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Tales from Buzzard Point - Chapter 11: New Canadian Embassy Vetoed at Buzzard Point

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The eleventh in a series of Tales from Buzzard Point, exploring the rich history and traditions of legendary Buzzard Point – a legacy that the current D.C. United ownership may have set aside in selling naming rights for the new soccer specific stadium but is forever enshrined in the chants, songs, and hearts of Black-and-Red fandom. 

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 24:  Atmosphere at the Hill, Extra And The Embassy Of Canada Celebrate The White House Correspondents' Dinner Weekend  at Embassy of Canada on April 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
The Embassy of Canada, at 501 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (its second-choice location)
Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

This entry was researched by “Tales from Buzzard Point” Series Editor David Rusk.

As this occurred in the mid-1980s when the Rusk family lived in Albuquerque, I only became aware of the whole controversy while reviewing back issues of the Evening Star, searching for more stories about Buzzard Point. The February 29, 1986, edition carried the following story in its Metro section.


Planners Reject New Canadian Embassy at Historic Buzzard Point

THE National Capital Planning Commission rejected yesterday the application of the Canadian government to build its new embassy at legendary Buzzard Point.

Instead, the NCPC directed that the embassy should be built on the lot that the Canadian government had previously acquired in 1978 on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue between 5th and 6th Streets.

“Nous sommes désolé,” said Francois Truffaut, spokesman for the Canadian Embassy. “We had desired to locate our new embassy in the much more historic Buzzard Point rather than along Pennsylvania Avenue.”

In denying the Canadians’ application, the NCPC also overrode the support of the Reagan Administration for the Buzzard Point location.

Crucial to the NCPC’s final decision was the testimony presented by Phineas T. Barnum IV, like his great-grandfather the mayor of Bridgeport and spokesman for the Buzzard Point Historical Society.

Summarizing the extensive documentation submitted by the society, Mayor Barnum testified

  • Buzzard Point has a longer history than Pennsylvania Avenue. “Turkey Buzzard Point” appeared prominently on a 1673 map of the confluence of the Potomac and Eastern Branch while Pennsylvania Avenue first appeared as an unnamed street in Pierre L’Enfant’s sketch plan for the City of Washington in 1791.
  • Buzzard Point played a crucial role in shaping American history. For example, as attested by Pulitzer Prize winning Civil War historian James M. McPherson, the midnight encounter at Buzzard Point between Union General George McClellan and the “Magic Triangle” arranged for the Union’s victory at the Battle of Antietam, while Pennsylvania Avenue serves merely as a parade route where such victories are celebrated.
  • Buzzard Point is the locus of major technological and scientific advances from the earliest experiments in manned heavier-than-air flight to the development of the anti-galaxy machine and earthquakes suppression/ tectonic plate reliever. Pennsylvania Avenue is only identified with primitive conversation taping and eavesdropping technology.
  • Buzzard Point has a rich biological endowment in which buzzards (Cathartes aura) and bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), our national symbol, predominate as well as being the last known locale of an aurochs (Bos primigenius bojanus). Pennsylvania Avenue has only starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) and lobbyists (harpȳia).
  • At Buzzard Point in 1888, famed detective Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson thwarted Professor Moriarty’s scheme to destroy democracy and subjugate the Western world. By contrast, ineffectual, misguided investigations emanate too often from the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • Buzzard Point provided the power amplification for Nicola Tesla’s secret demonstration of his invention of wireless telegraphy (predating Guglielmo Marconi) and the actual source of Tesla’s wireless, long-distance electric power transmission system.
  • Inspiring works like “James Greenleaf’s Nemesis” and “The Buzzard” by Edgar Allen Pope, Buzzard Point’s literary contributions surpass even the Concord Writers of the 19th century. Motivating only presidential memoirs, Pennsylvania Avenue has made no literary contribution whatsoever. (Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, the only truly notable presidential history, was written at Mount MacGregor, New York.); and
  • Buzzard Point wrecked ships. Pennsylvania Avenue wrecks careers.

In announcing their decision, NCPC chairman Daniel Burnham IV explained, “Despite the long history of amicable rivalry between the United States and Canada — setting aside the unpleasantries of the War of 1812 — it is unthinkable that visitors, let’s say, from Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver should be afforded a home away from home on the hallowed ground of Buzzard Point.”

Commenting on the embassy’s rejection, Burnham explained “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood. We must preserve Buzzard Point for some great edifice that will achieve world-wide, ever-lasting renown.”


Note from Series Editor David Rusk: “Tales from Buzzard Point” includes historical fiction and should be considered a work of homage or parody.

All members of the B&RU Commentariat are invited to submit manuscripts of their own researches into the history and traditions of Buzzard Point. All must a) involve Buzzard Point, b) have some relationship to football/ soccer, and c) demonstrate that Buzzard Point is hallowed ground for D.C. United, and our MLS opponents are doomed to never come away from Buzzard Point with a result.