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  • Writer's pictureNikki Mantell

Did we fool you?

Readers could be forgiven for not catching our April Fools’ jokes in last week’s paper. Our front page photo showed two smiling diners raising a glass on the Le Hibou patio. Then, just hours after the edition was distributed, the Quebec government announced our region was going into lockdown again, and restaurants, gyms, and schools would close. If only it were Premier Legault’s poisson d’avril.

The Low Down featured not one, not two, but three April Fools’ jokes last week — did we getcha?

The obvious spoof that likely fooled no one, but hopefully amused many (maybe not all) was the tongue-very-firmly-planted in cheek article on page 5 dubbed “Chelsea greenlights McDonald’s kiosk on community trail.” Suffice to say, no one is falling for quotes from Alice Pitcher (who the heck is that?) such as: “What could be better than a fistful of fries while flying fancy-free down the trail on a fat-bike.” We can’t take credit for the alliteration in this satirical stab at two of Chelsea’s hot-button issues — that goes to the true author: long-time reader Michael Geisterfer, who sent in the submission.

We like to think that piece served as the decoy to divert attention away from our other two April Fools’ articles.

Columnist John Zeitoun had readers going when he announced Dutch inventor Cornelius Drebbel was bringing “onderhuisjes” – brightly coloured houseboats-turned-submarines – to the Gatineau River to provide an alternative to exorbitant vacation rental prices. Fortunately (for us), La Pêche Mayor Guillaume Lamoureux was a good sport about being quoted in the article, but it is very believable he would support a green, electric alternative to gas-powered houseboats.

Finally – and this is the one we know fooled a number of our readers – it is, in fact, not true that the Quebec language police will issue fines to tradespeople and hardware stores caught using the British imperial system of measurement rather than the French-invented metric system. We received one Letter to the Editor of protest, though the author let us know he caught on a few days later. Some readers wrote in praising us for the McDonald’s send-up, which they thought was the only spoof, and we had to go back and challenge them to find the two others, like an Easter egg hunt.

Perhaps most surprising: we totally fooled the spouses of our own staff. As our ad director’s husband put it: “it’s just so believable” that the Quebec government would find another area to target with its ham-fisted application of the language laws. Considering “pastagate” and other laughable overzealous attempts to enforce Bill 101, which only yielded the OLF bad press, The Low Down’s piece could have been even more over-the-top and still be believable. Plus, he recognized his Chelsea neighbour, Oliver Drake, in the photo, which helped sell the spoof. (The LD also thanks Olie for getting in on the joke — did anyone notice the subtle “WTF” inked on to his five-point-eight-by-ten-point-two-centimetre piece of wood?)

And thanks to all our readers for having a sense of humour and indulging us in our long-standing tradition of April Fools’ jokes in your local rag.


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