Although the city of Windsor has a long and storied hockey history, it was not until the most recent Victoria Day/Journee nationale des patriotes weekend that SIHR finally found its way south along the 401 to the home of the Bulldogs, the Spitfires and a myriad of other less well remembered teams.
A total of 42 members arrived by air, by train and by automobile for a Friday night kick-off Meet & Greet at St. Clair College campus on the St. Clair riverfront. Meeting convenor, Bob Duff arranged for guests, Sam and Ross Sisco, a father and son tandem of hockey officials to regale the group with their refereeing and related officaldom experiences. The evening also included hockey book sales by member authors: Bob Duff, Denis Gibbons, Waxy Gregoire, Andrew Holman, and Greg Oliver. For the first time, used books & publications were also offered for sale by a couple of members. Sales continued on Saturday during breaks and lunch time.
Saturday morning, everyone was back at St. Clair College's downtown facilities for a day jam-packed with hockey, hockey, hockeyâ€¦the reason everyone had signed-up.
Around about 9 am outgoing president, Wayne Geen called the Business Meeting to order and welcomed the assembled group to Windsor. He paid tribute to the past presidents from who he had leaned on for guidance and advice during his tenure and thanked the executive members, vice president Bill Sproule, treasurer Bryan Lawrence and secretary Aubrey Ferguson for their work and support.
Most importantly from amongst the reports presented, the report of our webmaster James Milks' was highlighted as our website host provider has set a deadline of the end of 2019 for the website to be moved to a new server at significantly greater expense. The current server is being decommissioned. The underlying code for our website dates back as far as 2003 and was written in a now antiquated programming language no longer in common use and known by few developers. This greatly limits the choice of hosting providers. A new system will need to be designed and developed from the ground up using modern technologies. The replacement application will also require an ongoing maintenance and support plan to see it through the next decade or more. This effort will require time, money and most importantly — the dedication of the organization to get the job done. Note: incoming president, Fred Addis met with James in Ottawa on the following Monday to start the process of determining an action plan.
President Wayne Geen announced the following three annual awards.
- J.W. (Bill) Fitsell President's Award was presented in absentia to James Milks
- The Paul Kitchen Award for the best research project produced during the past calendar year was presented to Andrew C. Holman and in absentia to Steven Hardy.
- The Brian McFarlane Award which recognizes SIHR members in good standing for continued outstanding research and writing in any media, was presented in absentia to Jason Farris.
Our fall meeting 2019 will be in Quebec City, Quebec; the date will be confirmed once the Major Junior Hockey schedule is released in late June or early July so that a hockey game can be woven into the meeting schedule. Our meeting will be orchestrated by the quartet of Jean Pierre Martel, Marc Durant, Vincent Couture and Benoit Clairoux with executive committee support from Bill Sproule. The organizers are tight-lipped about anticipated guest speakers but are quite excited at the prospect of being in Quebec City for the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Quebec Remparts (French: Remparts de Québec) that played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) from 1969 to 1985; the current franchise has played since 1997.
Our May 2020 Annual General Meeting will be in the Golden Horseshoe Area; exact location and details will be announced. The Fall 2020 will ideally see SIHR members congregate in Lake Placid to mark 40 years since the USA Olympic team's Miracle on Ice.
On a sadder note, two members who had passed since last meeting were remembered; Charlie MacDougall and Dr. Eugene Willis. Charlie Card as he was known in his adopted Owen Sound was a community hockey historian who made a major contribution to capturing the history of the Owen Sound Senior A teams including Mercury's, Allan Cup champions of 1951. Gene was an equally enthusiastic member remembered best for his interest in the California Golden Seals and their assorted iterations; his interest culminated in a well-received panel discussion at St. Michel's College in October 2017 with former Seals players, Reg Leach, Marv Edwards, Joey Johnson, and Wayne King in attendance. A minute of silence was observed to honour the memory of these long-time members
"Mr. Windsor Hockey" Bob Duff led off the presentations most appropriately with "the History of Windsor Hockey". Although born in Scarborough and routed through a short journalistic stint in western Canada, Bob has become long entrenched as the local expert on all things hockey, and especially all things hockey in Windsor. He took the group back to 1926/27 when Windsor had an NHL team â€¦okay, it was the Detroitâ€™s inaugural season but there was no arena ready for the transplanted Victoria Cougars and Windsor served as the cross-river host of the Cougars for their first year in the NHL. Bob's tales of the history of hockey in Windsor were captured by videographer Greg Oliver and will be posted to You Tube along with all of the other presentations that followed.
