Opportunities for Youth was a “Career-Oriented Summer Employment Program” offered by the federal government in the early 1970s to give post-secondary students summer jobs in their field of study. Government departments spent no budget dollars for these summer students, but the students were paid $2.65 an hour and were provided with free transportation to and from Ottawa.
A chance notice of an ad in the UBC campus newspaper by a fellow student in October 1972 brought the program to my attention. I was assigned to Gary Grove, Environment Canada’s manager of all of their Groundwater data, Temporary Building Number 9 on Carling Avenue in Ottawa. My first day of work was May 1, 1973.
I was originally hired for my interest in writing documentation, but things changed by the time I arrived, and I spent the summer converting all the software from an IBM mainframe to a non-IBM mainframe.
Nobody told me that most of the summer would be spent in Hull, Quebec, as we moved to the brand new Place Vincent Massey in Hull on June 15th. Which led to a considerably longer commute.
In 1973, I knew Ottawa residents who would drive across town to take out what everyone I knew thought was the best Chinese food in Ottawa. At a price that could not be beat.
On Carling Avenue, not far from where I lived. I would always eat in, rather than taking out, and their dining room was clean, comfortable and nicely furnished.
The strangest thing was that, when my parents moved to Belleville in 1974, on my first visit, I discovered that they also had a Sun Luck nearby. I could no longer remember the Ottawa menu, but Belleville’s had lots of great dishes and the prices were also very reasonable.
But, when I spoke with the owner, he was not even aware of the Ottawa restaurant with the same name!
The Belleville location addressed my parents’ frequent hankering for Chinese food until the owner retired and closed his restaurant.
Admittedly, they are still in business in Ottawa today, but I have not been there since my last trip to Ottawa to attend a computer conference in 1981. It is there that I finally grew very fond of salad dressing. As a child, it was merely a way to help the lettuce, celery and carrots taste interesting enough to want to eat. Nate’s offered genuine Roquefort dressing, which was especially popular in their Hull, Quebec locations, one of which was across the street from Place Vincent Massey where I worked.
As well as being a restaurant with amazing food, Nate’s had figured out how to do well in both English-speaking Ottawa and French-speaking Hull, which could not be said for any other restaurants that I remember from that era.