The Hole Family, a local cult that celebrates Ottawa’s construction season, is calling out to all of its members to prepare for the upcoming work. The Ritual of the Falling Sinkhole is set for April 29th. It is a celebration of the sinkhole that took place by University of Ottawa on Waller Street in 2014.
The group is lead by cult leader Burt Washington, a retired construction worker who sustained an injury during the Waller Sinkhole incident. While Washington was not on site at the time of the sinkhole, he claims to have sustained “almost first degree burns” due to a faulty Tim Horton’s lid that day. He also noted that construction lasted unusually long that year. The two events happening at the same time inspired him to devote his life to sinkholes .
“I thought, maybe the sinkhole was the reason construction lasted so long. The boys were working until late October, some of them mid-November. I decided to bring The Hole Family together to worship and appreciate the sinkhole as a good omen for construction workers,” said Washington. “If there’s a sinkhole this year, we’ll have an extra long season, probably eight or nine months. If there’s no sinkhole, it just means six more months of construction.”
The participants in the ritual encircle the perimeter of the location of the sinkhole on Waller Street, sporting traditional garb: yellow hard hats and reflective vests. The ritual begins with the ringing of a bell twelve times to signify the opening of the twelve-meter-wide sinkhole. It is then followed by a moment of silence, almost 120 seconds. The timing is specific, as it commemorates the twelve meters of the hole, and the almost ten months that construction season was open for in 2014. After the moment of silence, the circle disperses into groups of six, still around the sinkhole. One member in the group recites the press release from the day of the sinkhole, and then asks for a long construction season while the others stand and watch. The closing of the ritual is signified by ringing of the bell another twelve times, and then all members of the cult take the rest of the day off.