My Canadian Chicken

In honor of Canada Day:

My husband and I honeymooned for a week in Stratford, Ontario, where the annual Shakespeare Festival was in full swing.  I’m a huge fan of the Festival, and I can’t imagine a better place to have a honeymoon:  beautiful theater productions of all kinds,* walks along the river, gorgeous gardens, friendly people, good food, and shopping.

Because my MIL had been a huge help with the wedding, I wanted to find an antique glass cruet to add to her collection.  My husband and I, armed with a map, took off to hunt through the myriad antique markets around Stratford.

We found the right cruet** in the third place we looked, an enormous, two-floored barn full of anything and everything.  And there . . . in the corner . . . were three large, wooden, domestic animals, all  more than two feet high and all wearing saddles.  They had been, we were told, part of a hand-cranked merry-go-round, but the owner didn’t know how old they were.  That didn’t matter to me—I was in love.

There had been seven or eight to the set, but only three remained. It was a tough decision, but the chicken won:

I would have adopted all of them, but my husband wouldn’t let me.  Cost aside, he was right—this was 1993, but crossing the border back into the States was still an experience.

The guard looked at the receipt, looked at us, and said, “You’ve got a what?” 

“It’s hers,” said my beloved, pointing at me.***

The guard asked us to pop our trunk and came out of his booth just to see it.    Apparently, not too many people declare chickens . . . I can only imagine what he might have done if we ‘d brought back the duck and the pig, too.

I was more than willing to stay in Canada, but he let us through with a chuckle and a shake of his head.

The Canadian Chicken has been with us ever since, a strange souvenir and symbol of our wedded bliss.  And yes, small children have ridden it over the years—if I can find the photos, I’ll share.

And that’s my story in honor of Canada Day.^

Thank you.


*The first night, we saw Midsummer Night’s Dream, with Colm Feore as Oberon.  Let me tell you, seeing Mr. Feore sloooowly lowering himself from the upper portion of the stage while wearing a skintight bodysuit was a terrible thing to do to a young woman who has just pledged herself to the young man sitting next to her—who, love of her life or not, in no way resembles Colm Feore playing Oberon in a skintight bodysuit.  Eighteen years later, and I still pause at the memory.

**Red, in great condition, and sold by someone who was willing to have fun haggling with the tourists instead of bilking them.

***Would Colm Feore have done that?  I don’t think so.

^Next year, I may explain why our marriage was actually consummated in Canada, which has nothing to do with chickens in any way . . .  except that I was reluctant to kick assorted in-laws out of our apartment before 2:30 am.  But again, whole ‘nother story.  See you next year.


10 thoughts on “My Canadian Chicken

  1. I think it only fitting that the first comment is by a Canadian.

    God where do I begin?

    Obviously with Colm Feore. OMG. He is such a great actor. I miss him. I miss Stratford – used to go every year. But I never bought a chicken. Loving the chicken.

    And Sarah. If you can, go to the Shaw Festival at Niagara on the Lake sometime. Wonderful. And NOTL is so beautiful.

    Two greAt Canadian traditions that I miss Thanks for the memories.

    • Every year? Lucky! I’ve been to Stratford three times, and seriously thought about moving up there permanently. “Will work for tickets.”

      Just did some Googling — the Shaw Festival looks like my kind of fun!

  2. Just go back across the border. The border crossing takes so much longer than it used to, even at 11 p.m.

    We saw Merry Wives of Windsor and Camelot…

  3. Never been to Canada, but I was a groundling at the Globe in London in 2005 for Mark Rylance’s farewell season. It was 2 weeks after the subway bombings, and an altogether amazing experience! I’m always up for Shakespeare, but my husband is, unfortunately, not so inclined. At least he doesn’t mind if I indulge myself.

    • Oh, I envy you! I’ve never been to London, much less to the Globe!

      My husband likes Shakespeare almost as much as I do, but I have the devil’s own time getting him to see musicals with me. Luckily, my MIL loves them, too!

  4. I think you should consult the Google and see if the pig and duck happen to be on the market again.

    I spent some time at Stratford on my honeymoon too. I can’t recall what play we saw, but I know it was one of the comedies, and may have been Midsummer Night’s Dream as well. Then we continued heading around Lake Erie–to Toronto, then Niagara Falls, and finally Cedar Point Amusement Park. From Stratford to Cedar Point. Yep, I never could carry off classy for long.

    • I’ve looked, but I can’t find them anywhere — it was 18 years ago, so I guess they’re long gone . . .

      They feature Midsummer Night’s Dream a lot at Stratford, I think — I’ve seen two completely different stagings there.

  5. …speaking of Colm Feore, I’ve been watching The Borgias on Showtime (it’s also posted on youtube) and though he’s older now, I was quite bowled over by the bath scene of one episode in which he displayed his, um, “hidden talents” shall we say!

    I would love to get to the Stratford Festival one of these days, but it’s a bit of a trek for me.

    • Yes, he’s quite talented, is Mr. Feore. 🙂

      Stratford is farther away than it used to be for us, but once the kids are old enough to appreciate some of the more complex plays, we’ll be heading back!

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