Category Archives: Gaston

Gaston With Some Class

These cufflinks were made by Swank in the 1950s for the Canadiens players. I know because Classic Auctions had sold them in the past. I have no reason not to believe that this set didn’t belong to a Hab from then. Maybe they belonged to Moore or Harvey or Plante or Beliveau. Maybe even the Rocket!

Maybe it was the stick boy.

I’ll never know. I found them on eBay recently, and they weren’t expensive. Not by a long shot. I couldn’t help myself, and Luci, if you’re reading this, I got them pretty darn cheap. Seriously.

Swank also made coloured brooches in the form of the “CH”for the players’ wives back then. I saw one at work recently and they’re beautiful.

Seeing Gaston with something so classy just doesn’t jive. He’s always been such a little asshole.

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Are They Lonely?

I wonder how Giant Gaston and Faceless Habs Fan are doing, tucked away in a dark storage shed thousands of miles away, while I roam the streets of Montreal, free as a bird.

I’m feeling guilty. Maybe I should send them some poutine!

Cheer up boys. Just don’t fight. And share your Penthouse magazines.

If you’re good, I’ll send for you.

It’s not the first time Gaston’s been locked up, and a storage shed can’t be as bad as San Quentin. And Faceless? Who knows how he’s feeling. His face is slightly hard to read.

They’re probably fine. I’m just being a dad.

The Orillia Stroll (Before Niagara)

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Wow, it was busy on the notorious Highway 401 in Toronto and then the QEW that took us to Niagara Falls.

Busy, busy, busy.

It’s a good thing I’m from Orillia, where men drive cars well and women crazy.

It’s so busy it reminds me of Joyce Ave. in Powell River on a Friday night.

It’ll be a fine day and evening here in Niagara. Warm, with a clear blue sky. I thought I could hear the roar of the falls from our hotel room but it’s possible it’s just my stomach.

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I can’t stop thinking about Orillia.

I walked the main drag past the pool hall, which unfortunately burned down years ago, and past the Shangri-La, which is no longer the Shangri-La.

I rounded the corner and looked at the Geneva Theatre, where I saw The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur, and which is now a bingo hall, just across from the Top Hat pool hall, which was condemned decades ago.

I headed up to the arena, which was locked and is about to be torn down, and across the way, the Oval ballpark, where my peewee team shone, and is now a school.

Up the hill to my high school, which is closed and will be torn down this summer. The lady in the office let us walk around, and I wondered where my locker, where I kept all my cheat sheets, used to be.

Over to the church, which was locked, but which brought back fond memories of when I was an altar boy and set the back of my clothes on fire while lighting candles.

Down at the park, another ballpark where I probably almost hit several triples, has vanished, replaced by nothing. And I couldn’t bear to see the empty lot that was once the Club Pavalon dance hall.

The dock where I fished must have sunk. The change room where I stood on my bike and saw my first set of boobs is now a big fancy deal that you can’t see in, even on a bicycle.

Down I walked to the West Ward, where I grew up, and I gazed at the ballpark where one of future Maple Leaf Rick Ley’s fastballs knocked my front tooth out, and I wondered why home plate is now in the outfield and vice versa. And the outdoor rink with the wood stove in the old shack is now an old field with too many weeds.

Onward to the Moose Lodge, which is now an old folk’s home. Over to my house, which was bought by someone who decided to leave my dad’s artwork on the garage door, which isn’t far from the Dominion store where I played ball hockey and is now a medical centre.

Up to the hospital where I was born, and it’s still there. I didn’t recognize it, but it’s where my hospital was so it must be it. Across the street, West Ward school, where I went from grades one to three, is now  the hospital parking lot. My catholic school was torn down and replaced by another, although they kept the same name.

Down West St. to Otaco, the factory I worked in, and it’s now a field, and back up to P&M, another factory where I assembled toilet doors and Gulf signs, and I see it’s now a building full of offices.

I’ve missed Orillia. And other than a few things, it’s still the same old place.

 

If It’s Wednesday, It Must Be Calgary

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I know, the pictures aren’t great. The ones I was hoping to use are a bit blurry.

That’s the Calgary Saddledome behind Gaston, taken from my son’s street.

Maybe it’s because I’m blurry. Eight hours from Nelson to Calgary. It’s that number 3 highway. I felt just a few more miles and I’d end up in the Twilight Zone.

