I live in
Montreal. I was born here and I say that with pride. It's a unique city of
over two million people. It's an island with a good-sized mountain in the
middle. During the summer, people stroll around Beaver Lake sailing boats or
feeding the swans. Lovers walk hand in hand, joggers puff along the roads
and photographers delight in the pastoral setting in the midst of a
metropolis. From the beautiful Chalet lookout you can see the St Lawrence
River to the south and get a bird's eye view of the skyscrapers, bridges,
stadium and parks. The same is true for the winter when people skate on that
same Beaver Lake or ski down the gentle slopes.
Montreal is a city of commerce, restaurants and more churches than most
cities per capita. There are walking streets, ethnic areas and places to
just sit and watch the boats go by on the seaway near the site of Expo 67.
We had the Olympic Summer Games here and the legacy was a unique enclosed
stadium that, for the past years, has been a home to the defunct Montreal
Tourists frolic through the narrow cobbled streets of Old Montreal or take a
horse and buggy ride through the narrow lanes. There are museums, parks,
tennis courts, theatres and an incredible number of restaurants in a city
that loves to eat. It looks very much like old Europe but it costs less to
There is something for everybody, even boutique or upscale hotels,
nightlife, bars and a world famous Jazz festival. Add Formula one racing and
you've said it all. Or have you?
Montreal is something more. It is the city of one of the most fabled hockey
teams in the world; Les Canadiens de Montreal, the Montreal Canadians. Now
it's true that the hay day of Montreal hockey domination may have ended in
the early nineties. The team has changes. They are younger, faster and often
sport Czech or Russian, Finnish or Swedish names.
I grew up in an
era when we knew The Canadians would win the Stanley Cup. But that was
before expansion. Now we watch a league where young Montrealers are playing
for Tampa Bay, San Jose, and other American teams. No problem. We still fill
the Bell Center and cheer on our hapless 'Habs" as they are called. It's
short for the French word Habitants, the name of the early Canadian
Gone are the
players like Jean Belliveau, Toe Blake, Maurice and Henri Richard. Gone is
the first goalie to wear a face mask, Jacques Plante. Time has passed Kenny
Reardan, Dicky Moore and "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, Cournoyer and Guy Lafleur.
The names have changed and the scores have changed but the legend of my
youth lives on in this city that loves hockey. This feeling has spilled
over to others in North America. Hockey has become a rage in distant Los
Angeles where there are no outdoor rinks. It's infectious.
Last night, I wandered past the old Forum, where hockey was king for many
decades. Outside, two men were polishing the plaques that told of Stanley
Cup victories dating back to the twenties. They are there for us to relive
the glory days when Montreal was hockey and hockey was Montreal.
Last night, The
Montreal Canadians lost a hard fought fourth game to The Tampa Bay
Lightening. Last night the dream ended for this year. The team that came
back from a 3-1 deficit against the mighty Boston Bruins, and won their
series, fell to Tampa in four. I wasn't at the Bell Center but I went into
the old Forum and watched the game with others on giant screens. It was the
next best place to being there live. The forum has been rebuilt as a theatre
outlet and restaurants but the place where center ice had that permanent H
within a C, the Canadians symbol, emblazoned in the ice is now a tiny
amphitheatre with those old red seats from the original forum. It is
surrounded by screens and the die-hards without a ticket sat in those same
old seats and watched as their team did battle.
The excitement was
fever pitch. Memories of the years gone by, danced in my brain. I remembered
the time as a high school student that I played on that same Forum ice and
was proud to report to my father that I had scored a goal in the same net as
Maurice Richard. I remember too that we lost that game.
And speaking of
Richard I must say he was a national hero. In the days before helmets you
could see the spark in his eye and the rapt determination as he dragged the
puck one handed around the defense and scored with that special style.
Maurice Richard was at the Forum too last night. Not in person. Maurice
passed away some years ago but in front of the old red seats where the
architect placed a player's bench with a life sized statue of our hero
seated as though watching center ice. And on the walls were murals of him
leading a charge towards the goal. I tested myself by trying to name the
players of old from the team pictures on the wall. It was an evening of
total nostalgia even though the team lost and people walked home dejected
but proud. The results, they reasoned, were better than last year. The team
would continue to build. They'd be back.
I walked home on a pleasant April night, under giant elms along silent
streets. In the background was Mount Royal, silhouetted against a silver
sky. There were no parades. There was no shouting. There was silence. There
was acceptance. There was peace. I have lived in Montreal, my life-long
home, my city of fresh bagles, hot smoked meet, a meeting of two cultures
and that never-diminishing memories and pride.
And now, during a year of hockey-less nights and a baseball team defection,
I know there is still enough here to keep me happy and fulfilled.
How many places, I rationalized, in a world of chaos can one find safety,
peace and happiness.
God, I love this city. You will too.
You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at:
Over the past few years, Professor
Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece,
Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of
Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the
globe including Italy and most of
China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters
from St.Petersburg to Moscow.
"He took a group to Greece and another to northern
Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour
groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They
winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico. His newly found spare time
is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His
current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders.. "So
You Want To Be A Tour Leader."
Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing
Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel
writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.
Keep reading his web for travel ideas. His next
novel HELLSTORM'S Folly,
will be available this fall. He now
lives in British Columbia.
www.top-travel-ideas.com or contact him directly at
(More about the writer.)