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in Victoria to take up a sport demanding excellence in swimming, running and cycling. Whitfield remains a world-class athlete and can be spotted jogging along the Dallas Road waterfront while pushing a stroller. A few years back, I visited Chuck Chapman at his home in the Oaklands neighbourhood, near Hillside Mall. He was stooped by old age, looking as though forever bent over to dribble a basketball, the sport at which he had won a silver medal at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He kept the medal in a tattered box in a side-table drawer in his living room, close at hand, but not on display, a gesture as modest as the man himself. As it turned out, my most personal Olympic moment happened when I covered the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. But it was not at Lake Lanier, nor a gymnasium, nor a stadium. I covered the Atlanta A Canadian contingent of print reporters was housed in Games, but my big new student dormitories on the moment wasn’t about campus of Clark University, just a short jaunt from the familygold medals: I sat in owned businesses lining Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. One night, a booth in a diner lured by the aroma of smoking meat, I walked through a where Martin Luther heavily-barred door into what King Jr. used to tuck a painted window declared to be Aleck’s Barbecue Heaven. into a plate of ribs. It was smoky inside. Dark, too. A counter with stools faced the ovens, whose flames made the diner feel more stygian than celestial. A few rickety tables lined the side wall. At the rear, a large poster of the man after whom the street was named loomed over a lone booth. The only typography on the poster: “1929-1968.” The corners were tattered. I asked the owner why the poster was on the wall over the booth. Sometimes, the dumbest questions elicit the best answers. After preaching, the minister made it is his habit to come to Aleck’s, just another “hungry brother” seeking a plateful of messy but delicious ribs. That booth at the back was Dr. King’s booth. They kept it after renovations. I had a seat, imagining a saintly martyr as an ordinary man. Maybe one of our visitors will find their moment walking the landscape that inspired Alice Munro and Carol Shields, or will dedicate themselves to architecture after seeing a Samuel Maclure mansion, or will become a more dedicated horticulturist after strolling through Butchart Gardens. It’s not just about the spectacle when the world comes to visit. It’s personal. VB

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Profile for Boulevard Magazine

Boulevard Magazine - January/February 2010 Issue  

BOULEVARD MAGAZINE is designed to capture the personality, culture and vitality that is Victoria by focusing on the Arts, People, Trends, Fo...

Boulevard Magazine - January/February 2010 Issue  

BOULEVARD MAGAZINE is designed to capture the personality, culture and vitality that is Victoria by focusing on the Arts, People, Trends, Fo...

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