Over Thanksgiving weekend, hockey teams from the west coast traveled to San
Jose to play in the regional Silver Stick
tournament. These teams
included my grandson Mikie's squad, the Fresno Monsters Midget
16 and Under team. His teams had played in the tournament the previous two
years, but never made the final cut.
year a powerhouse Monsters team kicked off the tournament with a
10-0 win over the Ventura Mariners, goalie Austin Hathcoat's first
shutout of the season. The next game was against our most challenging
opponent, the Capitol Thunder from Roseville near Sacramento. It was
a close, hard-fought game, with the score tied much of the time, but
in the end Fresno came away with a 3-2 win.
Oakland Bears, another relatively weak team, gave up eight goals
while scoring two, putting the Monsters in first place for the
playoffs. In the 1-4 match up, Fresno again defeated Oakland, with a
3-0 shutout. Meanwhile 2nd place Roseville handily defeated 3rd
ranked Ventura, 8-0, sending the top two teams in the NORCAL league
to the Sunday morning final.
teams played with intensity and the game was closer than the final score would indicate.
The Thunder scored first, just over a minute into the game. More
anxious moments ticked off for Monsters fans as their boys did not
score till Andrew Pellegrino tied it up half way through the period.
Then he gave Fresno
a lead with his second goal of the game in the final three minutes
of the period.
Most of the second was scoreless, until
tied it with
opened the third period with a goal by Vance Scrimshire in the first
minute, then settled down for a long period of defending a one goal
left Boston Lindlahr scored his second goal of the weekend, giving Fresno
some breathing room. The Thunder coach pulled his goalie, and a
fierce puck battle followed, all in the Monsters zone. With 24
seconds left, Danny
Goodwin got the puck with a little open ice and cleared it. The puck slowly but surely made its way into the
empty net, sealing Fresno’s 5-2 victory.
The entire team rushed the goalie and enjoyed a celebratory hug as
the parents and other fans screamed in relief and joy. The boys then
lined up to receive their medals and the third championship Mikie
has enjoyed in the 2012 calendar year.
the Monsters would face their biggest challenge and probably the
most exiting time of their hockey careers – a trip to Newmarket,
to compete in the International Silver Stick tournament final in
Canada: After a month and a half of anticipation, January 8
arrived and it was finally time to leave for Canada. The time between
then and the regional included making plane, hotel and rental car
reservations, shopping for cold weather clothing, and compulsively
checking the weather in Buffalo and Newmarket
nearly every day.
On the advice of the two Canadian families in our organization, we
planned to fly to Buffalo and rent a car there for the drive into
Following advice from my sister Linda, who lives in
DuluthMN, Teri, Mikie and I
all got thermal tops and “long johns” made partly of wool. I had
a stocking hat and some gloves that seem plenty warm in the winters
of central California, but at the last
minute I bought some mittens, which Linda said would be warmer than gloves. By the way, being much
smarter than I am, Linda was emailing this advice from New Orleans, where she planned
to stay till mid-February.
My advance look at the weather nearly always produced
the same results: Highs in the 30s, lows in the high 20s, and snow
or rain every few days. This finally caused me to call the car
rental company the day before we left to upgrade to an all-wheel
On January 8 we all got up much too early –
4 a.m. for me and even
earlier for Teri and Mikie, who live several miles farther from the
airport. We met at Fresno-Yosemite International about , got our boarding
passes, checked in our luggage, and made it through the security
check with a minimum of fuss. The first leg of our flight took us to
Denver, so we had a sort
of view of the Sierra in the dark, and some nice views of the
We had a quick brunch in the airport (at around 9 a.m.
home time), and looked in a couple of stores. Then our layover ended
and we departed for LaGuardia in NYC. For most of this flight, we
were looking down on clouds, but we did get a good look at downtown Manhattan as we landed.
Although we had a nearly three-hour layover, we had no
trouble filling the time. First we had to leave the United Terminal
and take a 10-minute shuttle ride to the Delta Terminal. This meant
another trip through the security check, which again went smoothly.
