Hall of Fame celebrates 40th anniversary
BY MARGARET CALDBICK
Staff Four area sports greats and two surviving founders of the Alexandria Junior ‘ B’ Glens Hockey Club were officially honoured at the 40th anniversary edition Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame (GSHOF) 2018 induction ceremonies and banquet, held on Saturday, Aug. 15.
Over 400 people attended the evening affair, their tables filling the Glengarry Sports Palace (Billy Gebbie Arena) to comfortable capacity.
Also honoured were sixteen outstanding young graduating athletes, from the region’s high schools, who were seated on a daïs in front of the elevated head table.
The 2018 Hall inductees were George Currier of Maxville, Kent MacSweyn of Laggan, the late Gary Shepherd of Alexandria, Colleen Cameron-Wetering, formally of Alexandria and now of Pickering, Ont., and Guy Cholette and Wallace Hope of Alexandria, representing the founding members of the Junior ‘B’ Glens, from 1967.
This year’s banquet was again emceed by John Hope, who kept the evening on track.
In his opening remarks, he asked the audience for a round of applause for the GSHOF, saying, “Forty years ladies and gentlemen this has been going on, and it’s become a Glengarry institution.”
Chris MacDonell, mayor of North Glengarry, welcomed guests in the audience, singling out the junior table and describing how the senior honourees had “spent endless hours to perfect their skill and achieve their goals,” and then after retiring had spent a great many “years giving back to their community by coaching and training Glengarry’s young athletes.”
One such 2018 inductee was Mr. Currier, a lifelong volunteer who was recognized in 2012 with the Diamond Jubilee Medal, which honours significant contributions and achievements by Canadians. He served as a North Glengarry councillor, and later, reeve, for 27 years, receiving the county’s 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2014, he was presented Ontario’s Senior Achievement Award, and he is a 45- year member – twice president – of the Maxville & District Lions Club.
So it was only fitting that Mr. Currier’s contributions to Glengarry sport also be celebrated, adding to his list of tributes.
His sports career began early – he played various sports throughout his life, including peewee, bantam, midget, and old-timers hockey. He coached Maxville’s junior ‘B’ hockey team for eight years, leading the club to the Eastern Ontario Championship, in 1966.
With his brother Edgar, he founded the community’s first broomball league, and his many volunteer activities included organizing charity bonspiels and other fundraisers.
The extended Currier family and friends arrived for the event by bus from Maxville, the ride donated by family friend George Villeneuve, of Roxborough Bus Lines. In front of the daïs there was a sweep of tables seating Villleneuves, Maxville Lions, and Currier family and friends.
In accepting his award, Mr. Currier asked his two greatgrandchildren, Talon St. Louis, 11, and his sister Tessa, 7, who live near their grandparents’ house in Maxville, to join him at the podium where he thanked his wife of 57 years, Annette, his family, his sports colleagues, his fellow Lions, and his friends and supporters.
Another inductee who continued to coach and organize sports after his own career on the ice and pitch was over, was honouree Kent MacSweyn, an outstanding Glengarry sportsman who, as a young teen, honed his hockey skills with the Pine Grove team and played his soccer with McCrimmon / Laggan.
At 16, he was recruited by the famous Lochiel men’s team, the
NEXT DEADLINE: Monday, Aug. 27, noon
year the group won the county’s soccer championship.
Mr. MacSweyn was named Most Gentlemanly Player in 1955 and 1957, as well as Most Valuable Player in 1959.
Excelling in minor and junior hockey, he went on to be named captain of the Glens. He was spotted, while with the Junior Glens, by St. Patrick’s High School with whom he was offered a chance to play on the school’s team, an affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Instead, he returned to Glengarry, before pursuing a teaching career that took him to Europe, where he continued to play hockey.
Mr. MacSweyn returned to the county in 1969 to take up the position of principal of Laggan Public School, where he stayed for 27 years until his retirement, in 1995.
During this time, he was a force, organizing and coaching minor soccer, serving as director of the Alexandria & District Minor Hockey Association, and being involved in many initiatives organizing recreational sport in Lochiel and Kenyon townships.
