About the Author

Roy MacGregor

In the fall of 2006, Roy MacGregor, veteran newspaperman, magazine writer, and author of books, came to campus. Since 2002, MacGregor had been writing columns for the Globe and Mail, but he had a long and distinguished career in hand before he came to the national newspaper. He has won National Newspaper Awards and in 2005 was named an officer in the Order of Canada. He is the author of more than 40 books — 28 of them in the internationally successful Screech Owls mystery series for young readers — on subjects ranging from Canada, to the James Bay Cree, to hockey. That fall, he spoke to a packed room in the St. Thomas chapel. After the lecture, Herménégilde Chiasson, the Acadian poet, artist, and New Brunswick's Lieutenant Governor of the day, hosted a reception at the majestic Old Government House on the banks of the St. John River. MacGregor spent the evening surrounded by young journalists and the conversation continued late into the night. After all, there were more than three decades of stories to tell.

Books by this Author
Attack on the Tower of London (#19)
Excerpt

TRAVIS LINDSAY HAD NO SENSE OF PASSING OUT.

Had it been presented to him as an option — “Look, kid, you can either keep staring at this grisly sight or you can be unconscious” — he would have happily volunteered to black out and crash to the floor in front of the rest of the Screech Owls.

But he’d had no choice whatsoever in the matter.

One moment Travis was staring at the naked, bloodied body swinging from the rope, its desperately clawing hands tied behind its back, and the next moment he was sinking into oblivion, darkness drawing over him like a welcome comforter.

He could take no more of the Chamber of Horrors.

Travis was not aware of Muck and Mr. Dillinger grabbing him and carting him off to the first-­aid room. He did not see his so-­called best friend, Nish, snickering so hard it seemed his big tomato of a face was going to explode. He did not know that Sarah Cuthbertson, too, had staggered, and would have gone down had Sam and Fahd not grabbed her.

And he certainly did not hear the tall woman in the uniform say, “It happens all the time,” her red lipstick splash of a smile seeming horribly out of place in a room where a beaten and naked man was swinging from a rope, where bloodied heads were on display beside the terrible contraption that had lopped them off, and where, to the sounds of agonizing screams and creaking machinery, a heavy wheel was crushing the very life out of a nearly naked young man with long flowing hair.

Travis had felt fine as the tour guide for Madame Tussaud’s waxworks museum took the team through the rooms filled with look-­alike figures of movie and rock stars — he’d borrowed Data’s digital camera to take a shot of Nish with Nish’s great hero, Elvis Presley — and he’d been fine as Muck lingered over all those boring figures from history like Napoleon and Horatio Nelson and more kings and queens than you’d find in a pocketful of British change.

And he had even been okay, if barely, when they first entered the Chamber of Horrors and heard the spine-­tingling, gut-­wrenching sound effects rising from the corner where the young man was being tortured on the wheel.

He’d survived a look at Vlad the Impaler, the first figure on display as the Screech Owls had crowded into the eerily lit room. He’d listened patiently as the tour guide calmly explained how old Vlad used to get his kicks out of tossing women and children onto sharpened stakes and laughing as they slowly died. He’d looked, not once, but twice, at the longhaired, moustachioed ruler as he stood by a bloodied stake holding up a severed head like it was some trophy bass he’d just caught.

He’d survived a peek at Joan of Arc, the pretty teenager burning at the stake, and all the various kindly-looking British murderers who used to do nasty things, such as drown their wives in acid baths or brick them into their kitchen walls.

He had even coped with the realistic sight of Madame Tussaud herself as she stood in a Paris graveyard, a lantern raised in one hand as she searched for the severed head of Marie Antoinette so she could capture the French queen’s surprised look just as the guillotine fell.

But Guy Fawkes he could not handle.

In all his life, in all his many nightmares, Travis had never seen a sight so horrific. The body of Fawkes hung from a rope — his naked skin slashed by knives and whips, his hands tied behind his back — as his dark-­bearded executioner regarded him with stern delight.

The sight had been bad enough, but the tour guide’s description of Fawkes — spoken in a lovely English accent that might as well have been talking about floral arrangements — had been the final straw.

“You come from Canada, where you celebrate something called Hallowe’en, I believe . . .”

“Just had it!” shouted Fahd.

“Yes, well, in this country we have Guy Fawkes Day, which will happen later this week. It’s sort of like your Hallowe’en. There will be bonfires all over Britain on the night of November 5, all in memory of this gentleman you see here swinging from the rope . . .”

“No way!” said Derek.

“Guy Fawkes was hanged in the year 1606 — that’s about four hundred years ago — after he and several other men were caught plotting to blow up the Houses of Parliament. He was, many say, the world’s first terrorist. And to set an example to anyone else who might be thinking of committing such an act, he was given the most awful punishment imaginable. The hanging you see here was the gentle part of it . . .”

“Sick!” said Sam.

“Very sick,” the guide said, her lipstick smiling. “Guy Fawkes was sentenced by the British courts to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. He would be hanged until almost dead — this is what we have on display here at Madame Tussaud’s — and then, while he was still barely alive, they would take a sword and disembowel him, burning his entrails before his face as he was forced to watch.

“The last sensation he would ever feel would be the executioner’s broadaxe coming down upon his neck.”

I’M GONNA HURL!” Nish shouted out, laughing like a maniac.

The tour guide held up a long finger, with a perfectly manicured nail at its tip.

“That would not be the end of it,” she said, still smiling primly. “Even after his head was cut off, the punishment would continue. His body would be quartered by tying the arms and legs to four workhorses and driving them in four differ­ent directions until it split into pieces — that’s what they mean by ‘hanged, drawn, and quartered’ — and the quarters would be dragged through the streets of London and displayed on stakes in prominent places, most often London Bridge. The dignified public of London would stroll across the bridge to see the heads of the latest criminals that had been executed. Often they would be left there until the birds had picked the skulls clean.”

“Gruesome,” said Simon.

“Sweet,” said Nish.

“Sickening,” said Sam.

“Awesome,” said Nish.

“I want outta here,” said Lars.

“I wanna be here!” said Nish. “My very own display — ‘Wayne Nishikawa — the World’s Most Twisted and Evil Hockey Player’!”

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Canadians

Canadians

A Portrait Of A Country And Its People
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Canoe Country

Canoe Country

The Making of Canada
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Dog And I

by Roy MacGregor
edited by Bb
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Dog and I

Dog and I

Confessions Of A Best Friend
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Escape

Escape

In Search of the Natural Soul of Canada
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Home Game

Home Game

Hockey and Life in Canada
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Excerpt

The fans count down the final seconds. On the bench of the Edmonton Oilers, the players, all standing, hug and laugh and pump their arms in the air. The Stanley Cup is won.

It is the fourth time in five years. But after living through a season of doubts, when to others and sometimes even to themselves they seemed no longer the best, this 1988 Stanley Cup may be for them the sweetest. It is as plain on their dead-white faces as in their incandescent eyes. They have gone through much to get here, and now they feel all the world’s relief, release, and pleasure at having made it. And so do their fans. As the clock melts away, they sing down louder and louder each joyous number.

Wayne Gretzky, their leader, accepts the Stanley Cup, and with a child’s enormous grin he raises it above his head. The fans roar once more. His teammates join round and together they begin their many laps or honour. Like prehistoric men back from the hunt, they display their shimmering prize, passing it from outstretched arms to outstretched arms, sharing it happily, generously, with each other and with their fans.

It is the pinnacle moment for any team. When they came together eight months ago they had one goal — to win a Stanley Cup. They placed themselves in the powerful, yet vulnerable hands of each other. They worked hard and played hard. Sometimes they were weak and selfish. Many times, they forgot the team and went out in search of their own rewards. But only one thing was going to leave them happy. And eight months later, they got it.

They are probably too young to know how rare it is to set out after something and achieve it. Still, in the way the contort their bodies, acting out the feeling that is too big to keep inside, they know they are part of something special.

It is the only moment in a season when there is more than enough for everyone to share, when there is no temptation to pull on the blanket to take more for yourself. Gretzky hands over the prize to Mark Messier, and Messier to Kevin Lowe, and on and on, each new person greeting the Cup with a whoop and a holler to the true delight of the rest. Everyon gives, everyone shares. It is the best of moments.

Oilers’ owner Peter Pocklington works down closer to the ice. From this series he will earn many hundreds of thousands of dollars. Gretzky himself will earn thousands more from NHL and team bonuses. Oilers’ fans have paid higher ticket prices to watch these playoff games, but in return they have seen their remarkable team win. Everyone has given as good as he’s got. There is no resentment, no bitterness, no other agenda. At this one moment, the business of sport does not exist. Anything other than the game has evaporated.

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Murder at the Winter Games (#18)
Excerpt

Travis Lindsay could feel the jelly bean inside his nose.

It was green - the perfect colour, a delighted, red-faced Nish had shouted out to the rest of the Screech Owls. Perfect, he meant, for the Snot Shot.

Travis's assignment was simple. He was to plug his other nostril, tip his head back, and - with the help of his "aimer," Fahd - blow out so hard he sent the green jelly bean flying across the wide hotel ballroom. Longest Snot Shot wins.

Travis had never been so grossed out in his life.

But then, he had to admit, how else should one feel at the Gross-Out Olympics?

Nish was like a circus master, completely in charge. His big red face looked like it had been plugged into a wall socket. He was sweating, his black hair sticking to his forehead as if he'd just removed his helmet at the end of a hockey game. He was wearing his Screech Owls jersey, the big 44 and "Nishikawa" stitched across the back, holding a cordless microphone and standing centre stage, conducting the proceedings to the delight of every peewee team in attendance.

The Owls were in Park City, Utah, where the ski events at the Salt Lake City Winter Games were held. They had been invited to the Peewee Olympics, a week-long international hockey competition that included teams from most places in the world that played the game.

The Owls had been delighted to run into players they already knew from other tournaments. The Portland Panthers were there, with big Stu Yantha playing centre and little Jeremy Billings on defence. The Boston Mini-Bruins were there, and the Long Island Selects, the Detroit Wheels, the Vancouver Mountain, and even the dreaded Toronto Towers.

