On Wednesday, Jun. 1, 2022, the Original Hockey Hall of Fame, located at Kingston’s Invista Centre, reopened its doors to visitors after closing in 2019.
Original Hockey Hall of Fame president Larry Paquette and past-president Mark Potter were joined by community members, as well as Aaron Luchuk, who scored the Memorial Cup game-winning goal in 2017, to celebrate the brand new Memorial Cup display.
A display for the Memorial Cup in Kingston is significant, Potter noted: “There are a lot of connections to Kingston in the Memorial Cup.”
Beginning his speech to those gathered, Potter said, “It’s Sutherland, it’s Davidson, and it’s Richardson,” detailing the origins of the Cup by referring to Captain James T. Sutherland, Allan (Scotty) Davidson, and George Richardson, who are all members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. “In the late 1800’s, early 1900’s, anything happening in Kingston that was hockey was [because of] Captain Sutherland.”
Potter explained that Sutherland was widely regarded as the ‘father of hockey,’ founding both the Kingston Frontenac Hockey Club, as well as the Original Hockey Hall of Fame. Both Davidson and Richardson were coached by Sutherland and were regarded as incredible hockey players.
“There were sports writers in that era who said that [Davidson] could skate backwards faster than any player could skate forwards. Whether that’s legend or not, I don’t know. But it speaks to the fact that the guy was amazing,” Potter commented with a chuckle.
While the Memorial Cup is a Kingston story, it is also a military story. When war was declared in 1914, “Sutherland made a plea for every hockey player across Canada to join… the forces,” Potter continued. Both Davidson and Richardson died in battle. To honour his friends, along with the other soldiers who died at war, Sutherland created the Memorial Cup in 1919 following WWI.
“The Memorial Cup has Kingston’s fingerprints all over it,” Potter concluded.
One literal set of fingerprints on the Cup belongs to Kingston’s Aaron Luchuk, who scored the goal that won the Cup for the Windsor Spitfires in 2017. He is one of three players from Kingston to score the game-winning goal to win the Cup, alongside Doug Gilmour and Gary MacGregor. “I’m very proud to be from Kingston and to represent Kingston,” Luchuk said. “Obviously, to be on a very short list with those two other guys is very special. I hope to have those legacies that those other guys had at the end of my career.”
Paquette, who has been President of the Original Hockey Hall of Fame since 2019, encouraged Kingstonians to visit the exhibit and engage with the rich history associated with the Memorial Cup. “I think it just builds the historical story of Kingston and hockey. They are so closely linked from the early days of the game, and this is just another piece of the puzzle that some people may not be aware of, or not know the whole story… It’s important for all Kingstonians to know that [the Memorial Cup] started here, and why it was created,” he expressed.
While the history of the Cup is thoroughly Kingstonian, the origins of hockey itself have long been disputed. In true Kingstonian fashion, Potter gave credit where credit was due. “I guess I would say that some of the earliest hockey was played here on the harbour in the 1840’s, but [Montreal] can take credit for having the first ‘organized’ game,” Potter added with a coy smile.
Many more hockey histories can be explored within the exhibit, which offers a variety interactive activities and memorabilia. Visitors can view the Memorial Cup exhibit in the Original Hockey Hall of Fame, which is open Thursdays to Sundays from 12 noon to 6 p.m. Admission is by donation.