more to it than a mall and bad parking.

We circled around to King Street only to find another roadblock. Aaargh! Darn you, cosmopolitan Sherbrooke night life! We were stuck again.

And then it hit me:

"It's the torch relay!" I said. "That's why the roads are blocked."

"Look! There it is!" cried Deb. Crossing the road, just a few cars in front of us, was the flaming torch, carried by someone in the distinctive milkman running suit.

"Cool! Wow!" said the kids. "I can't believe we got to see the torch."

But that's not my Olympic torch moment.

We still had to get to our game.

"How am I going to get out of this traffic?"

"Cut through the Tim Horton's parking lot," said Deb. "It exits onto the next street."

Great idea.

I pulled into the lot and drove forward. Except I missed the exit. Instead, I found myself in the drive-thru lane. With people in front and behind me waiting for their Timmies fix, I was stuck. There was nothing to do but drive through.

"Anyone want anything?" I asked.

"Look! There's the torch again." Sure enough, there it was again, flickering on its way to Vancouver.

Stuck in a Tim Horton's drive-thru watching the Olympic flame go by. I was proud to be a Canadian.

And that is my Olympic torch moment.