BY RANDY SCHULTZ –
WINDSOR, N.S. – “Nova Scotia Strong.”
Those three words were sent by thousands of people world-wide to the population of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. The rally cry came just hours following the worst mass shooting in Canadian history.
Twenty-two people were killed by a lone killer on April 18. It was an event that caught the province, as well as the rest of Canada and the World, by surprise.
But if there is one thing I know about the people of Nova Scotia it’s that they are strong. I found that out on a visit my wife, Janet, and I made there back in the summer of 2018.
While we were there when temperatures were in the 80’s, we quickly found out from the natives that winters there can be long, cold and sometimes harsh. Cold weather there can begin in late October and last until early April.
And not many of the native’s head south for the warmer climates during winter. They stick it out, go to work and enjoy the positives they get out of winter.
Although we went there for a vacation, I was in search of a place called “Long Pond.” You see for many hockey fans in Canada that Pond located in Windsor is sacred, especially in the winter time when it freezes over.
On top of that there are many people in Windsor and the surrounding region that believe that the city is truly the “Birthplace of Hockey.” To prove their point, the Windsor Hockey Heritage Museum was developed.
The museum showcases the origin hockey ice hockey in four different rooms including the Trophy Room, Locker Room, Hot Stove and Skates area and The Attic. And it is a museum where, unlike the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario, you can actually touch and hold many of the hockey-related items on display.
Following our tour through the hockey museum, it was on to Long Pond. But getting back to the Pond wasn’t as easy as explained to us by the natives.
We arrived at a driveway that led to a farm owned by the Dill brothers. In fact, it is a very famous farm better known as “Dill’s Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Farm.”
Entering the driveway, we quickly saw a sign, “Long Pond,” pointing straight ahead. Passing a farm house, another building and then a barn, we saw what appeared to be a series of signs along the side of a long lane.
As we continued to drive, the series of signs reminded me of earlier days, as a young boy, the “Burma-Shave” signs that used to appear on the side of a highway as your drove.
The shaving cream company was noted for its innovative advertising campaign at the time (between 1925-1966), which included six signs, with five of them containing lines that rhymed and the sixth having the brand name.
Sure enough, we passed five signs that described significant moments in hockey history. Finally, we got to the final sign which simply read, “Welcome, Cradle of Hockey, Long Pond.” Here we were, at the sacred pond, in the middle of a very rural surrounding.
That small body of water is surrounded by woods and a grassy area. It is very quiet and picturesque. A place where one could easily find peace, quietness and solitude.
Following a few minutes of sitting and taking it all in, we headed back up the trail that had brought us to the pond. Upon arriving back at the farm, we noticed a building that resembled a place to buy souvenirs. Entering the building we met one of the owners of the pumpkin farm, Danny Dill.
“The reason the pond is considered the ‘Cradle of Hockey’ is because there have been references made from the early 1800s that a form of hockey was being played by boys from King’s College School,” explained Dill, who owns the pond and the surrounding property with his brother, Andrew. “As time went on the people of Windsor began to believe that their area was truly the birthplace of hockey.
“Of course other people from other areas of Canada have disputed this. But we tend to believe our history and Windsor is truly the birthday of hockey.”
Dill was also quick to point out that Long Pond has become quite well known over the past few years.
“In recent years Long Pond has become quite famous, serving as a host sight for CBC’s ‘Hockey Day In Canada’ back in 2002,” stated Dill, who explained that The Dill Brothers Pumpkin farm is separate from Long Pond. “The Stanley Cup even made a special visit to Long Pond in March of 2010.
“It is a special place for people to come to of all ages. It’s special to come to any time of the year.”
Hopefully, at a time when the people of Nova Scotia need to find peace, they might find it with a visit to Long Pond.
Nova Scotia Strong!