The competition was certain to be great, but the greatest thing of all was that the gold- and bronze-medal games were going to be played at the famous E Center, site of the glorious Canadian men's and women's victories in the 2002 Winter Games.

And real, genuine gold- and silver- and bronze-plated medals were going to be awarded to the first-, second-, and third-place finishers.

The Owls could not have been more excited. Sarah Cuthbertson and Samantha Bennett were going to play on the same ice surface that Cassie Campbell and Hayley Wickenheiser had skated on, where Jayna Hefford had picked up her own rebound and scored the winning goal in Canada's remarkable 3-2 victory over the American women.

Travis and his best friend, Wayne Nishikawa, were no different. Nish was already trying to convince Travis to try a "Mario Lemieux" and let a pass from Sarah slip between his legs so that Nish - like his hero (and "cousin") Paul Kariya - could score a goal while everyone else was certain Travis would be shooting.

The Screech Owls' goaltender, Jeremy Weathers, was going to play where his idol, Martin Brodeur, had performed so brilliantly when the Canadian men's team won 5-2, the final goal scored by one of Travis's favourite players, Joe Sakic.

The only Owl not so delighted - or at least pretending not to be - was Lars Johanssen, who said he felt ill every time he thought of the E Center and the shot from centre ice that went off Swedish goaltender Tommy Salo's glove, his head, and his back before landing in the net and giving little Belarus a 4-3 win and knocking Sweden, the early favourite, right out of the Olympics.

Here, too, was where Edmonton ice-maker Trent Evans had hidden his famous loonie at centre ice so both Canadian teams would have a little special luck - a story that had become such a legend in Canadian hockey that the lucky one-dollar coin was on permanent display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Nish, of course, swore he would have something buried at centre ice to bring the Owls good luck. He would not, however, tell them what he planned.

"Just make sure it's not your boxer shorts," said Sam. "We don't want the ice to melt!"

******

Right now, Nish's mind was as far away from hockey and centre ice and a gold medal as it was possible to get.

He was running the Gross-Out Olympics, an idea he came up with on the long bus ride to Utah. Somehow - Travis didn't care to know the details - Nish had sold the Panthers and the Selects and the Towers on the idea since they were all staying in the same hotel.

And now, to great fanfare, the Gross-Out Olympics had begun. They would continue for the remainder of the hockey tournament, with Nish's version of the gold, silver, and bronze to be handed out the same day the hockey medals would be decided.

Travis, much to his surprise, proved to be extremely adept at the Snot Shot; the jelly bean would shoot across the room as hard as if he'd thrown it. Perhaps it was because he was so small and his tiny nose made the perfect bazooka for a jelly bean. Perhaps it was because he had good wind and could release it with such a snort. Perhaps it was because he figured he'd rather do the Snot Shot than any of the other ridiculous Gross-Out Olympic games Nish had come up with.

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Northern Light

Northern Light

The Enduring Mystery of Tom Thomson and the Woman Who Loved Him
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Excerpt

ONE
TOM
 
 
Instead of a family tree, the Thomson family could be better represented by The Tangled Garden, a 1916 painting by Thomson’s friend and contemporary J.E.H. MacDonald. Tom’s paternal grandfather, Thomas “Tam” Thomson, was the offspring of a woman named Christian Davidson, who had been jilted and left pregnant by her lover. Tam had children with three different women, two of whom he might have been married to at the same time. The painter’s paternal great-grandmother had two children out of wedlock until the church forced her lover to marry her—shortly after which he fled Scotland for North America and vanished, never to be seen again by the family. Roots of discontent.
 
Tam Thomson, described as “a charming talker and devilishly handsome,” emigrated to Canada to seek employment, promising to support the two children—one named Thomas Thomson, Jr.—he was leaving behind with their mothers, Elizabeth Delgarno of Old Deer, whom he might have married but never divorced, and Sarah Allan of nearby Peterhead, who bore him Thomas. According to Angie Littlefield’s self-published The Thomsons of Durham, Tam came to this country and settled first around Whitby, where he courted and married Elizabeth Brodie, who’d also come to Canada from Scotland. It was in Whitby in 1840 that John Thomson, father of the painter, was born.
 
Tam Thomson later purchased a farm at nearby Claremont, northwest of Whitby, and the growing family—eventually joined by Tam’s Scottish offspring—settled into a stone house there and prospered. Tam was a grand storyteller—“He was always the hero of his own story,” a cousin said—but his willingness to work hard and the sheer force of his personality soon brought him financial success as well. Very quickly, the Thomsons became a family of substance in the newly settled area. Though he’d lived in abject poverty back in Scotland, Tam Thomson now ran a grand home with servants.
 
A nearby Scottish family, the Mathesons, had come from the Isle of Skye in 1841 following the failure of the potato crop, first settling on Prince Edward Island. The Mathesons were also considered a family of substance—one relative was John A. Macdonald—and in 1865 John Thomson and Margaret Matheson married. John took over the management of his father’s growing farm operations, and one year after Confederation (a union brought about by their distinguished relative, privately referred to as “the old reprobate” by family members), they had their first child, George.
 
Elizabeth was born the following year, then Henry, Louise and Minnie—before a third boy arrived on August 5, 1877, and was given his grandfather’s proper name, Thomas John Thomson. When Tom was only two months old, the family moved north and west to a hundredacre farm called Rose Hill outside the village of Leith, near the southern edge of Lake Huron’s massive Georgian Bay. Here, the couple produced four more children: Ralph, James, Margaret and Fraser.
 
Life at Rose Hill was, by the few accounts available, rather bucolic. The family was well off thanks to a considerable inheritance from Tam, who died March 23, 1875 (Elizabeth had predeceased him by seven months). John Thomson was able to easily afford the $6,600 price tag on the Rose Hill property where he lived the life of a “gentleman farmer.” He became far better known for his fishing than his crop or livestock pursuits. As a great-niece once said of John Thomson, “He might not have been a good farmer, but he liked to watch a sunset.”
 
When Tom Thomson was five years old, his infant brother, James, died, cause not recorded. The nine remaining children, however, were healthy and thrived, though Tom is said to have suffered from “inflammatory rheumatism” at one point. In a 1931 letter, Thomson’s sister Louise wrote that Tom’s delicate condition led to the local doctor advising their parents to keep him out of school for a year. This, of course, delighted the boy, as it allowed him to spend most of that year outdoors. Louise said he was an amazing walker, once hiking fifteen kilometres through a blizzard to attend a party and another time travelling the thirty kilometres to Meaford on foot “rather than bother with a horse and buggy, though Father begged him to take them.” She said he would walk with a shotgun while wearing a felt hat he would soak with water and shape to a point over a broom handle. He would decorate the hat with wildflowers and squirrel tails. It was a typical rural Ontario life for a boy, not all that different from how I spent my time more than half a century later—minus the silly hat, of course.
 
Young Tom spent considerable time fishing on nearby Georgian Bay and on the sound heading into the Owen Sound harbour. He became a fine fisherman and quite an accomplished swimmer, which would suggest either that his health had been fine all along or that the outdoors had had its intended effect.
 
Life on Rose Hill was privileged. The Thomson children had their duties, but there was always time for fishing in summer and for skating on the frozen sound in winter. The farm was a social gathering point for neighbours, often filled with music. Tom sang in the church choir, played the violin in the school orchestra and, at local dances, dabbled on the mandolin and cornet. And he read, wrote poetry and liked to draw. Though we know he missed that one year of school, no one has been able to find any mention of what grade he completed.
 
Young Tom had a genuine love of nature that was significantly influenced by an older cousin of his grandmother, William Brodie, whom the Thomsons would sometimes visit in Toronto. Brodie, a dentist, was also a renowned naturalist—his collected specimens are in the Smithsonian in Washington and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto—who had lost his only son, Willie, in a canoeing accident. William Brodie, Jr., only nineteen, had set out to collect specimens along Manitoba’s Assiniboine River with some other young scientists, including the writer and naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton, but Willie’s canoe had overturned in the spring current, and his friends had been unable to get a lifeline to him in time.
 
Tom, with his very evident love of nature, became something of a surrogate son to the elder Brodie, often going on day-long hikes through Toronto’s ravines, with Uncle Willie pointing out the various flora and fauna they found there.
 
 
Tom grew into a lithe and handsome young man. One photograph, taken when he was in his late teens, shows a rakish figure staring hard into the camera, an unlighted cigarette carefully set in a corner of his mouth, a rather faint moustache reaching for maturity and both hands shoved deep into his pants pockets in an insouciant pose that belies his rather formal white-tie dress. He was, his niece Jessie Fisk (née Harkness) would later claim, a lady-killer, with thick, black hair that he initially parted in the middle, causing a hank of locks to bracket each side of his forehead and draw attention to his patrician nose. His chin had a small dimple, and, like others in his family, he had a straight right eyebrow and a slightly curved left, giving people the impression he was vitally interested in whatever they were saying. Tall, with dark eyes and fine features, he soon abandoned the weak moustache but took to smoking a pipe, which made him seem more mature. One of his favourite words, apparently, was “shoddy,” which occasionally gave the impression that he was arrogant. At other times he seemed shy, which young women found attractive. Others took his reserve for brooding.
 
He certainly came early in life to the pleasures of drink. His childhood friend Alan H. Ross wrote a remembrance in which he said: “I have been with him on several occasions when I am now sorry to say that neither of us was very sober, but it is in such times men exchange real confidences and it was on one such occasion that I discovered how deeply sensitive he was and how he resented anything like public ridicule . . . I remember one night in 1901, in Meaford, when he embosomed himself, lamenting his lack of success in life in terms that rather astonished me. I began to think then that he realized his powers and that he also had secret ambitions. But one never knows . . .”
 
