Another springtime and no Allan Cup playoffs here

While our high school Muskies’ latest all-Ontario conquest is being celebrated again this spring, there are many old-time hockey fans still harking back to Fort Frances’ national supremacy in senior hockey 49 springs ago.
Many will acclaim our puck chasers could take over all Canada again, given the right circumstances, but that many never be known now. Apparently, the right spirit is still here.
Neil McQuarrie revives the legend of the Fort Frances Canadians’ finest hours in his fine book “On The Allan Cup Trail,” issued only last spring, and it should be compulsory reading for everyone here who can’t remember our post-war excitement every spring.
Like all members of the gallant squad he chronicles, Neil is another hometown product, a scholarly type whom I never met before last year.
He must have poured countless hours into his research on the sports pages up to 1952, both in reviewing the details of an awful lot of playoff games and setting the historical scene as background of the astonishing Canadians.
A healthy nucleus of that lineup is still in town although losses are occurring recently at about one drop-out a year. The latest casualty to time was Frank Eisenzoph. “Mighty Ike” joined Mike Hupchuk, Dun Sampson, and Donny Lovisa on the sidelines late last year.
Well-remembered teammates who were not on the Allan Cup squad that year also include Harry Barefoot.
Now it’s springtime again and the high schoolers are bringing home the gold, and forcing nostalgia upon us for the glory days of the past when our fans would start waiting for tickets in early morning in front of their brand new rink.
Writer Neil revives the feel of those days by describing the sweltering heat of that early summer as so intense the town’s firemen were pouring water on the rink day and night to prevent our prized artificial ice from melting.
It’s recalled there were 3,500 watchers on hand for the sixth and final game as Stratford’s Indians bowed in submission and helped make us forget the Canadians’ previous year when they dropped a narrow seven-game series in Owen Sound.
Every spring after that, the tension would continue as the team decided to cut expenses and go after Western Canada titles in intermediate hockey. Then nine years later, they won that division also.
In more than 13 years of top-calibre competition, their fans got acquainted with teams from right across Canada, including former NHL stars as famous as some today.
Nice going, Neil! I read your great book a chapter or three at a time to savour the memories fully. We all hope you make a dollar for your efforts but moreover, we understand this is a subject you couldn’t avoid going over–same as the rest of us.
• • •
The giant walleye grandparents are leaving Lake of the Woods these days to begin spawning in Long Sault rapids near Stratton. The nine and 10-pounders like this one held by Terry Wood, photographed by John Grozelle, are teeming around a river full of boats from both sides of the border.
The walleye fishing season closes April 15 until May 15 but not before big strings of them are being captured (and usually thrown back).
Other fishermen wonder why the late season ends right at spawning time.
• • •
There are presently two sets of country singers known as the Bellamy brothers.
The local trio from Highway 11/71, including Richard, Lawrence, and Bruce, appear occasionally as headliners at Mud Lake City, the guests of Wayne and Betty Salchert, of whom not much is known for this year although that Devlin scene undoubtedly will be pepping up for tourist season.
• • •
On the health front, we welcome David Marsh home from surgery at Thunder Bay full of hope now to be able to discard his crutches. We also extend best wishes to heart patient Jim Gillon, who is receiving attention in Winnipeg this week.
• • •
As the daughter of a Portuguese army captain, Torres Sampaio, also known as Queenie, claims to be only the second immigrant from Portugal residing in Fort Frances.
Restaurateur Louis Rodriquez, formerly of the Huddle where operators of Lee Gardens now preside, arrived here before Queenie. Her husband, who was partly Polish, worked on construction of the old high school.
Queenie has been active at Sister Kennedy Centre.
• • •
A distraught young lady was found weeping beside her locked car and told a passer-by that her remote door unlocker needed a battery.
Asked whether she had an alarm on her remote control, she answered, “No” and handed over the gadget, as well as her car keys!

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