(This story was written in 2004. It is a stroll down memory lane for Chelseaites. This column was published in the West Quebec Post September 11, 2014)
Highway 5 heads north over the high plain into the foothills of the Gatineaus past the fields of Old Chelsea and on up into a wilderness where it stops abruptly at the Tulip Valley Restaurant. From Old Chelsea on, there is only one overpass to be found. It is cloistered tidily out of the way between the on and off ramps to Scott Road, a barely discernible anomaly on-the-way-to-Wakefield. It was here that Vladimir made his discovery. He had been walking his dog Boris along the shoulder of Scott Road on his way to the Old Chelsea Slipcover Company when it happened.
Boris, who had never forgiven Vladimir for having fixed him before he had the chance to sow his wild oats, was loping on ahead as was his custom. Boris stopped occasionally to piddle, squatting like a girly-dog on the Queen Anne's Lace. He paused only once to watch the colourful chatter of children at the Ecole du Grand Boise. Boris paid no attention to Vladimir because he hated him. But that of course, was neither here nor there. The important thing was, Boris, on this particular day in August, as was not his custom, suddenly took off at a righteous run on over to the underpass barking madly. Vladimir, who had no idea his dog loathed him rustled his doggie doo-doo bag and cajoled, "What's got into you boy?"
Boris threw a resentful glare over his fur-clad shoulder annoyed at Vladirmir's usual thickheadedness. "Look," barked Boris. And look Vladimir did.
"Oh, it's just a bird you bourgeois mutt," said Vladimir smiling fondly at Boris who was plotting how to spend the money he would receive from Vladimir's will. Vladimir was so preoccupied trying to decide between a plaid and paisley slipcover for his Great Uncle Ivanovich's rocking chair that he actually made it all he way to the Pioneer log cabin before it dawned on him what he had seen. Boris, now used to the insufferable ignorance of his master, trotted bitterly at his side, even as Vladimir turned on his heel and made his way back to the underpass.
"Well, I'll be a horse's ovary!" exclaimed Vladimir. What seemed impossible was true. Vladimir headed off to Chelsea's Municipal Town Hall as quickly as his lumpy, hairy, spider-veined and somewhat unpleasant looking legs would take him. Boris welcomed the unexpected opportunity to commiserate with Vincent Hendricks' cattle who always mooed sympathetically at his woeful tales of unrelieved torment at having to eat No-Name Dog food because of Vladimir's ridiculous lack of refined taste.
"We've got pigeons," said Vladimir to the raptly attentive Town Council who immediately commissioned a report in triplicate with a 3D Powerpoint presentation. Boris, meanwhile, seething with hostility, would never forgive Vladimir for taking all the credit for the discovery.
"It's not so much that they're pigeons," muttered Council to themselves at the Conclave. "It's that they're not wood pigeons." Yes indeed, the pigeons that moved into Chelsea's underpass were grey as concrete, much to the horror of the resident brown wood pigeons who sometimes, when feeling pretentious would refer to themselves as mourning doves. It was the worst of times. Soon the grey pigeons started spreading out and building huge nests and demanding more concrete to blend in with. Then they wanted benches and old men to feed them organic corn niblets. Then they started petitioning council to have a statue erected and demanding a septic treatment plant giving a whole new meaning to the words stool pigeon. Then it was soccer fields and a piazza with a fountain. Then they started driving the wood pigeons further north into wild turkey country. The wood pigeon would eventually make a stand at Wakefield's Condominium project, but now of course, I'm running out of room so… that is how the Great Pigeon War started and how Chelsea got its sidewalks. It is not however, the story of how Boris finally fulfilled his lifelong ambition to murder Vladimir. That's another story altogether….