It was with great pleasure that I attended the 50th anniversary celebration of the Trail Smoke Eaters winning the 1961 world hockey championship.
The production ‘For the Love of the Game’ by Trail film-makers Darryl Taylor and Catherine Manna is a compelling and fascinating account of Trail’s hockey history. Kudos to the organizers as well as the Royal Theatre for making local history entertaining, fun and informative.
We were particularly fascinated by the story of how the Smoke Eaters got their name. Apparently, a spectator threw a lit corn-cob pipe into the Trail players’ box. A Trail player picked up the pipe, put it in his mouth and played the remainder of the game, puffing away. Newspapers picked up on this and many cartoons appeared in the editions with the name Smoke Eaters.
Some other interesting facts emerged at the showing. Seth Martin was one of the first goalies to wear a mask. Trail had a women’s league in the early 1900s. Team names were Hearts, Spades, Diamonds and Clubs. My three-year-old grandson commented that the players were not wearing helmets and my daughter was overwhelmed that Trail was one of the first cities to produce such talented hockey players.
The debut showing of the world championship game was made possible by a film produced in Switzerland. In black and white film, it showed the final goal scored by Norm Lenardon. Unfortunately, there is a reproduction limitation on this film. The Trail Historical Society has audio rights.
Wow, that was so special. I hope the society is able to show it more often or even get the rights to that piece of film.
The City of Trail and the Greater Trail area have a rich history of being first in many sports. Look at the fine professionals in hockey, baseball, track and field, swimming, curling as well as, many scholars and professionals. This history needs a home.
I hope that the City of Trail will consider building an appropriate venue to showcase this rich history. What an inspiring way to teach the younger generation our history. It also provided an opportunity for the older generation to reflect and share this history with the younger generation.
Mayor Dieter Bogs declared March 12 Trail Smoke Eater Day. I will look forward to next year’s celebration. Sometimes we need to be reminded about our roots and why we are called the Home of Champions.
A huge thank-you to the 1961 Smoke Eaters, players and wives, for gracing us all these years with a great legacy.