We had time for a leisurely supper (dinner? lunch? Who knows; it was
about our time). We
found a place that had an excellent salad bar, plus pizza for Mikie.
We then had about 30 minutes before boarding time, which passed
quickly, and we were off to Buffalo.
All of our luggage arrived with us, the rental counter
was just out the door and across the street from baggage claim, and
everything went smoothly, picking up a Kia AWD mini-van at Budget Car
Rental. The drive to our hotel was about five minutes, so we were
soon settled in, and trying to convert our mindset to Eastern Time,
going to bed by (7:30 back home).
There was quite a bit of snow around, but a local
resident on the plane said that it hadn’t “really” snowed
for a week (Weather Channel had shown at least snow showers the
previous five days). In any case, the roads were clear and the snow
here and there made nice scenery for people who live in a place that
gets snow maybe once every ten to twenty years.
Official activities for the tournament did not start
till Thursday, so on Wednesday we slept as late as we felt like,
getting up just in time to get in on the complimentary breakfast.
After that we loaded up the car and Teri set her phone’s GPS for the Hockey Hall of Fame
(HHOF) in Toronto. We had considered
a stop at Niagara Falls, but the 34 degree
weather and 25 MPH wind promised a 10
degree wind chill factor. In addition, Teri and I had seen the
falls, and Mikie is not interested in things of that type, so we
decided to just head for Toronto.
The roads were clear and traffic light most of the
way. At the border we stopped at a Tim Horton’s Doughnut
Although established in 1964, it is now described as “like a
Starbucks.” There are some noticeable differences, in particular
that they speak English there – the drink sizes are Small, Medium
At the border we showed our passports and
answered a few questions (where are you from, where are you going,
who do you know in Newmarket, roll down the window so I can see the
passenger in the back seat), and were soon rolling through southern Ontario, with a light dusting of snow in fields and other areas most
of the way.
Part of the way our route ran along the southern
shore of LakeOntario.
In this area, if we were not in towns or cities, there were lots of
grape vines and fruit trees, with many signs for wineries along the
Apparently the recession is over in Toronto – there are
buildings going up everywhere, as well as some street construction work, with the
usual hassle of driving in construction zones. I would guess that
there were fifty or more construction cranes set up throughout the
downtown area. We had a little trouble finding the HHOF (the sign is
not very big), but after trying to go around the block, we found a
parking lot, got directions from the attendant, and braved the
Canadian winter. The directions we got were a little off, but
someone on the street pointed us in the right direction, and we
found it right where Teri’s directions said it was (30 Yonge Street in case you’re
going that way).
We did have one small problem, which became slightly
larger when we left. Teri had paid for cell phone data service in Canada, but it did not
work. Fortunately she had printed out the turn by turn instructions,
which saved the day.
The Hall was quite impressive, and we all enjoyed
seeing displays relating to our favorite teams and
were items from the earliest days of hockey, including the original
Stanley Cup, which is displayed in a vault. The current cup has a
replica of the original at the top, with a tall base containing
rings where the names of the winning teams and players are engraved.
When a ring fills up, the oldest one is removed, flattened, and displayed in the
vault, so there are always five rings at any one time on the cup
I’m not sure how long we were there, but it was at
least two hours. During that time we ran into two of Mikie’s
teammates and talked to them briefly and took some pictures of the
Like many museums, the main exit leads out through a
gift shop, so we all got a souvenir of some kind, including a HHOF
T-shirt for Mikie’s dad, whose work prevented him from coming with
When we got back to the parking lot, the printed directions
for getting from there to Markham, the location of
our hotel, were a bit confusing. We again got directions from the
attendant, and although they were correct, we had not specified east
or west on the freeway we needed to be on. We drove the wrong way
for a mile or two on city streets, but eventually came to a street that led to the
eastbound lane we wanted, and got headed in the right direction.
