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Trophy Town doc brings back fond memories for ‘61 Smoke Eaters Doc

Dr. Jack Colbert put on his ‘61 Team Canada jersey to revisit old friends
Caregiver Heather Epps of Neighborhood Nursing accompanies 99-year-old Dr. John Colbert, clad in his ‘61 Team Canada jersey, to a viewing of the Trophy Town documentary at the Royal Theatre last week.

The screening of Trophy Town: Local Heroes, International Legends provided a perfect opportunity for a well known Trail doctor to revisit old friends.

At age 99, the ever resilient Dr. John Colbert donned his ‘61 Team Canada jersey and made his way to the Royal Theater to watch the Trophy Town documentary based on the 1939 and 1961 world champion Trail Smoke Eaters.

Dr.Colbert joined the Smoke Eaters men’s hockey team in 1953 as the team doctor and stayed for 11 years. He was instrumental in raising funds for the 1962 Allan cup in Trail, when they defeated the the Montreal Olympians and won the national championship.

Trophy Town documents the ‘39 and ‘61 teams unexpected rise to reigning world champions in winning their respective series against powerhouses like the Swedes, Soviets, and Czechs.

The film interviews many of the ‘61 Smoke Eaters and their families, capturing vivid recollections of the journey through Europe where they played 22 exhibition games before competing in the world championship.

Trophy Town director Robert Barrett says the film wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible community support and contributions from historian Greg Nesteroff, former Times editors, Greater Trail families, the Trail Archives and the Trail Historical Society.

But insight from the ‘61 Smokies players Cal Hockley, Don Fletcher, Dave Rusnell, Norm Lenardon, Harold Jones, Ed Cristofoli, and Gerry Penner gives the film a personal touch that transcends time and place, giving younger fans a chance to share in their incredible achievment and those who were there, a moment to remember and revisit past friends.

Dr. Colbert wants residents to know that “He has many fond memories and is honoured to have worked with such a great bunch of guys.”

Barrett echoes those sentiments today.

“For me personally I became very attached to the story and the players, who’s generosity in time and memory was very emotional for me,” said Barrett. “After watching this film many, many times, I still get choked up.

“That is always my barometer. If I’m moved, I feel confident others will respond as well. Bringing a box of Kleenex to a film set in a hockey community seems strange, but the game is played with heart and soul.

“I think this film makes that connection clear.”

The ‘61 Smoke Eaters proved to be the last amateur team from Canada to win the world championship. It was not until 1994 that Canada would again win the world title, by a team made up of the best players in the NHL.

The documentary ran at the Trail theatre until Nov. 18.

Jim Bailey

About the Author: Jim Bailey

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