At twenty-one, all the Thomson children inherited $2,000 each from the estate of Tam Thomson—about $40,000 in today’s money. Tom frittered this substantial inheritance away—he had a passion for expensive silk shirts among other things—in very little time, a harbinger of the fact that he would spend the rest of his short life in constantly recurring financial crises. His sister Louise claimed that the directionless young man tried three times to enlist to serve in the South African War, only to be rejected each time on the grounds of his having a badly broken toe from a football game played long before. This information comes from a letter she wrote in 1931 and may or may not be factual. I do not believe it. She might have been trying to come to terms with a deceased family member who had gone from being relatively unknown at the time of his death to being of increasing interest in the emerging world of Canadian art. Such a white lie, if indeed it was—no records were kept concerning those rejected—could have been concocted to smooth over whatever awkwardness the family felt regarding inquiries about Tom’s later failure to enlist in the Great War, as A.Y. Jackson and other art contemporaries had done.
 
A longtime ranger in Algonquin Park, Bud Callighen, said that Tom had told him in the summer of 1915 that he’d tried three times to enlist but had been turned down. Callighen naturally assumed he meant the war raging in Europe. Callighen also said that Tom blamed fallen arches for his rejection, though others who heard this explanation were quick to point out that Thomson was able to hike for miles through the woods, often carrying a canoe, without apparent suffering or complaint.
 
Thomson used part of his inheritance to purchase an apprenticeship so he could train as a machinist at family friend William Kennedy’s foundry in Owen Sound, which manufactured ship propellers for the thriving Great Lakes shipbuilding industry. It seemed a responsible thing for the twenty-two-year-old to do, but it didn’t last. The job quickly bored him, and the shop manager, a Mr. Munro, soured on his young charge, thinking him lazy and lacking commitment. Less than a year later, Tom had either quit or been fired.
 
He then enrolled in the Canadian Business College at Chatham, which his older brothers, George and Henry, had attended. But it, too, bored him. “I don’t think Tom’s stay in Chatham did him much good,” Alan Ross claimed. “He seemed to me at the time to be drifting. He was clever enough at his studies but he lacked the faculty of concentration.”
 
In 1901 Tom quit business college and struck out for Winnipeg, where he stayed a short while—no one seems to know in what capacity—and then moved on to Seattle, Washington, where his ambitious and enterprising older brother George and their cousin F.R. McLaren had started up the Acme Business College, clearly modelled on the Chatham school. Tom, now twenty-four and still directionless, took a room with a Mr. and Mrs. Shaw on Twenty-first Street and found work as an elevator lift boy at the Diller Hotel.
 
George’s easy success in Seattle became a bit of a clarion call to the Thomsons of Rose Hill farm. Two other Thomson brothers, Ralph and Henry, soon joined George and Tom, but no brother was as closely tied to Tom as the eldest of the Thomson boys. George, in fact, appears to have been somewhat of an alter ego to Tom: driven, where Tom was distracted; successful, where Tom wandered; frugal and soon relatively wealthy, where Tom was spendthrift and often barely aware of the existence of money.
 
But George, too, harboured artistic dreams. He eventually sold his stake in the Seattle school and moved to New York to study painting, later settling into a bookkeeping job in New Haven, Connecticut, and restricting his art to a weekend hobby. In the mid-1920s, George would return to Owen Sound to teach art and to paint the familiar landscapes. He had an admirable art career, but would never attain Tom’s level of success. Knowing the dynamics of brotherhood, it’s likely that Tom grated on George, and perhaps George grated equally on Tom. Yet it was George, ever the responsible one, who would hurry to Canoe Lake in July 1917, when word went out that Tom was missing.
 
Tom spent three years on the West Coast. Alan Ross, who visited him there, said he was popular and happy. “I never knew anyone who made friends more easily,” Ross said. It seems the shyness of his youth had lifted. “He was one of the most companionable men it has been my fortune to hold friendship with,” Ross wrote, “and there are scores of others, I venture to say, who will tell you the same thing.”
 
Tom studied penmanship at his brother’s college and finally seemed to accept that he could have a career in engraving. He liked commercial art and soon tried his hand at his own creations with pen-and-pencil drawings and watercolours. He was hired on by C.C. Maring, who had previously been an instructor at the Chatham business school, but Tom soon switched to the Seattle Engraving Company, which offered a better salary. It seemed he had found his calling.
 
He also fell in love in Seattle.
 
 
It would be more unusual if he had not fallen for someone in those years in which he was passing through his mid-twenties. Brother George later claimed that Tom became smitten with a Seattle woman who never appeared quite as smitten in return, but it is unlikely that Tom would have confided much in his stern and serious older brother. All the same, according to George, a shy Tom had edged up to a marriage proposal only to have the object of his affections laugh at the suggestion, causing the young man to flee in humiliation in 1905, never to return to the West Coast.
 
The facts were later fleshed out to some extent by Canadian art historian Joan Murray, who identified the woman as Alice Elinor Lambert. Murray thought that Lambert was about fifteen years old at the time and considered the relationship harmless, mere puppy love. But Lambert would have been nineteen when Tom supposedly fled Seattle, so the affair might have been much deeper than Murray has conjectured.
 
Alice was seven years younger than Tom, a common enough gap in those days between a man and woman who were romantically involved. She’d been sent by her missionary parents to board with the Shaws, where Tom was already rooming. Alice went on to become a published author, and there may be much to be read into her 1934 novel, Women Are Like That. The main character is Miss Juliet Delaney, and at one point Juliet is reminded of the one true love of her life.
 
“For one disturbing year,” Lambert writes of her heroine, “she had been desperately in love with a tall, dark boy named Tom, a commercial artist, who in the summer used to take her on streetcar rides to Alki Point and in the wintertime to the dusty dimness of the public library, where he would pore over prints and reproductions of the masters. When finally, darkly morose and determined to succeed, Tom had gone east, the girl, unversed as she was in the art of pursuit and capture, had let him go, powerless to hold him back . . . Tom had been tall and slender, with thin, nervous hands and flashing eyes. Instinctively, since his death, Juliet had avoided men of similar build and appearance.”
 
If this is an accurate reflection of whatever it was that Tom and Alice had felt for each other, it contradicts the family story. This “Tom” seems driven and depressed over his art and willing to sacrifice romance for a chance to prove himself back east. Alice might also have been the first woman hurt by his reluctance to settle down, the wanderlust and fierce independence that would mark his life and might even have contributed to his death.
 
Alice lived to the age of ninety-five before passing away in Marysville, Washington, in 1981. She had led a convoluted life, marrying a man with whom she had two daughters, then leaving him and moving across the country, briefly writing a newspaper advice column and reconnecting with her husband before separating again and returning to Seattle, where, so long ago, she had met the real “Tom.” In her later years, Lambert wrote to Joan Murray describing the end of the romance, from her point of view, and suggesting that perhaps Thomson considered her too young.
 
“Tom packed up,” Alice wrote, “and . . . went east to save me. I used to long to write him, or find him, but a miserable experience prevented me—I married a man with whom I had no communication whatsoever. But I never put Tom out of my heart. We were two star-crossed young and innocent people who never should have parted.”
 
 
In Toronto Tom took a room on Elm Street and threw himself into what he then thought would be his life career: commercial art. In June he joined Legg Brothers Photoengraving Company as a senior artist and engraver at the satisfactory salary of eleven dollars per week. He signed up for night classes at the School of Art and Design, where he studied drawing, and also took free lessons from William Cruikshank, an oldstyle artist who served as mentor to several young painters in the city. It was during this time that Thomson painted Team of Horses, but the less said of it the better.
 
By 1908 Thomson was working at Grip Ltd., the Toronto commercial art firm that would become the artistic percolator for Thomson and, in later years, the Group of Seven, who, curiously, eventually numbered ten. Original members J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley, Franz (“Frank”) Johnston and Franklin Carmichael all worked with Thomson at Grip. It was a time of great growth and vitality in Toronto, with much construction in the downtown core and the young city spreading quickly thanks to easy transportation provided by its streetcar lines. The young artists felt they were part of something new and important, socializing together at clubs and taverns and often spending weekends together painting in the nearby countryside. They fed off one another, encouraged one another and quietly competed with one another. In 1920, three years after Thomson’s death, MacDonald, Lismer, Varley and Carmichael were still linked artistically and socially and formed their legendary art group by adding Franz Johnston, Lawren Harris and A.Y. Jackson. When Johnston later resigned, A.J. Casson was added, and later, the group became more national when Montreal’s Edwin Holgate and Winnipeg’s L.L. Fitzgerald joined, not long before the group disbanded in 1933.
 
The most influential force at Grip never did become a member of the Group of Seven. The director of the engraving division, Albert Henry Robson, called his department a “university” for graphic arts. He created such an atmosphere of creativity that when he moved on to another firm, Rous and Mann Ltd., in the fall of 1912, several Grip employees, including Thomson, soon followed. Robson hired creative men and gave them structure—formal dress, be at your desk for the full workday—but also allowed them to have fun and encouraged them to be competitive in their work and painting.
 
Thomson was well liked by his colleagues but exhibited the contradictory personality traits that seem to have marked his entire life: considered shy and quiet but also one to play practical jokes on his friends from time to time—and a wit who entertained his fellow workers by mimicking managers and customers and whipping off comic caricatures in an instant.
 
The young artist also had a life beyond the workplace. During this time he became fast friends with John McRuer, who was then studying medicine at the University of Toronto. McRuer eventually moved north to take up private practice in Huntsville, but in early 1909, when McRuer married Edythe Bullock, the Huntsville Forester reported that the “groom was assisted by Mr. Tom Thomson of Toronto . . . .”
 
Tom was also a good friend of the McCarnen sisters, Elizabeth and Margaret. They had made their way to the city from the village of Phelpston, also near Georgian Bay, though closer to Collingwood than Owen Sound, and they at first kept house for a John Long, who lived on Jarvis Street. “Maggie” was ten years older than Tom and “Lizzie” six, and it seems Tom was somewhat infatuated with the younger sister. Maggie moved on to make a living as a seamstress (among other things, she made uniforms for the nurses at the nearby Wellesley Hospital), while Lizzie continued to find work as a domestic.
 
