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Billy Bulletin Sept. 15-21: Montreal's New Flag, Shrinking Hotel Rooms, Obamas' Leadership Summit in Chicago

Also: Amazon! Hockey! The Billy Bulletin appears every Thursday with news about travel and the cities we cover, to help our readers and passengers navigate the week ahead.

Here's what we're seeing around our cities this week … 


Details are emerging about the first Obama Foundation Summit, a two-day event to be hosted on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 by Barack and Michelle Obama in the city that has long served as their political power base. It’s a do-gooder jamboree, intended to bring together “hundreds of young leaders … to exchange ideas, explore creative solutions to common problems, and experience civic art, technology, and music from around the world.,” According to in a new video, people who founded NGOs are shown as examples of the sorts of keeners who should apply to attend.

It remains unclear whether there will be travel subsidies to ferry the fortunate chosen attendees to Chicago. It’s also still unclear how or whether you can just pay your way in if you’re keen, but don’t make it through the application process. Stay tuned!


Whether or not you’ve ever noticed, the Montreal flag had traditionally carried five national emblems –  a fleur de lys for France, a thistle for Scotland, a shamrock for Ireland, and a St. George’s cross and a rose for England. Now the city has at last recognized another important strand of its heritage: the Haudenosaunee Confederacy – Montreal being part of the traditional territory of the Mohawk, one of the nations of the confederacy. The city’s longest-established inhabitants will now be represented by a white pine, a symbol of peace.

Montreal will also rename Rue Amherst, a major street that bears the name of a British general who is said to have given smallpox-infested blankets to Indigenous people. It’s all part of the city’s attempts to reconcile with First Nations people over the mistakes of the past, said Mayor Denis Coderre. "If we want reconciliation, I don't think we should celebrate someone who wanted to exterminate Indigenous peoples."

City of Montreal


Beantown is hoping for a very special delivery indeed: being chosen as the secondary head office for ever-growing Amazon, the world leader in online shopping. To help balance the logistics entailed by its recent purchase of Whole Foods, the company wants to set up in a North American city that isn’t too close to its home base in Seattle, but is connected by direct flights. A Bloomberg report says insiders are quietly suggesting Boston, with its pool of tech talent and relatively low costs for a major city, is a front-runner. Officially, Amazon says the field is wide open.

But Boston isn’t the only city that seems to keep coming up in discussions. The others, each with its own advantages: Dallas (low cost), Washington (conveniently close to political decision-makers and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ other company, The Washington Post), and Toronto (no threat of U.S. immigration crackdowns sending your tech geniuses away). Cities have until Oct. 19 to submit their proposals.


What to do about the problem of poor attendance at Ottawa Senators games? Throw a tarp over it! The NHL franchise made it into the final four in last spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs, and yet with that arena all the way out in Kanata and the CFL’s Redblacks playing well, too, Ottawa has seen poor enough attendance of late that it’s cutting the seating at the Canadian Tire Centre by 1,500 places.

Writing in the National Post, Scott Stinson admits that if any expansion team south of the border were struggling, Canadian sportswriters would have gone bananas. “We’d be giving Gary Bettman a metaphorical boop on the snoot about the folly of keeping teams in failed markets and asking, again, why the league is adding a 31st franchise when it clearly has problems with some of the existing 30.” The NHL regular season starts on Oct. 4.


Travel news

Founded in Toronto (and also doing business in New York), the design firm Yabu Pushelberg has created countless beautiful environments for restaurants and luxury hotels. In an interview with Skift, founders George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg talk about their latest project, a Manhattan hotel that reflects the trend toward smaller and smaller rooms, even in “nicer” properties. “It’s just the pressure of the growing global travel business,” Yabu says. “I think that there will be an upward trend in micro-hotels” – as Billy covered here.

Moxy Hotels

Rendering of a queen bedroom at the Moxy NYC Times Square

Published Thursday, September 14th 2017

Header image credit: Obama Foundation



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