Glace Bay builder MacKinnon helped grow the game
A love of sports as a youth continued on for Howard MacKinnon, who was instrumental in growing the game of hockey in his native Glace Bay.
That dedication to sports in his community is being recognized with an induction into the Cape Breton Sport Hall of Fame. The ceremony will take place at the Cape Breton Sport Heritage Awards on Saturday at Centre 200.
“To be honest with you, I never once thought about it, one way or another,” the modest 88-year-old from Glace Bay said about the honour. “I’m not being facetious when I say that, it just never entered my mind. What I was doing, it was never for me.”
MacKinnon first got into coaching while teaching at Morrison Junior High School in 1953, taking the reins of the rugby team. He’d coach or manage the midget, juvenile and interscholastic hockey teams at Morrison from there. He’d also coach at Donkin-Morien District High School, and won provincial titles with both schools.
He’d serve 11 years as secretary and 15 as vice-president of the Glace Bay Youth Hockey Association starting in 1952. MacKinnon also became chair of the Nova Scotia High School Hockey Federation and president of the Cape Breton
His work would extend outside of Glace Bay as well, as MacKinnon joined the executive of the Maritime Amateur Hockey Association (MAHA) in 1965. It was there he’d convince the MAHA to add a midget ‘B’ category to allow more players to play.
“They were wonderful kids and it got to the point where the hardest thing I could do in coaching was to tell kids that they didn’t make the team,” he said. “That to me was bad and I thought, ‘I have to do something about this.’”
MacKinnon was on the board of directors of the former Glace Bay Miners Forum, and served as its president for 16 years. The Toronto Maple Leafs noticed his hockey knowledge, as he served as their regional scout from 1961-67.
Outside of hockey, MacKinnon was the former head of the Glace Bay Recreation Commission, and helped push for infrastructure improvements to sports facilities in the town. He and Inglis MacAulay played a key role in the creation of the Glace Bay Historical Society in 1983, and he served as president for eight years.
Last year, the Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society honoured MacKinnon and MacAulay as a heritage heroes. MacKinnon has also been recognized by the MAHA, the Nova Scotia Minor Hockey Council and the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association for his years of service to the sport.
Ticket’s for Saturday’s ceremony are still available by calling Carol Miller at 902-562-0849 or Mackie MacIntyre at 902-8712543.
Howard MacKinnon of Glace Bay, shown in this undated photo. MacKinnon will be inducted into the builder category of the Cape Breton Sport Hall of Fame at the Cape Breton Sports Heritage Awards on Saturday at Centre 200.