“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
In The Trail Less Traveled, award-winning author Don Reddick, shares the personal account of his travels with the modern day Dawson City Nuggets, as they re-enact the journey from Dawson City, Yukon to Ottawa, Ontario and challenge the Senators Alumni in a rematch of a game that first took place in 1905. The 290-page book, published by the Nauset Sound Publishing Company in Vermont, will quickly become an essential part of any sports fan’s library.
Hockey fans are well aware of the modern day version of the Ottawa Senators and they are acquainted with the first incarnation of the team in the early 1900’s. However, before the NHL existed, before the Montreal Canadiens or Toronto Maple Leafs came into being, in the early days of hockey history, Ottawa’s hockey club carried the moniker, the “Ottawa Silver Seven” – one of the greatest hockey teams in Canadian history. The Silver Seven held on to the Stanley Cup through ten challenges from 1903 until 1906, led by legendary player and future Hall of Fame member (1945), Frank McGee. It was during this time that one of the greatest events in hockey history occurred, perhaps one of the greatest in sports history.
In December of 1904, traveling by bicycle, dog sled, steamship and train, the Dawson City Nuggets left the Yukon and traversed over thousands of miles and some of Canada’s most rugged terrain. They arrived in Ottawa after 24 days of travel to challenge the Silver Seven for the Stanley Cup in January of 1905. While the Silver Seven easily retained the Stanley Cup, winning by scores of 9-2 and 23-2 in the best-of-three series, the scope of the journey and the passion for the game displayed by the Dawson City Nuggets, cemented their place in the history books and their status as legends.
Described by the publishers as “part history, part travel and a large part character,” The Trail Less Traveled is all of this and more. Reddick masterfully intertwines the re-enactment with the history of the original series, the history of the Yukon gold rush and the life stories of the participants, both past and present, in a way that brings the reader a sense of the magnitude of this journey. With some members traveling by dog sled for the 1997 re-enactment, others by snowmobile, the team follows the same path as the original Nuggets through the Yukon, continuing the journey by boat and train, making their way to Ottawa. Despite the 92 years that has passed since the original trip, they still face many hardships on the trail in the unforgiving North.
It is a journey that few men have undertaken, creating a bond that only a few can share, but through his writing, Reddick allows the reader a glimpse into the hearts of the Dawson hockey players and the heart of our nation. We also learn more about Reddick; as the author of Dawson City Seven, a fictional account of the original Stanley Cup Challenge, he learns about himself as he travels the same path with a new generation of Dawson City hockey players.
Upon completion of the book, I found myself filled with a sense of pride and gratitude. As a life-long hockey fan, I was proud of the game we all love and its rich history; a game that could inspire two Dawson City hockey teams to undertake such an epic journey. The gratitude is for Reddick himself, for sharing a journey with us, the readers, for following a dream and sharing it with the world.
The Trail Less Traveled by Don Reddick is set for release in June and I cannot recommend it enough; it is a must read for any hockey fan.
Andrew Rodger is an independent sports columnist and member of the Canadian Association of Journalists. Along with operating The Voice of Sport, he covers the Ottawa Senators and writes the “Ask the Alumni” series here at The Hockey Writers. He is the resident writer for the NHL Alumni Association and a contributor on CBC News Now.