Saturday, November 18, 2023

Whatever happened to the Atlantic Schooners?

Tomorrow the 110th edition of the Grey Cup will take place at Tim Horton Stadium in Hamilton, Ontario. The Montreal Alouettes will be representing the East, while the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be representing the West.  The Grey Cup is not as glitzy as the Superbowl.  How could it be?  No one does glitz like the Americans.  However, it does have its own style, a more homey style, steeped in history and tradition. T he trophy is named after Albert Grey, the Governor General of Canada from 1904 to 1911.

I had hoped that the Toronto Argonauts would represent the East in the big game.  The Argos had a splendid season, winning 16 games and losing only 2  They were led by quarterback Chad Kelly and they seemed to be steamrolling toward a second consecutive appearance in the CFL's championship game.  That is until something happened on the way to the Grey Cup.  The Argos were soundly beaten by the Montreal Alouettes in the Eastern Division final in Toronto, and Kelly did not have a good game.  Perhaps the Argos were rusty and complacent, having sewn up first place so early.

Yesterday, my husband and I visited Hamilton to partake in some of the Grey Cup festivities.  There were various activities and booths along James Street.  There were pavilions and entertainment at the Hamilton Convention Centre.  All of the Western Division teams, except for the B.C. Lions had their own pavilion.  The only pavilion from the East was that of a team that doesn't exist yet - the Atlantic Schooners.  

We enjoyed ourselves in the Schooners' pavilion, eating lobster rolls and watching a Newfoundland band called Screeched In.  We also listened to the Saskatchewan Roughriders Pep Band and we chatted with people from all over Canada.  Screeched In conducted a fun tradition by which one becomes an official Newfoundlander by kissing a fish (in this case, "Jimmy the Fish" and drinking some dark rum known as Screech.  Below are two photos of the Screech ceremony.

My husband and I love Atlantic Canada.  Maritimers and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are the salt of the earth. and we fervently hope that the Schooners become a reality soon.  The Canadian Football League (CFL) currently has nine teams, five in the Western Division and four in the Eastern Division.  A team based in the Halifax-Dartmouth area, or in Moncton, New Brunswick, would even things up.  The CFL would truly represent Canada from coast to coast and sea to sea.

The Atlantic Schooner were originally a conditional expansion team that was set to begin play in Dartmouth, Nova back in 1984.  Unfortunately. ownership was unable to secure enough funding for a stadium.  As a result, the application for a franchise was withdrawn 13 months after it was submitted.  It's now 2023 and the dream is still alive.  I hope to see it come to fruition.  I was told that there is going to be a meeting about the situation next month.

- Joanne

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