Grey Cup at Rideau Hall
By Tim Baines, QMI Agency
|With members of the Orléans Bengals on hand at Rideau Hall on Sunday, Gov. Gen. David Johnston (right) and CFL commissioner show off the Grey Cup. (Tim Baines/Ottawa Sun)
OTTAWA - On a day when a brisk breeze pulled at the orange and yellow leaves, on a day that was most definitely perfect Canadian football weather and on a day where I was mistaken for CFL commissioner Mark Cohon at the Rideau Hall gate (sorry, Mr. Cohon, I’m way too old and I’m not even the commissioner of my own sports department), the Grey Cup was marched into the home grounds of Gov. Gen. David Johnston.
It was a perfect landing spot for the Cup, in the midst of a significant cross-Canada tour, into the long-ago home of Lord Grey, who donated the chalice for a Canadian football championship in 1909.
“The other day I was thinking about this ... if the Cup could speak, what amazing stories it would have,” said Cohon. “It’s been lost, stolen and forgotten. It’s been broken in half. If it could speak, it would talk about the Fog Bowl, the Mud Bowl, those iconic moments. It’s not just about a symbol, it’s about bringing people together.”
As the Grey Cup train winds its way across the country, Cohon said the experience represents the past, present and future.
“It’s a really special time ... going across the country from Vancouver all the way to Halifax, then working our way back,” he said.
There have been many moments, many memories as the Cup crosses Canada. Moments like in Okotoks, Alta., when Tracey Deplaedt showed up with her eight-year-old son Thomas, son of former Grey Cup champ Steve Rodehutskors, who died of cancer five years ago.
“His mom brought him out to the train, he was wearing his dad’s Grey Cup ring on a chain,” said Cohon. “It was a pretty moving moment.”
On Sunday, Cohon spoke to members of the Orléans Bengals, wearing their orange uniforms and representing the local football community.
“You’ve heard the rules,” said Cohon. “You’re allowed to touch (the Grey Cup), you’re allowed to kiss it, but don’t raise it above your head (unless you win it). Hopefully, someday, you’ll have a chance to do that.”
Gov. Gen. Johnston joked he played football “about 100 years ago, I think. I love the game, I love the strategy of the game. The Grey Cup represents so many wonderful Canadian stories, Canadian memories.
“I was a quarterback and cornerback, back in the days when you could do that and still weigh 150 pounds.
“The first television I saw in my hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, was the 1954 Grey Cup game. We went to the local armouries to see it. It was the famous game where the Montreal halfback (Chuck Hunsinger) attempted to lateral the ball (ruled a fumble) in the last few seconds. Jackie Parker picked it up and ran it back for (90 yards) for a touchdown to win the game.”
The governor general, who was presented with a jersey No. 28, will be at the Grey Cup game to perform the coin toss and ceremonial kickoff.
“Will (I) be able to stand up and will (I) be able to move it more than five yards? wondered Johnston. “I’ve got the sweater, now all I need is the legs.”
It’ll all be part of the tradition and history, another moment ingrained in the mosaic of a wonderful game.
WHERE TO SEE THE GREY CUP IN OTTAWA
Rideau Hall, 1 Sussex Dr.: Monday, Tuesday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Wednesday, 9 a.m.-noon
Hunt Club Nissan, 275 West Hunt Club, Friday, 5-6 p.m.
Ottawa Trainyards, 200 Tremblay, Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.