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.




6 thoughts on “Stevie L”

  1. Its been a while since I’ve posted, Dennis. Just had to post on this. Brilliant, brilliant piece ! I do think with Leacock being an Anglo in Montreal during the early part of the 20th century that he would have been part of the supporters for the Maroons, not the Canadiens. Especially with him being a part of the Anglo “establishment” at McGill. The Canadiens, back then, were pretty much the team of the Francos in Montreal, back when the Francos were very much “under the thumb” of the English in Quebec. There used to be some really big wars between the Maroons & the Canadiens and the French and English fans at the games as well.

  2. Good to hear from you, Travis. Hope your summer’s been good. It must have been neat for Montrealers to have two teams in the city. The hockey must’ve been great, wars like you say, especially with the French-English twist to it. I guess the Dirty Thirties were just too much for two teams. Imagine if it was the Canadiens, not the Maroons, that had to fold.
    I like hearing and reading about the Maroons. They had stars, they won a couple of Cups, and I think the Forum was originally built for them, not the Canadiens.
    Do you think Montreal could handle two teams again?

  3. Just a small-town Ont. back roads guy here but NEVER share the city with two teams!! We got our haters in Boston and many other towns if we need to “get up for a game” .Montreal shouldn’t have to split their loyalty.Imagine part of the Bell cheering a Weise goal and the other part cheering him tripped. But you sure dig up some neat posts Dennis! Not telling you to do a daily blog bro— just realize you have many supporters out here!!!!! What you do is amazing!!

  4. It’s so true, Peter. The Bell is for our Canadiens only. Put a team in Quebec City and it’ll be just fine.

  5. Dennis, my summer’s been great – spent 3 weeks in July in Northern Ireland visiting my relatives (thats where I’m from, originally) … as for the subject of two hockey teams in Montreal and if it could work, somehow I doubt it. Les Canadiens are far too a part of the culture and the fabric of the province, and a second team would not do too well. The Maroons – Canadiens setup of the early part of the 20th century had the Anglo-Franco situation to rely on to stoke the rivalries and feuds, thereby keeping the attendance up. I’m not so sure that could be accomplished anymore. A second NHL team in Montreal would be as good as a minor league team in many Montrealer’s eyes, most likely. Not the same as Les Glorieux. Two teams could work in the Big Stink / Toronto, but not in Montreal.

  6. Travis, my brother was in Northern Ireland last year and absolutely loved it. And you’re right – two teams would work in Toronto but not in Montreal. There’s are major differences between the two cities in many ways, hockey included. Toronto also doesn’t come close to the downtown vibrancy of Montreal. What a great city this is.

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