Friday, June 18, 2010

Don Reddick and The Trail Less Traveled



This article was first published in the June 18th edition of Main Street Week and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by www.mainstreetweeknews.com to have a look at a great community newspaper or sign up and have Main Street Week delivered right to your inbox every Friday.

“Lost amidst our traveling turmoil is the simple, overwhelming love of hockey. Caught up in the day-to-day schedule, interviews, and personal problems, we forget the essence of this whole adventure, that a group of guys could so love a game, be so enamoured of its history that they would drop everything in their lives for a month just to re-enact one game.”

- Don Reddick in The Trail Less Traveled

During the past few months in my Main Street columns, I have discussed the importance and relevance of hockey’s history in the modern game. Through my work as the Ottawa Senators analyst at The Hockey Writers.com, Nauset Sound Publishing contacted me, asking if I would like a copy of their latest release. As an avid reader, you can imagine how delighted I was when award-winning author Don Reddick’s newest book, The Trail Less Traveled, arrived on my doorstep.

The Trail Less Traveled is Reddick’s personal account of the 1997 re-enactment of the Dawson City Nuggets versus Ottawa Senators Stanley Cup series, which originally took place in 1905. Masterfully combining the history and folklore of the Yukon, with details of the original journey, and the author’s trials and tribulations as the Nuggets follow the same path as the original team from Dawson, Reddick has created a book that is an essential part of any collection.

In the early days of hockey, the Stanley Cup was a challenge cup, and any team in Canada could petition the Cup Trustees for the opportunity to take on the champions. From 1903 to 1906, one of the most successful and legendary teams in hockey history was the Ottawa Silver Seven. They held the Cup through ten challenges, with the most famous challenge coming from the Dawson City Nuggets. Traveling by dog sled, bicycle, steamship and train, the Nuggets embarked on a twenty-four day journey before arriving in Ottawa for a best of three series. The Silver Seven quickly dispatched of the Nuggets by scores of 9-2 and 23-2, but the team from the Yukon carved out a special place in the record books and earned the status of legends for themselves, right alongside the future Hall of Famers on the Silver Seven.

In Reddick’s book, the reader gains a true sense of the magnitude of the journey, both the original and the re-enactment. Even with modern day conveniences, the trip from Canada’s north to the nation’s capital is no easy task; some of the world’s most rugged terrain lies between the two cities. Whether he is describing waking to minus 40 degree temperatures in the Yukon wilderness, sharing stories by the campfires in the evening, or insights gained during conversations with the modern day Nuggets on the train across Canada, we learn more about Reddick and his fellow travelers as he learns more about himself.

Interestingly, a writer from Vermont has captured the essence of being Canadian in a way that many of our own writers have failed to accomplish. His words capture the vast beauty of our landscapes and when describing the efforts by all involved in the re-enactment, Reddick illustrates our passion for the game of hockey, a game that has grown with our nation, woven into our history and our identity as a country.

Upon completion of The Trail Less Traveled, I did something that I rarely do, something reserved for “the classics”... I turned to page one and began the book again. Much like the original Nuggets’ challenge, The Trail Less Traveled has achieved the status of legend - a true classic. For more information on Don Reddick and his wonderful creations, visit his website at www.donreddick.com. Have a great sports day everyone.

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