The traffic was heavy, so for quite a while we drove
15 to 30 MPH on the expressway. A change to a different highway gave us about ten
miles of near normal speeds, but the short drive from the freeway to
our hotel was through a two-mile construction zone with heavy
after-work traffic. We had hoped to complete our trip in daylight,
but the Torontoand Markhamtraffic ended that
idea, and we arrived at the Hilton Suites around
Just across a side street from the hotel was the St.
Louis Wings café, so after registering and taking our luggage
upstairs, we drove over there for supper. In Californiawinter weather we
would have walked that short distance without hesitation, but the
cold and wind were such that we wanted to be out as little as
possible. Even walking about 150 feet from car to restaurant, we
were bundled up with hats and gloves.
A friend of mine who visited
Canadaa few years ago
had suggested I try poutine, the “national dish.” The classic
version is French fries and cheese curds with gravy, but the
restaurant offered a couple of variations, so I had the St. Louiswings poutine, which adds cut up boneless hot wings and onions. Overall
it was not bad, but I decided that it is really a crime against
French fries. Mikie asked how it was, and I asked him, “What does
the phrase ‘soggy French fries’ do for your appetite?” I ate
all of it except some of the fries, and it wasn’t terrible or anything, but I would not
get it again. In fairness to the dish, we later discovered that the
fries at that restaurant were not very good even without gravy.
I had not slept well in
Buffalo, so by 10 p.m. I was ready for
bed, at least an hour before my normal bedtime at home. I got a good
night’s sleep, and woke up at , followed shortly by Teri and Mikie.
We enjoyed a very good breakfast buffet, included with
our room, and then checked our Email and read and watched TV for a
while. The team had a practice at one of the two rinks where they
will play in Newmarket, about 30 minutes
away. Teri and Mikie left around noon, but I wanted to do some reading, go for a walk, and work on
this report, so I stayed behind.
The weather was much improved from the previous day, around
35 with 5 MPH winds at , so I walked over to a nearby shopping center for exercise
and to scout possible restaurants. It turned out that I was dressed
slightly warmer than necessary; I didn’t wear my mittens, and
never zipped up my hoodie. I went into The Future Store to see what
the future would be like, but it’s really just Best Buy North, and
since I was dressed for outside, I stayed only two or three minutes.
The shopping center had a small grocery store, a supermarket, two
drug stores, a bank, a money exchange place, numerous other small
shops, and at least eight eating places, several of which I would be
willing to try.
Teri had got her cell phone data working, but kept it
turned off except as needed, so we were out of touch while they were
at the rink. I received an Email saying there would be a team meal
after practice at East
Side Mario’s, about two miles from the hotel. Later
she called to ask if I wanted her to bring me something. We were
under the impression that to pick me up she would have had to drive
through the downtown Markham construction zone, then back through it
to the restaurant, so I told her I would probably just walk over to the
St. Louis Wings place.
Later when I went out to do just that, several of the
players and parents were walking by, since they wanted to leave the
boys’ equipment in the hotel. I was offered a ride, so I got to
eat with the team families after all. Mario’s proved to be a good
Italian restaurant, with a variety of choices. Teri had a shrimp
salad, while Mikie and I went for pizza. Having eaten several pieces
of bread while waiting, I ate only half my 10-inch New York pizza, so the rest
went into the refrigerator in our room for later.
After two days in
Canada, we finally had a
hockey game on Friday, January 11. The Fresno Monsters opened the
tournament against the hometown Newmarket
Redmen. Before we left
home and even up to game time, all the parents, grandparents and
probably team members wondered how they would do in the heartland of
hockey. Could a team from the central valley of Californiado anything
against boys who started skating on frozen ponds at age three?
Not to worry…Fresnoput in the first
goal, a knuckle baller from Michael Perez that hit the goalie’s
glove, rolled over it and into the net. With that goal they
surpassed last year’s Midget team, which was shut out in all their
games at Silver Stick.
