Chapter Nine: Sports
Fabulous Hockey Team of Years Gone By p.168
The Millionaires Hockey Team p.170
The Tofield Curling Club p.173
Tofield Legionaires p.178
Trophy Winning Dogs p.180
FABULOUS HOCKEY TEAM OF YEARS GONE BY
Our pioneers took their recreation seriously. It was a community affair and thoroughly enjoyed by every one.
Hockey was a very popular game. We have a picture of the first organized hockey team who were E. A. H. L. champions of 1909. In the picture [not available] are to be seen: P. Wimbles, G. Haines, Dr. Tofield, W. Spilstead, H. K. Adams, N. C. Legge (bank manager here then), Don Cameron, Stewart Hall, A. D. Ferguson, H. E. Diamond. This team was apparently highly successful and led to the formation of Tofield’s most famous hockey team, the Silver Seven in 1910.
Three local men, Harvey Adams, “Shorty” Carter and Jim Hannan were responsible for the organization of the Silver Seven. Gordon Haines was imported from Chipman and Stanley George brought in from the farm. Both were assured jobs that they might play for Tofield. Mr. Stanley George said that Herb Diamond was the fastest skater he had ever seen and lent great power to the Silver Seven. The other members of the team in 1910 were: Oliver Letourneau, Gordon Haines, Herb Diamond, Stanley George, Jim Charlesworth, and George Bisset. The manager was Harry Rogers. Jim Hannan was a sponsor of the team and was kindness itself to the players. He owned the Royal Alexandra Hotel which still stands in the original place of its building. Here Stanley George and Gordon Haines stayed. Mr. and Mrs. Hannan were like parents to the boys. Their small son, Bud, was the team’s mascot.
Hockey in those days was a seven man 60 – minute affair. There were no substitutes and no replacements. It was tough going and both players and spectators loved it.
In spite of the hard playing required to win games under these conditions, there were no fights (“We played for the sake of the game, not for the money”) and few accidents. Stanley George got his nose broken in
a game with the University of Alberta team but Dr. Hamond soon fixed it up and no permanent damage was done.
The uniforms were green and white with a white T for Tofield on the green sweaters. They had pennants in the same colors.
No one seems to remember who the referees were but the little silver hand-bell they used in controlling the game is in the possession of Mr. Rufus Wilson. Whe up, the silver bell was idle and the Silver Seven were no more.
Of the 1910 team, four members are still alive. Oliver Letourneau, Gordon Haines and Stanley George are gone. The first two died in accidents. Letourneau died when his car left the road at Lindbrook; Haines, according to reports, was found in the Saskatchewan River at St. Paul — with his hands and feet wired together. Ward Somers, who is a druggist at Devon, and Stanley George who later played hockey with the Victoria Cougars in 1918 – 19 with Lester and Frank Patrick and who lived for many years on his Ministik farm, were the sources of information for this article.
THE MILLIONAIRES HOCKEY TEAM
The history of “The Tofield Millionaires” another well known hockey team of the early 1920’s was given to the Mercury by Grace Phillips, secretary of the Historical Society. It is taken from a record of Tofield’s hockey activities kept by Roy Lee.
When the Silver Seven hockey team was at the height of its fame, Roy Lee was a sports-minded youngster who haunted the old covered hockey rink. Here, Roy Lee watched admiringly as his special heroes,Gordon Haines and Herb Diamond, as well as his cousins Herb and Bob Lee, won the plaudits of Tofield hockey fans as they demonstrated one scintillating play after another. In these days, Roy says, the rink would be packed to the rafters; excitement and betting both ran high.
Unfortunately, the excitement subsided as the team disbanded when three of its star players, Gordon Haines, Jack and Herb Lee enlisted in the Canadian army.
In 1918, George Bissett, Herb and Bob Lee came back to Tofield, and a new hockey team was formed, with Jim Hannan as manager. This team was known as the “Tofield Millionaires.” This intriguing title was a reference to the amount of money it took to feed the members of the hockey team while enroute to games on the train They were young, healthy and hungry, and the diner service on the CNR profited accordingly.
