For three decades, Hy’s Steakhouse has been the place where journalists, politicians and bureaucrats have gathered in Ottawa – usually late at night, and usually over a glass of something.
But at the end of this week, Hy’s will shut its doors forever and an era in federal politics will come to an end.
Tom Clark invited three regular patrons of the famed restaurant down for one last drink in Hy’s, and asked them about some of their fondest memories of the place.
Lawrence Martin, columnist for the Globe and Mail, recalled an evening where he strolled down for a bite to eat and was confronted by then-prime minister Jean Chrétien, who was not too happy about a column Martin had penned earlier that week.
“He came over to my table, and he stood there and started strongly disagreeing with what I had written. And I said alright, well, you know, sorry, I just thought that’s the way it should be written,” Martin said.
“And I thought he would take off. He stood there for another five minutes. Everybody in the restaurant is starting to look over thinking I’m one of the greatest villains of all time!”
Journalist Don Newman pointed out that Hy’s was more than a place for confrontation, however. It was a major networking zone for journalists, lobbyists, politicians and staffers. Information was exchanged, tips were passed along in the dimly lit bar, and most people left their politics outside.
“You kind of checked your guns at the door,” Newman explained.
“You would see people from all stripes, across all parties, and they were accessible because it was kind of a public place and people had a glass of wine at hand.”
Geoff Norquay, who has been involved with Conservative politics going back into the early 1980s, agreed.
“People see us going on panels on TV and we bash the heck out of each other and then we kind of punch the clock and say well let’s go to Hy’s and have a glass of wine.”
Watch the interview above, or watch the extended version below:
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