Background story: Gatineau, 1994

For Flashback Friday, here’s another in our series of The Story Behind The Photo. This one is from CMG editor Mark Richardson.

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My wedding day, July, 1994. We got married by a United Church minister under a gazebo on a friend’s 30-acre property in Gatineau, just up the river from Ottawa.

cropI turned up at the gazebo in a mostly symbolic ride on my Suzuki DR600, which I’d already owned for nine years. I parked the bike and waited for Wendy to walk up with her dad, and then we went into the gazebo, surrounded by friends and family, and got officially married.

The minister was very soft-spoken and she had to use a microphone to be heard, even by us. But that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that the gazebo was right on the Gatineau River, which comes down to Ottawa from northern Quebec, and  just past Wakefield, the road on the other side of the river splits away from the main highway to form Route 105. I knew that road very well. It’s full of swoops and curves and gentle hills that follow close to the water.

On that road, somewhere to the north, there were a pair of sport bikes riding fast toward us. The minister was talking and Wendy was smiling and everyone else was smiling and I was listening to the bikes. I could tell from the pitches of their engines exactly where they were and what bend was coming up for them. I could judge from the rise and fall of their revs how quickly they were travelling, and how deep they were leaning into the turns. They grew louder – not so loud that anyone else could really be distracted by them, but loud enough that I was following their ride when my mind should have been in the gazebo. I was waiting for them to pass opposite so I could catch a glimpse and confirm what they were, though my back was to the river.

The minister asked me to put the ring on Wendy’s finger. The bikes were close to directly across the river at this point, maybe 500 metres away. I wanted to say, “Hey, just a second,” and look across the river, but could not. Instead, I said, “Pardon?” The minister repeated herself, Wendy looked into my eyes and squinted and realized the distraction, the bikes passed, I took a deep breath and put the ring on her finger and got married.

Wendy didn’t ride away on the bike – too impractical, and dangerous with the long train on her dress. I had to come back and get it the next day. But I still have that bike, and I’m still married to Wendy.

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