Tag Archives: Prescott Hotel

Drinking Beer With Aurele Joliat

Ottawa’s Prescott Hotel in the mid-1980s was still a classic old beverage room with a Ladies and Escorts door and a regular entrance. It was like a lot of bars back then, smelling of stale beer and cigarette smoke, and the trays of beer were served by middle-aged guys in white shirts.

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

I had just read in the paper about the bowling team and the really old guy, and when the next Wednesday rolled around, I grabbed my brother-in-law and we went down to the Prescott with one thing on my mind. It’s not every day that you get a chance to drink beer with Aurele Joliat, star player of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1920s and ’30s, and good buddy of Howie Morenz.

In the Prescott, I spotted Mr. Joliat right away, mainly because he was about 50 years older than the rest of the bowling team, and I went over and asked him if I could buy him a beer. He grumbled something and he might have cursed a bit, but he joined us.

For the first fifteen minutes or so, our man was fairly miserable. When I asked what he thought of the Rocket, he said the guy couldn’t lace Morenz’s skates. He complained about today’s players, saying they would would never had cut it in the old days (as most oldtimers say). He scowled and dropped a bunch of F-bombs, but truthfully, I don’t think he minded the attention.

Soon after, Joliat started to change, maybe because he could feel that I was genuinely interested in him and the hockey of his day. He became soft-spoken, and I think he came close to tearing up when talking about Morenz.

He happily signed a couple of things I had brought along, including Claude Mouton’s book “The Montreal Canadiens”, and when I was fumbling about with a cast on my wrist and trying to find the page with his picture, he grabbed the book from me, went right to it, and signed “To Dennis and his broken arm, Aurele Joliat”.

The evening had begun with a testy old man, and ended with a nice, friendly old fellow.

We drove him home (which was cool in itself), and he thanked us and said goodbye, and when I think about it, I wish he would’ve asked us in for a cup of tea. I would have liked to have met his wife (I think she was still alive), looked at some of his old photos, and maybe, if he still had it, touched that little cap he wore when he starred for the Montreal Canadiens, all those years ago.

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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 1930s, 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-1980s. 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.