In 1955, the idea for the Panda Game was cooked up by Ottawa U. student Brian McNulty, a former associate editor of The Fulcrum and the Chairman of the Ottawa U. Publicity Committee. He obtained the soon-to-be-famous bear, and then arranged with Ottawa Jeweller Jack Snow to display the original Pedro the Panda as Ottawa U’s mascot in his Sparks Street store.
Before the first Panda Game, Brian McNulty set up a pre-arranged robbery of the bear, which attracted attention from the media. Ottawa Police quietly agreed to go along with it to help promote the game. Ottawa U. students were furious, publicly blaming “wiseacres from Carleton” for stealing the bear.
In the first Panda Game in 1955, Carleton beat Ottawa 14-6. Gord Johnston threw a TD pass to his old Fisher Park High School teammate Bob Anderson, and Walt Lacosta kicked two field goals and added a convert for the Ravens.
Pedro the Panda was parachuted off the roof of the northside grandstand at Lansdowne Park to the winning captains, Doug Duclos and Graydon Harrison, following the inaugural Panda Game in 1955. Doug Duclos caught the bear following the Ravens’ 14-6 win.
While every Panda Game has pitted friends and former high school and youth teammates against each other, the 1955 game saw two future brothers-in-law battle each other. Carleton’s Jim Steen and Ottawa’s Gary Couture both went to Glebe High School. In 1959, Steen married Maureen Hooper. A year later, Maureen’s sister, Penny, married Couture. “We developed a strong friendship,” said Steen. “We were always there for each other through the years.”
In 1956, Con Poulin scored two touchdowns as Carleton knocked off Ottawa 14-10 to win the second annual Panda Game. That year marked the first time the Ottawa U. team was referred to as the “Gee-Gees” by the media.
The 1957 Panda Game was nearly cancelled because a flu bug ripped through the Ravens’ ranks. They opted to play the game with only 19 players, many of whom were under the weather. Ottawa won the game 44-0.
In 1958, Pedro the Panda went on a coast-to-coast tour, visiting George Williams College in Montreal, as well as the University of British Columbia and Dalhousie University.
In 1959, Pedro had one of his legs ripped off by a fan who tried to wrestle him away from a cheerleader. The cheerleader had just enjoyed a tour around the stadium track that existed in those days, riding in a white MG.
While the Gee-Gees won the battle on the field during the 1960 Panda Game, they also won the battle in the parking lot before the game. The two teams got in a brawl before the game as their buses arrived at Lansdowne Park. “You would never see something like that today, but back then, things were a little different. They were big, tough and they were older,” said Glen St. John, who was Carleton’s rookie quarterback that year.
The first father and son combination to score in Panda Game history are Ottawa’s Peter Barnabe and his son Chris, who played for Carleton. In 1961, Peter kicked a single for the Gee-Gees, while in 1982, Chris kicked a convert for Carleton. Peter Barnabe went on to become an assistant coach at Carleton, while his two sons, Chris and Joe, were part of the 1985 Ravens OQIFC championship.
Only one person has ever scored a touchdown for Carleton in the Panda Game, and then go on to win a Panda Game as the Ravens head coach. Kim McCuaig scored a TD for Carleton in the 1961 Panda Game and would win the 1974 Panda Game as the Ravens’ head coach.
Through the 1990s, Carleton and Ottawa usually played each other twice in the regular season. From 1958-61, there was a second Panda. Carmelita was introduced in 1958 as the prize for the “other” Carleton-Ottawa game. Carmelita was played for three times and then never heard from again.
In the 1962 Panda Game, Glen St. John was hit from behind while throwing a pass to Kim McCuaig, who was running a down-and-out pattern. “I don’t have any memory of the rest of the game,” St. John said. “Apparently, I kept calling the same play over and over again, and eventually they figured something was wrong and I couldn’t play.” It was revealed after the game that St. John thought the game was a practice, and he was determined to keep throwing the pass to McCuaig “until it worked.”