George Bissett, who had been one of the younger members of the Silver Seven, now played defense with Roy Lee for the Millionaires for two or three years. Roy says Bissett also blocked as many shots on goal as the goalie. Games with Bashaw team boasted two former members of the Silver Seven, Jim Charlesworth and Smokey McDonald.
The Millionaires were members of the Gas line League which was comprised of teams frm Wainwright, Viking, Holden, Ryley and Tofield. The “Dawson Cup” was put up for competition but, though the Millionaires won it several times, it never came into their permanent pos
session. Several games were played against Camrose, and Roy Lee reports that the Rose City had a never-ending source of players in the persons of the Hanson brothers.
The Millionaires disbanded in 1924. Roy Lee then played on the Camrose team for some exhibition games in 1924 and in 1925 was offered a job in Camrose which carried the stipulation that he play hockey for Camrose. The Camrose team, he says, was a hired team, sponsored by the town, and to whose support Mr. H. Boggs, a Hereford breeder and Roy’s employer, contributed heavily. At the end of the year, Mr. Boggs was $800 in the red. However, the team won the Killam cup, so presumably Mr. Boggs felt well repaid.
Roy Lee later returned to Tofield and played defense with the Millionaires, who were re-organized under the management of Mr. W. Worton, late editor of the Tofield Mercury.
Mr. Lee has recalled and listed the hockey players of the Tofield area from the famous Silver Seven era until 1940.
SILVER SEVEN TEAM: 1909-10
H. K. Adams (manager), Wm. Spilsted, D. R. Cameron, G. M. Haines, H. E. Diamond, N. Sutherland, J. Lee Jr., D. Ferguson, C. Jamieson.
SILVER SEVEN: 1910-11
J. D. Hannan (manager), J. Charlesworth, Stanley George, G. M. Haines, H. E. Diamond, G. M. Bissett, J. 0. Letourneau, Herb Lee.
SILVER SEVEN: 1911-12
H. E. Rogers (manager), J. A. Charlesworth,, J. W. Saners, G. M. Haines, G. B. Bissett, Herb Lee, Bob Lee, J. H. McDonald.
Mr. Lee comments that the seventh man was very important; he was known as “point.” He played any position
and was in most plays. All players were 60-minute men.
TOFIELD MILLIONAIRES 1919-1924
Jim Hannan (manager); Norman Smith, George Bissett, (goal); Dr. Bain., Stan Livingston, Roy Lee, (defense); Bert McIntosh, Archie Pruden, Harold Weatherill., Bob Lee, Bud Hannan, Scotty Lee (wings); Laurie Scott, John Letourneau (centre). “Point” was dropped from this team., but an extra line of forwards was carried. The caretaker during this period was “Shorty” Carter; referees were George Agnew and A. B. Clutterham. Laurie Scott turned professional and played with the Saskatoon Quakers in the “Old Pro” League.
Roy Lee recalls some of the highlights of hockey in the early ’20’ s.
In 1920, the team journeyed to Camrose for a game. Billy Webb drove one of the cars, a sporty Model T Ford complete with side curtains. These were not too adequate protection against the temperature, which registered fifty below zero. The frost in the air reduced the visibility to the point that the players, let alone the few fans present, could scarcely see the goals. Players and fans alike had frozen toes and heels as mementos of the game.
All these discomforts were not enough apparently. Coming home, the driver missed the corner at Kingman cemetery, where they should have turned, and they drove around the long way, by the site of the present Grand Forks Community Centre. At least the Model T kept on chugging away till Tofield was reached!
THE THIRD TEAM 1925-1939
Mr. W. Worton (manager); Dan Craig, Norman Glover, Jack Whyte (wing); Les Glover, Herb Martin (defence); Sid Worton, “Crow” Worton, Lee Burnett, Jack Bowick (forward). Referee, Bob Whyte; caretaker, Bearisto.
