November 13, 2023

Alouettes run into history in Grey Cup arrival

Kevin Sousa/

You couldn’t ask for a better backdrop for the arrival of the Montreal Alouettes.

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum served as the setting for the arrival of the 110th Grey Cup teams, and it was the Alouettes who arrived first, touching down at the Hamilton Airport and then rolling up to the museum, home to a rather large number of absolutely stunning vintage aircraft.

One of those beauties was a big Lancaster Mk. X resting just to the left of the podium that had been set up for the Als media availability.

That was fitting. If you’re a Montreal fan and if you believe in good luck charms, that Lancaster is just the thing for you.

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It’s a warplane that has a connection to the the illustrious 425th Squadron, the Royal Canadian Air Force’s highly-decorated French-Canadian battalion that was formed during World War II. That squadron – nicknamed the Alouettes – is where Montreal’s football team got the inspiration for its name back in 1946.

The 425th, after flying Wellingtons and Halifaxes over Europe during the war, were then equipped with Lancasters just like the relic at the museum, training for missions they would never ultimately be asked to fly, as it turns out, in the Japanese theatre.

“To see that plane it just feels like this was meant to be, to be quite honest with you,” said a beaming Alouettes Head Coach Jason Maas, gesturing to the behemoth to his right.

“Looking forward to getting a team pic before we leave.”

The Alouettes arrived in Hamilton on Monday for the 110th Grey Cup (Kevin Sousa/

The Alouettes flew in from Montreal on Monday – is it too cheap to suggest that they barely needed the plane to do that, fresh off a very convincing 38-17 victory over the Toronto Argonauts in Saturday’s Eastern Final?

They are a confident group, an energetic group and one that doesn’t feel at all out of place. Others may have doubted them this season. They have not doubted themselves.

“This team is very special,” said quarterback Cody Fajardo, taking the podium just after Maas.

“From the first day of training camp, we talked about winning a Grey Cup and ‘why not us?’ We continued to put our heads down, work, work, work through the winning streaks, the losing streaks and then back through the winning streaks again.”

The Alouettes know what you’re thinking. What many of you are, anyway.

That ambushing the 16-2 Argos at home was one thing. Vanquishing the Blue Bombers – a veteran team that is appearing it its fourth successive championship game – is another entirely.

But they don’t care what doubters think. They’ve been hearing it all season and they aim to do, this Sunday, what they did last Saturday in Toronto; confound expectations.

“They’re a team that’s been here, done it, and I think that’s a competitive advantage for them,” admitted Fajardo. “But one thing that’s a competitive advantage (for Montreal) is the excitement of being in our first Grey Cup together as a team.”

“Having the match-up against Winnipeg is something we look forward (to) because we consider ourselves the best team,” said free safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy, the man who set the tone in Montreal’s Eastern Final win by scoring an early touchdown on a 101-yard interception return. “We like the challenge of facing a team that has been there four years in a row.”


“The mentality is the job is not done,” he continued. “We didn’t do all this hard work, we didn’t defeat (Toronto) just to have an appearance in the Grey Cup.”

The 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron was nicknamed “Alouettes” in honour of a bird native to Quebec that is known for its tenacity and for it’s ability to fly at very high altitudes.

The football team, named in turn after the fighting 425th, has certainly been known for the same things lately. And that tether to history, to a fighting spirit and to tenacity, is something Maas has been eager to steep into his team’s own culture in 2023.

“It’s something we’ve talked about this year,” said Maas with a slight head tilt back towards the Lancaster off to his right. “About bringing that feeling back and that monicker back to us and feeling an attachment to that squadron. We’ve talked about that since day one. About (Coach) Lew Hayman going to Montreal and getting the Alouettes name from the bomber squadron years ago.”

“We talk about representing Quebec, and Montreal, and the four-two-five before every single game we play,” he said.

Moments later, Maas got the team picture he was looking for. The one of his team in front of a plane with a link to the squadron whose valour means a lot to him.

Is it some kind of omen?

If it is, Maas and the Alouettes will be getting another team picture to cherish, one that comes on a riser, amidst the confetti of a Grey Cup victory.

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