The History of the Midland Sports Hall of Fame

The notion of creating a Sports Hall of Fame in Midland had been roiling around numerous minds for a number of years, but it really took hold in the spring of 1994.  Talks sprang from a visit by Bernard “Buzz” Deschamps to the Olympia Sports shop operated by Danny Wood.  He and Danny engaged Jim McLaren, arena manager, Bob Merkely, arena attendant, Bryan Peter, the towns Parks and Recreation Director and Bryan MacKell the towns Director of Planning with a view to exploring the creation of a Hall Of Fame.

All being avid sports enthusiasts, they eagerly got on board and thus ideas of how to establish a hall and where to start research into other halls.  Bryan MacKell had a connection to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and after a few phone calls with Phil Pritchard a package filled with sample governance rules, constitutions and bylaws from other halls in Canada arrived at the arena. With this in hand the group started to map out the beginnings of a committee.  At the outset it was recognized that the town would have to be formally brought in as a partner, both for finances, banking and to identify a location for the hall.

Peters and MacKell then meet with Fred Flood, the CAO of the town, to broach the idea with him. He was onboard immediately and agreed to meet further with Buzz Deschamps.  After that meeting Flood arranged an informal meeting for Buzz and he to meet with the town’s Mayor George MacDonald who eagerly embraced the idea.  The Mayor and the CAO presented the proposal to Council which approved of the concept, the financial and staff support and the Midland Arena as being the location of the Hall.

Shortly after the Council’s approval a meeting was scheduled with community individuals and association representatives who had expressed interest in being on the Board of Governors.  As a result of that meeting Buzz Deschamps was elected Chair, Bryan MacKell Vice-Chair and Bryan Peter as Recording Secretary and Treasurer. Other members of the founding committee included Tom Brodeur, Joe Faragher, Chester Graham, Ross Heacock, Ruth McElrea, Bob Merkley, Lynn Morton, Paul Ribout and Gord Smith. The first induction ceremony in 1996 was a black-tie event held at the Highland Inn with over 420 sport enthusiasts in attendance.

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