The World Champion Trail Smoke Eaters’ memorabilia took a road trip to the BC Hockey Hall of Fame.
Located in Penticton, the BC Hockey Hall of Fame normally celebrates its athletes with a summer induction ceremony and gala. However, with the onset of the coronavirus, this year’s celebration was cancelled, so the Hall shifted its focus to creating a new exhibit showcasing BC’s rich and diverse hockey history.
Hockey Hall of Fame executive director Blain Ford approached the City of Trail seeking authentic artifacts of the 1939 and 1961 Trail Smoke Eaters World Championship teams to put on display.
City of Trail director of archives Sarah Benson-Lord answered the call. The Hall had an existing plaque and photo commemorating the Smoke Eaters ‘39 and ‘61 World Championship victories but little else, so Benson submitted a report to the Historical Society requesting a loan of the Smoke Eaters memorabilia to the Hall.
“We can be a little protective of our Smoke Eater collection, but you get to a point where okay we’ve built our beautiful museum … We’ve got lots of stuff in the collection that’s not necessarily just sitting in storage, but it should be on display.”
The Trail Historical Society owns a vast collection of sports memorabilia and historic artifacts, which city staff manages through the Archives and Museum at the Trail Riverfront Centre.
The Historical Society agreed to loan the memorabilia to the BC Hockey Hall of Fame for a period of two years. For Benson-Lord, it only made sense as others have responded in kind.
“When we were developing the concept for the WIHL exhibit, we were reaching out to all these neighbouring communities, asking, ‘Hey do you have anything?’ because there’s no where else that is exhibiting WIHL stuff like this and we’d really like to display it.
“We got some pretty nice things from very generous organizations and people who were willing to say, ‘Yes take it.’”
The City’s curator made sure all the appropriate care was taken, insurance submitted, and protocols in place. The two displays now showcase authentic jerseys from the the respective Smoke Eaters eras, as well as plaques, photos, crests, programs, pucks and banners.
“We wanted to send them authentic things, so we found things like extra programs, things we have dupicates of, we also sent them a few pieces of WIHL memorabilia.”
Thousands visit the South Okanagan Events Centre and the BC Hockey Hall of Fame every year, and sharing the historic artifacts can only be positive for the city and the team.
“I think it just shows good faith amongst our museums and this is meant to be viewed by the public, and it is just outside our community, but still promoting the Smoke Eaters legacy and Trail’s history.”
The Hall is creating a showcase of hockey history from across the province, with themes that include Vancouver Canucks history, BC’s historical hockey leagues, BC women’s hockey, indigenous hockey in BC, BC’s championship teams, and influential people in BC’s hockey history.
“In the South Okanagan Events Centre, there’s a lot of people in that building, there’s a lot going on in there,” added Benson-Lord. “Everybody recognizes that Smoke Eaters crest. It’s iconic and it brings back really fond memories, so were hoping it generates a little bit of buzz for our community.”