Crowds of people are busy publicly celebrating the achievements of famous locals and finding out which Timmins-born official was on the ice in Finland

In the last column, I told you about CSI: Toronto and how I thought patience at the start of the season might be prudent. The Leafs have now (at the time of this writing) picked up three straight wins over teams ahead of them. Perhaps the key is to avoid so-called “bad” teams. Do I think they are now a Stanley Cup contender? Nope ! Too many holes and question marks for that. But they can still have a solid regular season and break the hearts of fans come April.

In the early 2000s, we hosted a fundraising dinner for the billboard we were putting up in honor of Bill Barilko. Then COVID hit and although we installed the billboard, the billboard plans on the Mac were put on the back burner.

RELATED: Billboard Honoring Maple Leafs Legend Bill Barilko Unveiled

Last week, Wayne Bozzer and I, with the help of Dan Hway, collected some Gwen Shaw artifacts for use in a soon to be completed exhibit. Her late husband, John, was the driving force behind the Hudson/Barilko recovery mission. At home he had some of the items he wanted to see in any future exhibits we put together.

Well, work has started on this screen and hopefully it will be ready soon. (Wayne posted photos on the Timmins Sports Heritage Hall of Fame Facebook page chronicling the process.)

A little history of the story: After the initial recovery mission, all objects were put into storage until we could set up a permanent exhibition. We had a few limited moments (like the billboard fundraiser) where we had items like the plane’s engine and a large jetty in sight. But we couldn’t find a suitable permanent exhibit to house all the items. We would have liked to put the engine and pontoon as part of a display on the Mac, but as hard as we tried, getting the multi-cylinder, around 1,000 pound beast into the building and up to the display case was impossible. . We needed a permanent exhibition as the many objects involved are delicate, heavy and difficult to move.

After being unable to find anything we found acceptable, another avenue appeared. Renowned Toronto maple leaf collector and historian, Mark Fera, offered us an idea. He was prepared to build a mobile, traveling exhibit for some of the items including the engine, large pontoon, seats and cabin frame. Those involved in our group all agreed that this was a great opportunity to finally see an exhibition come to fruition.

So last July Mark, Wayne and I met at the place where I had safely stored the items and, using a crane, we loaded them onto a trailer to take them to Mark’s collection. If you want to know more about Mark’s massive Barilko inventory, check out his Facebook page. He procured many artifacts from various people for display. Items like Bill’s Overtime Winner Puck and more. And that’s a whole other story that I have no room for. As we speak Mark is working on the display and we are all eagerly awaiting its completion.

With a high-profile exhibit at Mark’s End and a smaller exhibit here in Timmins, the incredible story of Canadian icon Bill Barilko will continue to educate and carry on his legacy. The engine and large pontoon remain in our care and have been loaned to Mark who is now taking the artifacts to a new, more visible story. And Mark’s screen access to far more people than is ever possible to access here is an incredible situation.

In 2016, TSN’s Josh Shiaman came to Timmins to record a documentary, which was to be called The mission, and based on the many hours of footage and commentary by documentarian Kevin Vincent, who was part of the recovery team. Kevin’s minute-by-minute video diary was the centerpiece of the documentary. What many people don’t know is that after receiving critical acclaim, The mission was nominated for a 2018 Canadian Screen Award in the Best Sports Feature Film segment. Other nominated features included, The sound of thunder (the eventual winner), 2017 World Athletics Championshipsand The fifth state A story from the field.

One of the things that puzzled the people who made the film was the lack of any acknowledgment of Barilko. When we met when they arrived, they wanted to know where his statue was, the park, the street that bears his name, etc. It is something however that a host of people are trying to change and I am delighted to hear of their efforts.

Then, shortly after this document came out, I received something mind-blowing in the mail. My cousin Patrick Burke had sent me a new Bill Barilko card that his father, Barry, had. He thought I had to have it and I’m forever grateful for his kindness. A digital reproduction of this map will be part of the Mac display.

This is therefore only a brief overview of the situation in which we find ourselves today. We now hope to finally make available to the public our version and our efforts to continue a story that is woven into our Canadian culture.

where are they now

I got to see Timmins’ TJ Luxmore referee (via TV) a recent NHL game in Finland. It must have been another truly exciting moment in a remarkable, but still young, career.

Former Golden Bear and Timmins pro hockey player Derek MacNair had his London Junior Knights AAA U/18 club in Sudbury last weekend for the Big Nickel tournament. Derek has been coaching in London at the bantam and midget levels for some time. I was lucky to have Derek both as a player and as an assistant with the Majors. Derek has earned a solid reputation in Ontario coaching circles.

Our local U12 Northstars were also on the line at the tournament and although they didn’t make the final, I know the Big Nickel experience is always a memorable and progressive moment in the life of a hockey player. And that’s as important a factor as a tournament trophy. Myself, my team, my players and my parents still talk about the truly wonderful experience we had at many Big Nickel tournaments. I would expect that to remain true today. From all reports, the club were ultra-competitive and more than fit together.

Five for 6 (one smash) for 60 yards in the final 44 seconds for a comeback win. Tell me how Mr. Brady is doing!

Later skater