We’re at my son’s place in downtown Calgary, on a warm, sunny day, and aside from the above whining, things are great. I haven’t seen my son in over two years, and he looks good. He’s a martial arts guy who loves the Habs.

Calgary remains a bittersweet place for me. I went through a divorce here, but it’s a nice place regardless. Anyway, it was a long time ago and I never would have ended up with Luci if that nightmare from so long ago hadn’t happened. So I think I’ll embrace this vibrant city.

Thank you Calgary.

Even though I had a slew of terrible jobs here, including home delivery milkman. I also had several trucking jobs and I worked in the Safeway warehouse where I assembled boxes of bananas to be shipped to stores. Often I kicked myself for moving from Ottawa.

Years ago when my first wife and I brought a Russian couple over for a visit, I contacted the Calgary Flames and they were amazing. It was a novelty for all concerned. They gave the couple a team-autographed stick. They brought us to a closed Flames practice where GM Doug Risebrough came up and said hello. They took us down by ice level and my Russian friends had their picture taken with Theoren Fleury, who had just come off the ice. And they gave us four tickets to two separate Flames games.

Because of all this, it’s very difficult for me to say anything bad about the Calgary Flames organization.

I’m sorry but I have to cut this short. My son’s internet isn’t working and so I had to slip out to a restaurant to get this done. But I need to get back. I only have a few hours to spend with him.

Tomorrow the car is pointed toward Saskatchewan. Maybe we’ll make Regina. Maybe not.

Please check in and I’ll let you know. Your guess is as good as mine.

Nelson Calling

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I knew we shouldn’t have brought Gaston along.

Arrived in Nelson today after a serious mountain climb that took 45 minutes to go up and 30 minutes to go down just before Castlegar. This is the kind of thing I really tried to avoid when I was a semi driver working out of Calgary. Long mountain slopes. Lose control on a winter day and you’ll meet your maker.

Nelson’s always been quite a place. A popular destination in the ’60s and ’70s for American draft dodgers to hang their hats on, and a mecca back then for hippies from far and wide to set up housekeeping and eat rice and granola. I still have friends in the area who moved here in 1970.

Nowadays, on Baker Street, the main drag, it’s almost like going back in time. Long-haired kids busking and prancing about, stuck in some kind of time warp. I just want to tell them that the ’60s weren’t all it was cracked up to be. I was there in the thick of it. There was serious peer pressure back then, meeting a certain level of hipness was important, and often it was only the length of hair only that a person was judged by.

You could be be the biggest nincompoop on the planet, but if your hair was halfway down your back, you still got lots of chicks and revered by guys with shorter hair who desperately wished theirs would grow faster. The thinking was – if a guy had really, really long hair, then he must have become cool earlier than others because hair takes a while to grow. So he was well-respected in hippiedom, even if he was a blubbering idiot.

And frankly, when I see a guy my age looking like a refugee from Haight-Ashbury and asking for change, all it tells me is that he’s probably tremendously lazy and is using the old-age counterculture in this new age as a perfect excuse for not having to work, and nothing more than that.

My daughter and the gang are doing just fine. They have a new dog and a bunch of chickens that lay a whack of eggs every day. The two young boys are non-stop, and little Cameron’s pants fell down when we were crossing the street and cars were waiting.

The two girls, older and in school, are terrific. Jasmyne’s in grade seven and is a classic teenybopper. Delaney, who’s seven, wants to sit on my knee all the time and she demands to sit beside me at the dinner table.

I’m grandpa and she makes me feel like a grandpa. I love this so much.

I have a daughter I’m proud of, a great son-in-law, and awesome grandkids that wear me out. It’s about as good as it gets.

Below, Adam. And below that – Delaney drew a picture of me. It’s a little hard to tell, but that’s a Habs hat on my head.

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Leak Says Subban

Puck Daddy reports that Nick Kypreos from Sportsnet has gotten wind of a leak that says P.K.Subban has won the Norris Trophy, beating out worthy foes Ryan Suter and Kris Letang.

As suggested in the article, leaks help to get winners to the award shows. Makes sense to me I guess. It’s the NHL after all.

Of course P.K. deserves it. He was dominant. I think he’ll win it next year too. Even with Erik Karlsson in the mix.

I can’t stay long here. We’ve stopped for the night in Princeton, B.C., and maybe because it’s in the middle of nowhere that the internet was terrible at our $60 motel room. So I’ve brought my laptop to the local pub where I’m having a couple of pints and hoping the battery doesn’t go dead.