The attraction may have been as much about Tom’s homesickness for his big family and the Georgian Bay area as about Lizzie’s personal charms. A hint of this is found in a letter his younger sister, Margaret, wrote after his death: “I often think now that he was many times lonely when all by himself and none of us did anything when he was away to cheer him up . . . His life meant so much to us here at home. He was alone and no one else was taking his affections and he always enjoyed his visits so much.”
 
Tom obviously liked Lizzie well enough to give her a sketch; tellingly, it was of the countryside both had left for the city. Called Scene near Owen Sound, it hangs today in the Tom Thomson Memorial Gallery in Owen Sound. Lizzie’s heirs say that the relationship was platonic, which is the way Lizzie would have wanted it, and that she found him rather “unkempt,” though she clearly cared for the young artist. While Maggie later married John King, Lizzie never did marry. She and Tom lost touch sometime after 1907, when she returned to Phelpston to raise her two nieces, May and Rita McCarnen, following the death of her brother Bernard. According to family, she hung Tom’s sketch over the beds of the two girls she raised, and Tom continued to send postcards he’d drawn. Lizzie kept those cards with all her letters in a purple satin bag that was locked in a cupboard—but, unfortunately, no one knows what became of them following her death in 1957 at eighty-six.
 
One Grip employee, S.H.F. Kemp, later recalled that Tom liked to paint all right but made “no noise” about his work: “He attached no particular value to it.” MacDonald, the senior designer, and the British-trained Lismer, Varley and Carmichael were all much more serious about landscape painting, but they were not particularly adventurous in their search for subject matter. They stuck to the valleys of the Don and Humber rivers that book-ended the growing city of Toronto and sometimes ventured out toward Lake Scugog to the northeast. There they found landscapes of soft English beauty—bucolic and pastoral—nothing like the brilliant fall colours, granite outcroppings and tangled bush where Thomson would find his calling.
 
Thomson’s great discovery of “The North Country”—perceived as such by Torontonians of the time, as it was reachable only by settlement road, lake steamer and, in some instances, rail—began in May 1912. More of the area was actually in central Ontario than northern Ontario, covering Muskoka, Parry Sound, Georgian Bay, Algonquin Park and, to a lesser degree, the North Bay–Temagami area, known today as the “Near North.” The find occurred somewhat by happenstance: Tom and another Grip employee, Ben Jackson, wanted to go farther afield than the Lake Scugog area and chose to head for Algonquin Park, since it would fit in nicely with a visit to Tom’s doctor friend, John McRuer, and his wife, Edythe, in Huntsville.
 
In May 1912 Thomson and Jackson stayed at the Dominion Hotel, down by the bridge over the Muskoka River, and did some sketching around the town. Jim McRuer, John’s younger brother, who would go on to serve as Ontario’s chief justice, was articling with a local lawyer at the time, and he visited Thomson at the hotel. He was shown the paintings and told to “Pick any two you like,” which the young law graduate did. (Many years later, those sketches would be donated to the McMichael gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario.)
 
It wasn’t until the late 1960s that some undeveloped film from this trip was discovered by the Thomson family in Owen Sound. The film eventually made its way to the National Gallery in Ottawa, which developed the ancient negatives and declared the subjects “unidentified individuals.” But when Chief Justice James McRuer saw the photos in 1970, he recognized his late brother, who had died of tuberculosis a few months after Tom, in the fall of 1917. He said the photos had been taken during a day trip that spring of 1912. They’d gone by train to Scotia Junction, twenty-five kilometres north of Huntsville, where they’d picnicked and then wandered about the tiny village and surrounding countryside while Tom took photographs.
 
The parties split at Scotia Junction, the McRuers taking the train back to Huntsville, while Thomson and Jackson transferred to the line heading east into Algonquin Park. They would have stopped for water at the Brule depot, where my grandparents were then living, and disembarked at the Canoe Lake station. Ranger Mark Robinson, who met most trains at Canoe Lake, wrote in his daily journal for May 18, 1912, “Met MacLaren Party and T. Thompson Party at evening train.” Thomson and Jackson camped and paddled about the various lakes—Canoe, Tea, Smoke, Ragged—and explored the Oxtongue River east from Tea Lake.
 
Tom carried new paints and brushes on the excursion but did more fishing than sketching. Ben Jackson’s most vivid memories of the trip were Tom’s ability to cook over an open fire and how he made fresh biscuits to go with their feeds of trout. When it rained, Jackson said, Tom was content to stay in camp, smoke his pipe and read Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler.
 
“Tom,” Jackson wrote in a 1930s letter, “was never understood by lots of people, was very quiet, modest & . . . a friend of mine spoke of him as a gentle soul.” In Jackson’s opinion, Tom “cared nothing for social life”—again the contradictory readings of Tom’s complex personality—and was happiest with his pipe, his fishing pole or his sketching. “If a party or the boys got a little loud or rough,” Jackson added, “Tom would get his sketching kit & wander off alone, at times he liked to be that way, wanted to be by himself [and] commune with nature.”
 
Later that same year, Thomson arranged for a second break from work and headed off with another Grip employee, William Broadhead, for the North Country beyond Algonquin. For all of August and much of September 1912, they travelled by canoe, beginning at Biscotasing, near Sudbury, then paddling up the Spanish River and working their way through a series of lakes and portages. They eventually reached the Mississagi Forest Reserve and the Aubinadong River. If Jackson found Thomson quiet, a bit of a loner and with no liking for the social life, Broadhead seems to have found him gregarious and open. They are said to have met a summer fire ranger named Archie Belaney on the way, never for a moment imagining that the tall man with the British accent would one day transform himself into Grey Owl, the most famous “Indian” Europe would ever know. They amused themselves with stories of other camping parties they encountered—particularly a group of Brits who were headed into the wilds with vast supplies that included carpet slippers and table napkins—and began to think of themselves as accomplished outdoorsmen.
 
But they were still novice canoeists. They dumped their cedar-strip canoe on Green Lake, blaming a sudden squall that caught them off guard and swamped them, and dumped it again trying to shoot some small rapids on the Aubinadong. Thomson was despondent because most of the photos he’d taken during his two trips north went overboard and were lost in the waters.
 
The two men started back for Toronto on the steamer Midland, which they caught at Bruce Mines, and disembarked at Owen Sound to visit Thomson’s family. In a later reminiscence, Thomson’s sister Louise Henry said that the two young men seemed quite full of themselves after their trip. “My husband asked Tom if he was not afraid to be so much alone in the woods with so many wild animals roaming about,” Louise wrote in a letter dated March 11, 1931. “‘Why,’ he said ‘the animals are our friends. I’ve picked raspberries on one side of a log, while a big black bear picked berries on the other side.’ He also told him of one time he was tramping through the woods when he heard some animal coming towards him through the undergrowth and to his surprise it was a large timber wolf, one of the largest he had ever seen, its head, neck and breast were jet black and the body the usual grey color. He said it was the most beautiful animal he had ever seen. The wolf came so close to him he could almost have touched him with his hand . . . .”
 
“Local Man’s Experiences in Northern Wilds,” a long feature that appeared on the second page of the Owen Sound Sun on September 27th, described Thomson and Broadhead as “bronzed and weather beaten from exposure . . .” and reported, “The young artists think it is a grand country, and are only waiting until next year when the call of the wild will take them back . . . .”
 
Once he and Broadhead returned to Toronto, Thomson wrote his friend John McRuer, apologizing for not calling in at Huntsville as planned on their way back to Toronto. His spirits were high, and he spoke, in the language of the day, of having had “a peach of a time.”
 
Thomson had caught the bug of the North. He soon showed up at work carrying a new paddle, which he immediately tested out by filling one of the photoengraver tanks with water, then placing the tank beside his chair so he could sit down and practise paddling.
 
“At each stroke he gave a real canoeman’s twist,” recalled J.E.H. MacDonald, “and his eye had a quiet gleam, as if he saw the hills and shores of Canoe Lake.”

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Original Highways

Original Highways

Travelling the Great Rivers of Canada
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also available: Paperback
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Peril at the World's Biggest Hockey Tournament
Excerpt

Would you look at that!” Sarah shouted, looking back.

The four skaters stopped and turned. Nish had unzipped his jacket, and Fahd and Lars were pulling out something large and white he’d been keeping inside it. It hadn’t been extra fleeces making Nish look fatter than usual. It was this thing, whatever it was.

Nish and the others carefully unfolded the object they had pulled from his ski jacket. It was a big bedsheet from the hotel.

The boys had attached lines to the four corners, which connected to a long coil of rope.

Lars and Fahd were holding the sheet out, the corners whipping as the wind tried to catch it. Nish unwound the coil of rope, then tied it around his waist.

“He’s not!” Dmitri said.

“He is!” shouted Sam with a squeal.

“He’s crazy!” added Travis.

Nish gave the thumbs-up, and Fahd and Lars let the wind fill the sheet. It swelled at once with the hard breeze flowing up the canal, and Nish suddenly shot out from the crowd that had gathered around.

“KA-WA-BUNG-GA!!!” Nish screamed.

He shot by the four Owls with a huge smile on his beet-red face. Travis had rarely seen him look so triumphant – and Travis had seen many, many such looks on his best friend’s face.

Nish ripped by . . . and he began to soar!
The wind had gusted from somewhere beyond the Chateau Laurier, dipped down into the trough of the canal, and punched hard like a fist into the open sheet, lifting Nish off the ice and into the air.

He was airborne!
He was also helpless. He had tied the rope tight around his waist and now was frantically trying to loosen it and escape. But it was too late. The wind gusted harder, and Nish, having harnessed its power, had to go along for the ride – for however long it lasted.

People were screaming. Some were pointing their cellphones in Nish’s direction, hoping to capture a photo of the flying skater.

Nish rose higher in an updraft. Travis could hear him screaming, his high-pitched shriek a familiar note in a full orchestra of screaming and shouting from along the ice.The world’s largest skating rink had come to a complete halt. People stood still and stared up in awe.

Nish flew even higher, now four storeys or more above the crowd. As he flew along the canal, the skaters in his path parted, fearing he would release himself and drop like a sack of cement wearing two sharp skate blades.
Nish screamed and the wind changed direction, buckling the sheet in half. The sheet fluttered and folded, and Nish plummeted to earth.

