Monday, 26 August 2013

Today in Habs History: August 26th Edition


Maurice Richard shares a laugh with fellow inductee referee Mickey Ion, at the 1961 Hockey Hall of Fame Dinner (Photo: Montreal Gazette, August 29, 1961).


The Hall Opens it’s Doors


The Hockey Hall of Fame opened it’s official home at Toronto’s CNE grounds on this day in 1961.


The permanent home to honour hockey’s legends and showcase memorabilia was funded by all six NHL clubs, averaging a donation of approximately $100,000 each. The construction of a new hall of fame had been planned fro some time, with debate as to Toronto or Kingston should be the location.


Kingston was already the home of the International Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum, and seemed a likely choice to continue the tradition with an upgraded buiding. But in 1958, Clarence Campbell withdrew the NHL’s involvement with the Kingston facility and decided on a new hall in Toronto.


Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and Livingston T. Merchant, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, were both on hand for the opening. “There is nothing greater than hockey to bring about national unity and a closer relationship between the United States and Canada,” Diefenbaker said during the festivities.


Diefenbaker, who also once said “sport plays an important role in the struggle for the hearts and minds of men,“ also used the Hall opening as an opportunity to announce that the Canadian government would propose grants totalling $5 million towards the development of amateur sports in Canada (Bill C-131). “We are certainly behind a program that would help amateur hockey,” NHL president Clarence Campbell said on the announcement.


The majority of the 43 living members of the HHOF, including the Canadiens Aurele Joliat made the trip to Toronto for the opening, as visitors roamed through the chapel-like hall interior.


George Armstong of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Canadiens Jean Beliveau were also on hand as representatives of their respective clubs.



The HHOF also had it’s first induction dinner, honouring it’s newest members, Syl Apps, Charlie Conacher, Hap Day, Milt Schmidt, Percy LeSueur,and Oliver Seibert joined former Canadiens George Hainsworth, Joe Hall and Maurice Richard were the newest members to hockey’s hallowed hall.


Also on This Day:


1938: Joffre Desilets is  traded to the Chicago Black Hawks for Lou Trudel


1985: The Canadiens trade Ron Flockhart traded to the St. Louis Blues for Perry Ganchar





Donald Macintosh, Tom Bedecki, C.E.S. Franks,  Sport and Politics in Canada: Federal Government Involvement Since 1961


Montreal Gazette, August 28, 1961, “Diefenbaker Annoounces $5,000,000 Amateur Sport Grant”


Ottawa Citizen, August 28, 1961, “Ottawa Hockey ‘Greats’ Invited to Hall Opening”

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