What a scenic yet pain in the ass highway from Hope to Princeton. Lots of curves and bends and gravel trucks going ten miles an hour..

There’s a big table beside us of about 20 really old people in town for some sort of convention, and I really wanted to ask them if I could take a picture of them with Gaston but I decided they might not see the humour in it and call the cops.

When I’m that age, I hope to go to conventions too. Just not in Princeton.

Princeton seems nice though. Clean. Although if I was a teenager here, I have a crystal meth habit in no time.

I’d better sign off here while the computer still works. Tomorrow it’s Nelson to see my daughter and Ryan and my four grandkids. My daughter just recently drove out of their driveway and ran over their rottweiler.

Titan is now in rottweiler heaven.

The Adventure Begins

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Except for the basic stuff like couch and chairs and such, everything’s safely in the car or in storage, family members are in our house, and Luci, Gaston, and I are about to drive across the country to Montreal where I’ll begin work for Classic Auctions.

It takes five hours to get down to Vancouver, which means Chilliwack or Hope will probably be the first overnight stop. Then Nelson, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Northern Ontario, Orillia, and onward to Montreal. We hope and expect to include Niagara Falls and Ottawa in there too.

I love road trips. Always have. And I’ve wanted to show Luci this big old country since we first got together.

This is a huge event in our lives. For me, it’s never too late to take chances and try something completely different. I think it keeps me sort of young.

The one big downside – it seems like I’ve said goodbye to family and friends way too many times in my life. Now I’m doing it again, and it’s put a lump in my throat that won’t go away.

Moving To Montreal

Very soon it’ll be throw everything into storage, close up shop, hop into the car with Luci, Gaston, and maybe Teesha the cat, and drive 2300 miles to Montreal, where I’ll be working at Classic Auctions, which many of you know is the biggest and best historical hockey auction house on the planet.

This gig could last just a month, or many years. It’s been in the works for months, but it was difficult for both sides because of the distance. But in the end, they decided to give me a chance, and I’m honoured and excited.

Classic Auctions has been around for 19 years, and is legendary for the rare, high-end items it deals with in their auctions. They sold Paul Henderson’s ’72 Summit Series game eight jersey for 1.2 million, and their lots have always blown my mind – stuff from the Rocket, Bobby Orr, Lord Stanley, Howie Morenz, the 1972 Summit Series, Georges Vezina, Jean Beliveau, and on and on and on.

It’s always amazed me, the things that end up at this Montreal-based company.

I still didn’t know if I had this job when I sent my letter to my company saying I was retiring, and Luci and I had already planned to drive across Canada, even if the job didn’t come about.

But it did come about. A new adventure. Holy smokes.

If you want to check out some of their auctions, past and present, and see some of the most amazing hockey memorabilia, just click here – Classic Auctions and have a look around.

 

Orillia And Galt Battle Hard

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I saw this picture the other day, and in keeping with sometimes being all over the map and straying from the Habs, I thought it important to show, especially if you’re from the Orillia or Cambridge areas, some good old senior hockey action.

It’s a 1970 Senior A playoff game between the Orillia Terriers and Galt Hornets, and although it looks to me like it might be the Orillia arena, it very well could be in Galt. I have a helmet sort of like the Orillia guy, which now sits on Giant Gaston’s head. (the helmet, not the Orillia guy).

Galt and three other neighboring towns, Hespeler, Preston, and Blair, amalgamated in 1973 and became Cambridge. Hespeler used to make fine hockey sticks, including Hespeler Green Flash, which was my stick of choice. Not that it did any good.

The Galt Hornets were Allan Cup champs for 1968-69 and 1970-71, while Orillia would win it all in 1972-73.

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Two Things Completely Unrelated

Recently I told of a fellow who bought 42 game-used sticks which had belonged to all players who had scored at least 500 goals in the NHL – Good Wood , and just after it came out, Danno sent this.

I don’t know. Is this too naughty?

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Also –

Dollard St. Laurent was a solid defenceman for the Montreal Canadiens for seven seasons, beginning in 1951 and ending in 1958 when he joined the Chicago Black Hawks. (Although he did suit up for three previous Habs games during the 1950/51 season). This photo, which I had in an old hockey scrapbook, was apparently in Hull, Quebec, and whether or not it was a tribute to St. Laurent or simply coincidence, I’ve no idea.

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