In 1963, Michael Kirby, who wrote a U. of O. column in the Ottawa Citizen, threw some egg in the face of Carleton students who had thought they pulled a fast one on their cross-town rivals. “A lot of faces were red at Carleton last week when they discovered that they had bearnapped their own bad replica of Pedro the Panda,” Kirby wrote. “When students of the U. of O. went to Carleton’s football field last week to see the annual Pedro game they were amazed to see a Panda bear hanging 75 feet in the air below a Carleton flag. In the second half of the game, when Carleton was well on the way to being beaten, some students from Carleton, believing the hanging panda to be the real thing, cut him loose and made off with him.”
In the 1963 Panda Game, Jim Sevigny had a 70-yard run from scrimmage, which remains the longest run by a Raven in the Panda Game.
In 1964, the Panda Game would be played at Carleton for the second straight year, even though it was a home game for Ottawa U. The crowd of 3,000 watched as the Ravens upset the heavily-favoured Gee-Gees 40-33.
After Carleton beat Ottawa in the 1964 Panda Game, Ottawa U. Students Union President Bob Campbell said Pedro was stored safely in a Brinks truck. He said a formal ceremony would be arranged to turn over the bear. He added that had Pedro been handed over to Carleton at the game, “he would have been torn to shreds.”
After the 1964 season ended, Ottawa University Students Association President Bob Campbell presented the bear to Carleton Students’ Council President Alan Harowick at the Ottawa U. Student Union building on Cumberland Street. Mark Pouliot, the editor of the Fulcrum, had another plan for the bear and engineered another bearnapping. As Harowick carried the bear across the street to the car, he was attacked by a group of 12 Ottawa U. students who emerged from the darkness. The Carleton reported that in less than 10 seconds, Pedro was ripped limb from limb, and he was toted off by the Ottawa U. students. Harowick was knocked on his back but was not injured.
In 1965, the Ravens and Gee-Gees both had 5-0 records and were tied for first place as they headed into the Panda Game. However, during the season, it was discovered that Pedro was missing. A week later, with CJOH-TV cameras rolling, the bear was exhumed from his underground quarters beside the soccer field. Later that evening, he appeared on the CBOT news.
In 1965, Ottawa Citizen columnist Eddie MacCabe wrote about the Panda Game. “We have just such a situation this afternoon at the Carleton University field with the Ravens meeting Ottawa University. There’s all the nonsense of Pedro the Panda, the game trophy arriving by helicopter. Pedro has ridden in a Brinks car, he’s been kidnapped, spiritied across the state line (out of Sandy Hill). He’s grown, in his adventures, from a rather pedestrian birth to a big and appropriately zany symbol of the crosstown rivalry between these two universities.”
In 1966, a crowd of more than 6,000 fans packed the stadium on Carleton’s campus as Ottawa beat Carleton 28-13.
There are two Ravens who played in the Panda Game and who would have daughters to go on to win Juno Awards. Gene Rheaume, who played for the Ravens in the 1970s, is the father of Juno Award winner Amada Rheaume. Quarterback Al Morissette, who joined the Ravens when Carleton and St. Patrick’s College merged in 1967, is the father of Alanis Morissette.
Reporter Don Curry of the Carleton, the predecessor to the Charlatan, offered this gem in his coverage of the 1976 Panda Game. “The referees at last Saturday’s Panda Game missed an obvious roughing penalty. It should have gone to Ravens trainer Bud Corkran. Bud, who wasn’t too gentile with the fellow he caught swiping the ball.”
The 1968 Panda Game was a thriller. The Ravens, ranked fifth in the nation, while the Gee-Gees were ranked fourth. Trailing 28-21, Carleton scored on the last play of the game, but instead of going for the tie, they went for the win. Their two-point conversion attempt failed, and Ottawa won 28-27.
The last second 28-27 loss to Ottawa in the 1968 Panda Game was the last game for Keith Harris as Carleton’s head coach. The Carleton Athletic Director stepped down and named assistant coach Kim McCuaig as the new football head coach.
Only two former Ravens head coaches won the Panda Game as both a Carleton head coach and as a player. Kim McCuaig won the Panda Game with the Ravens as both a player and a coach, while Ace Powell won four Panda Games as the Ravens head coach and also won the Panda while playing for the Ottawa Gee-Gees.
