rideau mcdonalds closing ottawa

A march was held to mourn the closing of Ontario's sketchiest McDonald's

Fast-food patrons holding raccoon signs and even a guy in a mildly terrifying Ronald McDonald costume spilled into the streets of Ottawa over the weekend to participate in a march mourning the impending loss of what is widely recognized as the sketchiest McDonald's location in the province.

Ottawa's notorious Rideau Street McDonald's is just weeks away from its anticipated April or May closure, the end of a location known for its criminal activity and outrageous after-dark antics.

To commemorate the loss of a location that has served up burgers and fries with a side of wild stories since 1985, hundreds of people showed up to Ottawa's Confederation Park on Sunday, marching to the McDonald's at 99 Rideau St. in a raucous show of support for the fast-food haunt.

But why?

The Rideau Street McDonald's Farewell March represented more than just a place to shake off a hangover with a Big Mac or grab some quick breakfast eats on the way to work.

It was an almost mythical place known more for its folklore and an almost-constant police presence than whether or not its ice cream machines were actually functional.

Anyone familiar with Toronto's infamous Queen and Spadina McDonald's will tell you it's a contender for the sketchiest in the province, but Ottawa locals would be justified in shutting down that notion.

According to a report from CTV News Ottawa, police were called to the Rideau Street McDonald's more than 150 times in 2022. Which sounds bad until you see the 2018 figure of over 800 police calls to the location.

On any given day that year, McDonald's staff had a roughly 219 per cent chance of a police visit, or 2.20 police calls to the location per day.

But it's perhaps better known for the bizarre incidents that have unfolded beyond the welcoming aura of the location's golden arches, like a wild 2014 brawl where some guy pulled out a baby raccoon as if it were some sort of feral bandit-masked weapon.

That raccoon has become a living legend in Ottawa, so much so that attendees at the weekend march held signs with a raccoon face superimposed on the McD's logo to recognize the Rideau location's odd history.

But it was about more than just memes and jokes at the location's expense, as many were out to support those who continue to use the location as a refuge from the cold and a place to have a cheap, hot meal.

One of the organizers, Keith de Silvia-Legault, told the CBC that the march was initially conceived as a joke, though the 22-year-old University of Ottawa student explained that it has since evolved into something more.

Recognizing the location's importance as a meeting place and relatively affordable food and shelter option for locals experiencing homelessness, de Silvia-Legault decided to follow through with the event, and even issue a call to participants to bring non-perishable food donations for charity, the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Lead photo by

Jeangagnon via Wikimedia Commons


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