Junior hockey has played a starring role in the Trenton community. The Trenton Golden Hawks were founded in the early 1960s as members of the Eastern Junior B Hockey League.
The team was proudly named after the pioneering Royal Canadian Air Force aerobatic flying team, the Golden Hawks.
Trenton is the original home base for the airborne team established in 1959 to celebrate the “Golden “50th anniversary of Canadian flight, which began with the AEA Silver Dart in 1909. An F-86 Sabre jet is on a pedestal display outside the Duncan McDonald Memorial Community Gardens.
In the 1980s, the Golden Hawks played in the Central Junior C Hockey league and for a short time, Trenton was also home to the Trenton Bobcats who relocated from, and eventually moved back to, Belleville.
In 1989 the team moved over to the Eastern Ontario Junior C Hockey League, where they stayed until 1995. That year, owners Jon Gibbons and Peter Huff were granted the rights to a Junior A team, and they renamed the club the Trenton “Sting.” After the sudden death of Huff, the Sting were sold to a private group in 2008 and on January 8th 2009, after less than two seasons, the team folded.
But the absence of hockey in our community was felt deeply and three months later, on April 23, 2009 it was announced to our hockey-deprived community that the Port Hope Junior A team was moving to Trenton and would be renamed the Golden Hawks. Our beloved Golden Hawks would fly again!
Owners Rod Finney and Sandy Smith brought in a new management team in 2011. Since then, the Golden Hawks have finished in first place in the Eastern Division five times, made the playoffs every year and are consistently ranked nationally in the CJHL.
The Golden Hawks won their first Frank L Buckland Cup trophy as OJHL playoff champions in 2016. From there, the Hawks traveled north to Kirkland Lake to compete in the Dudley- Hewitt Cup, where they went 3-0 in round-robin play, and defeated the defending NOJHL champions and the previous year’s Dudley-Hewitt Cup winners (Soo Thunderbirds) in the final. Trenton then traveled to Lloydminster, Alberta/ Saskatchewan for the Royal Bank Cup. Trenton finished first in prelimininary action but were defeated in the semifinal by the host Lloydminster team.
In 2017, the Golden Hawks hosted and won their second straight Dudley–Hewitt Cup and advanced once again to the Royal Bank Cup in Cobourg, where they were eliminated in the round robin.
Always a hockey town, the Trenton junior teams have wowed crowds since 1960. But the return of the Golden Hawks has renewed a community’s love affair with hockey that has produced CJHL league-leading attendance numbers.
What community was once home to the Black Hawks, Eagles and Rockets? Here’s a hint. It’s not Chicago, Philadelphia or Houston.
In fact these hockey teams and many more have called Belleville home at one time or another at the senior and junior levels since 1942. And now as a new hockey era in Belleville and the Quinte area is about to begin with the Senators it seems like a fitting time to look back.
Think of hockey in Belleville and the OHL “Bulls” will be the first team to come to mind for just about everybody which makes sense. Not only did they represent the most recent era of hockey in our city, the Bulls were also the deepest rooted of their ten predecessors spanning almost two generations. The first two years were spent in the former Provincial Junior “A” Hockey League before a 34-year run at hockey’s highest junior level.
Before the Bulls came along the Metro Junior “B” Belleville “Bobcats” ruled the local hockey scene commanding full houses on Friday nights at the Memorial Arena. Those games included the long standing tradition of “bootlegging” it up Market Street to the nearby Queen’s Hotel to belt down a drink or two between periods. And before games patrons of the day will remember the site of team owner Jim “Snipe” Mathews sitting at a table just outside the doors to the rink with two decks of playing cards and a paper bag. He used them as raffle tickets for a chance to win one of two “large samples” from the LCBO.
The “Bobcat” era ran from 1972 until they re-located to Trenton when the Bulls joined the OHL in 1981. The team did return to Belleville in 1987 before relocating to Wellington two years later to become the “Dukes”.
Of course the other significant hockey era belonged to the Belleville “McFarlands” from 1956 to 1961 - a well documented Senior “A” amateur team playing in the Ontario Hockey Association. Their five-year run included an Allan Cup (Canadian Senior Hockey Championship) in 1958 and a World Championship a year later. The “Macs” disappeared two years after that pushing Belleville off the hockey map for five years. Belleville would re-join the Senior loop as the “Mohawks” in the fall of 1966 followed by the “Quintes” in 1970 before the “Eagles” made a one-year appearance in 1973.
Belleville’s first junior team was called the “Rockets” (1949- 50).
