For its first 42 years, the Grey Cup championship was always contested in central Canada, most frequently Toronto, until it finally came to Vancouver in 1955. These were the days before commercial air travel was affordable. Western teams and fans who wanted to make the trek east had to do it by train.
In honour of the 100th Grey Cup championship, being held in Toronto as the first one was 103 years ago, the Canadian Football League (CFL) is resurrecting the traditional train ride with a 10-week, 100-stop train tour from Vancouver, British Columbia all the way to St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador, featuring the Grey Cup itself.
“The Grey Cup really belongs to every Canadian, so our goal for this special year of the 100th Grey Cup game is to bring it to as many cities, towns and Canadians as we can,” said Mark Cohon, CFL commissioner.
“We will take the Cup to places it has called home and places it has never been before, and each time it arrives we will host a celebration worthy of its stature and full of fun.”
Yorkton will celebrate the arrival of the Cup on October 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. During the Stop on the CPR line along Livingstone Street (behind Liquidation World), fans will be able to have their pictures taken with the Cup and visit two specially retrofitted cars, one that serves as a Grey Cup museum and the other a tribute to the teams and their fans.
A community barbecue, sponsored by Harvest Meats and Yorkton Coop, will be held in Western Financial City Centre Park with proceeds going to Yorkton minor football teams.
Yorkton actually has a storied history of celebrations with Grey Cup trains. Particularly memorable was November 29, 1954 when the Edmonton Eskimos fan train stopped on its way home after the club’s 26-25 victory over the Montreal Alouettes at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium.
The following excerpt is how the Yorkton Enterprise described the event on December 2, 1954.
Bring Back the Bacon
Two years ago Mayor Langrill admonished the Edmonton fans to bring back the bacon when they passed through here on their way east. The Yorkton Board of Trade supplied the fans with 500 samples of bacon on specially printed cards with instructions to bring it back.
“It’s been a long time,” said smiling Gerry Stephenson, who was convener for the special CPR Edmonton Football Club train, “but here it is,” as he handed Yorkton’s Mayor Langrill with a side of choice Burns’ bacon specially wrapped in gold foil with green printing.
The exchange of gifts, messages of congratulations and good wishes, plus explosive fraternal greetings took place from an improvised platform at the C.P.R. depot shortly before seven o-clock Monday night. The celebration lacked the detailed arrangements of the reception two years ago, but proved equally as successful.
One Man Show
Actually it was a one man show staged entirely by Yorkton’s popular mayor on behalf of local citizens. Decked out in high silk hat and frock coat and attended by his A.D.C., the mayor produced the porker Miss Alouette, complete with specially made harness wearing Edmonton Eskimo colors and carrying a message to the Edmonton mayor, which read as follows:
From Mayor to Mayor Courtesy of Miss Alouette
“The citizens of one of the fastest growing and most friendly cities in Western Canada —Yorkton — wish to extend to you, the Eskies and the citizens of Canada’s champion football city, and the oil capital of Canada, our heartiest congratulations on bringing the Grey Cup back to the west.
“The boys certainly brought home the bacon this time.
“As a memento of the occasion I am sending you a young pig, which represents ‘pigskin on the hoof’.
“Her name is ‘Alouette’ as she can only say ‘oui, oui’ (wee wee).
“It is our sincere hope that we can keep the Grey Cup in the west for years to come.”