after a 15-year absence, Carleton University’s
Ravens football team resumed play in
September with Canadian Interuniversity
Sport – and with that comes the revival of a
storied tradition known as the Panda Game
played against cross-town rivals, the University
of Ottawa Gee Gees.
The friendly match-up between the two
football teams dates back more than 50 years.
It has its origins in a little stuffed panda named
Pedro, introduced in 1955 by a University of
Ottawa student journalist to promote the ri-
valry (the natty stuffed bear was replaced by a
bronze trophy in 1979).
The annual Panda Game quickly became
a popular event, attracting as many as 15,000
fans to Lansdowne Park stadium – more than
any regular season contest in Canadian university football. The game also became notorious
for its drunken shenanigans, which sometimes
threatened to derail the tradition, particularly
after a tragedy in 1987 when a railing gave way
at the stadium, causing 30 Carleton students
to fall from the stands, some seriously injured.
Cross-town football rivalry revived
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The last Panda Game was played in 1998.
This year’s game was scheduled to take
place Oct. 5 at the new, smaller Gee-Gees Field
on the U of Ottawa campus, while Lansdowne
undergoes renovations in preparation for a
CFL team in 2014. The U of Ottawa stadium
can hold just 4,152 fans.
Gee Gees coach Jamie Barresi told a sports
blog he’s happy for the return of the game,
minus the hijinks of yesteryear. “I really do
hope that some traditions are going to be buried,” he said.
Ravens quarterback Jesse Mills is also looking forward to the event. “It will be big. I have
been talking to alumni and they are very excited about it, too. I think it’ll be tremendous.”
– léo charbonneau
With the relaunch of Carleton’s football team comes the rebirth of the Panda Game
The Gee Gees celebrate their victory in the Panda Game in 1979.