It wasn’t unusual for teams to incorporate their sponsor’s name into their nicknames. McFarland Construction was the most obvious. The Belleville “Reliance” was the city’s first OHA Senior team in 1942. They were sponsored by the Reliance Aircraft and Tool Company. Even the “Bobcats” were named for their principal sponsor, local lawyer Bob Temple.
However of the ten different names carried by Belleville senior and junior clubs over the decades there is one that stands out for its peculiarity - the Belleville “Memos”. They were a senior team that operated in 1954-55. I have no idea where that name came from. Perhaps they were sponsored by a stenographer.
Orval “Red” Gravelle joined the RCAF in 1947 as a machinist never realizing what a momentous choice this would be for his hockey career.
A year later the young defenceman was recruited to the RCAF Flyers, an ice hockey team that was to represent Canada at the 1948 Winter Olympics. At age 20, he was the youngest member of the team. During the tournament he played in eight games, scored three goals and helped ensure Canada would take home the gold medal.
The National Air Force Museum of Canada is proud to be the home of Gravelle’s Olympic collection including his gold medal and hockey sweater. The RCAF Flyers were a quickly put together team of RCAF and ex RCAF members recruited by Squadron Leader A. Gardner “Sandy” Watson of Ottawa. After he learned that Canada did not have representation in men’s ice hockey at the upcoming Olympic Games he convinced Ottawa that the RCAF should field a team of players.
Selected from various Wings across the country, the ragtag team was not favoured to do well at the Olympics; in fact they were viewed as a bit of an embarrassment. They had lost several exhibition games in Europe prior to the games and were considered underdogs by most. However in true RCAF/Canadian spirit they rose to the occasion.
As noted on the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame website: “... the Flyers reeled off six straight victories before registering a scoreless tie with heavily-favoured Czechoslovakia. In their final game against the host Swiss team, a win by two or more goals ensured the team a gold medal. In a hostile environment, the Flyers rode 22-year-old goaltender Murray Dowey to a 3-0 shutout win. Dowey finished the tournament with five shutouts in eight games.”
Donated by Mrs Phyllis Gravelle of Trenton, widow of Orval Gravelle, the collection consists of ice hockey insignia and equipment: the hockey jersey (casual dress), the ice hockey gold medal Winter Olympic Games – St Moritz, 1948, lapel pins, and participant plaques and souvenirs from the games.
Come for a visit and have your own Olympic Gold experience! View exhibit at the RCAF Museum Trenton, Ontario.
The Air Force won gold in February 1948 when the RCAF Flyers hockey team triumphed at the Olympic Winter Games held in St. Moritz, Switzerland. They had not been expected to win anything and in fact were a bit of an embarrassment to some.
After all, they were current and ex-Air Force members, along with some Army colleagues, who just happened to play hockey in their spare time! But the Flyers surprised everyone and proved that the old Air Force adage of “max flex” means you can do just about anything in the line of duty.
Let’s take a moment to turn the clock back to 1948.
By 2008, 60 years after their spectacular Gold Medal win at the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, the surviving members of the Royal Canadian Air Force Flyers hockey team had faded into obscurity for most people.
Following their stunning victory in post-war Europe on February 8, 1948, the underdog team was disbanded– the players returning to their previous duties – and oblivion.
Although they were inducted into the Canadian Armed Forces Sports Hall of Fame in 1971, as the years passed, they were forgotten by nearly all Canadians.
Except for the military hall of fame, ”the Flyers were never made part of any Canadian Halls of Fame for sports, hockey or the Olympics, nor were any of the players, said Ottawa author Pat MacAdam, author of a 2007 book on the 1948 games entitled Gold Medal ‘Misfits’.
That’s in contrast to Canada’s sweetheart figure skater, Barbara Ann Scott, who also took gold at the same Games, then went on to great fame as a skating superstar. The Barbara Ann Scott doll became a must-have for any young girl in the early 1950s.
The genesis of the RCAF Olympic team was a bold initiative by Squadron Leader A. Gardner “Sandy” Watson, a senior medical officer at RCAF Headquarters in Ottawa and a hockey fanatic. Upon learning that Canada could not field an “amateur enough” team to meet the new stringent guidelines for the 1948 games, persuaded his superiors that the RCAF could do it – but on a shoestring budget. He caught the attention of chief of the air staff, Air Marshal Wilf Curtis and the rest, as they say, is history.
From a lacklustre start, and a string of losses in exhibition home games, this ragtag assortment of “misfits” gathered from bases across Canada was panned by all the major media. The Ottawa Citizen editorialized: “The decision to retain as Canada’s Olympic entry a weak RCAF team which is tied for last place in the Ottawa Senior League will be greeted with dismay from across Canada.”