He came down hard on the roof of the nearest kiosk, smashing through the structure and landing smack on a table stacked with dough for the day’s production of beaver tails.

The thick, soft dough, police would later tell the Ottawa Citizen, probably prevented more serious injury to the boy.
Still, Nish ended up with a twisted knee and a nose full of dough. His nose would be unplugged by a nurse with a warm washcloth, but the knee would take longer. The doctor at the children’s hospital advised him to stay off it for two to three days.

No hockey.

The Screech Owls had just lost their Number One defenceman.

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The Complete Screech Owls, Volume 1
Excerpt

Travis would have to find an elevator. There was no other way to get Nish up to the next floor to the Great Hall where they kept all the nhl trophies, including the Stanley Cup.

He asked one of the custodians for directions. There was an elevator at the rear, she told him. It was for the staff to come and go from their offices on the third and fourth floors, but it was also available for the use of anyone in need — and his friend in the wheelchair was certainly in need.

Travis pushed Nish down a long corridor, at the end of which were sliding doors and a single button. Travis pushed the button and the doors opened on an empty elevator.

“Lingerie, please.” Nish announced, as if he were addressing an elevator operator in a department store.

“You’re sick,” Travis said.

Nish grinned: “And proud of it.”

They rose to the second floor and the doors began to open.

Suddenly, both were blinded by a flash of light!

At first Travis ­couldn’t see, but as the flash faded from his eyes he could make out two bulky figures, one with a camera half-hidden in his opened coat.

The men seemed caught off guard. The man taking the pictures — dark, surly, with a scar down the side of his face as if he’d run into a skate — seemed to be trying to hide the camera. The other ­— tall, balding, but with a ponytail tied behind his head — seemed nervous.

“How ya doin’, boys?” the tall man asked.

“Okay,” Travis answered, unsure.

“We’re just taking some shots for a few renovations,” the man explained.

Travis pushed Nish past. It ­didn’t make any sense. The Hockey Hall of Fame was almost brand new. Why would it need fixing up already?

“What the heck’s with them?” Nish asked as they moved further down the corridor.

“I have no idea,” said Travis.

When they got to the Great Hall where the trophies were — a dazzle of lights on silver and glass, the Norris, the Calder, the Lady Byng, the Hart, the Vezina — several of the Screech Owls were already positioned in the designated area for taking their own photographs.

The scene made Travis even more suspicious of the men. If they had come in here with a camera, surely it was for this. Why would they want to take a picture of an elevator?

There’s the Stanley Cup!” Nish shouted, pointing.

Derek and Willie were already there. The cup looked glorious. So shining, so rich, so remarkably familiar, even though none of them had ever seen it in real life before this moment.

“This ­isn’t the real one,” said Willie, who knew everything.

“Whadya mean?” Nish scowled, disbelieving.

Willie pointed back over his shoulder. “The real one, the original one that Lord Stanley gave back in 1893, is back over there in the vault. This building used to be a bank, you know. They keep it back there because it’s considered too fragile to present to the players, so they present this one — which in a way makes this one the real Stanley Cup as well.”

Travis looked to see what Willie was talking about. He could see another room back behind huge steel doors — “lord stanley’s vault,” the sign overhead said. There were more lights in there and what appeared to be another, smaller trophy.

And the two men were there, too!

The shorter, dark one had his camera out again. He was flashing pictures as fast as he could. But not of the cup, of everything else: the walls, the vault doors, the base the trophy stood on.

What were they up to?

“Wait here,” Travis said to Nish.

Nish turned back, hardly caring. He could get Data to push him if necessary. But anyway he ­wasn’t much interested in leaving the cup he was planning to carry around Maple Leaf Gardens.

Travis circled wide around the other trophies so he could come up on the entrance to the smaller room without being seen.

There was no one in the vault but the two men, still taking photographs. It made no sense.

Travis kept close to the wall and edged to the doorway. He could hear the taller man talking.

“It’s perfect,” he kept saying. “Perfect.”

“No one can see from any of the other areas. There’s only the one surveillance camera, the main alarm, and a secondary alarm on the display case. We plan it right and we can be in and out of here in less than thirty minutes.”

The man with the camera stopped and turned, scowling.

“Keep it down. You wanna tell the whole country?”

The tall one laughed. “The whole country will know soon enough — and they’ll pay whatever it takes to get this baby back, believe me.”

Travis could feel his legs shaking, and it ­wasn’t from the CN Tower run.

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The Complete Screech Owls, Volume 2
Excerpt

Kidnapped in Sweden
1
“Eeee-awww-keee!”

The moment Travis Lindsay heard the ridiculous yell, he closed his eyes and shook his head. It meant the Screech Owls’ big defenceman, Wayne Nishikawa, had come up with a new call.

“eeee-awww-keee!”

Nish had certainly been this loud before. He’d screamed worse when he fell through the ice on his snowmobile when the Owls had gone up north, and he’d yelped in real terror that day at summer hockey camp when he’d gone skinny-dipping with the snapping turtle. But the biggest difference was that this time Nish’s call was filled with joy rather than horror.

Nish, stripped naked again in the middle of a lake, was having the time of his life.

“eeee-awww-keee!”

This time, however, the lake was frozen solid, and Nish wanted the world to see him! This time he was fully expected to have absolutely nothing on, and this time he ­didn’t have to worry about drowning or an attack from a snapping turtle!

Did they have snapping turtles in Sweden? Travis wondered.

He shivered. He, too, was bare naked, and on a day so cold he ­couldn’t even breathe through his nose. If they did have snapping turtles, Travis thought, there was nothing to worry about today. If one was hiding anywhere around here, it would be suffering from lockjaw, frozen solid!

Travis ­couldn’t believe how quickly the air could change from unbearable heat to unbearable cold. A moment ago the sweat had been pouring off his face so fast it seemed as if Lars Johanssen, the Owls’ nifty little defenceman, had dumped the bucket of water over Travis’s head instead of over the white-hot rocks of the club sauna. The water had sizzled and steamed and the temperature had risen so dramatically that Travis had trouble breathing.

Now, standing outdoors, naked and skinny as the birch trees that grew down to the edge of this frozen Scandinavian lake, he had trouble breathing again. Travis’s nostrils were frozen shut. He was breathing through his mouth and the air was coming out in a fog as thick as the exhaust from his father’s car when they headed out for an early-morning practice back in Canada.

Travis looked around him. Except for Nish and Lars Johanssen, most of the Screech Owls — Data Ulmar, Willie Granger, Andy Higgins, Jesse Highboy, Dmitri Yakushev, Gordie Griffith, Derek Dillinger, Fahd Noorizadeh, Jeremy Weathers, Wilson Kelly, Mike Romano, the new third-line winger — were all still huddled next to the sauna building, their hands wrapped around their naked bodies like too-small blankets.

The Owls looked ridiculous. They were trying to use the building to shield themselves from the wind. Steam was rising from their heads and shoulders the way Travis had once seen it curl up from the team of horses that had drawn the Owls around the maple-sugar bush that belonged to Sarah Cuthbertson’s grandparents.

Sarah was here. Well, not here — not now, with crazy Nish standing bare naked out in the middle of the lake. But she was here in Stockholm.

Sarah would return to her own team after the tournament. Her parents thought the trip would be an excellent opportunity for her to get a feel for the larger Olympic-sized ice surface, where Sarah hoped to play for the Canadian women’s team one day.

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The Complete Screech Owls, Volume 3
Excerpt

Travis would have to find an elevator. There was no other way to get Nish up to the next floor to the Great Hall where they kept all the nhl trophies, including the Stanley Cup.

He asked one of the custodians for directions. There was an elevator at the rear, she told him. It was for the staff to come and go from their offices on the third and fourth floors, but it was also available for the use of anyone in need — and his friend in the wheelchair was certainly in need.

Travis pushed Nish down a long corridor, at the end of which were sliding doors and a single button. Travis pushed the button and the doors opened on an empty elevator.

“Lingerie, please.” Nish announced, as if he were addressing an elevator operator in a department store.

“You’re sick,” Travis said.

Nish grinned: “And proud of it.”

They rose to the second floor and the doors began to open.

Suddenly, both were blinded by a flash of light!

At first Travis ­couldn’t see, but as the flash faded from his eyes he could make out two bulky figures, one with a camera half-hidden in his opened coat.

The men seemed caught off guard. The man taking the pictures — dark, surly, with a scar down the side of his face as if he’d run into a skate — seemed to be trying to hide the camera. The other ­— tall, balding, but with a ponytail tied behind his head — seemed nervous.

“How ya doin’, boys?” the tall man asked.

“Okay,” Travis answered, unsure.

“We’re just taking some shots for a few renovations,” the man explained.

Travis pushed Nish past. It ­didn’t make any sense. The Hockey Hall of Fame was almost brand new. Why would it need fixing up already?

“What the heck’s with them?” Nish asked as they moved further down the corridor.

“I have no idea,” said Travis.

When they got to the Great Hall where the trophies were — a dazzle of lights on silver and glass, the Norris, the Calder, the Lady Byng, the Hart, the Vezina — several of the Screech Owls were already positioned in the designated area for taking their own photographs.

The scene made Travis even more suspicious of the men. If they had come in here with a camera, surely it was for this. Why would they want to take a picture of an elevator?

There’s the Stanley Cup!” Nish shouted, pointing.

Derek and Willie were already there. The cup looked glorious. So shining, so rich, so remarkably familiar, even though none of them had ever seen it in real life before this moment.

“This ­isn’t the real one,” said Willie, who knew everything.

“Whadya mean?” Nish scowled, disbelieving.

Willie pointed back over his shoulder. “The real one, the original one that Lord Stanley gave back in 1893, is back over there in the vault. This building used to be a bank, you know. They keep it back there because it’s considered too fragile to present to the players, so they present this one — which in a way makes this one the real Stanley Cup as well.”

