An innovative project that was conceived by the Canadian Football League to promote fan awareness of the Grey Cup’s 100th game literally rolled into town a couple of weeks ago.
This project started in Vancouver and will end Grey Cup week in Toronto, hitting all 8 CFL towns as well as many other cities & territories along the way.
The 100th Grey Cup Tour Train is a VIA Rail train that has been fitted with several artifacts, loads of information and plenty of activities for fans of all walks of life. All 8 teams and their history are in the spotlight as fans can learn each team’s past while looking towards the future. And the centrepiece of it all is the Grey Cup trophy, on display for all to see.
When this event came to Ottawa, it had quite some significance to it. One, a chance for older fans in the Ottawa area to revel in the glory days of the old Rough Riders team. As well as this being a sort of coming out party for the new Ottawa franchise slated to start play in 2014.
Many feel that the CFL just isn’t complete without a team in our nation’s capital. I daresay this time around, they just might get it right. The new ownership group is led by Jeff Hunt, owner of the Ottawa 67s junior hockey team. He has a knack for getting people interested in a league that many wouldn’t consider to be major, a claim certain wags dub the Canadian Football League.
And to hear it from CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon, this Ottawa franchise is going to be given the proper tools for long-term success. They have a tough road to hoe in this fickle sports market and the stink of failed ownership groups of the past still lingers in this city. But if anyone can make a go of the Ottawa _______s, it’s Jeff Hunt and his partners.
I’m quite pleased to learn that the name Rough Riders is NOT under consideration for the new Ottawa franchise. Despite the history behind it, it really doesn’t behoove the CFL to have two teams with similar sounding names. And those who claim they won’t support the team if it’s not called the Rough Riders are welcome to remain trapped in the past with their rotary dial telephones and black & white TVs.
Back to the Grey Cup Train….It has literally become a mobile museum/celebration of each of the current CFL teams. Alouettes fans who have been inside the train got to see a replica of the dressing room stalls of Anthony Calvillo, Jamel Richardson & Brandon Whitaker as well as seeing the three most current Grey Cup rings and reading about each team’s victory.
There were plenty of artifacts from the past as well. Helmets, jerseys and plenty of other tidbits that helped shape and form this thing known as Canadian football. But the star of the show was the trophy donated by the Earl of Grey.
Thanks to the interactive guides there, you are able to see the results, stats and so much more from all 99 previous games played. It is truly a fantastic job put forth by the CFL and once you walk through this train and soak in all of the history, you can’t help but get excited for the big game on the 25th.
In addition to all of this history, there are plenty of games and contests to test everyone’s mental and physical knowledge. Kids were testing their football skills while adults were challenging their friends at trivia. This event truly appealed to all football fans and front & centre of it was the hostess of this party, Kate McKenna.
The social media darling from CFL on TSN has been on this train since its inception and has literally traveled all over this great land of ours to meet with as many CFL fans as she can. I was looking forward most to meeting her as her passion for this league and its fans is infectious. With her disarming smile and true football acumen, Kate truly puts the social in social media.
She was an absolute delight to speak with and is a fantastic ambassador for the league as it moves forward. Be sure to check out her road stories on greycuptour.ca
The final destination for this train is Toronto for Grey Cup week. If you have not yet checked out this incredible event, I strongly encourage you all to do so. Be sure to check their web site for tour dates and more news.
With the bye week over, the Alouettes now know who stands in their way of another Grey Cup trip. Once again, it’s Montreal vs. Toronto to decide the Eastern division champion. I’ll be back later this week to preview this match-up.
GO ALS GO!!!
About the Author
Written by Clifford Pine
Montreal born & bred, lover of sports. Passionate about the Montreal Alouettes. Also a great cook & not too bad a dancer.