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The Panda Bowl is back this year after the Ravens return

Marc Jan | Fulcrum Staff

Photo courtesy of Carleton University ARC

A LONG-STANDING TRADITION held at Lansdowne Park that began in 1955, the Panda Bowl was a rivalry held between the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Carleton Ravens men’s football teams.

The football match pitted the two biggest universities in Ottawa against one another at Frank Clair Stadium. The story behind the event’s name and the tumultuous pranks that ensued defined and shook the core of each school’s spirit.

It’s true that some school spirit is defined by the grit of the athletes—but not in Ottawa. Here, the grit of the fans defines school spirit as well. We take that grit home with us, to work, to the grocery store, and sometimes even to the jeweler.

This particular tradition began with two young men, Thomas White and Brian McNulty.

Respectively the sports editor and associate editor for the Fulcrum in 1955, the duo planned a prank that would redefine the U of O’s school spirit. The idea behind the prank was to promote the event and also create a reason for banter between the two schools.

In a handwritten letter to the Fulcrum, White explains the details of the prank. “Brian McNulty met with a prominent Ottawa jeweler, Jack Snow. It was agreed that Jack would donate a panda to be presented to the winner of what would become an annual event—the Panda Game.” Next, not wanting to actually break any laws, White then informed the authorities of the fact that they would steal the panda from the jewelry store and that Snow, the store owner, had agreed to the robbery.

Later on, he continues, “It was decided that [I] would borrow [my] father’s car, park it in front of the jewelry store while Brian ran inside and grabbed the bear. The media was informed by the panda thieves that Carleton students were responsible for the theft.”

The panda was soon thereafter named Pedro—remember the name.

The tradition went on to exude school spirit in every possible way. Aptly named after the stolen animal, the Panda Bowl boasted some of the most attended Canadian collegiate football events. To spur on the rivalry, Pedro ran for president of the Carleton Students’ Council in 1956, at the ripe age of two.

After losing the presidency race, the Gee-Gees responded by bringing Pedro home in a 44-0 decimation of the Ravens in 1957.

The Panda Bowl eventually lost traction after a couple of tragic incidents in the ‘90s and finally came to a close in ‘98 when the Ravens finally retired their team. This was the kind of rivalry true school spirit was founded upon. This year the Ravens are back, and with them the infamous Panda Bowl.

Our Panda Bowl coverage continues as we get closer to the big game.

Keep coming back to learn more about Pedro and friends.