In search of hockey
In planning my trip I was determined to see a game of NHL ice hockey. Along with drag racing, speedway tracks and polar bears, it was one of those North American experiences I really wanted to notch up. I stalked websites waiting for the draw to be released. I saw a game was scheduled in Ottawa that would tie in nicely with the end of my trip. I planned an overnight excursion especially for that, on the basis that I would sort a ticket later when they were released.
What I didn’t count on was a lockout which resulted in the cancellation of the entire 2004-2005 NHL season. It was to be the first time since 1919 that the Stanley Cup wasn’t awarded. Awesome.
While I couldn’t believe my bad timing, I decided to go up to Ottawa anyway.
After my final Greyhound ordeal from Winnipeg to Toronto I overnighted in the same hostel where I began my trip, and caught a train north the following morning. The trip took around 5 hours. It was mostly wet and I had an obscured view – and when I did wander to the rear of the train for a look I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed by the scenery.
I had booked into a hostel which used to be the city’s main jail for more than a century until its closure in 1972. Such history was an irresistible pull.
Clearly such a building would not have elevators so had to hump the bags up four flights of stairs to get to my six bed jail cell dorm, which had retained a lot of its charm from its former life. That evening I went on their daily tour of other parts of the building. It was a prison where hangings took place, three apparently, and the hangman’s noose remains today. Though well fenced off!
With less than 24 hours in Ottawa, I got out on foot to see as much as possible.
And so this was about as close as I got to ice hockey.
Despite the hockey disappointment it was still a worthwhile trip. I even won $5 in the Canadian lottery. But with only a couple of nights left on North American soil it was time to scoot back down to Toronto.