Carleton’s Ron Wolchuk was a hero of Carleton’s 1969 Panda Game win. He had a 25-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first quarter, and his interception in Carleton territory in the fourth quarter set up Carleton’s winning TD drive.
The first Carleton Raven to ever win a Panda Game and a Grey Cup was fullback Steve Wormith. He played in the 1969 Panda Game. In 1970, Wormith was hurt in training camp and spend the season on the Montreal Alouettes’ injured list. The Als won the Grey Cup that year. Wormith, who was cut before the next season started, is the only player in CFL history to have his name engraved on the Grey Cup without ever playing a down of professional football.
The first Carleton Raven to win a Panda Game and play in a Grey Cup and win was Brian Hedges. He was a member of the 1971 Ravens team that knocked off first ranked Ottawa U. He won the Grey Cup with the 1976 Ottawa Rough Riders.
Before the 1970 Panda Game, vandals from Ottawa U. burned letters onto the football field with Ajax, and also ripped a number of toilet paper dispensers from the walls and stole flags. Carleton, however, was sent a bill for $527, irking Carleton’s finance commissioner David Cameron. “We have billed Carleton because the contract is with them,” said John Gray of the Civic Centre in an interview with the Carleton newspaper. “It doesn’t matter who was actually responsible for the damage.”
In the 1970 Panda Game, linebacker Bob Eccles intercepted a pass and ran it back 72 yards. Fifty years later, it remains the second longest interception return in Ravens history.
On the day of the 1970 Panda Game, General Gilles Turcotte sent the Royal 22nd Regiment, known throughout Canada as the Van Doos, to guard federal property in and around Montreal. The request was made by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and his Liberal Government. Meanwhile, Quebec lawyer Robert Lemieux was appointed by the FLQ to negotiate the release of diplomat James Cross and Deputy Premier Pierre Laporte. The FLQ executed Laporte less than two weeks later.
Not many people gave the Ravens much of a chance to beat the number one ranked Gee-Gees in the 1971 Panda Game, and that included game sponsor Carling-O’Keefe. The brewery was to award the winning team $400 after the game. When the cheque was presented to Carleton captain Bob Eccles after the game, it had already been made out to the Ottawa University Students Union. A corrected cheque was sent, and the money went toward team jackets for the Ravens. The mix-up triggered a brief campus boycott of O’Keefe Ale, which had been one of the most popular beers on campus.
Behind the strong play of quarterback Jim Colton and receiver Conrad Kozak, the Gee Gees would beat Carleton 31-14 in the 1972 Panda Game. Ten years later, both Colton and Kozak joined the Ravens as assistant coaches under head coach Ace Powell.
Quarterback Dave Montagano and flanker Scott Alexander combined on an 89-yard touchdown pass in the 1972 Panda Game. It is Carleton’s longest pass play in Panda Game history.
Carleton quarterback Mike Ruddy scored two touchdowns for Carleton in the 1973 Panda Game. The following year, though, Ruddy threw a TD pass for the Gee-Gees against Carleton in the Panda Game. He is the only player to ever quarterback both the Ravens and Gee-Gees and throw a TD pass both for and against both teams.
The 1974 Panda Game was the 200th football game in Carleton history. The Ravens were ranked 10th in the country heading into the game, but lost to the second-ranked Gee-Gees.
Gee-Gees legend Neil Lumsden scored 25 points in Ottawa’s 1975 Panda Game win that year. Ottawa won the Vanier Cup that year, and Lumsden set a Canadian university records for most points (412), and OUA records for most touchdowns in a season (15) and in a career (31).
The 1977 Panda Game opened up with the Ravens running a reverse on the opening kick-off. Jerry Palmer scored an 85-yard touchdown and the Ravens knocked off the Gee-Gees 36-16.
In Carleton’s 36-16 win in the 1977 Panda Game, Mario Arnone had six points and passed Scott Alexander to become the Ravens’ career scoring leader. Arnone is still third on the all-time list, trailing only Michael Domagala and Jeff Morris.
Veteran quarterback Mark Lee came off the bench to lead Carleton to a 24-13 win in the 1978 Panda Game. It was only the second time since 1956 that the Ravens had won back-to-back Panda Games.
