Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Rich and Dan, photo taken the first week and supplied by them. Note the huge Canadian flags they’re wearing as capes.
Guest ContributionsOpinion/Column

Frozen Ketchup & Brand New BBQs

Keeping stuff from freezing solid was an enormous challenge for Freedom Convoy protesters

by Donna Laframboise

Rich is an aircraft mechanic who resides an hour’s drive west of Hamilton, Ontario. Currently aged 48, the only time he’s been unemployed was after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The company he worked for went under, and it took five months to land another job.

Along with Dan – a fellow mechanic – Rich drove to Ottawa on Friday, January 28th. They were, he says, “a few hours behind the southern convoy from Windsor and Sarnia. We got there thinking we’re gonna park and we’re gonna sit here for the weekend, and then we’re gonna go home on the Monday.”

But that’s not what happened. Weeks later, they were still holding the line in Rich’s van, which has a bed in back, but is normally never used during the winter. Before leaving home, they’d stuffed it full of “insulated coveralls, toques, jackets, extra sweaters,” as well as a small BBQ.

“Dan and I are good friends,” he laughs, “but it could have gone either way. Two guys crammed in a van for three weeks. It went really well. We made it work.”

At first, they prepared their own meals.

“It wasn’t anything fancy. Just burgers and hot dogs and sausages. The problem was, it being so cold, everything froze. Everything was frozen. Something stupid like ketchup, you leave it out at night and now you go to get ketchup and it was frozen. That was the tricky part, keeping stuff from not freezing.”

The stream of well-wishers was so persistent during the Ottawa protest, he says, it could be difficult to find quiet time for telephone calls with their wives back home:

“A half hour conversation probably took, you know, two hours because there’s always somebody knocking on the window bringing food, bringing cash, just stopping by to say ‘hi.’”

Supporters also donated brand new, full-sized BBQs still in the box to the convoy. He laughs, remembering the pair of them assembling one of these:

“Two aircraft mechanics putting a BBQ together. We had to take it apart I think two or three times just because we couldn’t concentrate. We got maybe five minutes into it and you know, somebody stopped by and chatted.

This went on. I think it took us four hours to put this damn thing together.”

*****

Donna Laframboise writes a daily blog at  ThankYouTruckers.substack.comIt is a first draft of her upcoming book that focuses on interviews with Freedom Convoy truckers. She is a former National Post and Toronto Star columnist, and a former Vice President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.