Tag Archives: Prescott Hotel

Drinking Beer With Aurele Joliat

It’s not the first time I’ve posted this. And it might not be the last.

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Ottawa’s Prescott Hotel, in the mid 1980’s, was one of those classic old beverage room with a Ladies and Escort door, and a regular entrance. It smelled of stale beer and cigarettes, and the trays of beer were served by guys in white shirts who looked like they were on day parole.

It was my kind of a bar.

It was also the Wednesday night bowling team’s kind of bar, a place where the members, which consisted of a bunch of young guys and one really old guy, got together after a big night out at the bowling lanes.

I’d just read about the bowling team and the really old guy in the local paper, so I went down to the Prescott. Because it’s not every day that you get a chance to drink beer with Aurele Joliat, star player of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1920’s and 30’s, and good buddy of Howie Morenz.

In the Prescott, I spotted Joliat right away.  It didn’t take much to figure this out, as he was about 50 years older than the rest of the bowling team. So I went over and asked him if I could buy him a beer and he grumbled something and said the f word a few times, but he joined me and we ordered our beer.

For the first fifteen minutes or so, he was just an old grouch, plain and simple. He pooh poohed the Rocket when I asked him what he thought, saying Richard couldn’t lace Morenz’s skates. He grumbled about today’s hockey, saying they were all a bunch of pansies who would never had cut it in the old days. And on it went.

But then he started to change. I think he could feel that I was genuinely interested in the hockey of his day, and in his team, the Montreal Canadiens. He became soft-spoken and kind, and he showed interest in me and my life.  He grew sentimental when talking about Morenz, and signed a photo I had brought of him and Morenz arm in arm, and wrote, “To my pal, Howie Morenz 1924-37.” I had a broken wrist and he also signed a book I had brought along, “To Dennis and his broken arm. Aurele Joliat.”

The evening began with an old man who was testy, not really nice, and almost belligerent, and it ended with a man who was a kind and caring gentleman.

I drove him home and he thanked me and said goodbye, and I wish now I would have continued this new friendship. I would have loved to have seen his old photos, and maybe that little touque he wore when he starred for the Montreal Canadiens, all those years ago.

Bringing Back The Ode To Aurele

 I don’t think it’s cheating, or laziness, to post something I’d put up several years ago if it’s special. Because not everyone who is reading my blog now was reading then. And it really is special.

It’s an old poem from the 1930’s, when Aurele Joliat zig-zagged around the ice with lightning speed, sometimes with a toque on his head, creating magic with his friend and linemate Howie Morenz. Joliat was a hero and huge star in days of old, and I was lucky enough to have a couple of beers with him at the Prescott Hotel in Ottawa in the mid-1980’s. I also drove him home afterwards.

The poem was studied in schools during the Dirty Thirties, and when I posted this the first time in early 2009, some folks of a certain age were delighted to see it. 

Like these folks:

Carolyn Says:
April 6th, 2009

I have looked for this poem for years now, even writing Red Fisher to no avail. I remember reading it in school growing up in Lachine, and wanted to pass it on to my own son. Thanks!!

  • William H Skinner Says:
    September 28th, 2009 What a great poem. How could I have missed it for so many years. I grew up in Ottawa and met Joliat as a very young boy.
    In high school we studied a French Canadian doctor, William Henry Drummand 1857-1907 who wrote in the “broken english” used in the Joliat poem and being in Ottawa it is surprising that Monsieur Joliat was not in our studies. Drummond’s book of poems was entitled Habitant Poems and I am looking aty a copy as I write. Absolutely delightful.

Monsieur Joliat by Wilson MacDonald

Boston she ‘ave good ‘ockey team;
Dose Maple Leafs ees nice.
But Les Canadiens ees bes’
Dat hever skate de hice.

Morenz ‘e go lak’ one beeg storm;
Syl Mantha’s strong and fat.
Dere all ver’ good, but none ees quite
So good as Joliat.

I know heem well; ‘e ees ma frien';
I doan know heem himsel';
But I know man dat know a man
Who know heem very well.

Enfant! Dat Joliat ees full
Of hevery kind of treek.
He talk heem ‘ockey all de day
And sleep heem wit’ hees stick.

He’s small but ‘e ees bothersome
Lak’ ceender in de heye.
Maroons all yell: “Go get som’ Flit’
And keel dat leetle fly.”

Garcon ‘e’s slippery; oui, oui-
Lak’ leetle piece of soap.
I tink nex’ time I watch dat boy
I use a telescope.

He’s good on poke-heem-check, he is;
He’s better on attack.
He run against beeg Conacher
And trow heem on hees back.

He weegle jus’ lak’ fish-worm do
Wen eet ees on a hook;
An’ wen he pass de beeg defence
Dey have one seely look.

He weigh one hundred feefty pound.
Eef he were seex feet tall
He’d score one hundred goal so queek
Dere’d be no game at all.

Wen I am tired of travail-trop
I put on coat of coon
And go to see Canadiens
Mak’ meence-meat of Maroon.

When Joliat skate out I yell
Unteel I have a pain.
I trow my ‘at up in de hair
And shout, “Harrah,” again.

“Shut up, Pea Soup,” an Henglishman
Sarcastic say to me;
So I turn round to heem and yell,
“Shut up, you Cup of Tea.”

Dat was a ver’ exciting game;
De score it was a tie;
An’ den dat leetle Joliat
Get hanger een hees eye.

He tak’ a poock at hodder goal
An’ skate heem down so fas’
De rest of players seem dormir
As he was going pas’.

He was so queek he mak’ dem look
Jus lak’ a lot of clown.
An’ wen he shoot, de wind from her
Eet knock de hompire down.

Dat was de winning goal, hurrah;
De game she come to hend.
I yell, “Bravo for Joliat,
You hear he ees’ ma friend.”

De Henglishman he say, “Pardon,”
An’ he tak’ off hees hat.
“De Breetish Hempire steel ees safe
Wen men can shoot lak’ dat.”

An’ den he say, “Bravo,” as hard
As Henglishman can whoop.
“I tink to-night I’ll change from tea
To bally ole pea-soup.”

 

The Boys Having Some Fun With The Pen

 

I drank beer with Aurele Joliat in Ottawa at the old Prescott Hotel, sometime in the mid-1980’s, and drove him home afterwards. I had brought my book, ‘The Montreal Canadiens” by Claude Mouton with me, and Aurele was more than happy to sign it and mention my broken arm.

 

Ken Dryden signed his book ‘The Game’ for me by writing “I’ve had a lot of fans in my life, and you’re one of them. Happy Birthday, Dennis”

My sister got him to do it. It was a bit of an inside joke.