Allan Cup keepsakes resurface in cabinet

It is amazing what you can find when you’re not looking for anything.
That’s what happened to long-time Fort Frances resident Evelyn Stachiw as she stumbled upon some treasures from the past while cleaning out a cabinet in her home last week.
“I was cleaning out this one cabinet downstairs and that’s where I ran across it. It was in with the rest of some papers and everything,” Stachiw said Monday afternoon in her home.
“It” was an original copy—in mint condition—of the program for the victory banquet the town staged for the Allan Cup-winning Fort Frances Canadians on May 17, 1952 at the Rainy Lake Hotel ballroom.
The memento was collected and saved by Stachiw’s late husband, Walter, who had passed away in the spring of 1995 from brain cancer at the age of 70.
He collected just about “everything and anything,” said his wife, from newspapers, photos, and maps to magazines, books, and various materials which, until recently, have been collecting dust.
“I really don’t know how much stuff there is, but I’m just afraid of what’s out in the garage, the back shed, the basement, and the attic,” Evelyn Stachiw laughed.
She also found a glossy team picture of the 1948 Fort Frances Canadians.
When “Doc” Johnson, a member of the Canadians from 1946-53, saw the four-page banquet program and the 1948 team picture, the memories began to resurface.
“I’m fortunate enough to still have a memory. I know I sat there, and I remember sitting there,” Johnson said at his home here as he pointed to himself in the two team pictures.
“Those are memories that I will always have.
“When this dinner went on, I was with Customs up in a place called Bass Foot Lake and they flew an aircraft to come down and pick me up for this banquet, and I was very flattered by that,” he recalled.
“This is a hell of a town, kid,” Johnson smiled as he sat in his backyard, grasping the mementos and staring ahead with his eyes gleaming. “We had a hell of a hockey team, but we never thought we’d do that [win the Allan Cup].
“We thought we’d just go out and have something to do for the winter.”
The Allan Cup tournament, which started in 1907 as the brainchild of Sir H. Montage Allan to encourage amateur hockey, still is played to this very day (last season’s champs were the Saint-Georges Garaga of Quebec).
The ’52 Canadians’ victory is still considered the athletic highlight of Fort Frances.
“It was huge. Everything was about hockey and it was really something to be a part of,” Evelyn Stachiw said about the 1952 season, noting she even travelled to Winnipeg, along with much of the rest of the town, by train to watch the team on two occasions.
Their accomplishment is still remembered by residents, and Johnson said he sees that every day.
“This is an amazing town. You go down the street and I’m 81 years of age and you’d be surprised how many people come up to me and say, ‘Hello Doc,’” said Johnson, who got his nickname back in 1935 when he was with the Boy Scouts.
If you look back in the archives of the Times and the article written about the deciding game against Stratford, you’ll find that Johnson was a major contributor in the victory.
“Nobody worked harder to write a blazing finish to the series than Arthur “Doc” Johnson, a star of the team since it was organized following the Second War.
“The heady little centerman was a valuable spark to the team, scoring himself, assisting on another, and forechecking brilliantly.”
Evelyn Stachiw believes there are still plenty more mementos stashed away in the corners of her attic, garage, and basement just waiting to be discovered, but she’s unsure what to do with them.
“It’s amazing what you can find and it’s quite something, and I’d hate to throw it away,” she remarked. “ I want somebody to have these things that would want to have them, but I just don’t know where to bring them to.”
Johnson isn’t sure himself, but said he would like to see them kept somewhere to remind people of the underdog team that was embraced by Fort Frances as they won the biggest trophy in senior hockey.
“I hope we’ll always be remembered because it was a big thing,” he said. “It was a wonderful life and it was built around the people of Fort Frances.
“If it wasn’t for our people, we would’ve never won,” he stressed.
“Then a pandemonium of cheering almost raised the roof, hats and programs sailed onto the ice, and the ceremonies began,” read a paragraph near the closing of the article from 1952.
“You know, this has brought back a lot of memories and I thank you kindly,” said Johnson.
No, thank Walter.

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