Chase the Bunny
|1||1996||Apr 05-07||Ottawa||ON||Sandy-Hill Community Centre||Easter Bonnets||Graham Ingram, Paul Waters|
|2||1997||Mar 27-30||Ottawa||ON||Glebe Community Centre||Easter Bonnets||Graham Ingram, Paul Waters||flyer|
|3||1998||Apr 10-12||Ottawa||ON||Glebe Community Centre||Easter Bonnets||Graham Ingram, Paul Waters|
|X||1999||Apr 01-04||Graham Ingram, Paul Waters|
Taffy and twirling with the Date Squares
Story by Karen Patrick Photo by Jake Peters
More than 80 people are expected for the second annual Chase the Bunny square dance event this Easter weekend. The lesbian and gay dance-fest, hosted by the Ottawa-Hull Date Squares, takes place Mar 27-30.
Tickets for the four-day event are $60.
The highlight this year is a day at the В T Ranch sugar bush in Wendover, east of Ottawa, Sat Mar 29.
“The sugar bush lends a bit of local flavour, a bit of culture. Everyone has the afternoon to do the traditional sort of sugar bush activities, taffy making and sleigh rides, followed by a dinner [and] five hours of dancing in a log cabin type atmosphere,” says organizer Larry White.
Bus transportation leaves the Glebe Community Centre at 2:30pm that day and returns around midnight. The $25 day (which a $60 ticket covers) includes travel, dinner and a whole day of activities.
Toronto’s Triangle Squares will put on a drag square dance show. The evening also features an Easter bonnet contest with a prize of free registration for next year’s event. Paul Waters of Los Angeles, known in square dance circles the world-over, will be the headline dance caller.
The event is expected to attract participants from Toronto, Montreal and the US.
“Most groups host some kind of an event at me point during the year, and I guess it’s evolved into something that people kind of form a portion of their holiday around and they fly in for the weekend,” says White. The event was advertised through the Internet and the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs monthly newsletter.
Dancing events, at the Glebe Community Centre, take place: Thursday 7:30-9:30pm, Friday 1-4pm and 7-10pm, Saturday afternoon noon-2pm and wrap up on Sunday 1-4pm.
“By Sunday everyone’s kinda dragging their heels, they don’t want it to end, but they’re pretty tuckered out,” says White. The event is open to anyone.
For more information call 738-2078 or e-mail bkl91@freenet. carleton.ca.
The Ottawa-Hull Date Squares meets every Tuesday night at the lowertown Routhier Community Centre (Guigues & Cumberland Sts). Membership is $3 per night or $45 a year. Novice sessions begin each September.
On a slightly rainy Thursday night in April, three Chi-Town Squares (the authors of this press release plus Steve Johnson) boarded an American Airlines Fokker 100 jet for an Easter-weekend up north in Ottawa. The event worth travelling all this distance for on April 10-12 was the Ottawa fly-in, Chase the Bunny 1998. Ottawa, if you did not pass geography class is the capitol of Canada in the province of Ontario about 250 miles NE of Toronto. The fly-in was hosted by Les Carres aux Dattes d'Ottawa-Hull (or The Date Squares as they usually call themselves). Less than two hours after leaving Chicago we found ourselves waiting patiently to clear customs at the Ottawa International Airport. Our hosts met us and whisked us off into the chill Canadian night.
Dancing began on Friday afternoon with two excellent callers, Paul Waters from Los Angeles and Graham Ingram from Ottawa who is the club caller and instructor for the Date Squares. Waiting for us in the large dance hall at the Glebe Center, which is lovely older residential area of Ottawa, was a more than adequate buffet spread. There were approximately sixty dancers for the weekend from both sides of the border. It was great to see old friends and establish some new friendships. Between the afternoon and evening dances people were off on their own for a few hours. Jim invited by his host to an Easter egg coloring party and other dancers went out for dinner.
On Sunday morning a group of square dancers went on a walking tour of downtown Ottawa and Parliament Hill. On Parliament Hill are the historic buildings that house the Canadian government overlooking the swiftly-moving Ottawa River. The Ottawa River divides the mostly English-speaking city of Ottawa from the French-speaking city of Hull in Quebec, famous for its casino and Canadian Museum of Civilisation. The group saw the famous Chateau Laurier, The Rideau Canal and the National Gallery of Art in front of which the group id an impromptu tip.
On Saturday afternoon the dancers congregated at a sugarbush (a maple tree farm where sap is collected from the trees and syrup is made) about 30 miles outside of Ottawa. We sampled maple candy, went on a hayride where we did another impromptu tip, and had a typical sugarbush feast of maple-flavored ham and baked beans and maple-based desserts. The dinner was followed by a long evening consisting of dancing until almost midnight. As a break between dancing the Date Squares hosted an Easter Bonnet contest. There was a wide range of creative hats in various stages of tackiness.
Sunday was unusually warm with tenperatures around seventy and sunshine all day. A few people went to Easter services followed by a hearty brakfast atthe famous Dunns deli. Afterwards a fgroup went shopping in an area with a number of gay shops and cafes. In the afternoon the final dance was hosted ath the Glebe Center and we said fond farewells to old and new friends. The Date Squares host an outstanding fly-in and we recommend that you set aside t for Chase the Bunny 1999. How about it eh?
By the way if you are ever in Ottawa you must try a sugarbush meal, a beavertail (a deep-fried pastry with various toppings) and poutine (soggy french fried with cheese curds and gravy). 
- Capital Xtra! (Ottawa, ON) Friday, 21 Mar 1997, p.19
- Spread & Circulate newsletter, v.10 issue 7 (July-August 1998) p.6