A hockey holiday


Most people wouldn't take a holiday in August and then go to Montreal and watch three hockey games.

Dana and I did.

The reason ‑ our daughter, Sarah, coaches Hockey Canada's Women's Under‑22 hockey team.
After a tryout camp at York University for 10 days or so, the team headed to Montreal last week for three games with the U.S.A.

The players are each country's best and they put on quite a show. They can shoot, skate and pass the puck as well as or better than any menÆs team. The games were a pleasure to watch.
Canada lost the opener 4‑3, but that was it. The ladies used their speed to dump the U.S. 7‑2 in game two and won the rubber match 4‑3 in over time.

The two teams were lodged at a Holiday Inn at Point Claire, a suburb of Montreal, on the west island.

Stuck in a hotel in a suburb on the Trans Canada Highway, you quickly become aware of how poorly suburbia is designed ‑ in Montreal and elsewhere.

Suburbia is designed for the car ‑ pedestrian is a dirty word.

There were two large malls on the other side of the six‑lane highway. To get there on foot, you had to cross two busy service roads and walk along a sidewalk on a four‑lane highway that passed over the Trans Canada. Then you cross a huge parking lot to one mall and a four‑lane highway to the other one.

You don't have to look very far to see a similar situation developing. Look at the intersection of Highways 9 and 21. There is little chance of walk‑in traffic at the commercial establishments at that corner. You need a car to safely get there

But back to the city suburbs. If you don't have a car or live near a bus line, you're going to have trouble getting around by foot or bicycle. There was good cab service in Point Claire but not too many can afford to use those on a daily basis..

Fortunately for us, there was a city bus depot behind the mall across the road.
Thursday we caught an express bus (we were passing transport trucks) to the end of the Metro line. We then took the subway downtown to Old Montreal.

If you have never seen Old Montreal, it's worth a visit. We've been there before but you really can't see it all in a day. The city was founded in 1642 and you can wander down narrow, winding streets dating back to the origins of the French colony. Old buildings from the 17th Century, 19th Century Victorian commercial buildings and Canada's first sky scrapers , built in the late 1800s and early 1900s) when the area  was still the downtown core.

The streets might be narrow, but I'd live in a city downtown long before I would choose suburbia.
This area of Montreal has become quite trendy in the past few years and property is overpriced, says a fellow who works there. Montrealers have no interest in living in the old city, he says, because of the cost. He told me that 25 per cent of the people living there are Americans. They look at a property there as a second home.

The old city is built along the harbour and that area has been turned into a people place.
Toronto could take a few lessons from Montreal.

You don't know it from living in Western Ontario, but this is a  multicultural country. On the plane, subway, buses and streets, you see people of all colours and nationalities. Some are new to Canada, but many were born and raised here.

We even ran into a couple of Tibetan Monks in the Montreal airport.

Finally,  after watching those games in Montreal,  I guess I can say that I'm still a hockey parent.

Summer student Kristen Shane, enrolled in Carleton UniversityÆs journalism program, left Friday for a few days holiday before returning to school this weekend.

She did an excellent job at The Independent this summer and her energy and enthusiasm will be missed.

Sounds like Prime Minister Stephen Harper is about to call an election.
Now an election wouldn't be a bad thing ‑ if the parties also outlined where they want to take the country.

But that's not going to happen.

The U.S. election will be even worse. A few days ago the campaign revolved around how many houses John McCain has.

Harper got elected as a man who knows how to run the country's economy. Now after all those billion‑dollar Liberal surpluses, the big guy has run a $517‑million deficit in the first two months of  the current fiscal year.