Tag Archives: Packet and Times

Rocket Signing The Orillia Book

The Rocket came to Orillia in 1962 to say hello and drop some pucks at the annual Variceties event at the arena, but something behind the scenes happened. The local sports reporter from the Packet and Times, who knew that I had a Habs scrapbook, asked if he could use one of my Richard pictures for the local program they were putting out.

I let him of course, and in return the reporter gave me this original photo he’d taken of the Rocket signing the Orillia registry.


Maurice Richard coming to Orillia was a big thing for me, that’s for sure. He was my hero, which is something that’s never changed over the years.

Here’s the program, with my picture of Rocket I lent to the newspaper.

The Rocket signed it, but the pen was beginning to run out of ink.

Rocket 3

Rocket 2

Orillia Var

A hockey friend of mine, Warren Howes, sent a team picture (below) from that night, with his younger brother, the goalie, in the front row.

As you can see, the entire team is wearing Habs sweaters but it appears they might have been worn to make Maurice happy. The kids had either their team sweaters underneath, or Leafs sweaters, which is what Warren thinks.

You can see the Rocket standing behind the boys. And in my pile of Habs stuff here in Powell River is a helmet identical to the one the kid in the front row, third from left, is wearing

Rocket in Orillia


Raising A Toast Or Two

Orillia arena

There’s been a whack of friends who have rallied behind me in this last week when my dad died, and it’s made my heart soar like a Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher, but at this time I’d like to take a moment to say thanks to Mel St. Onge, an Orillia guy, a former longtime sports columnist for the Packet and Times, and a terrific baseball player who showed big promise about a century ago a few years back.

When Mel found out I was coming back, he put the wheels in motion. He phoned others, came to the funeral, arranged to have the closed Orillia arena unlocked so I could see it again, and he drove me around the old hometown after taking me to the local donut shop where he and other friends gather daily to chew the fat and insult each other the way good friends do, and we laughed and talked about old times, old games, and old teammates. He and all concerned have been a breath of fresh air.

And except for the arena tour, Mel did basically the same thing when I was back as few years ago. Both times he’s gone out of his way, drove me around, relived old hockey and baseball glory through words and newspaper clippings, and spoke with affection for my dad whom he had once worked with. Hell, he wouldn’t even let me buy his coffee.

I say treasure your old friends. I’ve learned this. Family and friends are what’s most important in this life that flashes by like a bolt of lightning. I’ve learned that there are certain folks in this crazy world who come through for you when the going gets tough.

My life can divided in different ways. My sporting years, my wild hippie counter-culture years, and my somewhat normal years, and friends from all of these have shown great support recently, with some driving many miles to be at the funeral, and many others who have contacted me in different ways, including many of you who know me only through this site. I’m extremely touched.

Thanks a lot everybody. Thanks a lot Mel.