I love hockey. I’m a Canadian, so I pretty much have to. But, I really love hockey. When I saw the opportunity to write about it? I was all over it like most Canadians are when the playoffs roll around. I’ve been brought on board with the Island Narratives Program to write in regards to Hockey; and its history in O’leary, PEI. I’ve been immersed in a plethora of information that a team prior to my involvement had gathered. Darren Kennedy, Scotty Joe Smith, Emily Ramsay and Joni Arsenault had worked for months interviewing, gathering, piecing together any information they could get their hands on. To say the least, they’ve outdone themselves. They have compiled a huge amount of information for me to take in. I have been at it for hours, reading and reading, and I’ve barely scraped the surface.
I cannot get over how this community has been so forthcoming with donating or loaning Hockey memorabilia to this project. I feel like I have stepped into something that was not an effort undertaken by only the four people before me. Rather, an initiative involving the whole community of O’leary. I take my hat off to you. Kudos to you, reader, for helping this movement to put O’leary on the proverbial map of our nations great sport. Hockey in this town, is not just a game. It is a way of life. I have only just begun, and I can already tell I am in Hockeyville, PEI.
A few years back, Kraft Canada (Yes, those guys that make Cheeze Whiz.) started a “little” competition to dub a Canadian community “Hockeyville”. This town took it seriously. Letters and pleas to Kraft to bestow O’leary with the title were written by the masses. Lawns were rearranged and decorated with anything people could find that would relate in any way to hockey. Signs were erected or placed in windows. Everyone was involved. And though O’leary did not actually receive the title… To the people, they received it anyway.
That being said; This was all back in 2006. Now, it appears something is changing. It would seem that the torch so proudly carried in recent memory needs more fuel for its flame. The people of O’leary want to start a bonfire. Naturally, they want to use Hockey as the fuel.
So, we have undertaken this “little” project. This movement, if you will. People have recognized the need for the rest of Canada to know about Hockeyville PEI. The simple act of me “googling” O’leary and Hockey warranted little results. Not much more than a few mentions of little league games. Nowhere was it to be found that the NHL’s own Philidelphia Flyers were housed here for their 1992 training camp. Heck, Eric Lindros, a hall of famer, pretty much started his career here. There is even a funny little story about a citizen of O’leary’s interaction as a towel boy with Lindros, and the word “Bozo” comes up more than once. But that tale can only be found in the scrapbooks of the select few who cut it out of the paper, way back when. The Ottawa Senators almost came here in 1993 for their training camp too. But, you’d need to look quite hard to find that information on the web. This town has some history to share, it just needs to find some ears to listen.
O’leary truly is Hockeyville, PEI. That is something this community is proud of. Now it is time for Canada to know. I’d be willing to wager that many communities are proud of their own involvement in Hockey. But what makes O’leary special? I’ve been finding out since I got here. This project is about that, and then some. We’re going to tell you the history, the facts, and the fun little tales we’ve had the fortune of hearing. This is a great community with a rich history. And it all started more than a century ago. So pour yourself a coffee, grab a seat, and relax.
My name is Ben Bremner, and let me be the first to tell you, the tale has just begun.