SUMMERSIDE – Sports tops the listing of four history circles to be hosted by the Summerside and Area Historical Society this summer.
© Mike Carson/Journal Pioneer
George Dalton, co-ordinator of the Summerside and Area Historical Society history circles, works at a typewriter once used by Journal Pioneer sports columnists John ‘The Realm’ McNeill. The ‘Realm’ will be the topic of one of four history circles scheduled for this summer at the Summerside legion.
Co-ordinator George Dalton said the society went to the public to get feedback on what they would like to see and settled on four topics.
“A lot of it were topics we did last year like baseball stars of the past,” Dalton said. “The most popular was Summerside nicknames. That went over real well. They wanted us to do that again this summer but we thought we’d give it a break.”
Overwhelming support came for a second history circle on former Journal Pioneer sports columnist John ‘The Realm’ McNeill.
“The John ‘The Realm’ McNeill collection and stories were so well received here lately, that there are numerous requests to do this again because of his story and the people that admired him,” Dalton said. “So, we’re going to do another session on that. That’s good for the people who are visiting here who haven’t had the chance to hear this.”
The next one was ladies softball.
“Softball was a great sport for the women but never really got the attention in history and how good it was,” Dalton said. “There are going to be people there who were on the teams in the early ’50s. In the mid-to late ’50s Wanda Chappell rose to the occasion. She was a great pitcher and one of the best players. She was the one who brought all of the ladies out, got them playing and she was so well respected.
“We wanted to do this one last summer but she wasn’t well enough at the time. We wanted to pay tribute to her while she was living, but she passed away.”
Dalton said they spread the word about doing a ladies softball history circle and got positive responses from across the Island.
“It was big and there were a few ladies that were stars on those teams who came from the (CFB Summerside) base,” he said. “So, we had a combination of military personnel and the town. It’s quite a story. “Marcia Whalen, from town, will be the co-host. She’s rounding up all of the ladies. Now that it’s happening there’s a lot of interest.”
Fifty years ago, the legion sponsored a Maritime Junior A hockey team who won the Maritime hockey championship and the team went play in the Montreal Forum but had some problems winning games.
“A few years ago, somebody had a program of that tournament,” Dalton said. “We didn’t know why we got beat so bad in a few games until we found out that the coach of the other team was Scotty Bowman and we discovered that there were 10 players on that team that went to the NHL.”
The society will hold another boys of summer baseball history circle.
“Last year we did the great Curran and Briggs teams and this year we’re doing guys that are our age and those are always very popular,” Dalton said. “It’s what I call the golden era of baseball at that time. Hank Landry is still living and he coached all of us. So, we’re going to bring Hank out as one of the topics. There’s a big buzz about this.”
The John ‘The Realm’ McNeill history circle will take place on July 28; the ladies softball circle on Aug. 11; the Summerside Legionnaires Maritime Hockey team on Aug. 18; and the boys of summer ’50s and ’60s on Aug. 25.
The history circles will be held in the Summerside legion from 10 a.m. to noon.