Local legend Ivan McLelland may be a better goalie than golfer, but that didn’t stop him from getting out to the golf course to enjoy some time with his friends to celebrate his 90th birthday Monday (March 15).
McLelland is best known for back-stopping the Penticton Vees senior men’s team to a World Hockey Championship in 1955, bringing Canada its 16th world championship title. He’s since remained a very active and esteemed member of the community in Penticton.
As he celebrated his 90th birthday Monday at Skaha Meadows Golf Course with a group of friends, McLelland took the opportunity to look back on his time in Penticton.
“Quite frankly, after all these years I’m pretty darn grateful for the role I’ve played here in Penticton,” McLelland said.
McLellan is grateful for his time between the posts, but he said there has been so much more to his life in Penticton than just hockey. McLelland married his wife Faye who is from Penticton. She passed away from dementia in 2009, prompting McLelland to get involved with fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Society of B.C.
After finishing his hockey career, McLelland started working with youth hockey before becoming involved with local charities. “It’s never work for me,” McLelland said. “[Charity work] has always been something I’ve enjoyed doing.”
These days McLelland isn’t able to do much charity work due to COVID-19 but still keeps himself busy with golf, long walks, snowshoeing and spending time with friends.
McLelland has lived almost his entire life in Penticton since moving here in 1951 from South Porcupine, Ont. to play for the Vees.
“I married a Penticton lady [where we had a] wonderful time here in Penticton,” McLelland said.
Penticton has changed a lot during his time here, so much so that it would be hard to identify all the changes, he said. But he believes the city has changed for the best.
“I think it’s positive, I don’t look at it as any negativity at all. I think the growth is natural and the city is, in my view, as pretty of a place as you’d ever want to be.”
Monday at Skaha Meadows was a special day for McLelland as he took the day to look back on a life well-lived. Despite it being his birthday, he said his friends still weren’t nice enough to let him win the nine-hole round of golf.
“They never let me win, they pick on me!” McLelland said through a laugh. “They’re all younger than me, of course, they’re heartless when it comes to the game of golf. They have no sympathy for an older man at all.”