By Karine Hains aka Pheebs888

A few months ago, the whole country breath a sight of relief when it was announced that the Atlanta Trashers were moving north of the border to Winnipeg. Canadians are serious about their hockey, they live it, breath it and you could almost say that the eat it. The more teams are in the great white north, the better it is for them. While Winnipeg struck gold however, Quebec city is still waiting and while it waits, hockey is still front page news. Whether it be the huge controversy about the new arena being built with public funds without any public consultation or the new exhibition which was put together at Espace 400ème and opened up in early August.

I made my way downtown today to see what all the fuss was about and I must say that I was rather impressed. A lot of ground is covered throughout the exhibition from the time line displaying the evolution of the game itself to the evolution of the equipment, the Canadian teams and sections devoted to both Maurice “the Rocket” Richard and Patrick Roy.  For those near to Quebec City, the exhibition is on until the 27th November and it will set you back $20 to see it during the week while it will cost you $24 to do exactly the same during the weekend.

I made my way throughout the various sections in an hour and a half but had I been alone, I think I would have taken a closer, longer look. There is definitely enough material there to keep you entertained for at least a couple of hours. The entry fee includes an audio guide which narrates part of the exhibition as you walk through. Of course, this is solely for hockey fans, someone who is not overly interested in the “coolest game on earth” as the NHL would say, would probably consider this a bit of a waste of money.

The exhibition is arranged in a chronological order so you obviously start with the time line depicting the evolution of the game and how it came to be very popular in the country before covering the early days of the NHL (briefly but still) and being told about the Maurice Richard riot in 1955. This section is particularly interesting as it includes archive footage of the riot itself in which you can actually see Clarence Campbell watching the game at the old Forum and being thrown various items by the angry fans. There are of course plenty of picture of Richard as well as some pieces of equipment.

After the Richard section, you get to take a closer look at the evolution of the equipment as a whole, the skates and the sticks. This is quite a visual section as there are plenty of piece of vintage equipment on display. Had to take a close look at the stick display, and knew without even reading the sign who the Easton aluminium stick belonged to…The puck section is also worth taking a look at, from horse manure, to potato, wood and plastic, that essential part of the game sure has come a long way!

This being Quebec city, you are then taken to a section devoted to the Canadiens-Nordiques rivalry and a topic which is still a hot one here even after nearly25 years; whether Alain Côté’s goal was good or not. You can watch the highlights or the match on a giant screen up to the end of the second period and you are then taken to a replica of the Habs or the Nordiques locker room depending on your allegiance. Once inside the locker room, you get to see a video of either Jean Perron or Michel Bergeron pumping up their team prior to the third period just like they did back in ’87. You then move on to another room where you are showed THE goal and asked to vote on whether or not it was good. A month into the exhibition, the votes stands at 67% saying it was good and 33% saying it was not. Remember though, the exhibition is held deep in Nordiques’ territory so this is hardly a surprising result.

Once you’ve had your dose of the good old Battle of Quebec, you get to marvel at what is arguably the most fascinating piece of equipment in the game; the goalie mask. On display there are replicas of the mask of Plante, Cheevers, Dryden and Roy to name a few and this section is narrated by Roy himself. Then, as you exit the room featuring the masks, you see a picture which is dear to any Habs fan’s heart; Roy’s famous wink to Sandstrom in the ’93 Stanley Cup final. This marks the start of the section focusing on Roy himself as he accepted to collaborate with the organizers of the exhibition and lent them pieces of his personal collection. As a Roy fanatic, needless to say that I was in heaven. Stunning paintings, a collection of his All-Star Game jerseys, the equipment he wore in his last season with the Colorado Avalanche and finally, an impressive array of the miniature replicas of some of the trophies he won during his amazing career…It’s safe to say that this is the area I spent the most time in.

Finally, you are taken to a recreation of 4 typical Quebec living rooms through the ages. One from the 40s where the room revolves around the radio as that’s how people enjoyed the game back then. The second one is set in the 70s and in that one, an extract of a Canada-USSR game is showed on a loop on the television, of course, you get to see Paul Henderson’s goal. The third room is a rather more modern one which only takes you back to 2010 during the Vancouver Olympics and yes, of course you get to relive Sid the kid’s golden goal which notched the ultimate prize for Canada. Unsurprisingly, you regularly hear cheers in that section of the exhibition. The last living room showcases part of a Toronto-Montreal game in 3D, I admit, that is breathtaking…I’m afraid I will soon have to shell out on a 3D TV even if it is just for hockey watching purposes!

Overall, I would recommend the exhibition to any hockey fan who is in the Quebec city area. You will definitely learn a few things and get a chance to admire things that will be worth your while! It may be a while before Quebec gets a hockey team back (yes I am optimistic) but in the meantime, there are still plenty of hockey related things to do around these parts, you just have to know where to go!