The Redmen quickly answered, but
Fresnoput in one more in
the first period from Jacob Haynes, and never looked back. In the
second, Perez scored Fresno’s 3rd
goal early in the period. There were a few demoralizing minutes when
Mikie Liddle put the puck into
the net and the team came together to celebrate. However, the ref
missed the goal, and the game continued.With Monster players out of position, the Redmen put in their
second goal, but Fresno came back with a goal by Jacob Buck to take
a two-goal lead.On a
power play with 90 seconds left in the game, the Redmen pulled their
goalie to give them a 4 on 2 advantage, and scored to make it 4-3.
After the faceoff, the Redmen again pulled the goalie and put forth
a good effort, but Fresno’s Justin Russo
got the puck, skated down ahead of the defender, and sealed the win
with an empty net goal.
Markham, we returned to
the St. Louis Wings place where Teri and I enjoyed wings and fries
(NO gravy); Mikie had a burger and a salad, being under instructions
from the coach to eat no fried food.
The evening game was against the Woolwich Wildcats,
one of the highest ranked Midget A teams in Ontario. It took the
Monsters about ten minutes to figure out how to play against this
team, and by that time the Wildcats had scored three times. In the
second period, both teams scored once, and Fresno put in one more in
the final frame, but still came up short, losing 4-2. With a bit
better effort in the first part of the game it looked as if Fresnocould have stood
up against this team, but the lesson was learned too late.
Getting back to
Markhamafter , we picked up
McFlurrys at the nearby McDonalds, which was all Teri and I wanted.
In addition to the ice cream, Mikie finished off the half pizza left
over from Thursday night.
Saturday morning we were able to sleep in a little
later, with a game against the Ayr Flames. This team was clearly not as
good as the Wildcats, but the Monsters came out flat, and could not
get a goal past the Flames defense. Ayr scored four times, putting Fresnoin the familiar
but uncomfortable position of needing another team to lose in order
to make the first round of playoffs. That contest was Woolwich vs. Newmarket, and some Flames
parents told us their team always loses to Woolwich, so we had high
hopes, which were
The quarter-final game Saturday night was against the
Rangers, ranked number two in Ontario. The Rangers
scored within the first minute, but the Monsters played one of their
best, most intense games, keeping the score at 1-0 till late in the
third. Oakvilleput in one more
goal, but Fresnoplayers and fans
left the rink with heads held high, having held their own for most
of the game against a superior team, which was also the eventual
This concluded the hockey portion of the trip, and
players were free to eat fried food, stay up late, and generally act
like normal teenagers for the rest of the evening. Since we had to
allow for the possibility of a game on Sunday, that became a free
day, with different families pursuing different activities,
including starting the homeward trip for a few. We had done the
sightseeing we wanted to do, and Mikie was content to spend much of
the day on the couch watching football. Teri read, uploaded photos
to Facebook, and packed, and I read, napped, worked on this report,
We had our
third St. Louis Wings dinner
Sunday afternoon after Teri and Mikie drove over and got wings and
salad. Strangely, the restaurant did not have take-out drinks, so
they went to a nearby convenience store. After making their
selections, which totaled about $14, they tried to pay with US
money, which had been accepted everywhere else. The proprietor told
them the price would be $19 US (exchange rate was just about even at
this time). They walked out and we
made do with water.
next day brought a long, tiring trip home, offset with a few
pleasant times along the way. Our day started at 8 a.m. in Markham,
5 a.m. Pacific time. We picked up a quick breakfast snack in the
hotel restaurant and ate in our room, then did our last minute
packing and checked out. The two-hour drive back to Buffalo went
very smoothly, with our route bypassing Toronto, and no slow traffic
anywhere. Once across the border we filled up the gas tank and made
a final stop at a Tim Horton's, of which there are a dozen or so in
Niagara Falls and Buffalo.
had a lot of time at the airport, but it seemed to pass quickly.
