NEWS
11/08/2016 14:08 EST | Updated 11/09/2017 00:12 EST

Canadians gather for season finale of the US election reality show

TORONTO — Across Canada, people began gathering Tuesday for the season finale of the ultimate political reality TV show: the U.S. presidential election.

From coast to coast to coast, Canadians and Americans in Canada were glued to television sets and computers watching the tallies come in.

In Halifax, at a north-end pub where live results were being projected on big screens inside and outside, Laura Neals said she wanted to get together with friends to take in an evening she called "historic." 

Neals said she was especially exited at the possibility Hillary Clinton could become the first female president in the U.S., which would become the 60th country — including Canada — to have a woman in charge.

"It's a moment that is important for America but I think it's important for every woman in the world," Neals, 29, said as she sipped on a beer.

"It feels like a new frontier and I'm excited to see it in real life, in real time."

One Toronto hotel, which dubbed the election campaign "braggattrocious," was already packed as the first polling stations south of the border closed and a large television set screened the incoming numbers.

On hand was one woman, Elizabeth Littlejohn, a communications and new media professor who had two sets of Kleenex with her:

"This little one is for if Hillary wins, and this big one is for if Trump wins," Littlejohn said.

Many pubs in big cities are hosting special events, with scenes expected to resemble a Game 7 of a World Series or Stanley Cup playoff.

Outdoor events are planned in other places, such as Halifax and Sydney, N.S.

With politics going up against the puck drop, one Montreal pub will screen hockey on the main floor and host an election-viewing party upstairs.

What seems clear is that whoever wins, some will be cheering and others will be left crying in their beer.

No matter who wins, said Maria Rajanayagam with the American Chamber of Commerce in Vancouver, the vote is worth celebrating as history in the making.

"This is such a momentous occasion of either having the first woman president elected or having a very independent person elected," said Rajanayagam, who will be joining a few hundred Canadians and Americans at a downtown hotel to watch.

"It's the most talked about election for a very long time and it's one that definitely needed to be celebrated, so here we are."

Outside Churchill, Man., Jim Halfpenny will be taking in the results via computer at the Churchill Northern Studies centre, where there is no TV, and where he is shepherding a group of Americans on a study course on polar bears and the environment.

"If something starts and the conversation starts to get heavy, I say, 'No, this is a neutral trip, we don't go into that stuff.' I try to keep it neutral, especially this year. It's hot," Halfpenny said. "I'm scared about the outcome and more scared than I've been for the last six elections. I'm going to be chewing my nails and watching."

What promises to be a more sedate — if no less intense — affair is a semi-closed event at an east-end Toronto venue hosted by the U.S. Consulate itself, where Consulate General Juan Alsace and a handful of officials will be watching along with guests, who will have to pass security screening to get in.

"This is less of a 'drink and yell at the big screen viewing' party and more a 'sit down and watch' with a politics-loving crowd," the consulate says.

— With files from Aly Thomson in Halifax and Nicole Thompson in Toronto.