Hockey fans line up outside the old Trail rink on Bay Avenue. Photo: Trail Historical Society

Hockey fans line up outside the old Trail rink on Bay Avenue. Photo: Trail Historical Society

Trail Blazers: When the NHL came to the city for a game

Trail Blazers in a weekly historical feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives

Eighty-seven years ago this week, hockey fans of Trail were in for a very special treat.

On April 18, 1934, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings played a riveting game in Trail’s old rink, the Fruit Fair Building on Bay Avenue, following the wrap up of the 1934 Stanley Cup playoffs.

After the final on April 10 that saw the Chicago Black Hawks beat the Red Wings in game four of the best-of-five series, a western tour of Toronto and Detroit commenced.

The tour initially included stops in Winnipeg and Vancouver in Canada, then south to Seattle and Los Angeles.

Toronto Maple Leafs manager, Conn “Conny” Smythe, whose Trail connections were strong thanks to personalities like Pete McIntyre, made good on a promise to ensure Trail was a stop along the way.

The team line up for the April 1934 NHL game played in the old Trail rink (Fruit Fair Building) Photo: Trail Historical Society

The team line up for the April 1934 NHL game played in the old Trail rink (Fruit Fair Building) Photo: Trail Historical Society

At the time, Trail was proud of the artificial ice it installed for the 1925-26 season, which made a game in Trail by these professional teams possible.

In fact, Trail was the only stop between Winnipeg and Vancouver and plans to play in Regina, Edmonton and Calgary were simply not possible!

Wires were sent between Elliott Crowe, president of the Gyro Club, and Mr. Smythe, who graciously added Trail to the short list of stops.

The Gyro Club managed the event and all proceeds went towards projects on which they were working, specifically the newly-donated land in East Trail which became known as Gyro Park.

The biggest concern at the time was the potential for ticket scalping, as this was by far the biggest hockey event to ever occur in Trail or even the region.

To avoid it, tickets were packaged by section and price were available in intervals and at different locations over the course of two weeks.

The CPR dedicated a special train for Nelson fans, but the organizing committee refused their request to reserve 200 tickets for their residents.

The committee did, however, allot 100 reserved seats at the south end of the rink for Nelson visitors as part of the first batch of reserved ticket sales.

Everything else was on a first-come-first- served basis.

The old Trail rink on Bay Avenue housed the only artificial ice surface between Winnipeg and Vancouver for many years. This photo is dated to the late 1930s. Photo: Trail Historical Society

The old Trail rink on Bay Avenue housed the only artificial ice surface between Winnipeg and Vancouver for many years. This photo is dated to the late 1930s. Photo: Trail Historical Society

The Robson ferry even agreed to run until 4 a.m. on Thursday morning for the benefit of Castlegar residents.

Tickets were sold to fans as far as Oliver, Lethbridge, and Kimberley and meant the local business community benefited from the surge in tourists.

Conny Smythe stated in the Toronto Daily Star: “Trail is a small place, but they have offered us a good guarantee and as it is on our way into Vancouver, or practically, so we have accepted the date there. I think the boys will be interested in the big smelter plant there.”

Between the committee and the managers, it was agreed the winning team would take 10 percent of the gate earnings.

The team arrived on Wednesday, April 18 at 1 p.m., welcomed by the Maple Leaf Band at the Cedar Avenue train station.

The players, wearing straw hats under an unusually warm April sun, were immediately shuttled up Smelter Hill for a tour of the plant.

At 3:45 p.m., the two teams donned their gear and ran a brief practice and an autograph session for the benefit of Trail’s youth.

The game took place at 8 p.m., but the smaller ice surface made it difficult for the stylized plays to occur.

Despite the smaller size, the teams managed to dazzle the crowd.

At the end of the fast-paced game, Toronto outshone the Red Wings by a score of 8 – 5.

The humble arena had never seen a crowd of that size, but was certainly a foretelling of events to come for the city.

The curling and Gyro clubs honoured the teams with a banquet and dance at the Legion hall following the game.

As the sports editor of the day wrote, “The greats of the national game have come and gone, leaving behind a new throng of hero worshippers among the children and a new crowd of critics among the fan-experts.”

The archival collection does not possess any photos of this event, unfortunately.

If you were one of the lucky kids to witness this event, please share with us!

Sarah Benson-Lord manages the Trail Museum and Archives.

Read more: Trail Blazers

Read more: Trail Blazers



newsroom@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City of TrailLocal History

Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Trees blown over by a windstorm in forest owned by Anderson Creek Timber. Photo: Anderson Creek Timber
Timber company logging near Nelson raises local concerns

Anderson Creek Timber owns 600 hectares of forest adjacent to the city

Keith Smyth, Kootenay Savings director at-large joins children from the Kids’ Care Centre at St. Michael’s Catholic School. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay Savings continues credit union’s tradition of giving

Funding totalling $48,250, is going to a wide array of Kootenay initiatives

From left: Karl Luedtke (West Arm Outdoors Club), Dale Williams (BCWF), Molly Teather (FLNORD), Gord Grunerud (West Arm Outdoors Club), Eugene Volokhov (Grand Prize Winner), Casey McKinnon and Lex Jones (Jones Boys Boats). Photo: Tammy White, Whitelight Photography
Balfour man lands big prize from angler incentive program

Eugene Volokhov of Balfour is now the proud owner of a sleek 18-foot Kingfisher boat

“I want to see the difference in the world, embrace it, celebrate it … ” Photo: David Cantelli/Unsplash
A new way to say ‘Hello’

“Inclusion, you see, is NOT about making us all the same.”

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read