Everyone who reads this space knows I love a good caper.
I once asked Reform bon vivant and former Hill radio guy Ron Wood for his best caper story. It was years ago.
"What about the time the chauffeurs misplaced three limos during the Gallery dinner?"
And with that Ron took his leave.
It was only today that Ron revealed to me what happened that fateful night.
I'll let him tell it.
It was the 1966 Press Gallery Dinner and I was there with another colleague from the Gallery who'd also gone dateless. We'd been to the Club for a few before hitting the cocktail reception and then the dinner. During the dinner, before dessert we went outside for some air and a smoke and there were four limousines parked at the west entrance to the West Block with no drivers in sight. I looked in one and the keys were in the ignition, another one was idling two more had keys in ignition. The drivers were inside being fed a meal in the basement somewhere. The idling car was driven first and parked up behind the library, followed by the other three and then we went back to the west block entrance and hung around waiting to see what happened. The drivers remained inside so we went back to the after dinner entertainment and more drinks. When it wrapped we went outside and there was great panic…four limos missing..and a bunch of swaying men in tuxedos standing around wondering where the cars could've gone.
I had been invited to a suite at the Chateau by Senator Wally McCutcheon for after dinner drinks so we weaved our way down Wellington to attend that. At one point, pouring myself a scotch in the suite a man walked up to the table to pour one for himself and he looked vaguely familiar. I extended my hand and said, "Ron, you look familiar?" He shook my hand and said, "John, no I don't believe we've met." I said, "Well, you look like somebody I've met" and let it go at that. It was John Robarts I was informed later. He had also walked to the Chateau while they searched for his limo..they were found, all of them idling, behind the library and returned in under an hour.
Some time later, Senator McCutcheon told me to help myself to a few bottles because he was going to bed and most of the guests had left..so I grabbed a couple of half full bottles as did my friend (I won't name him because he might still be alive) and we walked up to the Press Club..hid the bottles under some bushes beside the Bank of Montreal…enjoyed a few drinks and some breakfast, called a cab, fetched the bottles and went home to our respective apartments just as the sun rose once again over Ottawa.
Can't believe that was 49 years ago.
Ed. Note: I believe Ron was waiting for the Statute of Limitations to run out...