Travis looked to see what Willie was talking about. He could see another room back behind huge steel doors — “lord stanley’s vault,” the sign overhead said. There were more lights in there and what appeared to be another, smaller trophy.

And the two men were there, too!

The shorter, dark one had his camera out again. He was flashing pictures as fast as he could. But not of the cup, of everything else: the walls, the vault doors, the base the trophy stood on.

What were they up to?

“Wait here,” Travis said to Nish.

Nish turned back, hardly caring. He could get Data to push him if necessary. But anyway he ­wasn’t much interested in leaving the cup he was planning to carry around Maple Leaf Gardens.

Travis circled wide around the other trophies so he could come up on the entrance to the smaller room without being seen.

There was no one in the vault but the two men, still taking photographs. It made no sense.

Travis kept close to the wall and edged to the doorway. He could hear the taller man talking.

“It’s perfect,” he kept saying. “Perfect.”

“No one can see from any of the other areas. There’s only the one surveillance camera, the main alarm, and a secondary alarm on the display case. We plan it right and we can be in and out of here in less than thirty minutes.”

The man with the camera stopped and turned, scowling.

“Keep it down. You wanna tell the whole country?”

The tall one laughed. “The whole country will know soon enough — and they’ll pay whatever it takes to get this baby back, believe me.”

Travis could feel his legs shaking, and it ­wasn’t from the CN Tower run.

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The Complete Screech Owls, Volume 4
Excerpt

From The Screech Owls' Reunion (#20)

It had been a quiet, uneventful mid-june Sunday at the Lake Tamarack public beach — right up until Muck lost his diaper.

The water was still and bright as a mirror. There were nesting robins by the gravel parking lot, and a pair of loons was calling farther out on the lake. The only ripples had come from Muck's chunky legs as he waded out among the reeds, staring down at the freshwater clams and darting minnows in the surprisingly warm water of what had already been a pleasantly warm spring.

Distracted by the wonders in the water, Muck didn't realize how deep he was getting. The water rose over his knees, then crept up his diaper, the tabs straining until, finally, the soaking diaper simply popped off and began floating out into deeper water.

Muck paid it no heed. Giggling at his newfound, bare-bottomed freedom, he began splashing through the shallow waters, much to the amusement of an older couple who had decided to walk home from church by the path that looped down around the bay and back toward the river mouth at the edge of town.

Naked as the minnows, Muck began screeching with delight and splashing the water all around him until a small, quick rainbow formed almost within reach.

The man and woman applauded.

"Muck!"a younger woman's voice broke in. "Where is your diaper?"
Muck looked up, bright blue eyes blinking innocently.

He turned his hands palm out and shrugged helplessly, smiling.

"Gone," he said.

"Diaper gone."

********

Travis Lindsay had been running for nearly an hour, but it still felt good. He had already run down River Road, across the bridge, up to the Lookout, and back down to the new recreation path that would take him down along the river mouth to the beach. The delicious smells of pin cherry blossoms were in the air and his lungs were greedily reaching for even more.

It was a day to be grateful for life, a day to let your mind go, like the young dog running off in all directions around Travis.

Imoo was a golden retriever. He was one year old, and still far more puppy than fully grown dog - especially in his behaviour. He was also Travis Lindsay's new best friend in the world and constant companion, running with him by day and sleeping with him, usually across Travis's legs, by night.

Travis had named him after the toothless, scrappy, hockey-playing Buddhist monk Travis and his former best friend in the world, Wayne Nishikawa, had met and befriended in Nagano, Japan. With Nish in goal and Mr. Imoo's famous "force shield" helping protect the Owls' net, the Screech Owls of Tamarack had won the gold medal in hockey's first-ever "Junior Olympics."

Travis never forgot that experience - though that had been such a long, long time ago.

Ten years now.

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The Complete Screech Owls, Volume 5
Excerpt

Travis would have to find an elevator. There was no other way to get Nish up to the next floor to the Great Hall where they kept all the nhl trophies, including the Stanley Cup.

He asked one of the custodians for directions. There was an elevator at the rear, she told him. It was for the staff to come and go from their offices on the third and fourth floors, but it was also available for the use of anyone in need — and his friend in the wheelchair was certainly in need.

Travis pushed Nish down a long corridor, at the end of which were sliding doors and a single button. Travis pushed the button and the doors opened on an empty elevator.

“Lingerie, please.” Nish announced, as if he were addressing an elevator operator in a department store.

“You’re sick,” Travis said.

Nish grinned: “And proud of it.”

They rose to the second floor and the doors began to open.

Suddenly, both were blinded by a flash of light!

At first Travis ­couldn’t see, but as the flash faded from his eyes he could make out two bulky figures, one with a camera half-hidden in his opened coat.

The men seemed caught off guard. The man taking the pictures — dark, surly, with a scar down the side of his face as if he’d run into a skate — seemed to be trying to hide the camera. The other ­— tall, balding, but with a ponytail tied behind his head — seemed nervous.

“How ya doin’, boys?” the tall man asked.

“Okay,” Travis answered, unsure.

“We’re just taking some shots for a few renovations,” the man explained.

Travis pushed Nish past. It ­didn’t make any sense. The Hockey Hall of Fame was almost brand new. Why would it need fixing up already?

“What the heck’s with them?” Nish asked as they moved further down the corridor.

“I have no idea,” said Travis.

When they got to the Great Hall where the trophies were — a dazzle of lights on silver and glass, the Norris, the Calder, the Lady Byng, the Hart, the Vezina — several of the Screech Owls were already positioned in the designated area for taking their own photographs.

The scene made Travis even more suspicious of the men. If they had come in here with a camera, surely it was for this. Why would they want to take a picture of an elevator?

There’s the Stanley Cup!” Nish shouted, pointing.

Derek and Willie were already there. The cup looked glorious. So shining, so rich, so remarkably familiar, even though none of them had ever seen it in real life before this moment.

“This ­isn’t the real one,” said Willie, who knew everything.

“Whadya mean?” Nish scowled, disbelieving.

Willie pointed back over his shoulder. “The real one, the original one that Lord Stanley gave back in 1893, is back over there in the vault. This building used to be a bank, you know. They keep it back there because it’s considered too fragile to present to the players, so they present this one — which in a way makes this one the real Stanley Cup as well.”

Travis looked to see what Willie was talking about. He could see another room back behind huge steel doors — “lord stanley’s vault,” the sign overhead said. There were more lights in there and what appeared to be another, smaller trophy.

And the two men were there, too!

The shorter, dark one had his camera out again. He was flashing pictures as fast as he could. But not of the cup, of everything else: the walls, the vault doors, the base the trophy stood on.

What were they up to?

“Wait here,” Travis said to Nish.

Nish turned back, hardly caring. He could get Data to push him if necessary. But anyway he ­wasn’t much interested in leaving the cup he was planning to carry around Maple Leaf Gardens.

Travis circled wide around the other trophies so he could come up on the entrance to the smaller room without being seen.

There was no one in the vault but the two men, still taking photographs. It made no sense.

Travis kept close to the wall and edged to the doorway. He could hear the taller man talking.

“It’s perfect,” he kept saying. “Perfect.”

“No one can see from any of the other areas. There’s only the one surveillance camera, the main alarm, and a secondary alarm on the display case. We plan it right and we can be in and out of here in less than thirty minutes.”

The man with the camera stopped and turned, scowling.

“Keep it down. You wanna tell the whole country?”

The tall one laughed. “The whole country will know soon enough — and they’ll pay whatever it takes to get this baby back, believe me.”

Travis could feel his legs shaking, and it ­wasn’t from the CN Tower run.

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The Home Team

The Home Team

Fathers, Sons And Hockey
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The Ice Chips and the Invisible Puck

The Ice Chips and the Invisible Puck

Ice Chips Series Book 3
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The Ice Chips and the Stolen Cup

The Ice Chips and the Stolen Cup

Ice Chips Series Book 4
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The Kindergarten Caper

The Kindergarten Caper

The Screech Owls Prequel
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Excerpt

Chapter 1

Travis Lindsay looked over at Sarah Cuthbertson, and both of them, at exactly the same time, rolled their eyes toward the ceiling.

How many times – in all the years they had been in the same grade and on the same hockey team – had they shared this same look? And how many times had it involved Wayne Nishikawa – Nish – the Screech Owls’ best defenceman and Travis’s best friend in the world, not to mention the most self-centred, most attention seeking, most self-glorifying twelve-year-old that had ever lived?

The Screech Owls had been invited to take the magnificent trophy they had won at the Bell Capital Cup in Ottawa and show it off to the lower grades at Lord Stanley Public School. They had started the day in Miss Robinson’s kindergarten class. And as he talked to the five-year-olds sitting in their tiny chairs, Nish, as always, was holding court. The little kids’ eyes were big as saucers as Nish explained how he, too, had once sat in this very same kindergarten classroom (before he became one of the greatest stars of the hockey world), and how he had once rescued the little screech owl called Stanley who had inspired the name of the town’s most famous hockey team.

Sarah eased over and whispered in Travis’s ear. “Wouldn’t they just love to hear the real story . . .”

Travis giggled. Would they ever!

As Nish’s story got more and more unbelievable, Travis couldn’t help but think back to the day they had entered this same classroom for the very first time . . .

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The Screech Owls' Reunion (#20)
Excerpt

It had been a quiet, uneventful mid-june Sunday at the Lake Tamarack public beach - right up until Muck lost his diaper.

The water was still and bright as a mirror. There were nesting robins by the gravel parking lot, and a pair of loons was calling farther out on the lake. The only ripples had come from Muck's chunky legs as he waded out among the reeds, staring down at the freshwater clams and darting minnows in the surprisingly warm water of what had already been a pleasantly warm spring.

Distracted by the wonders in the water, Muck didn't realize how deep he was getting. The water rose over his knees, then crept up his diaper, the tabs straining until, finally, the soaking diaper simply popped off and began floating out into deeper water.

Muck paid it no heed. Giggling at his newfound, bare-bottomed freedom, he began splashing through the shallow waters, much to the amusement of an older couple who had decided to walk home from church by the path that looped down around the bay and back toward the river mouth at the edge of town.