THE TOFIELD CURLING CLUB
The history of the Tofield Curling Club really begins in Vegreville. In fact, it could even be credited to the Liberal party, and this is the reason:
While Tofield was still very young, several prominent citizens., among them Mayor J. Letourneau, Mr.Cress Mr. Emery, and Mr. McCauley, journeyed to Vegreville for a Liberal Convention.
Their Vegreville hosts, wishing to entertain them, and no doubt impress them, took them to see the “roarin’ game” as played in Vegreville.
The Tofielders’ reactions were immediate and emphatic. Whatever Vegreville could do, Tofield could do as least as well! They were determined that Tofield should have a curling rink. And that is how it all began.
A Curling Club was formed in 1909 with Dr. McQueen as its president and A.J.H. McCauley as secretary. Mr. Ben Barkwell had built a covered skating rink on the northwest corner of the Fair Grounds. This was the first covered skating rink on this railway line and to give it further distinction, a sheet of curling ice was now added in the form of a lean-to on the north side. Later another sheet of ice was added and curling was off to a flying start. Mr. Barkwell then sold the rink to the town for the sum of $500.
Some of the men who began the curling traditions of Tofield were: Charlie Cress., the first station agent here; A.J.H. McCauley, secretary of the town; Clarence Jamieson, druggist; J. 0. Letourneau, first mayor of the town; Mark Ferguson, council member; Jack Bowick, George McLaughlin; W.D. Swift whose son, Arnold, and grandson, Donald, carry on the family tradition; John Warner, who was such an enthusiast that he often walked in from his farm to curl when the roads were, too bad to drive; M. Emery; Lem Abbott, pioneer barber; Cap, Lee of baseball fame; Roland Murray, who was prominent
in Tofield’s sports; J.G. Jobb, proprietor of the iron foundry; Chris Hammond, tinsmith; Dr. Morrison and Dr. McQueen, veterinarians; John Morton, who for years was a one-man draw committee; E.W. Rogers, pioneer merchant; J.W. Carter, auctioneer; Rev. Alex Stewart, Presbyterian minister; John Lee; Wm. Lee; Ward Somers, druggist, and no doubt others of whom we have no tangible record.
The first caretaker of the rink was Bill Bowick. In addition to the usual duties of a caretaker and ice -maker, he had some extras. Light for the rink was supplied by gasoline lights which were fed by pipes running the length of the rink. It was no small task to keep these lights burning brightly. At times the lights, according to one veteran curler, would grow so dim that the curlers could not see the skip’s broom.
At bonspiel time, the two sheets of ice proved inadequate for the 20 to 25 rinks entered. So two extra sheets were laid out on the adjacent covered skating rink.
In 1926, curling entered a new era in Tofield. Here the name of J.W. Chapman must be honored, for it was largely due to his enthusiasm and efforts that a four-sheet covered curling rink was built a block east of the Royal Alexandra Hotel. He had promoted the idea for several years and through donations, social events auctions, and volunteer labor, the rink was finally erected. In fact, as one of Mr. Chapman’s contemporaries said, “Anything short of theft or murder, John Chapman would do to raise a dollar for the rink.”
The first bonspiel was held in 1920 with the Women’s Institute serving lunch to the curlers. By 1923, there were 22 participating rinks from Edmonton., Viking, Wetaskiwin, Wainwright, Camrose and Fort Saskatchewan. The Grand Challenge was won by Schofield of Edmonton, but rinks skipped by Chris Hammond and A. A. Beirnes took second and third while Slavik of Viking took fourth.
During this period, the Dawson Cup, the McCauley Cup, the Pincott Cup were played for up and down the line with Camrose and Fort Saskatchewan also participating. Tofield won its share of honors.
