That will be the case over the next three days as the first half of the exchange takes place in central P.E.I. Kensington will make the return trip to Quebec in late February. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the exchange.
The event began when the late Eric Jessome, then manager of the Community Gardens; the late Rayburn Orr, who was manager of Seabrook Farms in Bedford, and the late Alex Chessman, who was manager of Seabrook Farms in Kensington, organized the first exchange between the two communities.
Discussions between the three men began late in the summer of 1968, and the exchange was soon born. One of the priorities of the exchange is to allow the young hockey players and their families to learn a different culture and develop long-lasting friendships as the players are billeted with a member of the other team during each half of the exchange.
The Bedford contingent is expected to arrive at the Royal Canadian Legion in Kensington on Friday afternoon. One of the many neat things about this exchange is not only are the players billeted, but the fact there sometimes can be a language barrier that still doesn’t stop the youngsters from communicating.
The Kensington players will be introduced to their billets upon Bedford’s arrival, and a welcome supper will take place at the Legion at 6 p.m.
One of the many traditions of the exchange is the oldtimers breakfast at the Legion on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. This is followed by the always-popular initiation, where first-time parents are welcomed into the exchange by having to perform a variety of tasks.
The players will go tobogganing at Roberts in Clinton on Saturday afternoon, and then the scene shifts to Community Gardens. The opening ceremonies will take place at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Kensington-Bedford peewee game at 7 p.m.
With this being an anniversary year, an alumni game will follow the peewee contest at 8 p.m.
“Since the 10th year anniversary of the exchange, there has been an alumni game every five years,” noted a media release. “The alumni game will feature some of the players that played 45 years ago.
“So you get to see this year’s peewees and the alumni game for free on the same evening. It will be a great way to spend an evening reminiscing with our Quebec friends, and even friends here at home that have participated in the exchange over the years.”
A pizza party will be held for the players at the Legion at 8:30, and there will be entertainment at the Kensington Club for parents starting at 9 p.m.
Sunday, a billets game will take place at the Gardens at 2:10 p.m., and the medal presentations are scheduled for 3:20 p.m. The closing dinner is slated for the Legion at 7 p.m., and entertainment and a dance follow at the Kensington Club at 9 p.m.
The Bedford contingent will depart from Community Gardens on Monday at 7:30 a.m.