Vernonites, be sure to dig through your grandfathers’ old hockey gear.
The B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame is looking to fill a new exhibit with memorabilia from a historically great 1950s Vernon senior hockey team.
The hall, located in the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton, had to cancel its annual induction event in July.
Instead, it’s making use of the downtime to build a showcase of the senior league teams that were once a staple in communities throughout the province.
“Once we realized we weren’t going to be able to run our induction event we decided to switch gears and really work on expanding our Hall of Fame,” said Blain Ford, executive director of the Hall.
“The senior leagues around B.C. were some of the best entertainment in town back in those days, so we’re excited to be focusing on that.”
Ford says the Hall of Fame has collected a large variety of items from around the province, but they haven’t had luck finding items from the Vernon Canadians, a senior team that blazed through a countrywide competition to claim the 1956 Allan Cup.
Nicknamed the Blues after their dark blue jerseys, the Canadians competed in the four-team Okanagan Senior Hockey League (OSHL) from 1951 to 1961, alongside the Penticton Vees, Kelowna Packers and the Kamloops Elks.
The Canadians were a force in the 1956 season, when they finished with a 37-17-2 record. Led by team manager George Costonguay and coach George Agar, they won the OSHL Championship against the Packers in a best-of-five series.
The team went on to win the B.C. Senior Men’s Hockey Playoffs against the Spokane Flyers, before beating the Winnipeg Maroons to become the top team in Western Canada.
The Canadians capped off their run by becoming the national senior amateur men’s ice hockey champions of Canada, winning the Allan Cup on April 29, 1956, by beating the Chatham Maroons four games to one in a best-of-seven series.
Members of the 1956 team included Mervin Bidoski, Oval Lavall, Tom Stecyk, Sherman Blair, Frank King, Oddie Lowe, Willie Schmidt, Harold (Hal) Gordan, John Harms, Walter Trentini, John Hart, and Dave Gatherum.
The team was inducted into the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.
If there are any Vernon locals out there who may have a jersey or other artifacts from the Vernon Canadians, Ford hopes they won’t mind donating or lending them for the exhibit.
The new Hall of Fame exhibit will have a few additional themes. Sections will be dedicated to the history of the Vancouver Canucks, the 1955 World Champion Penticton Vees and the history of women’s hockey in B.C. “It’s a new venture for us as we’ve typically focused primarily on our annual inductees,” Ford said of the project. “We’re excited about the new exhibit and are looking forward to showing it off to the public once complete.”
Those who have items they’d like to donate or lend to the exhibit can contact Blain Ford at 778-559-3263 or email@example.com.