There were five team members on our homeward flight, so the boys got
to hang out together and the adults visited and read. The first leg
of our flight was to Boston, about an hour, and we had some of the
best views of the trip approaching that area. There were many lakes,
rivers and frozen ponds. In one area I saw a large lake, with open
water in the wide part above the dam, and ice on the upper narrow
had a two-hour layover in Boston, with a terminal change and another
trip through the security check. Once through that we had our big
meal of the day. The adults scattered to various eating spots, while
the boys found a pizza place. Our departure time was just after 6,
so we had a great view of downtown Boston with the buildings
brightly lit up.
flight from there was the hard part of the trip - six hours to LA. I
did a lot of reading, watched a couple of comedies on the video
screens, and napped a little. Mikie's only previous flying
experience had been Fresno to Las Vegas, and he decided that
long-distance air travel was not nearly as exciting as he had hoped.
However, time passed slowly but surely, and we made our landing in
LA at 9:30 Pacific time. Our scheduled departure time was 10:30, but
the plane was late, and we did not take off till about 11:15. We
arrived in Fresno just after midnight, and after getting our
luggage, stepped out into Canadian weather - a little below
freezing, with ice all over our windshields.
had originally planned to have her husband bring her to the airport,
and I would take them home, but she ended up driving her truck. I
had taken everything out of my car to make room for our luggage.
This included anything I might have had to scrape ice off the
windshield, but after running the defroster for a few minutes, I
made do with an Altoids tin, and got home around 1 a.m.
or A BUNCH OF STUFF THAT DOESN'T FIT NEATLY ANYWHERE ABOVE:
of Flying (& airports): I've never really been afraid to
fly. Like any sensible person, I'm afraid of crashing, but I've
never been in any situation where there was a problem. Flying into
Ontario Airport in southern California a number of years ago, we had
much greater turbulence during the descent than I had ever
experienced - sudden drops that seemed quite disturbing. But I
observed that my more experienced fellow passengers continued their
reading without concern, so I assumed all was well, as it indeed
recently the big hassle of flying has been the security check, plus
the need to get to the airport so long before flight time. However,
the security people were fast, courteous, and efficient, and we went
through security quickly at every stop (four in total). There were
no real lines at any location. The only inconvenience was taking off
my shoes every time, which meant a lot of bending over for my
ancient back. But I increased my shoe-tying speed by about 10% on
the journey. I don't know if the full body scanners we went through
were the kind that "see" you naked, but I read just after
our return that they are eliminating
these. I'd like to think that looking at me contributed to this
decision; I'm like this
seems to involve a lot of walking. Four of the airports we went
through are huge, and even staying in the same terminal (Denver)
meant a long walk from our arrival gate to our departure gate. There
was a long section of moving sidewalk there, but still a lot of
walking too. Even though we rode a shuttle from one terminal to
another at LaGuadia, it was a long walk to get outside. In one
airport we walked considerable distance along an area where a moving
sidewalk is being installed, but that did us no good. In Boston we
walked outside and walked quite a ways to a different terminal, and
in LA we went down ramps and through connecting passageways just to
stay in the same terminal. Buffalo, just slightly larger than
Fresno's airport, required at least five minutes of walking to get
to baggage pick-up, but at least the car rental counters were close
(although requiring a quick walk out into the cold). Since I did not
do my regular exercises during the trip, I accepted this as a good
Driving: Since Canadauses the metric
system, speed limits are posted in kilometers.Years ago, driving in
I simply divided
the posted number in half for miles, which is "close
cars all have kilometers in small numbers below the MPH numbers. We
stayed at or no more than five KPH above the limit on highways. But
as in the US, other cars would
pass us. On the other hand, there were times when everyone seemed to
be staying very close to the limit. In Markham, waiting to cross
at an intersection, I saw two cars go through late on the yellow
light, and one blatantly run the red. I also had to be alert in
parking lots, where I twice saw cars traveling close to 30 MPH, just like at home.
keeping with their reputation for Canadian "niceness,"
drivers always slow down to let you in when you need to change
lanes, on city streets or freeways. The exception was the woman who
was texting while driving through the construction zone in Markham.
Made us feel right at home.