The final team was still being drafted hours before their departure from New York aboard the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth. But once in Switzerland they would soon jell into a dynamic force to be reckoned with.
Here’s how the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame describes their feat on their website: “At only the fifth Olympic Winter Games ever, the Flyers reeled off six straight victories before registering a scoreless tie with heavily-favoured Czechoslovakia. In their final game against the host Swiss team, a win by two or more goals ensured the team a gold medal. In a hostile environment, the Flyers rode 22-year-old goaltender Murray Dowey to a 3-0 shutout win. Dowey . . . finished the tournament with five shutouts in eight games.”
During their overseas tour, which included a series of exhibition games seen by some 250,000 people, the team racked up a record of 31 wins, five losses and six ties.
A famous photograph of a joyous Barbara Ann Scott being hoisted on the shoulders of teammates Ab Renaud and Reg Schroeter became the iconic image of the 1948 Games.
The Flyers returned to a heroes’ welcome on April 6, 1948, and were met at Ottawa’s Union Station by a delegation of VIPs that included Governor-General Viscount Alexander. They were then escorted in a motor cavalcade of Buick convertibles through the streets of the city to a welcoming luncheon at the old RCAF Beaver Barracks, and they attended a series of receptions over the next week.
Now fast forward exactly 60 years to the day of their winning Olympics game. On Friday, February 8, 2008 an assemblage of some 200 “friends of the Flyers” gathered at the hall of Ottawa’s St. Anthony’s Soccer Club to honour two of the eight surviving Flyers at a noon luncheon.
Ab Renaud of Ottawa and André LaPerrière of Montreal were there to accept replica gold medals from the president of Hockey Canada. Following the presentation, Michael Chambers, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee announced that the team would finally be inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in Calgary on April 12, 2008.
The two Flyers teammates were then presented with replica team jerseys by Dean Black, executive director of the Air Force Association of Canada, on behalf of the association, to wear while dropping the puck for the next evening’s NHL hockey game between the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens.
It was a fitting outcome to 60 years of public indifference, and a great tribute to an amazing group of amateurs who took on the world – and won.
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Traditionally regarded as villains by fans, adversarial autocrats by players, and invisible men by the press, yet the umpire is baseball’s indispensable man, for the arbiter transformed baseball from a recreational activity to a competitive sport and has personified the integrity of the professional game.
Since attorney William R. Wheaton officiated the first recorded “modern” game on October 6, 1845, umpires have made important contributions to the National Pastime.
Indeed, the history of the umpire mirrors the distinctive eras and developments of the game itself.
Lloyd Lobb never showed any favouritism. His son Gerald can attest to that. With his father as the umpire, Gerald struck out every time his dad was behind the plate.
Part of the military community, the native of Biggar, Saskatchewan, recalled playing baseball while in public school barefooted as late as in November. Lloyd and his family were posted to Trenton in 1959 and he became a player/coach for the Sgt’s Mess team. The next year, he began his distinguished umpiring career. For the next 23 years, Lloyd was heavily involved in the umpiring scene serving as its umpire in chief for many years and forming the Centennial Umpires Association.
Always willing to serve, he also became head of the Trenton Softball League and could also be found at the local arenas doing timekeeping. Lloyd retired from umpiring in 1983.
1959 BELLEVILLE McFARLANDS
A dedicated group of volunteers launched the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame in 1987 and up to 2010 the Hall recognized the accomplishments of over 90 athletes, teams and builders of sport.
All of these inductees have a strong connection to the Belleville area, and include the Hull brothers of NHL fame, the 1928 Belleville Nationals baseball team, golfers Betty Ingram and Gary Bowerman, and of course the Belleville McFarlands who were inducted twice after they won the 1957/58 Allan Cup and the 1958/59 World Championship.
However, as with all volunteer organizations a constant influx of new blood is required to keep things going and after 2010 the activities of the Hall took a 7-year hiatus.
The 200th Anniversary of Belleville was one of the impetus’ to see if the Hall of Fame could be reactivated and at this stage we are pleased to say that plans are well underway to not only have a 2017 Induction Ceremony on September 16, but to ensure the longevity of the Hall.
A new group of volunteers, with the ongoing support of the Quinte Sports and Wellness Center staff are making things happen.
To date, a new web site – www.bellevillesportshalloffame – has been launched, the HOF Bio plaques are being relocated within the Wellness Center to the Dr. R. L. Vaughan Atrium, and the Belleville McDonald’s High School Athlete of the Year Program has been renewed.
Previous Athlete of the Year Award winners are invited to check out the website and let us know if your name is not currently listed.
