Category Archives: Montreal

The Perfect Bridge Name

To have a bridge named after Maurice Richard would be such a tremendous way of honoring the great man who died in 2000, and I sure hope it happens. What a thing it would be for his family.

I’d be proud to drive over the Maurice Richard Bridge.

This, from CTV News:

“Meanwhile there is no guarantee that the new bridge will keep the Champlain name.

“Federal Transportation Minister Denis Lebel said that in conversations the name that keeps coming up is Maurice Richard, the famous Montreal Canadiens’ hockey player, however Lebel would not commit to any name.”

Four Guys And A Pen Provider

Friday night with Tomas, Brandon, Max, and Gally. My job was to provide pens and pictures for Plekanec and I feel I was excellent at this. In my mind, one of best pen and picture providers you’ll ever see.

Tomas was friendly and soft spoken. All four were, and they were kind and patient while being swamped with autograph and photo requests.

Lots of people at Montreal’s Pierre Charbonneau Centre out by the Big O. And near the end of the evening, several girls screamed and one shed tears as Brendan Gallagher walked by.

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Bring On The Fall Classic

jock

Often I hear folks say they hate baseball and that’s fine. I couldn’t care less about NFL football, including the Super Bowl.

Since I was a kid I’ve loved baseball. Loved to play it, loved to watch it, loved to read about it. I was a big Dodgers fan during the Sandy Koufax, Don Drydale, Maury Wills days. Later on it became the Expos, and now it’s no team in particular.

Of course, loving baseball means loving World Series time, which is now. I can remember in grade 5 when my teacher let me bring my transistor radio to school when the Series was played during the day, and my job was to sit at the back of the class, quietly listen to the game, and as the score changed throughout, write it on the blackboard.

I’m cheering for the Giants over the Royals, even though the Giants were the enemy when I was a Dodgers fan. Kansas City might be a fine place, but San Francisco is my kind of town.

(25 years ago, 63 people died during a massive San Francisco earthquake, and it’s assumed a great deal more would have perished had it not been for Candlestick Park being full of baseball fans for game 3 of the ’89 World Series).

Have a look at  Mr. Ed (the talking horse) give hitting pointers to those L.A. Dodgers from my youth. Quite a horse, that Ed.

Barn Burners

Are you feeling romantic and appreciative and looking to do something nice for your spouse?

You could do what I did. I took my wife to see the places where the Canadiens played before they made the Forum their home. It goes without saying that she was overcome with joy and appreciation.

Three rinks. And all three burned down.

First, the 3,200-seat Jubilee Arena in east-end Montreal, at the corner of St. Catherine and Malborough (now Rue Alphonse – D. Roy.)

The Canadiens played there during their first ever season, 1909-10, and again from 1917 until it burned down in 1919.

What the Jubilee looked like, inside and out –

Jubilee Arena

Jub.

And what it looks like now, from two angles –

Jubilee 1

Jubilee 2

From 1910 to 1918, the Canadiens played at the Montreal Arena (or Westmount Arena as it was also called), at the corner of St. Catherine and Wood, one block west of what would become the Forum.

The place held 4,000 people seated and another 6,000 standees, and burned down in 1918, forcing the Canadiens to move back to the Jubilee for a very short period.

The Montreal Wanderers played there also, and I kind of feel for this long-gone team. After being a powerhouse in the old ECAHA and NHA, they joined the NHL in 1918 and played just four games before their barn burned down. So they called it quits permanently.

What the Montreal Arena looked like then –

Westmount Arena

And what it looks like now –

Westmount 1

Westmount 2

And finally, the 6,000-seat Mount Royal Arena near the corner of Mount Royal and St. Urbain, where the Canadiens, after the Jubilee burned down, played from 1920 to 1926 . After that they would take residence (with the Maroons) in the Forum, which was built two years prior in 1924.

The Mount Royal Arena burned down in 2000.

What it looked like then –

Mount Royal Arena

And what it looks like now. A Provigo –

Mount Royal 1

 

Stevie L

From that fine part-time Orillia boy Stephen Leacock.

“In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter…we are alive.”

