Central Manitoulin hosts sports reunion

Athletes at the Central Manitoulin Sports Reunion pose together for a group photo in front of memorabilia. From left is Ted Taylor, Burt Cooper, Jim Corrigan, Roy Hircock, Jim Nevills, Bob Hare, Don Cooper and Tom Van Horne.

MINDEMOYA—Central Manitoulin athletes from 1940-1970 came together at the Mindemoya Community Centre last Saturday for a reunion, with some of the athletes reconnecting for the first time in 50 years.

“I started planning this event about six months ago,” organizer Don Cooper told The Expositor. “I contacted a few of the guys (from 1940-1970 sport teams) and it just kept growing. We brought stuff in for the displays such as old jerseys, photos and newspaper articles. The girls at the museum were very helpful and worked hard. We had a lot of help from Pat Costigan, Kelly Hunter, Norma Hughson, Lorraine Martell, Janis Phillips, Tom Van Horne and Greg Lockeyer.”

“I don’t think I would have been able to do this if my wife Gertrude hadn’t encouraged me,” Mr. Cooper added. “Today has been great. Some of the guys we haven’t seen in 50 years and we keep losing people from the group so I am happy that this turned out and we were able to come together. There are seven of us from the original teams.”

Mr. Cooper said that a number of the athletes came from afar for the reunion such as Bob Hare whocame from Manitoba, Roy Hircock and Tom Van Horne, who came from Sudbury.

Most of the gentlemen from the 1954-1955 hockey team that won the Pearson Cup Championship (which was retired in 1961 following three consecutive wins by the famed Sheg Bears) were in attendance for the reunion including Bob Hare, Don Cooper, Jim Cogan, Ted Taylor, Burt Cooper and Jim Nevills.

Burt Cooper shared that the Mindemoya hockey team had a “real rivalry” with the Providence Bay team.

“There wasn’t TV like there is today, and everyone really cheered for their home teams,” said Mr. Cooper. “The rivalry was fierce and it filled the arenas and paid for them. The arenas would be so full some people didn’t even make it in to see the game (they would just listen from the hall).”

Don Cooper said one of the stories he remembers the most was in the 1953-1954 season when a Providence Bay fan blew a whistle in the stands and it costs the Mindemoya team the championship.

“We were leading in the series and had two goals to one in the game when all of a sudden a whistle blew and everyone relaxed (thinking it was the referee)—that’s when Providence Bay went in and shot into the net,” said Mr. Cooper. “We ended up losing that game in overtime. We won’t name names, but that individual got dragged from the stands out onto the ice. But the next year we won the championship.”

Burt Cooper said that the year they won the championship, they were playing a home game against Mindemoya and were confident they would win, “but low and behold they beat us 8-5.”

Mr. Cooper said the loss on home ice fueled them to win their next game against Providence Bay 11-4.

The reunion concluded with a light lunch and a lot of reflection and laughs.