How it all began…
Why is it that so often a newcomer to a community can see a need for something in their adopted town or city that long-time residents completely overlook?
That was exactly the case right here in Peterborough in 1976 when a former police officer from Toronto decided to come to our fair city and establish a private business.
This entrepreneur, Jack Carpenter, early on became involved in many community endeavours. Sports in general, and lacrosse in particular, really caught Jack’s attention. The Gray Munro Junior “A” lacrosse club at the time was in the midst of establishing a dynasty which regularly flattened all opposition.
In 1977, Jack felt that Peterborough should start honouring some of its lacrosse heroes of the past by saluting them individually at annual banquets. The inaugural 1977 dinner, held at the Red Oak Inn, toasted Lloyd “Moon” Wootton, arguably one of lacrosse’s finest goaltenders. In 1978, the second dinner, again organized by Jack and his committee, recognized Lou Nickle who starred in both lacrosse and football.
In 1978, after a three year absence, Senior “A” lacrosse had returned to Peterborough. The Red Oak Inn sponsored the team and Jack assembled a hard-working, knowledgeable executive. Late that summer in front of over five thousand fans in the Memorial Centre, the Red Oaks won the Mann Cup. A year-end victory dinner was held at the Red Oak Inn. It was at that dinner where the Sports Hall of Fame had its genesis.
During the summer, Master of Ceremonies S. McBride Sr., who for years had championed the cause of officially naming Peterborough the “lacrosse capital of Canada”, mentioned the fact that we in this city should establish a local lacrosse hall of fame.
Immediately, executive member Bob Delpellaro jumped to his feet and shouted to everyone in attendance that we should be thinking even bigger. “Let’s start a sports hall of fame!” Many at the dinner nodded in agreement and that appeared to be the end of the idea to everybody except for one person – Jack Carpenter.
Within weeks, Jack called a meeting of some of the lacrosse club executive and a plan for Bob Delpellaro’s earlier suggestion started to come together. Constitutions from other Ontario community sports halls of fame were poured over, the city gave its blessing to proceed, committees were established and the executive was fine tuned for the uncharted, arduous work that lay ahead. Although still in its infancy at this point, one could now metaphorically say that Jack’s baby was up and running!
The members of the original committee who, twenty-five years ago, established the Peterborough & District Sports Hall of Fame and the annual dinners were: Jack Carpenter (founder and first chairman), Gerry O’Connor (city council appointee), Paul Epping, Mollie Cartmell, Bobby Allan and Bob Delpellaro.