Canadian families on our team told us that Canadians put their
motorcycles in storage during the winter. During our time there we
saw exactly one motorcycle on the road, on one of the warm, sunny
Overall our hotel, Hilton
Suites, was very nice. We had a separate bedroom with two double
beds, a fold out sofa bed that Mikie used, kitchen with microwave
and sink, coffee table, dining table, and counter space.
breakfast buffet was included in our room price, and it was fairly
good - bacon, sausage, eggs, potatoes, and pancakes or French toast,
all pre-cooked, plus a selection of yogurt, fruit and pastry. We are
spoiled by the Hilton Garden Inn in Milpitas, California, where we
get eggs, pancakes and omelets cooked to order.
was plenty of parking, which was free for us, but not for non-group
customers. We were in a building separate from the main hotel, with
covered parking, and were always able to find a space. There is a
bridge connecting the buildings, so we could go to the lobby or to
breakfast without going outdoors.
the bathroom there was a shelf above the toilet that stuck out so
far that the seat would not stay up. After holding it up every time
I used it the first day, I applied some adhesive tape. Of course I
un-taped it after each use for Teri's benefit. A few years ago
people could go to Canada and buy toilets that still gave a powerful
flush, but apparently the enviro-nannies have struck, and they have
low-flush models. Worse yet is that the outlet is a little too
small. At least three people in our party had to call for
maintenance people to come up with a plunger.
Although the first day welcomed us with a 10 degree wind chill (32
degrees, 25 MPH winds), it warmed up each day after that. We had
some rain Friday, but it was never bitterly cold again. By Saturday,
New Brunswick and other parts of
eastern Canada were buried under
snow and were experiencing power outages. The prairies (Manitoba,
Saskatoon, parts of Alberta) had blizzard-like
conditions that made travel treacherous. California was shivering under an Arctic cold front that brought
snow and road closures in the southern mountains and threatened the San JoaquinValleycitrus crops.
Meanwhile, southern Ontario had record highs
for January, with temperatures in the low 50s, rain some days and
sunshine others. It was actually two degrees warmer there on Friday than back in
normality returned on Monday, January 14, with a 20
degree temperature drop in Ontario, just in time for
our drive back to Buffalo.
Shopping, Taxes, Tips: There are a lot of familiar chain stores
in the big cities, but quite a few unfamiliar names also. Future
Store is like Best Buy, which also has some stores there. Tim
Horton's Doughnuts is kind of like Starbucks, but we liked it
better. They are just as ubiquitous, and also can be found connected
to fast food places and gas stations. It's said these are not as
good as the free-standing ones, and the one I went into was
certainly much smaller. There is a big drugstore chain, Longo's,
stirring memories of the late lamented Long's Drugs in the U.S.
laws vary from province to province. You will see stores with
the sign "Beer Store." These are operated by the brewers
and sell beer. Nothing else. I understand that the liquor stores in
Ontario sell liquor and wine, no beer, no mix, nothing else. I
believe they are operated by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. I
could not really get definitive information in my on-line research.
restaurants we went to had hand-held machines that they bring to the
table. You swipe your card, and then you can enter a tip as a dollar
amount or as a percentage. The whole team went to one restaurant,
where they happily provided separate checks, but added the tip. The
amount was 15% of the pre-tax amount, instead of the 18% that is
common in the US. The tax is significantly higher, 13% on
merchandise at the HHOF and in one restaurant but 15% in another, in
the same city. This amount was 15% of the bill plus the added
gratuity, so who knows what's going on. Looking at my Mastercard
statement on line, I observed that some places, not all, had
added a small amount to the amount on the bill, probably due to the
exchange rate. And of course, my bank charged a "foreign
transaction fee" on every bill. Before we left, and when I
checked again on January 19, the rate was 99 cents US to one
Canadian dollar. The amount added ran about 1.3%.
prices were very high. When my older grandson and I were in Canada
in 1998, he was impressed with the amazingly "low" prices
until I explained that the amount was for a liter, about 3.8 per
gallon. Gas everywhere on our trip was $1.22.something, which works
out to about $4.64 per gallon.
