Saint Lawrence Derby

06 April 8:59 am

Saint Lawrence Derby

By Asif Hossain

I woke up at 6 a.m. on the flight from Mexico Thursday morning just as the plane - having cleared two countries during my slumber - was right over downtown Toronto. I like to joke that I don't go north of Bloor Street but 34,000 feet in the air is a different type of north. Way, way north.  

Not a cloud over the city and the well-lit structures could be seen clearly from the airplane window. But then a strange thing. Looking east nothing was visible but thick clouds on both sides of Lake Ontario. I had hoped to follow the pilot's path along the Saint Lawrence River all the way to Montreal because for me, this new MLS rivalry that starts Saturday (Montreal v. Toronto live on TSN at 12 p.m. ET) is the Saint Lawrence Derby.

Unfortunately, the first look at the celebrated river came as the plane descended below the clouds on its way to the landing strip. It was a gloomy Thursday morning in these parts as you can see. 

The Saint Lawrence River fills the mind with images of Canadian pioneers and their struggles in the early days of nation building. Earlier Native Canadian settlers called it the "big waterway." Its commercial and strategic importance to creating the country we know today is paramount. 

Authors, painters, songwriters and even Jacques Cousteau has worshipped the currents that connect the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. Wars were fought over control of this waterway. This river is as romantic as romance gets. 

I know many are committed to calling this fixture the 401 Derby and there is nothing wrong with multiple names.  But a highway for me really doesn't quite compare to a majestic river laced with significant national history. 

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