It was the morning of Nov. 23, 1985 — the day before the B.C. Lions would beat the Hamilton Ticats in the 73rd Grey Cup at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. It was also the morning after too many Laurentide’s were consumed by a group of us from Northern Ontario.
Our intention was to wake up in time to watch the Grey Cup parade in person. We didn’t come all this way to miss out on any of the action.
Someone turned the TV on to check the news. It showed the tail end of the parade passing by the cameras. All that was left to see were the guys cleaning up after the horses.
Back to bed.
For a lot of Canadians, attending the Grey Cup festivities — and even missing some of it while there — is an annual tradition. I’ve been to five, including the 75th Grey Cup in Vancouver in 1987 that involved taking a three-day train trip across Western Canada. The highlight of that was my brother stealing then-Alberta premier Ralph Klein’s cowboy hat — he still wears it to every Grey Cup — during a whistle stop in Calgary.
This year’s La Coupe Grey is extra special. It is the 100th and will be staged on Nov. 25 at Toronto’s Rogers Centre.
Though the combatants won’t be known until the week before, one thing is certain: there will be thousands of people in beer-stained jerseys roaming the streets representing all eight Canadian Football League franchises. The Grey Cup is a party unlike any other in Canada. It literally brings the country together, if only for one weekend. If the Grey Cup is where you go to celebrate your bromance this year, Tourism Toronto is offering a few recommendations, including the obvious Hockey Hall of Fame.
Air Combat Zone in Mississauga offers virtual dogfighting aboard the cockpit of a F-8 Hornet simulator.
The Old Toronto Beer Tour offers tutored tastings at Hog Town’s best-loved craft breweries, including a “Beer Dinner’ at Granite Brewery.
Real Sports Bar & Grill was crowned best sports bar in North America by ESPN Mobile. It boasts 199 TVs, including a 39-feet HD screen. The Ballroom on John Street in the Entertainment District is downtown Toronto’s newest interactive entertainment centre, with outstanding and fresh bistro-bar eats using local ingredients.
Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant is always part of the discussion. At 99 Blue Jay Way, it’s just down the street from the stadium. It offers tasty man-food.
Wisely, the Grey Cup is always played late in the day on the final Sunday in November. You’d had to have had an especially rough night out the final Saturday in November to miss it.