City honours the wrong Jack Purcell
It’s a case of Jack Purcell versus Jack Purcell.
On one side is the late Jack Purcell of Guelph, Ontario – a one-time world badminton champion.
On the other is the late Jack Purcell of Ottawa – also known as the stick doctor. He was famous for collecting broken hockey sticks and fixing them in his basement to donate to local children. Jack Purcell Park in Ottawa’s Centretown is named after him.
So why are there giant badminton rackets adorning the park pathway?
In an attempt to further honour Ottawa's Jack Purcell, a design consultant for the City of Ottawa apparently got the two Purcell’s confused. “After the design process but before the construction phase, it was determined that the consultant had the wrong Jack Purcell in mind,” says Dan Chenier, General Manager of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services in a prepared statement.
“Well, I know that they made a mistake in figuring he was a world champion badminton player,” says John Purcell, the son of Ottawa’s Jack Purcell. “If they’d asked me about it, putting the badminton symbols up here, I would have said it’s not really appropriate.”
Chenier says the design was changed when the gaff was revealed. The rackets were changed to not include strings. They are now “intended to represent an urban forest,” his statement claims. The “forest” came with a price tag well over $45-thousand.
Passers-by had a lot of ideas of what the tall pole and hoop structures were. But no one we spoke to said they looked like trees. Guesses ranged from Olympic rings to giant lollipops to quidditch goals from the Harry Potter series. Arguably the most appropriate guess was giant question marks.
Perhaps from the City’s point of view that ambiguity might be for the best. Says local resident Pete Clarke, “Well, to honour the wrong Jack Purcell is a little embarrassing, I would think.”