President Dave Mills indicated that the submission of new nominations has been encouraging and the Selection Committee will have their work cut out for them in June.
The new location for the BSHOF will also include Display Cabinets where sporting artifacts of HOF members and the Belleville sporting community can be displayed.
Long term success of the Hall of Fame will depend in part on funding and with this in mind the BSHOF has recently launched the “Friends of Sport” Fundraising Program. More information on this program is available on the website, including that the BSHOF has charitable status and is able to provide contributors with a tax receipt.
While the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame is a way of recognizing individuals and teams who have made their mark in sports, from the local level on to the International level, it is really all about ensuring that sporting accomplishments related to the Belleville area are enshrined for future generations to enjoy and as one way of inspiring future generations of athletes.
Let’s all work to make sure that the BSHOF continues to evolve into a showpiece of our sporting history.
Inducted in 1987, the Picton native was the leading money winner on the Canadian Tour in 1973. He died at age 35 in 1977.
The Quinte West Sports Wall of Fame is not just about recognizing talented athletes, but about bringing the community together for the love of sport.
Each year, athletes, teams and influential builders in the Quinte West community are nominated to be inducted into the Sports Wall of Fame. The wall was founded by then councillor Doug Whitney in 2009 after trying to establish it for years. He was the chair of the selection committee until his passing in May, 2015. The wall is located at the YMCA in the City of Quinte West. 2017 will be the 9th annual induction ceremony, and the committee says that every year it is an honour to induct people who have helped shape the sporting community in Quinte West.
“These people are a testament to the level of athleticism, teamwork and passion for sports that exist in our community,” says Cheryl Paul, a Wall of Fame committee member since its inception. “It is a great honour for the Inductees as well as their family members. We have had many Inductees pass away, and their families have been there to see their names honoured. It is a very heartfelt moment.”
The wall is split into three sections: Athletes, Builders and Championship Teams. All inductees must be a resident of Quinte West currently or during the time of their athletic career. A builder is a person who leads an athlete in some way, be it as a coach, trainer, manager or program developer.
Currently, there are 306 inductees on the wall. This year, 14 new ones will be added, including nine individuals and five teams joining the ranks.
“I was apprehensive at first, but as the committee explained, the criteria had been met and that’s why I was asked to join.”
But the athletes and builders inducted aren’t the only ones deserving recognition. Coxwell, who has been involved with sports since public school, says that the committee does a fantastic job every year to make the event possible.
“It’s enjoyable working with the committee to maintain the integrity of the wall through the criteria as directed by Quinte West city council. I feel gratified when it all comes together for the ceremony.”
Coxwell added that the wall helps to bring people together as one with a common goal, and upholds the rich legacy set by those who dedicated their talents and leadership to the development of the Quinte West sporting community.
Patrick Tracey Jr., a 2016 inductee recognized for his contributions as a football coach, says being inducted was, “one of the most meaningful and personal honours I’ve ever received.” Tracey, who joins the same wall that his parents, Pat and Marie Tracey had previously been inducted into, says that the goal of a sport Wall of Fame is, “to bring prestige and honour by publically acknowledging and celebrating the many athletes, volunteers and builders who have made outstanding contributions to their sports programs.”
Sports have always played a key role in Quinte West. “It can play a role in bringing a community together, having a social and cultural impact by minimizing ethnic barriers, and strengthen competition, integrity and ambition,” says Tracey.
He says that having the Sports Wall of Fame in Quinte West is a way to unite people of all backgrounds. “The wall creates a bond and a sense of connection to the community, the region and the many avenues available to its citizens through health, wellness and leadership.”
“They are the people who have attained their goals as either an athlete or part of a team,” Coxwell expressed. “Builders are the people within our community who stepped forward to help others achieve those goals through their volunteer efforts. We honour those achievements by preserving them on the wall so others can see and possibly be inspired to follow that path.”
Tracey echoed Coxwell’s sentiment with his own thoughts about what the wall means for the public. “The standards they uphold provide both educational and inspirational value for the youth of today. A Sports Wall of Fame preserves its history and provides a pathway for the future.”
This year’s ceremony will be on Saturday, July 8th beginning at 2 p.m.
Visit www.quintewest.ca for more information about the Sports Wall of Fame program or to nominate a deserving athlete, builder or team. Nomination deadline is December 31st of each year.
Pat Tracey Jr was inducted into the Sports Wall of Fame in July, 2016. Tracey was recognized for his years of playing hockey and football, and even coaching in the Canadian Football League.
The 2017 ceremony will be Brian Coxwell’s second ceremony as chair of the committee. Coxwell was inducted himself in 2009 recognized for his contributions to minor hockey in Frankford, Ont.