Over the years many Tofield curlers have acquitted themselves admirably, but probably none has won so many trophies as George McLaughlin. He has won the Grand Challenge and the Grand Aggregate in Edmonton five times between 1932 and 1951, the Grand Aggregate in Calgary in 1926, the Grand Challenge in Wetaskiwin, Wainwright, Camrose and of course, in Tofield. He was also president of the Alberta Curling Association.
When curling became more highly organized, and zone playdowns came into vogue, the Club began to dream of matched rocks. The expense involved was considerable, but fortunately Tofield possessed two curling clubs. The Ladies’ Curling Club also wanted matched rocks and worked hard to make the dream a reality. With new facilities for serving and with water now coming from taps the ladies increased their activities. Coffee and lunches were served during the regular curling schedule, as well as meals during bonspiels. The Ladies were able to contribute a sizeable amount towards the purchase of matched rocks. The remainder of the cost was financed by loans from members and from current funds. The matched rocks were purchased in 1955. In 1958 the Zone 12 playdowns were held in Tofield with Dobry of Viking emerging victorious.
In 1959 the High School Curling Zone finals were held here with New Sarepta being the winner. Through the years, the Tofield Curling Club has encouraged High School curling. Every Saturday morning was set aside for them, and High School rinks have participated in the regular schedule. From this has come such present curlers as David Yakabuski, Tubby McCallister, Warren Watson, and, of course, Jack Whyte, who started curling while in High School in 1934 and has curled here for 34 years, with the exception of two winters while he was away working.
During the years, there has been fun and fellowship in the club. Friendly games are played with other towns and from one of these has come a recurrent story of the early times which may be of interest. It has been told by many people and so there are many different versions, It seems that one of Tofield’s rinks., while participating in an out-of-town bonspiel became slightly inebriated. One member was, to put it bluntly, “out cold.” His teammates conceived the brilliant idea of taking him to the local undertaking establishment; he was placed in the morgue. When he awoke in strange surroundings with a lily in his hand, he recovered his sobriety very quickly. The story doesn’t say whether he ever went curling with the same rink again.
In 1959, in recognition of Tofield’s Golden Jubilee the Tofield Curling Club held a banquet. With Dr. W.H. Freebury, president, at the head table, were pioneer curlers: Jack Bowick, John Warner, J.L. Hay of Ryley, George McLaughlin of Edmonton, Cliff Lee, Edmonton; Dr. F.F. Law, Edmonton; John Slavik, Viking; Mark Ferguson, “Shorty” Carter, Edmonton; W. Somers, Devon. Other head table guests included Bill Worton, Bill Christensen, George McFadzean, Neil Phillips, J. Yakabuski, Father Leshinski, Conrad Patterson., Art Francis, John Widynowski, Dirk De Frenne, Olaf Haugen and Bill Davison.
Since 1959, the Tofield Curling Club became incorporated. A new four-sheet, artificial-ice rink has been built on the Tofield Exhibition Grounds.
In the year 1960 the farmers in the area surrounding Tofield formed an afternoon Curling Club and rented the ice for one afternoon each week. With sixteen rinks they were able to fill the four sheets of ice twice weekly. This has proven very successful as it has carried on for several years. Each year they have had the same number of rinks. Each year the play has been very closely contested as trophies go to the winners. With four sheets of artificial ice everyone has been able to have lots of curling. For several years the enthusiasm ran very high with the men’s and ladies’ clubs both. very active. In November of 1965, the Ladies’ Club decided to
disband; mixed curling was then organized. This proved to be very successful, so one game a week was scheduled. This has been carried on for several years. With several men curling in the mixed draw, the number of curlers in the men’s draw was cut down. This meant that on certain evenings, sheets of ice could be rented to rinks who wanted an occasional game.
1967, our Centennial Year, added an extra bonspiel and turkey shoots! The curlers were shooting curling rocks instead of guns. This proved very entertaining and added a little money to the club funds. In the spring of 1967, curling ended with the Centennial Bonspiel. Forty local rinks took part, many wearing their Centennial costumes.