Leacock was, of course, a world-renown humorist who in 1912 upset a bunch of locals after he’d made fun of the barber and undertaker and others in his book about Orillia called Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. My parents used to see his son Stephen Junior walking around town.

His beautiful Oriilia summer home, now a museum, sits on the shores of Lake Couchiching, a nice lake full of sunfish, perch and wee little bass, and where the odd time over the years someone would tell the newspaper they saw a sea serpent.

And although Stephen was originally from England, he seemed to get what hockey meant to many Canadians. He could’ve even been a Habs fan and followed the exploits of Vezina, Lalonde, Joliat, and Morenz and the boys when he was a professor and lecturer at McGill University in Montreal from 1900 to 1936.

Heck, he might have even taken a stroll to the Forum and watched the Montreal Maroons in 1934-35 when a young Toe Blake played eight games for them.

Stephen died in March of 1944,  and if he could’ve held on for another fifteen years or so, he might have seen me and my friends out on Lake Couchiching, whether it was swimming and fishing in summer or skating on the frozen lake in winter.

He might have made fun of us in a book like he did with the barber and undertaker and the rest in Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. Maybe called it Sunshine Sketches of a Little Team.

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Leacock

 

Elmer Ferguson’s Letter

Recently I added two original letters to my collection. I’ll put the other up later on because spacing things out is my new mental health strategy. Sometimes it’s good to be spaced out.

I’ve got a bunch of cool letters and I’m very happy about this one, a beauty from 1929 on Montreal Herald letterhead from the one and only Elmer Ferguson, who was a long time editor of the Herald, later a Gazette columnist, and a guy an important award is named after.

I love old letters. Nobody sends me any, so I’ve resorted to collecting other people’s. Of course, I don’t write letters either but that’s beside the point.

I’ve added a small story about Elmer below it

Elmer

Elmer Ferguson, born in 1885 and deceased in 1972, was the sports editor for the now-defunct Montreal Herald, a newspaper in existence from 1811 to 1957. That’s quite a run. 146 years.

Elmer also did color commentary on radio broadcasts, first with the Montreal Maroons between 1933 and 1938, and then the Habs from 1938 to 1967. He worked alongside the late, great Danny Gallivan in later years.

Mr. Ferguson, who has signed the letter using fountain pen, was inducted into the media section of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982, and the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award is given each year to a journalist “in recognition of distinguished members of the newspaper profession whose words have brought honour to journalists and to hockey“.

Those given this big time award are automatically placed in the Hall of Fame, and among the many honoured are the likes of Jacques Beauchamp, Red Burnett, Trent Frayne, Red Fisher, Andy O’Brien, Michael Farber, and Roy MacGregor, all writers I’ve admired greatly over the years.

The man mentioned in the letter, Cooper Smeaton, was a referee and the NHL’s first referee-in-chief when the league was formed in 1917. He was inducted into the referee/linesmen section of the Hall of Fame in 1961.

I’ll Take Several Please

Further to the John Lennon/Habs sweater update posted yesterday John Lennon’s Habs Jersey.

Ed, who filled us in on the details, paid $15.00 in 1969 for a Bobby Rousseau game-used Habs sweater. Besides the John Lennon aspect, that in itself is a mind-blowing detail.

In 1969, according to Calculator.net, $15.00 in 1969 is equal to about a hundred bucks today.

Fifteen bucks ($100) for Rousseau’s sweater. But If I’d known back then it wouldn’t have mattered much anyway because I had no money and neither did my parents.

In those days, when I was hitchhiking around the country with almost nothing to call my own except my clothes and a cool jean jacket, my mother would sometimes send me a five-dollar money order to help me out. I still have her letters.

Al McNeil’s early 1960s Habs sweater sold recently for $6700.00. Henri Richard’s from 1973-74  was $15,000.

Rousseau’s late ’60s gamer might be close to the McNeil price. Unless a couple of very serious bidders went at it and drove the price through the roof. Like Paul Henderson’s 1972 Summit Series sweater, which went for $1.25 million.

In 1969, people didn’t collect memorabilia like they do today. If everyone saved their sports and music treasures from back then, everyone would now be lounging on easy street.

