By Bill Fitsell
Thanks to arrangements made by genial Morris Mott, with an assist from Bobby Kirk, the May 14 session at Brandon University, was a great success. Where else would you have such a generous and humorous guest like ex-New York Ranger Don "Bones" Raleigh, attend the Friday night Hot Stove League session and return for the all-day Saturday meeting and grace it with insights and humour. He cracked me up when I asked if his old boss Lester Patrick had a reputation as a scholar. The Silver Fox—the man who brought big time hockey to Broadway — he said, was as scholarly as Scotch tape! Was he close with the buck? Bones, whose annual salary never topped $17,250, retorted. "Tighter than the skin on an onion! Priceless!
Personally, my next biggest thrill was to meet for the first time, David Hammond, with whom I have talked by phone for a dozen years and never seen his likeness. He gave a very personal look into collecting (Aren't we all collectors—of ephemera, anecdotes and friendships?) As an example of his kind and considerate ways of dealing with former NHLers and their families, David was extremely helpful to Mr. Raleigh, who is just a month short of his 84th birthday.
What a pleasure to welcome back the enthusiastic and articulate Mark Presley, who travelled to Kingston two years ago with the unique, 19th century Moffatt stick, for the first study session on various hockey and shinny cudgels. Combining his antiques knowledge and love of history and genealogy, with the professional skill of Mount Allison University's Colin P. LaRoque, he has elevated the analysis of such sticks, from "guess-and-by-golly" to a scientific process in which provenance is supported by tree-ring dating. They have set a standard that will go a long way to facing get-rich-quick collectors who make outlandish claims based on flimsy evidence.
David hails from British Columbia (Port Coquitlam) on the west coast and Mark calls Nova Scotia (Berwick in the Annapolis Valley) home, which means SIHR is now truly coast-to-coast in Canada. Our gathering was "international" with three reps from Minnesota, Michigan and New York states and "global" with the announcement that Timeline creators Patrick Houda and Carl Giden won the Brian McFarlane Award for outstanding research and writing. And SIHR's arrival got reams of space in the Manitoba press.
As the Past President with the most past and being the only one present, it was a distinct honour to conduct the election of officers at Brandon University's "Louis Riel Room." There was no rebellion. President James Milks and his executive committee were returned by acclamation—a sign of exemplary service over two very productive years. Four offices were decided by ballot. New blood was added in R.J. Pratt of Calgary, Alberta (VP Canada West) and Jim Mancuso of Utica, NY ( VP USA East). With the presence of James Benesh of Regina, Sask., (who offered SIHR a cache of hockey books at reasonable prices) and the active participation of the Winnipeg Goldeye twins, Kent Morgan and Ted (Dutch) Holland all three Prairies provinces were represented for the first time.
It was a special delight to have Kingston approved as site of the 20th AGM in May, 2011. The "XX" meeting will be a homecoming for SIHR, which was founded in the Limestone City—the home of Don Cherry, Wayne Cashman, Rick Smith, Jim Dorey and Taylor Hall, not to mention Bill Cook, Ken Linseman, Doug Gilmour and Kirk Muller (all of whom have scored Stanley Cup winning goals).
In May 1991, our Society was formed by 17 hockey buffs that were tired of working in isolation and strove to emulate the successful efforts of the Society for American Baseball Research. (SABR), which I monitored for a half-dozen years. The genesis occurred at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Sports Heritage, (CASH), consisting mainly of officials and supporters of the International Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum in Kingston and the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Conveniently located halfway between Toronto and Montreal and in easy reach of many core members, Kingston has hosted five other SIHR meetings — 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999 and 2004. Honourary President Ed Grenda, who has arranged most of the Kingston sessions, promises the 2011 meeting will be memorable.