Naked as the minnows, Muck began screeching with delight and splashing the water all around him until a small, quick rainbow formed almost within reach.

The man and woman applauded.

"Muck!"a younger woman's voice broke in. "Where is your diaper?"

Muck looked up, bright blue eyes blinking innocently.

He turned his hands palm out and shrugged helplessly, smiling.

"Gone," he said.

"Diaper gone."

********

Travis Lindsay had been running for nearly an hour, but it still felt good. He had already run down River Road, across the bridge, up to the Lookout, and back down to the new recreation path that would take him down along the river mouth to the beach. The delicious smells of pin cherry blossoms were in the air and his lungs were greedily reaching for even more.

It was a day to be grateful for life, a day to let your mind go, like the young dog running off in all directions around Travis.

Imoo was a golden retriever. He was one year old, and still far more puppy than fully grown dog - especially in his behaviour. He was also Travis Lindsay's new best friend in the world and constant companion, running with him by day and sleeping with him, usually across Travis's legs, by night.

Travis had named him after the toothless, scrappy, hockey-playing Buddhist monk Travis and his former best friend in the world, Wayne Nishikawa, had met and befriended in Nagano, Japan. With Nish in goal and Mr. Imoo's famous "force shield" helping protect the Owls' net, the Screech Owls of Tamarack had won the gold medal in hockey's first-ever "Junior Olympics."

Travis never forgot that experience - though that had been such a long, long time ago.

Ten years now.

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Trouble at the Top of the World
Excerpt

We were at our billets’ home when the knock came. Sam was napping and Sarah was surfing the net in search of more scientific background on polar bears.

We were both tired from the hockey game — which was a pretty neat victory for the Owls, even if it did mean we all had to act like we were happy for the dreaded Nishikawa.

We thought it was one of the kids, Billy, calling us for dinner. But no, it wasn’t Billy at all. It was Zebedee.And he had his finger raised to his lips so we’d keep quiet. He spoke in a whisper.“Can we go for a walk?” he said. “I need to talk to you two.”

We looked at each other, wondering what was up, and then quickly put our shoes on and headed out into the brilliant late-evening sunlight. (We know. We’ll never get used to it. It just seems insane to always be in the middle of the day here!)

We walked down along the water. Zebedee did most of the talking.

“I know about your polar bear project,” he told us. “Everybody does. I think it’s great.”

But what had he come to see us about? Hardly to ask what the average weight of a male polar bear was. He would know a million times more about polar bears than we ever will.

“I want to check something out,” he said. “But it’s dangerous to go out onto the ice alone at this time of year. I can borrow my uncle’s snowmobiles, and my mom has her own. If I can put something together, would you two be willing to come along?”

“What for?” Sam asked.

“I want to check out that ship.”

We looked at Zebedee and then at each other. Nothing more needed to be said. Ever since the heli copter sighting and the two dead polar bears, we’d been talking about little else. Not even hockey could distract us. We just knew, deep down, that the ship and the helicopter were connected to the dead bear cub and the tranquillizer darts. But, of course, we could prove nothing.

“Count us in,” Sarah said.

Zebedee nodded matter-of-factly, as if he had known all along we would join him.

“We need three more,” he said. “Four more if my mom agrees to come along. I can drive one of my uncle’s machines, and he has two others we can use. I’d like someone with experience driving on the ice. It can be very dangerous out there. Who would be most experienced of the Owls when it comes to the North and running a snowmobile?”

We both knew at once. “The Highboys,” we said simultaneously. “Jesse and Rachel.”

Zebedee nodded again, almost as if expecting that.“We also need someone who’s small enough to sneak onto the ship, but strong enough to pull himself up or down if he has to.”

Again, we didn’t miss a beat.“Travis.”

“And if my mom comes — one more can go. Maybe someone strong, in case we have to hoist our little spy up.”

There was only one right choice — even if both of us dreaded the thought.

“Nish . . . “” we said.

Zebedee nodded. “That’s what I thought.”

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Wayne Gretzky's Ghost

Wayne Gretzky's Ghost

And Other Tales from a Lifetime in Hockey
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Excerpt

“One more year!” the 18,500 gathered at Ottawa’s Corel Centre began to chant with 4:43 left in regulation time. “One more year! One more year! One more year!”
 
He heard them—he even raised his stick in salute—but he wasn’t listening. Wayne Gretzky was finished. This would be his final National Hockey League game ever played in Canada, his home country, a 2–2 tie on April 15, 1999, back when the NHL still had ties, between the Ottawa Senators and his New York Rangers. It seems a silly thing to say so many years on—“his New York Rangers”—as in Canadian eyes and hearts, and even imaginations, he is an Edmonton Oiler forever.
 
Wayne Gretzky was thirty-eight years old that early spring day in Ottawa. He was, by his own measure, merely a shadow of what he had once been as a player. He had 61 points for his final season— “99” retiring in 1999—whereas he had once scored 215. He was, however, still the Rangers’ leading scorer, and had several of his lesser teammates only been able to finish on the perfect tape-to-tape passes from the corners, from the back of the net, that he had delivered all this game, not only would the Rangers have easily won but his point total would have been in familiar Gretzky territory.
 
Still, he had missed a dozen games due to a sore disc in his back. He knew it was time. He had once said he would be gone by thirty, but his great hero, Gordie Howe, who had retired early and then returned to play till age fifty-two, had warned him to “be careful not to leave the thing you love too soon.” He had continued on past thirty but would not, he swore, be hanging on at forty.
 
It had been a magnificent lifetime of hockey. Six teams— Indianapolis Racers and Edmonton Oilers of the World Hockey Association, the Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and Rangers of the NHL—and he had won four Stanley Cups, all with the Oilers, while establishing a stunning sixty-one scoring records, many of which will never be broken. He had scored more goals than anyone who had ever played the game, and just to put that into context, he was never even really considered a goal scorer but a playmaker.
 
He had been hearing the accolades since he was ten years of age and scored 378 goals for the Nadrofsky Steelers in his hometown of Brantford. “You are a very special person,” his father, Walter, had told him around that time. “Wherever you go, probably all your life, people are going to make a fuss over you. You’ve got to remember that, and you’ve got to behave right. They’re going to be watching for every mistake. Remember that. You’re very special and you’re on display.”
 
On display constantly—whether scoring 92 goals one season for Edmonton, getting married to Janet Jones in Canada’s “Wedding of the Century,” getting traded to the Kings in a deal that will be debated as long as Confederation, becoming the country’s most recognizable pitchman for corporate sponsors—and measured endlessly. They called him “Whiner” Gretzky for a while. They once said he skated like a man carrying a piano on his back when he went through his first back troubles. They blamed his wife for the trade to Hollywood, where she was an actress. Yet if there were minor stumbles there was never a fall, almost impossible to imagine in this era of over-the-top sports celebrity, temptation and gotcha journalism. He never forgot Walter Gretzky’s good advice.
 
They tried, but could never quite describe the magic he brought to the ice. Gordie Howe jokingly suggested that if they parted the hair at the back of his head, they would find another eye. Broadcaster Peter Gzowski said he had the ability to move about the ice like a whisper. It was said he could pass through opponents like an X-ray. He himself liked to say he didn’t skate to where the puck was, but to where it was going to be. During the 1987 Canada Cup—when he so brilliantly set up the Mario Lemieux goal that won the tournament— Igor Dmitriev, a coach with the Soviet team, said: “Gretzky is like an invisible man. He appears out of nowhere, passes to nowhere, and a goal is scored.” No one has ever said it better.
 
But here in Ottawa on April 15, 1999, the invisible man seemed like the only man on the ice by the end. Walter Gretzky and his buddies from Brantford were on their feet, Janet and their three children, Paulina, Trevor and Ty, were on their feet. The NHL commissioner was on his feet. There is no possible count of the millions watching on television who were on their feet, but it is a fair bet that a great many were.
 
Gret-zky!” the crowd chanted as the final minute came around.
 
“Gret-zky!”
 
“Gret-zky!”
 
“Gret-zky! Gret-zky! Gret-zky!”
 
The horn blew to signal the end of overtime, still a tie, and both teams remained on the ice while the cheers poured down. Then, with a gentle shrug of his shoulders, Ottawa defenceman Igor Kravchuk broke with the usual protocol and led his teammates over to shake Gretzky’s hand and thank him.
 
It was over.
 
Months passed between Wayne Gretzky’s retirement from hockey and a meeting that took place later that summer at the National Post’s main offices on Don Mills Road in Toronto. The newspaper’s publisher, Gordon Fisher, said he had something important to discuss with me. I was invited to a meeting with him, editor Ken Whyte and sports editor Graham Parley. It was all to be kept top secret. I had no idea when I entered the room what was up.
 
“We’re bringing on a new sports columnist,” Ken said with his enigmatic smile. A new sports columnist? I wondered. They already had Cam Cole, the best in the business—snatched from the Edmonton Journal—and I was pitching in regularly as well as doing some political work. What did we need with another sports columnist?
 
“He’ll be writing hockey,” Ken said. I blanched. But . . . but . . . but I write hockey. And Cam writes hockey.
 
“It’s Wayne Gretzky,” Gordon finally said.
 
I remember giving my head a shake. Wayne Gretzky? As a hockey columnist? How did they even know he could type, let alone write?
 
“It’s a huge coup for us,” said Gordon. “This will get us a lot of publicity and bring in a lot of readers. He has one condition, though.”
 
“What’s that?” I asked, half expecting to be told to back off and stay out of the rinks.
 
Gordon smiled. “He wants to work with you.”
 
“We want you to be his ghostwriter,” added Ken.
 
Gretzky’s agent, Mike Barnett, had done the negotiations for the column and this request had been part of the deal. No one but the senior executives knew what the financial part of the deal was to be—rumours went as high as $200,000, as low as for free in order to keep the recently retired player in the public eye—but soon everyone at the paper, and many beyond, would know that I was also part of the agreement.
 