Guy Cholette and Wallace Hope mounted the inductee stage after their acceptance speeches and looked up at a framed plaque with their photos and those of their fellow Junior ‘ B’ Glens Hockey Club founding members: Gilles Lefebvre, A.W. Hope, Gary Shepherd, Duncan MacDonell, Wilfred Menard, Duncan Morris, J.P. Touchette, and Roger Roy.
It was Mr. Cholette, with help from former Glengarrian JeanLuc Caron, who, in 1967, reached out to fellow Alexandria businessmen to help establish a new junior hockey club, where local minor hockey players could continue their careers. Their faith in the project and financial contribution brought the club to a state of maturity, contributing to the growth and development of hockey in Glengarry.
One of the most ardent supporters of hockey and sport
in Glengarry was the late Gary Shepherd, who was inducted both individually and as a founding member of the Junior ‘B’ Glens.
There was hardly a person in the room who didn’t know Mr. Shepherd from his 23 years on North Glengarry council and as owner of Shepherd Motors.
He was an all-round athlete, excelling at hockey in high school, and in soccer for the Lochiel Loks, and later as president of the Junior B’s board of directors.
Colleen Shepherd accepted on behalf of her late husband, doing precisely as Gary would have wanted, regaling the room with anecdotes about Gary’s various fishing trip escapades, and, to knowing laughter from the audience, how when she would drop into Shepherd Motors to find Gary in his customary huddle with sports or political colleagues, an immediate silence would drop.
The final inductee was the fit and youthful Colleen Cameron-Wetering, 58, an all-round athlete whose induction brought a large gathering of her many family members and friends in Glengarry.
“This seems a little surreal,” said Ms. Cameron-Wetering looking out over the room at the start of her acceptance speech. Now living in Pickering, where she and her high school sweetheart, Henri Wetering of Lancaster, raised three children and have a one-year-old grandson, Logan, Colleen continues to play basketball. She competed with the Scarborough United Women’s Soccer Club, from 1997 to 2000.
“I love all sports and will continue to play as long as I’m able,” noted the former three-time Most Valuable Player in basketball at Glengarry District High School, where she also excelled in track and field, won many awards, and qualified for EOSSAA.
The evening’s guest speaker was Bob Dawson, from Martintown, who, as owner and president of Mad Moose Productions, and after a long news and sports broadcasting career, has a lifetime of insider anecdotes, including as an embedded reporter during the Vietnam War, where he saw the power of sport in play.
His speech touched on some of the interesting people he has met in his broad career as a news anchor and director, television executive, and hockey coverage producer in Canada.
Mr. Dawson ended his speech telling the audience, “This organization is one of the best I’ve seen, and my wife Melanie and I travel around this country a lot, and I have spoken at many Halls of Fame and other organizations dedicated to sports.”
He asked the audience to take a second look around their table and around and the room. “You’re all heroes; this is a tremendous organization. And, your Hall of Fame in Maxville is beautiful and one of the best in the country – you should be very, very proud of it.”
Special mention must be made of this year’s portraits of the inductees.
This year’s paintings, by GSHOF portrait painter Deborah Kerr, truly captured each of the honourees and their sports milieu.
On a sad note, it was very hot in the Billy Gebbie arena last Wednesday night, and just as the evening was closing, George Currier was asked to pose for a photo with his portrait.
He stepped backwards, catching his heel on the stage curtain’s framework, losing his balance and taking a hard fall backwards off the five-foot-high stage.
Mr. Currier is home now, recovering, after an overnight stay in hospital, in Cornwall, where a thorough investigation remarkably revealed nothing broken. But, as he says in typical good humour, echoing his attending doctor at the hospital, he is discovering something new that hurts every day.
HONOURED: The inductee stage from left, with Colleen Cameron-Wetering, Colleen Shepherd (on behalf of her late husband Gary), Kent MacSweyn, George Currier, and Wallace Hope (representing the junior ‘B’ Glens). Above them are the portraits which will be hung in the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame. For more images from the Aug. 15 induction dinner and ceremonies, please see our online gallery at glengarrynews.ca/photos