Toronto sports fans needed a champion in 1976. The Argonauts hadn’t hoisted the Grey Cup since 1952. The Maple Leafs were nine years into their Stanley Cup drought. The Toros had fled to the hockey hotbed of Birmingham, Alabama. The Blue Jays were preparing to launch their first season, so who knew how long it would be before they reached the World Series?
The Metros-Croatia victory in the 1976 Soccer Bowl was an underdog story the city could embrace. The team endured a strife-filled season, not enhanced by a league which disliked the ethnic tenor of the team’s name and was annoyed that a perennially indebted franchise with meagre attendance made the finals instead of a premier market like New York.
Earlier this summer, I headed out west to taste some wines. Oregon is an up-and-coming wine region in the United States. At the moment, it is a small producer — California makes 89 per cent of all wine in the country, and Oregon is a distant fourth, producing just one per cent.
But my interest in Oregon is thanks to its wine origins. While Inniskillin, Ontario’s first post-prohibition winery planted their first vines in 1974, the Eyrie Vineyards in McMinnville, Oregon, planted its vines in 1965. This gives Oregon a 10-year start on the Ontario wine industry. For an industry that is only slightly older than Ontario itself, it’s difficult not to see how divergent their histories are.