This quite surprised me. We hardly knew each other. Unlike Cam, I had never covered the Oilers in their glory years. I had even, long, long ago, written one column, tongue rather in check, suggesting Wayne Gretzky was the worst thing that ever happened to hockey— his brilliance and popularity causing NHL expansion to places that made no sense, his high ability raising fans’ expectations for skill level that would sag once he retired—and I had even gone on the CBC’s As It Happens back in the summer of 1988 to predict, with uncanny foresight, that Gretzky would be swallowed up in Hollywood and never heard of again. Instead, of course, he became even more famous in the years that followed.
 
In the late fall of 1994, however, I joined a handful of other journalists to accompany the “99 All-Stars” on a barnstorming trip to Europe during the NHL’s first owners’ lockout. It was mostly a lark: Gretzky and pals like Brett Hull, Paul Coffey, Marty McSorley and Mark Messier heading off on a tour of Europe with their hockey bags, wives and girlfriends and even, in the case of Gretzky, McSorley, Messier and Coffey, their dads. They played in Finland, including one game in Helsinki where Jari Kurri joined the fun, Sweden, including matches against teams featuring the likes of Kent (Magic) Nilsson and Mats Naslund, Norway and Germany. It was a wonderful experience, the stories filed back to Canada given wonderful play by newspapers starving for hockey and the stories, many untold, of the trip itself something to be treasured forever.
 
In the intervening years, we’d become casually friendly as Gretzky moved to St. Louis and then on to New York to round out his career. His kids, along with the children of Mike Barnett, were even reading the Screech Owls hockey mystery series. Gordon Fisher asked if I would agree to help out the paper by dropping one of my four weekly columns and using that time to help out. Of course, I agreed. He was, after all, the publisher. And besides, it sounded like fun.

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Weekender

Weekender

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99

99

Gretzky: His Game, His Story
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Between the Pipes

Between the Pipes

A Revealing Look at Hockey's Legendary Goalies
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Over the Line

Over the Line

Wrist Shots, Slap Shots, and Five-Minute Majors
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Excerpt

It is almost inaccurate to say that I started covering hockey in 1973. The game that I wrote about in that year bears no resemblance to the game called hockey in 2011.
 
Here are twenty quick facts about hockey in 1973 that are not true about hockey in 2011:
 
1. All sticks were made of wood.
2. Helmets were optional and rare. There was even a goalie – Andy Brown of the Pittsburgh Penguins – who played without a mask.
3. All two-line passes were illegal.
4. There was no advertising on the rink boards or on the ice surface.
5. Most teams were coached by one man with no
6. The crease was rectangular.
7. Bench-clearing brawls were commonplace.
8. Players wore tube skates.
9. Teams were not allowed to call time out.
10. There were sixteen teams in the National Hockey League.
11. There was no instigator rule.
12. There were no European players in the league.
13. Overtime did not exist during the regular season.
14. Shootouts did not exist.
15. There was no video replay.
16. Most games were not televised.
17. The goaltender could play the puck anywhere in his half of the rink.
18. Players’ pads were soft.
19. The Stanley Cup was always awarded in early May. In 1973, the ceremony took place on May 10.
20. The game was officiated by one referee, not two. Those are just some of the tangible differences that are obvious to anyone who has been watching throughout the last four decades, even to those who do not understand the nuances of hockey.
 
There are many others. And there are also many more subtle changes that have significantly affected the way the game is played today.
 
In 1973, a winger skated up and down his wing. Because the NHL had been exposed to Soviet hockey only a year earlier, during the Summit Series, there was no European influence. There was none of the swirling, wideopen game that every team plays today. And while those wingers were dutifully skating up and down their wings, they were often checking their opposite number, who just as dutifully stayed on his wing. The checking, such as it was, was implemented by skating alongside the opponent.
 
Today, wingers and centres skate backwards to do much of their checking. A player breaking out of his own end can look up and see six opponents facing him. That would never have happened in 1973.
 
If a more physical approach were required, you would bump your opponent into the boards. Although there was the occasional exception, it’s safe to say that for the most part, you bodychecked a player in an attempt to get the puck.
Today, you bodycheck him to take him out of the play. It’s called finishing the check, and it’s all but mandatory.
 
The concept was initiated by Mike Keenan, who wanted to make opponents leery of being in possession of the puck. In theory, they’d get rid of the puck as soon as possible, even if it was dangerous to do so, and their timidity would give Keenan’s boys an opportunity to capitalize.
 
The problem is that the practice of finishing the check has become so widespread that it has resulted in a host of players who don’t really care whether there’s a puck on the ice. They just want to go out and finish their checks.
 
When a scoring chance developed in 1973, the shooter looked for an open area of the net and aimed for it. Today, as often as not, there is no open area of the net to see. The goalies have mountains of padding, and their skating ability is so vastly superior to that of their 1973 counterparts that they can come out and cut the angle without worrying that they’ll be trapped.
 
You didn’t have to shoot high to score in 1973. When I once goaded Ken Dryden by announcing that the scouting report on him said he could be beaten by low, hard shots to the stick side, he responded with a sigh and a statement that was perfectly true in those days: “Al, every goalie can be beaten by low, hard shots to the stick side.”
 
Today, goalies drop into the butterfly position at the first hint of a shot and thereby cover the lower fourteen inches of the net. Low, hard shots to the stick side rarely go in.
 
There were no butterfly goalies in 1973. Far from it. The legendary coach Eddie Shore insisted that his goalies remain standing. He was so adamant on this point that in practice, he was known to tie one end of a rope to his goalie’s neck and the other end to the crossbar. Shore was involved in hockey until 1976, and even though he was no longer coaching, his approach to the game was widely followed.
 
The players’ regimen in 1973 was totally different as well. Training camp lived up to its name. It was for training. Players relaxed all summer or “worked” for beer companies – often by playing softball at a brewery sponsored event. When they came to camp, they did so to lose excess weight (if you’re playing beer-league softball, you don’t drink milk after the game) and to get in shape for the coming season.
 
A common refrain from coaches in the early part of the seventy-eight-game season used to be, “We’re not in shape yet.”
 
You never hear that any more. Players today do not get out of shape. They might cut down their workout load for two or three weeks, but by August, they’re back in the rink, getting ready for the upcoming eighty-two game season. They also have team trainers and personal trainers.
 
The 1973 trainer carried equipment bags, sharpened skates, and kept the stick rack full.
 
Today’s trainer is qualified to make a number of medical decisions and is an integral part of the players’ conditioning. After games, he or the team masseur – another position that did not exist in 1973 – can work on players while they’re on their charter flights.
 
In 1973, a team might have had a charter during the playoffs, but the rest of the time, it travelled on commercial flights the morning after the game.
 
Today, visiting teams are usually on the way to the airport forty-five minutes after the game. At the time of day when the 1973 team would have been on the bus to the airport, still in the city where it had played the previous night, today’s team is getting up for breakfast in the destination city or at home.

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Reluctant Pioneer

Reluctant Pioneer

How I Survived Five Years in the Canadian Bush
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The Kid

The Kid

A Season with Sidney Crosby and the New NHL
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The Rookie

The Rookie

A Season with Sidney Crosby and the New NHL
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Excerpt

The Arrival
It was a great day for hockey.

The National Hockey League entry draft held July 30, 2005, on a warm summer afternoon in downtown Ottawa was the most celebrated and significant selection day held in several decades. At the same time it was entirely anti-­climactic.

Hastily arranged after the nhl owners and players reached a deal to end an acrimonious 310-­day lockout that forced cancellation of the 2004-­2005 season, the draft starred the most desirable young hockey player to come along since Mario Lemieux had arrived on the scene in 1984. A teenaged boy from a small village on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia was a lock to be the number one pick.

His name was Sidney Crosby. He had tousled dark hair and an abundant cowlick, bee-­stung lips, a generous, toothy grin, and in most lights he resembled exactly what he was — a boy still sixteen days shy of his eighteenth birthday. For someone who had not yet played a single shift of professional hockey, he was already remarkably famous.

Several seasons before the ugly labour dispute shut down Canada’s beloved pastime, the 2005 nhl draft became billed as the Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes. For years, his childhood scoring prowess had been widely known throughout the Maritimes. He was thrust into the national spotlight at the age of fourteen after a remarkable mvp performance in what was then called the Air Canada Cup, the country’s championship tournament for midget-­aged players, in April 2002. Crosby went on to set records in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Rimouski Oceanic — his 135 points as a sixteen-­year-­old was the most by a player that age in the Quebec league’s history and second in Canadian Hockey League history, behind only Wayne Gretzky’s 182 points with Sault Ste. Marie in 1977-­1978. In what had become the most often repeated tale of his young life so far, Crosby’s reputation was bolstered even further when Gretzky himself told a sportswriter with the Arizona Republic that the Canadian youngster was the only player he had ever seen who had a shot at breaking his own numerous nhl scoring records.

The draft order had been set a week earlier, but even before that Crosby had eagerly promised to don the sweater of whichever team selected him. That he would play in the nhl was a highly anticipated certainty, one of the few things about the league’s return to action that autumn that was predictable. This draft, even more than the ratification of the collective bargaining agreement by the National Hockey League Players’ Association and its subsequent unanimous acceptance by the league’s thirty owners, marked the return of hockey and the birth of the nhl’s renaissance. Sidney’s arrival in the nhl ­didn’t just coincide with hockey’s homecoming, it more or less launched it.

The league was desperately in need of a saviour, a gifted, gracious poster boy who could help repair the widespread damage caused by the previous season’s strike and the flood of negative publicity that ensued. Crosby had already been christened the Next One, just as several other players, chiefly Eric Lindros and Joe Thornton, had been at one time. But already Crosby seemed different from those who had come before.

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Titans of '72

Titans of '72

Team Canada's Summit Series Heroes
by Mike Leonetti
photographs by Harold Barkley
foreword by Roy MacGregor
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Canada

Canada

Images of the Land
photographs by J. Kraulis
introduction by Roy MacGregor
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The Colour of Canada

The Colour of Canada

With an Introduction by Roy MacGregor
photographs by All Canada Photos
introduction by Roy MacGregor
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