Pardon me for presenting a few pointless facts. I lived in New Glasgow for the first 30 years, 10 months and 14 days of my life. On the same street, in the same house. My first 10 years with The Chronicle Herald were based in a bedroom-turned-office, with a typewriter and teletype, at the same address.
Anyway, I’ve always considered myself a Pictou County native, not a New Glasgow native. A Pictonian, not a New Glaswegian or whatever it is you’re called for being a New Glasgow resident. Now 49 years away from the county, I still tell people I came from Pictou County.
In my mind, through my growing-up days and the first decade with the provincial paper, there really were no borders. Yes, there were five towns and a municipality but, to me, they were one community. I guess that’s why, with amalgamation being discussed — yes, way back in the 1960s — I was solidly in favour. But that’s another story.
If something was good for New Glasgow, I was in favour of it. If it was something positive for Stellarton, I liked it. It was the same in regards to Westville, the Town of Pictou, and the municipality.
Right now, Trenton gets my attention.
I never spent an overnight in the Steeltown. As far as I can remember, I never ate there except for special occasions. But I saw lots of softball games at that great field in the north end. I was inside the steel works and car works several times, with visiting dignitaries like prime ministers. I even preached a number of sermons in Trenton when I was a licensed lay reader in the Anglican faith.
I had family attachments to the town, too.
Long, long ago, in the 1870s, my great-grandfather Graham Fraser formed a partnership with George Forrest McKay and they began the Canadian steel industry right there in Trenton. As a result, I had a very early interest in the local plants.
Jump ahead to the mid-1950s, when I started writing sports for the New Glasgow News while still in high school, and I had three summers covering the great softball era of the Trenton Scotias. It allowed me to spend countless evenings and weekends at the very heart of softball in the province. There were the rival Aces, as well.
Later on, I covered some very fine Trenton Scotias junior hockey clubs and, when the franchise had a short stay in the senior APC Hockey League — when the mainstays became too old for junior — I was watching from the press boxes in New Glasgow and Stellarton.
Through those years, friendships began with a lot of Trenton sports people — many of whom grew up in the town, others who came from Hillside, north end New Glasgow and beyond. Donnie and Dempie Murray, Barry and Brian Semple, Jim MacNeil, Ralph Cameron, Rab MacDonald, Scow Vincent, Doug Brown, Ike Murray and Eddie Purvis were among them.
Yes, I’ve had reasons to like Trenton.
And so it was, when I read a recent story in The Advocate that there was to be a Trenton entry in the national Kraft Hockeyville competition, I was delighted.
Trenton, I’d say, would be an ideal location for the event that’s sponsored by Kraft Foods, the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association. A small town with a big love for anything sports. Much like last year’s winner – O’Leary, P.E.I.
I found it even more interesting to learn that the local effort — geared to support the Trenton Minor Sports Community Centre — was being spearheaded by a high school student, Kennedy Tupper. What a fine project for the young lady.
A student at North Nova Education Centre, she used last year’s winner as an example of how the grand prize of $250,000 would be a gigantic boost to a community, to a facility like the one in Trenton.
Back in my county days, hockey players and skaters from Trenton had to travel to the Stadium in New Glasgow’s south end to participate in on-ice activities.
A ceremony I covered late in my Pictou County days was the official opening of the Trenton Steeltown Centennial Park. What a great day that was for the community. Two ball fields, a tennis court, a skateboard park and a youth centre were among the additions to the area.
You don’t have to be from Trenton or the county to be impressed with the way the town has survived the loss of its biggest employers.
Despite the closure of the steel works, car works and related facilities, despite a population that has dipped to the 2,500 level from a high of about 3,200 in the 1950s, there are plenty of things that keep residents positive.
Maybe there’s a connection between the number of sports-minded people who have given municipal leadership — people like Eddie Purvis, Billy Dee and Barry Trenholm — and the necessary components that make a town a good place in which to live.
For instance, when the time arrived in the 1970s to build an arena in the community, among the founders were Ralph Cameron, Doug Brown, Charlie Fergus and Dempie Murray, who had all been familiar faces in the sports realm.
Once land was available for a rink in late 1971, it was amazing how quickly things took place. Within a year, Trenton had its rink. By 1975, the facility was turned over to the town — debt free.
There have been some major additions and renovations to the arena since it opened — a must with all aging rinks in our communities — but the actual story remains a positive one.
As for Trenton’s bid to become Hockeyville, the odds may be against winning, especially since the last successful location was in the Maritimes. However, the effort is definitely worth supporting.
Trenton, in my opinion, is the perfect kind of community Hockeyville was created to help.