Salmon Arm’s Deb Archambault has a unique connection to the Stanley Cup.
Archambault’s great-grandfather, William Milton “Riley” Hern, was among the first names ever scribed into Lord Frederick Stanley’s cup.
Hern was born in Stratford, Ont. on Dec. 5, 1878. He started playing hockey at an early age, going pro during the 1901–02 season with the Pittsburgh Keystones of the Western Pennsylvania Hockey League. Playing as a forward and a goalie, Hern led the Keystones to several victories before moving on to play with the Portage Lakes Hockey Club of the International Professional Hockey League for three seasons.
In the 1906-07 season, Hern became the goalie for the Montreal Wanderers and led the team to the first Stanley Cup win in history.
The Wanderers would go on to win the Stanley Cup for three straight seasons, from 1906, 1908 and 1910, before losing to the Kenora Thistles in January 1907. Just two months later, the Wanderers reclaimed the cup and became the first team to ever have its players names engraved on it.
Canada’s coveted cup was initially the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, a silver bowl measuring 18.5 centimetres high and 29 cm wide. The most recent iteration of the cup includes a replica of the original bowl on top, with a series of bands below, each containing 13 winning teams per band. The historic rings at the top of the cup remain the same. With the five the bands below, the oldest is removed each year, to be preserved in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Hern and his teammates are among those who remain on the cup as their names were the only ones to be engrave inside the original bowl.
Residents of Salmon Arm will get the chance to see the cup on Saturday, March 7, when it’s on display at Salmon Arm’s Marine Park as part of the Rogers Hometown Hockey festivities happening that weekend.
Although she has seen the cup before, Deb Archambault is looking forward to searching for her great grandfather’s name.
“I’m excited about it because there was a picture of my dad when it came to St. Mary’s, Ont., of him standing up on a ladder looking inside, and I thought ‘Oh my gosh, I get to do that now!’” said Archambault.
As a reminder of her family’s ties to hockey greatness, Archambault keeps a copy of a 113-year-old hockey card bearing an illustration of her great grandfather with the Montreal Wanderers’ logo emblazoned on his jersey.
Riley Hern died on June 24, 1929 and was inducted posthumously into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1963.
Hockey, however, remains an important part of Archambault’s life. Her son, Sebastien, played two seasons with the Sicamous Eagles and is currently playing with the Melville Millionaires in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.