Tuesday, April 28, 2009


On The Road Again!

On the Road Again

The Belleville Sports Hall of Fame is travelling to Prince Edward County over the next couple of months to share the story of the Belleville McFarlands with friends in the County. The Hall is grateful to Ron and Veronica Norton and the RE/MAX team from Wellington for sponsoring the events.

The first stop is in Picton. On Sunday, May 3rd, the historical documentary about the team will be on the big screen at the Regent Theatre, beginning at 2:00pm. The architect of the documentary, Peter Lockyer, will be on hand to discuss the project. The author of the book about the “Macs”, Aaron Bell, will also be at the theatre to sign copies of the book.

On June 7th, also a Sunday, there will be a repeat performance in Wellington at the Legion, beginning at 4:00pm. Lockyer and Bell will be there to share their thoughts.

More than 50 years have passed since the team won the World Hockey Championship in Prague, Czechoslovakia. At the present time, a team from Canada is battling with other nations in Switzerland for the World Title. Naturally, things have changed a little since the McFarlands brought home the cup.

First of all, the International Hockey Federation insisted that all players in the tournament had to have amateur status. Several of the Macs had been professional hockey players, and several turned pro after the tournament; however, while playing for the McFarlands in Europe, all players were bona fide amateurs.

On the other hand, there were suspicions about the European players. All of the Russian players were “soldiers”. They were registered as such, but spent most of their days in a hockey rink. They had privileged status in the military, and were almost revered.

The County’s Keith MacDonald lived the entire experience. Born in Picton in 1927, he had played hockey for several years in the local arenas, and signed with the Macs when the team was formed. On several occasions, recently, Keith has downplayed his part in the history of the team.

McFarlands captain Floyd Crawford sees it another way. “Keith MacDonald was a very important part of our organization. He was well respected throughout the league, and often stepped in to deliver a message to the other teams. ‘Don’t mess with our players.’ Keith never shied away from the rough stuff.”

(The hockey card pictured here is of Floyd Crawford when he played for Chicoutimi. Two of his teammates were Lou and Stan Smrke. The card is from the 1951-52 Laval Dairy, Quebec Hockey League Series. Other notables in this set include: Jean Beliveau, Punch Imlach, Herb Carnegie, Joe Lepine, and Jean Paul Lamirande.)

MacDonald has cherished every moment of the McFarlands experience. He is also enjoying the accolades the team is receiving this year as part of the Golden Anniversary celebration.

In 1959, it was for Keith the experience of a lifetime. He recently told me that he was seven years old when he travelled to Wainright, Alberta, with his family. That was the extent of his wanderings, as there were daily chores on the farm in The County.
His family had settled on that strip of land in Hallowell Township in the 1800s. Keith was part of the fifth generation of his family to till the soil, to milk the cows, to reap the harvest in that part of The County.

In 1958, the Macs had travelled to South Porcupine to play for the All Ontario Semi-Finals. They went by train from Union Station in Toronto. “Some of the guys suggested that I could use that wide open space at the station as a “hot pen” for the pigs that I was raising.” All of the travel that they did at that time was an eye-opening experience for MacDonald.

The Macs opened their gruelling series of fifteen exhibition games in Europe in Paisley, Scotland. From there, it was off to Finland, Sweden, Italy---and the rest of Europe. Quite an excursion for a rough and tumble group of hockey players destined for greatness!

MacDonald has returned to Europe since that time, at a far less hectic pace. But he will never forget those incredible days that he spent with the guys in their pursuit of the World Championship in 1959.

Both he and Floyd Crawford will be hosting the documentary at the Regent Theatre. See you there!

James Hurst

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?