We Look So Cool: Monsters players and families have always
thought that the boys uniforms are extra
cool. This belief was supported by comments received on our
trip. Members of other teams commented on the jerseys, and a bunch
of people complimented the players on the Silver
Stick hoodies that were the official off-ice outfit. Parents in
the stands also were impressed with the sweatshirts, embroidered
with sparkly "Fresno
Monsters" lettering, that most of the hockey moms wear. And
hey, I even got a compliment on my suspenders from a female TSA
agent in New York.
are the Canadians?
We've been learning a lot of Canadian geography on this trip. Canada
is the world's 2nd largest country in area, but the population is
just 35 million, fewer than California. I would guess that 95% of
them live within 50 miles of the US border, and it seems like most
of them live in the Greater
Toronto Area (GTA). In actuality, the area population is about
six million. I knew
that Toronto was Canada's largest city,
but I did not realize how spread out it is. Driving northeast from
downtown on our way to Markham, we would go
through an open, wooded area, then come to another cluster of tall
buildings, which we referred to as "additional downtowns."
This continued through four or five separate clusters, but I believe
that many of the tall buildings are condos and apartments. Toronto
has a population of 2.5 million, with a number of cities nearby that
range from 300,000 to 700,000.
Markham, about 20 minutes
from Toronto and the site of
our hotel, has about 300,000, lots of traffic, lots of high rise
apartment buildings, and quite a bit of construction
roads and buildings.
Another 20 minutes northeast is Newmarket, location of the
tournament. It is much smaller at 80,000, and also boasts some
construction activity. Mississauga, a short distance west of
Toronto, has 713,000, while two other nearby cities, Brampton and
Hamilton, have half a million each.
And then there's Ayr.
After our game against the Ayr Flames, I asked one of
the parents from there where it is located, and learned that it's
about 90 minutes west of Newmarket, near
Kitchener. It is a village
of about 3,500, and the members of their team are all local boys who
have been playing hockey together since they were about five years
big population centers include Montreal, 330 miles northeast of
Toronto at one and a half million; Calgary in Alberta (near the
Rockies) with just over a million; Ottawa, the national capitol, at
883,000; and Edmonton, north of Calgary, with 812,000. Winnipeg in
Manitoba, 220 miles straight north of Fargo ND, has 663,000 and
Vancouver, B.C. logs in at 603,000. Another dozen cities have
200,000 or more. Of all these, only Edmonton is a significantly long
distance from the border.
Canadians say "oot" for "out" and end lots of
sentences with "eh" - right? Well, partly. The Canadian
pronunciation of words with "ou" is almost "oo,"
but not quite. I don't think American speakers can produce the exact
sound that Canadians do. It's somewhere between "oat" and
"oot," but not quite either. It's just one of those
foreign pronunciations that we can't exactly match.
The use of "eh" seems to be less common, and may be a
regional idiom to some extent, although Canadians move about from
place to place like everyone else, so it's hard to be sure. We spoke
with a number of Canadians on our trip and only heard the expression
once, while watching a curling contest on TV. I was in
Canadain 1998 and
chatted with one man who used it every other sentence. But I don't
recall hearing it from others to any great extent. I asked Mikie
about it, and he didn't hear anyone say it on this trip.
Does All that Water Come From? On our trip
in 1978, my daughters and I saw all five Great
Lakes, as well as Niagara
Falls. We didn't go to the falls this time, but several families
did. And Mikie got his first look at a Great Lake, Ontario, the
smallest. The thing that impresses nearly everyone when they see Niagara
is the amazing volume of water, and the question frequently asked
is, "Where does all that water come from?"
surface level of Huron, Michigan, Superior and Erie is approximately
the same, while Ontario is considerably lower, below the Niagara
Escarpment. Water flows from Erie through the Niagara River, over
the falls, and into Ontario. As to where it comes from before that,
readers can do their own research.
Estel, January 2013
(Click to enlarge; pictures open in new window)