For 1 week every year at Christmas, we head up North and immerse ourselves in Canadian culture, re-visit childhood favorites, take in the sights and sounds of the white, freezing landscape and surround ourselves with friends and family. We love every second of it.
To understand all things Canadian, it’s best to start with that phenomenon that embraces the country year-round, bringing together young and old. That would be my favorite, but mostly misunderstood, sport of Hockey. Growing up in Canada, it’s hard to imagine a winter night without a trek to the neighborhood rink, lacing them up and shooting some pucks with friends and strangers in a game of pick-up.
On the hockey front, there are some news items from Ottawa:
- The NHL team, Ottawa Senators, are woefully under-performing, now among the worst of the league (last year, they were an elite team — for this year’s example, look up San Jose!)
- The World Junior Championship of hockey, featuring 10 countries, is being hosted by Ottawa this year; it’s always a great venue to catch a glimpse of tomorrow’s NHL superstars
- A new hockey store called “Hockey Life” opened across the street from my parents place in South Ottawa; I now have another place in addition to Canadian Tire to load up on sock tape, water bottles, sticks and other stuff I can use back in San Jose in our adult league at San Jose Ice
At the gym, hockey highlights loop repetitively while random voices discuss the fate of their NHL Senators team. At the local Tim Horton’s, hockey dads stop by after dropping their son for hockey practice. And the headlines of local newspapers debate the latest Sean Avery controversy, or the positive impact the World Championships will have on the Ottawa economy.
A lot of things have changed in Ottawa.
Canada’s capital city is no longer just a sleepy Government town — a favorite characterization by our big city Toronto cousins 5 hours down the 401 to the west. In addition to its strong technology base, Ottawa proudly hosts some of the best arts and sciences. Take the annual Jazz festival which has turned into a great success. Or the fine collection of museums covering War, Heritage, Culture, Arts, Science and Nature.
But while the landscape changes, the stores change and the people grow slightly wiser every year, I can always count on one thing. The love for hockey and everything it means to the people of Canada.