The following High School students have participated in the zone play-offs over the past number of years: Wayne Moore, Don McKernan, Clayton Everitt, Bruce McFadzean, Dwight Sears, Dave Allan, Ray Pittet, Ted Whyte, Jack Nolan, Duane Sears, Robert Wall, Greg Whyte, Kevin Pike, Brian McFadzean, Allen Everitt, Dale Christensen, Doug Everitt, Pat Nolan, Dave Lampitt, Reg Regehr and Bill Sears.
High School curling occurs two afternoons a week during the season. Mr. Lloyd Cribb has been the supervisor from the High School staff.
Tofield Legionaires Junior Baseball Team was organized in 1954 with Graham Allan as manager, Doug McKernan as coach and E.O. Pederson as assistant coach. The line-up consisted of Denzil Solberg, Eddie Williams, David Yakabuski, Leo Rurka, Bill Creig, Allen Bjork, Marshall Slewka, Eddie Slewka, Lawrence (Red) Williams, Bob Nahrebeski, Mike Badum, Wayne Lawson, Dale Barrow, Leonard Lawson, and Arnold Bailey. David Allen was bat boy and Lois Solberg was scorekeeper.
In 1954, the Legionaires eliminated Camrose and Wetaskiwin to go to Taber to play in the Provincial Junior Baseball finals. The games at Taber were split as were the two following games in Tofield. The fifth and deciding game was played in Tofield and resulted in the Legionaires winning the Junior Baseball Championship.
In 1955, Red Deer was eliminated by Tofield who then played, and defeated, Lethbridge in the Provincial Finals by winning 3 out of 5 games.
So. for two consecutive years, Tofield held the Provincial Junior Baseball Championship.
Early in the 1920’s a golf course was laid out on the site of the present Tofield Mennonite Church. Interested golfers were Harry and Edith Rogers, Ernie and Clara Rogers, bank manager Doak and his wife, J.A. Constantine and his wife.
The course was maintained for several years but finally enthusiasm waned and there was no golf in Tofield until 1964 when the present golf club was formed.
The course was laid out on land owned by Charles Kallal just south of the highway. This land is now owned by W.R. Davison.
The Tofield Town and Country Golf Club, as such, was officially organized in 1966. Shares were purchased by those interested and the equipment was taken over from Charles Kallal.
In June 1967, a successful tournament was held. The paid-up membership for 1967 was 27 individuals and one family. 156 names were registered in the Fee Book as indications of $1.00 per day participants. Those under 16 years of age enjoyed golfing at no cost.
The future of this Golf Club appears uncertain at the beginning of 1968. However, the members are hopeful of being able to keep the course in operation. They feel the opportunity for this type of outdoor recreation serves a useful function in the Tofield district.
TROPHY WINNING DOGS
The last decade has brought recognition to Tofield as the home of the champion dogs. Both the Chesapeake Bay breed and the Black Labradors have won championship trophies.
Charles Nolan raised Chesapeake Bay Retrievers for many years before his passing in 1967. In 1960, he registered his “Tofalta Kennel” through the Canadian Kennel Club.
Although he had raised show dogs Mr. Nolan was more interested in field trial dogs and during his years in field trial work, he was an active and willing worker in the Canadian Chesapeake Club, spending much time helping to organize field trials to the betterment of the Club.
He won several field trial -trophies with his favorite “Lucky” and also with his promising young prospect, “Creachainn Nick.”
Also engaged in the field trial work is Leo Rurka, with his Black Labrador Retrievers. A member of the Edmonton Sporting Dog Club, Mr. Rurka has, in his ten years of competition, placed in many trials with puppies, juniors, qualifying dogs, and open all-age dogs. One of his dogs, Bandit of Carmoney has amassed sufficient points to become a field trial champion. To Bandit’s credit, as a sire, are five dogs that have been sold in the United States as well as many more which have been bought throughout Canada.
Mr. and Mrs. Rurka, both members of the Tofield School Staff, live just north of Tofield and here they have their kennels.