Sorry about the delay. Apparently, if you write for ten days without cleaning your apartment, your camera cables disappear. It's a scientific fact!
Maintenant, je vous presente... Champion, Alberta.
Yes, this bustling boomtown is the setting for my novel, which holds 25,000 people and a WHL team. Apparently, a direct translation isn't possible. But I can still work in some sort of homage, right? Street names? Landmarks? Actually, no. There's only one name given to any building around here, and that's Champion. "Champion Elementary School", "Champion Protestant Church", "Champion Community Hall", etc. Also, there's only one street in the entire village that isn't numbered, and that's "Main". In fact, the numbered streets don't even have any ordinals: Rather than 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, it's 1 St., 2 St., and 3 St.
I wonder if this is that famous "No-Nonsense Alberta Practicality" that I keep hearing about.
While I was there, I treated myself to dinner at the Champion Inn, one of the many "greasy chopsticks" scattered across the prairies -- a Chinese restaurant adapted into a truck stop. I wasn't expecting a little pocket of ethnic diversity, but I couldn't help but be surprised when I ordered tea, and I got a pot of plain black Tetley.
Even better was the daily special. I ordered the soup of the day, and I got a surprise: Potato borscht! Served in a thin creamy stock with carrots and other garden vegetables, it had big chunks of ham and beef sausage, loaded up with all those classic Mennonite spices. It wasn't quite the clam chowder that the waitress described, but it was still tasty. Besides, there's something oddly charming about a German version of an English soup in a Chinese restaurant. Who was I to complain?
There was one curious thing about Champion, though, that I still don't understand. Take a look at their welcome sign:
Now, I understand the importance of advertising hot dog night, but the village of Champion, Alberta, couldn't come up with a better slogan than that? On the other hand, they are just south of Vulcan. It could be that they're sick and tired of those Vulcaners tacking Star Trek jokes onto every fence post... or maybe I'm giving them too much credit.
Even without the "victory" angle, the least they could have done was change it to "Gateway to Little Bow P.P." I mean, that's just common courtesy.