Kevin Shea, a Windsor native touched down in his home town long enough to narrate the story of the 1919 Stanley Cup Championship: "Series Not Completed". In the manner that fellow members have come to know Kevin, he delved into the historical context of the Spanish flu (January 1918 - December 1920) and its serious consequences for Bad Joe Hall et al in the life and death match against the Seattle Millionaires.
Changing pace, Norman Laplante informed the assembled historians about our nation's rich resource centre in Ottawa in his presentation "Yours to Discover: Hockey Resources at Library and Archives Canada (LAC)". Some SIHR members attending the meeting in Renfrew in 2013 were hosted by Norman at LAC...seems like there is good potential for an entire meeting to centred at that facility...stay tuned.
New member, and professional archivist Lindsay Hiltunen shared her expertise in detailing "From the Rink to the Record: Conducting Successful Oral Histories". In her brief time available, Lindsay was able to lay-out how we could be in position to step our game up considerably in capturing interviews with former athletes and hockey executives. Working with Oral History Committee chair Bill Sproule, we can expect to hear more from Lindsay in coming meetings on this topic.
After lunch, Bob Duff returned to centre stage to moderate a discussion forum with Windsor hockey guests: Perry Wilson, Windsor Spitfires goalie coach, and Robb Serviss, Director of Hockey/Head Coach, A21 Academy, Windsor, ON. For folks outside of Windsor, these may not be well known personalities but they are equally worldly in their hockey travels and both are articulate story tellers with keen insights into where hockey development is at today and where it is going. Robb brought along three vintage team photos dating his family's hockey heritage back to his great grandfather Art Serviss (check out his lineage in the SIHR database). Not to be outdone, Perry's hockey heritage stems from Nova Scotia's Coloured Hockey League and more specifically, his uncle Stan Maxwell, the second black player in the NHL.
Andrew Holman, co-winner of SIHR's Paul Kitchen Award for best hockey research project in 2018 drew on his preparation for the book "Hockey: A Global History"Â to deliver "Knowledge and Power: Inventing the Hockey Coach, 1900-1920". Imagine a time without Toe Blake, Roger Nielsen, Mike Keenan et al...there was such a time.
This was followed by president-elect, Fred Addis who once again paid homage to his home town, Port Colborne to share the story of "Danny Olesevich: Goalie, Trainer, One Game Wonder and Lefty Wilson's Right Hand Man". Fred had arranged for Mrs. Mary Olesevich, and her son and daughter to attend; son Mark Olesevich, an experienced hockey trainer in his own right, fielded some of the audience's questions and shared his own observations.
David Sproule put last yearâ€™s Christmas gift of a SIHR membership from his dad to good use and made his first presentation "Hockey Helmet History, Standards, and Rating". Davy's dad, and SIHR vice president, Bill Sproule peeled back what is perhaps a hockey mystery to many Canadian hockey fans in "An Introduction to U.S. College Hockey". This was a well planned lead into Peter Kitchen's look at "The Road Less Travelled? NCAA Division I Men's Hockey - Regional and Competitive Pathways to Success". American hockey development is an acknowledgedÂ juggernaut and although Canadian provinces, Ontario and BC are still major contributors of talent it was interesting to learn where players are coming from and going to after their college careers are concluded.
Messrs Duff and Sproule capped off a jam-packed day for the attendees and some of their spouses with a short walk along the St. Clair River to enjoy dinner and camaraderie at The Bistro At The River. Some members may have retired to a member's room for after dinner libations while others crashed immediately upon return to the hotel. No names were recorded in either camp.