Where the heck in Orléans is that? Photo challenge gets locals to pay attention

·3 min read
Mike Perreault, a minister at Rothwell United Church, says he hopes the challenge gets people in Orléans to better appreciate a community that has a reputation as a 'bland suburb.' (Mike Perreault - image credit)
Mike Perreault, a minister at Rothwell United Church, says he hopes the challenge gets people in Orléans to better appreciate a community that has a reputation as a 'bland suburb.' (Mike Perreault - image credit)

An Orléans man is posting creative photographs he takes on his daily morning walk and then challenging locals to identify where they've been snapped.

Rev. Mike Perreault, 49, is the photographer behind the "Where the heck in Orléans is that?" challenge. His online version of "I Spy' has proven to be a popular feature on a closed Facebook site called Being Neighbourly Orleans, which has about 4,500 members.

"My rule is it has to be guessable. It has to be in a well-traveled area. [It's usually] an obscure angle. So there's a bit of a challenge in it," Perreault told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.

Perreault occasionally uses a DSLR camera for his shots, but more often takes them on his smart phone.

After he's uploaded them, residents post their guesses throughout the day, before the big evening reveal. Occasionally, Perreault offers hints if a photo is a big stumper.

Some, he says, are harder than others — including a tricky shot of a rock wall formation near a new shopping centre.

"Literally thousands of people drive by it every day," Perreault said. "It took all day for people to get that. But they did. They got it."

This picture of the Royal Bank rock wall at Mer Bleu and Innes stumped people for most of the day, Perreault said, even though thousands drive past it.
This picture of the Royal Bank rock wall at Mer Bleu and Innes stumped people for most of the day, Perreault said, even though thousands drive past it.(Mike Perreault)

'A bit of a day-brightener'

Perreault is the minister at Rothwell United Church in Orléans, which hasn't had an in-person service since March 2020. Instead, he produces a weekly service on YouTube and hosts an hour-long Zoom coffee hour afterwards.

He's also a padré with the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, a reserve unit of the Canadian Armed Forces, and is preparing for basic training after officially enrolling six weeks ago — meaning his daily seven-to-10-kilometre walks have added urgency.

Perreault spent a lot of time in Orléans as a child and moved back permanently in 2009, along with his wife and their three kids, all now teenagers.

One of the photographs that Mike Perreault has posted on a community Facebook group as part of his 'Where the heck is that in Orleans?' challenge. (The answer, by the way, is in a park near Convent Glen Elementary School.)
One of the photographs that Mike Perreault has posted on a community Facebook group as part of his 'Where the heck is that in Orleans?' challenge. (The answer, by the way, is in a park near Convent Glen Elementary School.)(Mike Perreault)

"It sort of has a reputation of being kind of a bland suburb. But there really have been some great efforts to make it a beautiful place to live," he said. "So when people get to appreciate where they're at, it's a good thing."

Perreault said he hears from parishioners, Facebook friends and neighbours that people are frustrated and fatigued by the COVID-19 pandemic, and he's hoping the challenge offers people a little lift.

"Folks are kind of languishing through this third wave … so it's kind of gratifying to be a bit of a day-brightener," said Perreault.

Try your hand at guessing the following scenes from Orléans. All photos taken by Mike Perreault while out walking.