Breakfast with the Consul General of Canada

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This morning, the Canadian Club of Chicago hosted a breakfast presentation by the Honourable Georges Rioux, Consul General of Canada.  It was held at Chicago’s Cliff Dwellers Club.

It was a great opportunity to catch up on some old friendships and to hear the Consul General speak, a tradition in its third year.  I was able to converse with Georges alongside some new consular staff, giving them my sixty second tour description of Chicago.  For this group, I mentioned Eglise Notre Dame de Chicago – a Roman Catholic parish built on the site of the original Pere Marquette mission but since enveloped by the University of Illinois at Chicago campus. This neighbourhood is described on census maps of the 1870’s as being populated by “French Canadians”. An historic though unusual octagonal building with a pipe organ made by Casavant Freres of Ste. Hyacinthe, Quebec that has maintained french speaking clergy throughout its years; it claims to boast Quebecois roots.  My observation is that now and again, I  have noticed the term “expulsion” in describing its original congregation; I think that they may have actually been Acadiens from New Brunswick.  Still others from the Consulate theorize that they may originated with french language people groups from Saskatchewan, though I couldn’t imagine the numbers of those people being able to populate a neighbourhood in Chicago.

However, in conversing with a group at the Cliff Dweller Club about Historical sites in Chicago, little compares to the lumpy old leather couch in the Cliff Dwellers’ Reading Room.  Urban legend has it that as Louis Sullivan fell difficult financial times, he used to crash on that particular couch and maintain his Club membership, rather than rent a boarding room.  This couch is still there in original condition, though one would think that it has since been cleaned.

Next month, the Canadian Club will host a similar presentation by Marc Boucher, Head of the Quebec Government Office in Chicago.  M. Boucher’s presentation is timed to occur on St. Jean Baptiste Day.

Meanwhile, I am part of a group that has been asked to explore founding the United States / Canada Business Council; an organization within the Canadian Club of Chicago dedicated to furthering business ties and understandings, and to promote opportunities between the US and Canada.  The idea is to build off of this series, beginning with a series of breakfast presentations featuring topical speakers.