The Ravens went into the 1980 Panda Game with an 0-5 record, but pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Ravens history to win their third Panda Game in four years, upsetting the third ranked Gee Gees 30-21.
In Carleton’s 1980 upset win in the Panda Game, the big play of the game was something Coach Kealey called the “Panda Special.” With back-up quarterback Mike Grace playing wide receiver, Steve Wagner took the snap, threw a lateral pass to Grace, who then fired a 40-yard touchdown pass to Dave Norcott.
Kicker Roy Gallo set a Carleton record in the 1980 Panda Game with an 82-yard kick-off. It is still the fourth longest kick off in Ravens history and second longest in Panda Game history.
In 1981, Ravens quarterback Steve Gladu became the first Raven whose father also suited up for Carleton. Ed Gladu joined the Ravens in 1953, but did not play in a Panda Game as he was injured in 1955.
The first father and son combination to play for the Ravens in a Panda game is the Sevigny’s. Jim Sevigny was a running back for Carleton in the early 1960s, while his son, Bruce, was a running back for the Ravens in the early-to-mid 1980s.
In the 1982 Panda Game, fifth-year wide receiver Pat McGinn established a Carleton record with 13 receptions. It was McGinn’s last game as a Raven.
At the beginning of the 1983 Panda Game, a skydiver was supposed to land on the Lansdowne Park field with the game ball. Unfortunately, a gust of wind took the skydiver off course, and he and game ball ended up landing in the Rideau Canal behind the south side stands.
The 1983 Panda Game saw the greatest comeback in Ravens history. Trailing 28-4 in the fourth quarter, the Ravens rallied with four touchdowns to win 33-28. John Dawley had 15 receptions, which is still a Carleton record. Dawley, who had 242 yards and three TDs, was CIAU Player of the Week.
In the 1983 Panda Game, kicker Jeff Morris had nine points and a 46.7 yard punting average. The star of the game for Carleton was wide receiver John Dawley, who had three fourth quarter touchdowns in the comeback win. “When the game ended, our bench went nuts,” Morris said. “We were running around and screaming like our eyes were going to pop out of our heads. Ace (coach Ace Powell) was pumping his fists in the air. John Dawley just stood and watched us with this shy grin and all he would talk about was how great (quarterback) Cam Collins played, how good the offensive line was, and how the defence stepped up and turned the game around. He’s one of the most humble guys I have ever met, and one of the greatest teammates you could ever have.”
In 1984, the Ravens clinched a playoff spot for the second straight year by winning their second straight Panda Game, 30-18 over the Ottawa Gee-Gees. Zenon Woychyshyn and Mark Clost pounded through the Gee-Gees defence with a power running game behind the blocking of Dan Petschenig, Kerry McCowell, Kevin McKerrow, Joe MacDonald, Ian McNaughton and Anthony Toppazzini. Woychyshyn finished the game with 132 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
In the 1984 Panda Game, Jeff Morris set an OQIFC record in the game with an 85-yard punt. He had set a school record earlier in the year with a 95-yard punt against Waterloo. The Panda Game was the third game of the regular season in which Morris averaged more than 49 yards per punt. He led the country in 1984 with an average of 44.3 yards, which 36 years later, remains the fourth highest single-season punting average in USports history.
Leo Benvenuti had a 64-yard punt return in the 1985 Panda Game. It was the longest punt return by a Raven in the Panda Game until Quinton Soares had an 84-yard return in the 2017 Panda Game.
In the 1985 Panda Game, Jeff Morris set a Panda Game record that still sends with a 90-yard kick off.
In 1986, Carleton quarterback Steve Fretwell could barely hear through the first quarter of the game as his ears were ringing. As the Ravens were entering the field, a fan threw a firecracker that went off inches from Fretwell’s face.
In the 1986 Panda Game, running back Mark Brown ran for 179 yards, which at the time was the most yards rushing in a Panda Game.
In 1987, Carleton beat Ottawa 8-4 to win their fourth Panda Game in five years. The game will forever be remembered for a railing collapse at Lansdowne Park that left dozens of students injured.
