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September 21, 2012

Witness To History: An Interview With A Canadian In Moscow

In September 1972, 3000 hockey fans had the crazy notion to fly half way across the world and go to Moscow in the deep of the Cold War. They were there to show support for Team Canada, and weren't afraid to show their Canadian flags and western world ideals.

It seemed like a crazy idea at the time, but it turned out to be the trip of a life time. Not only did these lucky few get to experience one of the world's greatest cities, but they were the eye witnesses to one of the greatest events in the history of Canada.

Creelman MacArthur, of Windsor, Nova Scotia, was one of the fans who crossed the Iron Curtain. Ten years ago Creelman has granted 1972 Summit Series.com an exclusive interview regarding his amazing journey. Let's look back.

What made you decide to go to Moscow? 
MacArthur - I decided to go after hearing a travel agents ad on the radio saying that there were only three seats left for Atlantic Canada. This was in Fredericton, New Brunswick, where I was getting a new business ready to open. It could wait. I called my then-girlfriend in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, where I lived at the time, to put my passport on an airplane to Fredericton, which I received the next day. I bought the three week deal for approximately eight hundred dollars. That was for air fare, game tickets, busses & hotel, plus breakfasts - Super Deal! This was around late August.

How were you treated by a) locals and b) authorities?  
MacArthur - We were treated very well by the Russian guides and the people in general. The cops all carried machine guns and they would bum gum and smokes from us. I exchanged some money as well, which was not allowed but their Ruble was 8 to a dollar and a Ruble would buy you a shot of vodka in a bar. They were not as hospitable after we won the series, shutting off our hotel elevators we were on the 16th floor. Each group had their home guide who could speak English and Russian. But we only had them around on game days. I should tell you the Anglophones and the Francophones were on separate planes and generally kept separated except at the games. Also, there were three DC-8 loads of Americans there too from the Boston area (approximately 600 fans). Of course they cheered for Canada and had seating relatively close to us. At the Games we were not supposed to wave flags. The Russian police patrolled the aisles and tried to quiet us, but after game three over there they gave up and everyone was in a frenzy.

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