On February 10, about a week after you’ll be reading this, one of the longest rivalries in hockey legend will see another act its 106-year history.
On that day the Ottawa Silver Seven (AKA the Ottawa Senators Alumni) will face off against the Dawson City Nuggets on the latter team’s home ice for the first time. The trip is a spin-off from the Hockey Day in Canada events taking place in Whitehorse on February 12.
Dawson teams have been on Ottawa ice twice, and haven’t done all that well, so they’re hoping to out on a better show at home.
The first match took place in January 1905, in Ottawa, when Dawson was bigger than it is now and the Stanley Cup was a lot smaller. The Dawson team sponsored by Joe Boyle travelled by dogsled, bicycle, ship and train to Ottawa to meet the original Silver Seven.
The Nuggets had two actual former elite players and rest were miners who loved the game. They played two games against the pros and lost both: 9-2 in the first game and 23-2 in the second game.
You can read fictional accounts of this trip in Brian McFarlane’s classic young adult novel, The Youngest Goalie, or in Don Reddick’s novel, Dawson City Seven.
Ninety-two years later the rivalry was resumed when the Dawson City Oldtimers team recreated the trek to Ottawa (adding snowmobiles to the means of transport) and managed to lose by the slightly smaller score of 18-0.
This trek has been immortalized in the video, Live From Moccasin Square Gardens, created by Troy Suzuki, and in Don Reddick’s memoir of the trip, The Trail Less Travelled. Reddick had visited Dawson while researching his novel in the 1990s and had begged to be allowed to go on the trip if it was ever organized. Much to his surprise, Reddick was invited to make the trek, along with Earl McRae, a reporter for the Ottawa Sun.
Quite a bit of the reporting done about this trip (including items by yours truly) can be read on this website: http://aix1.uottawa.ca/~nduffee/bruce/oldtimr.html. I should warn you that some of the links don’t work. An abridged version of the Klondike Sun issue that saw them off can be found here: http://www.yukonweb.com/community/dawson/klondike_sun/mar7-97.htmld/#nuggets. This link does work.
There was a lot of excitement here in 1997 and there will be just as much on February 10. It will actually begin on Feb. 9 when the first of two games for the Klondike Cup will be played in Whitehorse. Then all the players will travel here for the second game the next day.
After a reception at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre in the morning there will hockey challenges on an outdoor rink in the afternoon and then the second big game in the Art & Margaret Fry Recreation Centre at 6 pm that evening.
There may still be tickets available through the Dawson Old Timers or at The Dancing Moose by the time you read this, but I wouldn’t count on it.
After 32 years teaching in rural Yukon schools, Dan Davidson retired from that profession but continues writing about life in Dawson City.