But most never thought of it. And so at McNiece’s, which was located in the Forum before the 1968 renovations and eventually moved across the street, a brand new unused Habs sweater sold for more than a game-used sweater worn by a hard shooting star like Bobby Rousseau.

It’s amazing to think about, but it’s how our society has changed. Memorabilia from all walks of life is now big business. It’s also why I have a job.

Here’s a picture I took of McNiece’s in about 1965. I never realized until now that part of my finger is in it.

McNiece's

 

A Year Already

It was a year ago exactly that Lucy and I finally reached Montreal after a fine car ride full of excitement, anticipation, and Boston Pizzas.

One that began in Powell River, 120 km up the coast from Vancouver, and about a million miles from Montreal in almost every other sense.

I had retired from BC Ferries, about to begin an entirely new thing with Classic Auctions in Montreal, and now suddenly, like the snap of a finger, it’s been a year already.

Classic Auctions, if you’re not aware, is the world’s biggest and best hockey historical auction house. My job is to write descriptions of the auctions pieces and go on about players and teams related to the pieces.

When we got to Montreal we didn’t have a place to live and spent a week in a hotel until we found one. It was stressful. I like hotels but when you feel you might be stuck in one for weeks, the novelty wears off.

In Montreal, apartments don’t come with fridges and stoves, which I think is unusual. And it didn’t help that we didn’t have any furniture.

Wherever I’ve been in the past, apartments have been labelled as one bedroom, or two bedroom etc. In Montreal, and I suppose throughout Quebec, they’re called 2 1/2, or 3 1/3 etc.

I still haven’t got it perfectly straight. I think a 3 1/2 is a two bedroom. I could be wrong about that. (update – I just learned from a waitress that 3 1/2 is a one bedroom.)

We finally found a lady looking to rent her furnished condo, she happened to be Russian and her and Lucy chatted away, and now it’s where we live.

About 12 minutes to the Habs rink in Brossard.

I’m not getting as lost now. My French has improved only slightly. Traffic sucks and my middle finger is getting worn out.

If some drivers knew what I was saying about them, I might be sleeping in a shallow grave right now. Tailgators, stop the madness. I already drive over the speed limit. What more do you want?

Often I think about how much I’d like to live in downtown Montreal with a cafe on the corner, but can’t because I work on the south shore and the traffic on the bridges is completely insane.

And there’s the thing about affording to live downtown which I never really considered.

I’m thinking I won’t be living downtown.

It’s been exactly a year of adventure. Hard to believe. It seems like just a few weeks ago we were packing up the car and heading to the ferry where I used to work but now was traveling on for the first leg of a long journey to a completely different job.

Maybe you think it’s unusual for me to do this. Just drop everything and move across the country. I think so too. I could be retired. I could be living on the coast where it doesn’t get very cold.

But I think those who know me well aren’t all that surprised.

 

 

Stuff Before The Game

I think it’s worth mentioning that today the girlwatching during my walk around the little lake in the park was exceptional. Lovely creatures strolling about everywhere.

Maybe more than normal because word might have spread like wildfire that I was there in my shorts.

When God made women he was really at the top of his game. He gave 110%. There was no letting up. He took it one shapely curve at a time. A huge home run. And so on.

A lot of people wearing Habs shirts and hats were also enjoying the park. A little fresh air and nature before the big game is good.

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I was in a St. Hubert bar recently and it was just me and a women about my age sitting a few stools down. Neither of us were talking, but I had my iPad and because I had come across these neat pictures of different dogs with beautiful and unusual coats, I decided to show them to her, just to be friendly.

It took about five minutes to go through these different dog pictures, with me pointing out ones I really liked. Great pictures. Some really funny ones.

At the end of it, she told me she hated dogs.

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Walking around the lake, I came to the water fountain which happened to have a man and his dog standing nearby. I got within a few feet, preparing to press the button and have a drink, and the guy suddenly picked up the dog dish and started filling it with water.

He was in no hurry either, and filled it to overflowing while I waited. He hadn’t bothered when I was further away, only when I was two feet away.

What’s up with that?