After winning the coin toss, the eighth ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees wanted the win and would kick off to open 1994 Panda Game. “When they (Ottawa) elected to give us the wind and kick to us to start the game, I took it as a personal insult,” said Jason Mallett of the Ravens to Bob Ferguson of the Ottawa Citizen. “I told the guys to give me some blocking and I’d score on the kickoff. It may have been a bit of bravado, but I lived up to my word. It really set the tone for the game.” Mallett’s 103-yard return for a touchdown sparked a 27-15 win and gave Pedro back to Carleton after losing six straight Panda Games.
In the 1994 Panda Game, rookie safety Andrew Carter had one of the best defensive games ever played by a Raven. He had 14.5 tackles, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble in the game. He was named OQIFC Player of the Week.
When the Ravens won the 1994 Panda Game, head coach Donn Smith became the first person to ever win the Grey Cup as a player and the Panda Game as a head coach. Smith played centre for the 1976 Grey Cup champion Ottawa Rough Riders.
In the 2013 Panda Game, Tunde Adeleke set a Carleton record with a 129-yard touchdown on a field goal return.
“The ball just fell into my hands,” said Nate Behar after what can only be described as the greatest moment in Carleton Ravens history. “It’s a play we had practiced. I got behind the defenders, the ball was tipped, and it landed right in my hands. I turned around and I ran into the end zone. I fell, and then I was swarmed.” Behar’s catch gave the Ravens a 33-31 win over the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the 2014 Panda Game.
In the 2014 Panda Game, Nate Behar set a Ravens record with 276 yards receiving – 55 of those yards coming on the Hail Mary pass from Jesse Mills on the last play of the game to give Carleton the win.
The only Ravens quarterback to ever pass for 300 or more yards in a Panda Game is Nick Gorgichuk, who passed for 318 yards in the 2014 Panda Game. Gorgichuk was replaced by Jesse Mills on the final play of the game, and Mills lofted a 55-yard touchdown pass to Nate Behar to win the game.
In 2015, a crowd of 17,596 saw Carleton knock off Ottawa 48-45 in double overtime in the highest scoring Panda Game ever played.
Jesse Mills threw four touchdown passes in the 2015 Panda Game as Carleton beat Ottawa 48-45 in double-overtime. Mulls threw two touchdown passes to Kyle Van Wynsberghe and one each to Nate Behar and Wilson Birch.
Carleton’s 2017 overtime win over Ottawa was one of the most exciting Panda Games ever played. Late in the fourth quarter, Michael Arruda lofted a 75-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Phil Iloki with 2:09 left to play to give the Ravens the lead before Ottawa’s Lewis Ward nailed a 45-yard field goal on the last play of the game. “When I was running down the sideline, I was looking at the scoreboard to see how close the (Gee-Gees) defenders were to me,” Iloki said of his touchdown. “And even though the crowd was loud, I heard my mom yelling. I had to score.”
In 2017, Nathan Carter set a Panda Game record by rushing for 256 yards in Carleton’s win over Ottawa.
Wide receiver Quinton Soares threw a 78-yard touchdown pass to Dominic Walker on the first play from scrimmage in the 2018 Panda Game. In 2018, Soares caught a 78-yard TD pass from Jesse Mills. He is the only Raven to throw for a TD, catch a TD pass, and return a punt for a TD in the Panda Game.
The only two Carleton quarterbacks to throw four TD passes in a Panda Game are Cam Collins (1983) and Jesse Mills (2015).
Nate Behar and John Dawley are the only Raven receivers to catch 10 or more passes in a Panda Game twice. Dawley had 15 catches in 1983 and 13 in 1985. Behar had 13 in 2014 and 12 in 2016.
The record for most punts in a game by a Carleton punter is 14, set by Chris Harber in 1971 and Mark Hurst in 1981.
In the 1981 Panda Game, Tom MacLeod set what was then a Carleton record as he unloaded an 84-yard punt.
Since the Panda Game began in 1955, the overall attendance for the game has been 479,445. If the next Panda Game is a sell-out as the last two have been, the game will surpass a half million fans all time.