KENSINGTON – The Eric Jessome Memorial Kensington, P.E.I.-Bedford, Que., Peewee Friendship Hockey Exchange will celebrate its 46th anniversary this weekend.
It is the longest-running exchange of its kind in Canada, as anglophone and francophone peewee-aged players forge friendships while experiencing a different language and culture.
The exchange was the brainchild of Raeburn Orr, a manager of Seabrook Farms (now Cavendish Farms) in Bedford Que., and his P.E.I. counterpart, Alex Chessman.
They both loved the game of hockey, and believed the sport provided common ground for friendships to develop among young hockey players wherever they lived. The success of the tournament has proven them correct.
The Bedford contingent will be arriving on Friday afternoon and welcomed at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 9 in Kensington for a meet-and-greet, sponsored by the Town of Kensington. Players will be matched up with their billets at this time.
Later in the evening, players, parents, organizers and longtime participants and supporters of the exchange will join together for a potluck supper at the Legion, and the Kensington Club will be providing nightly entertainment for parents and past participants of the exchange.
This year’s Kensington Club-Legion team is made up of players from the Kensington Area Minor Hockey Association. Team members play on three different teams –Kensington peewee A, Kensington peewee AA and the East Prince peewee girls – and come together for this special event.
Participants and community members are invited to take part in the senior team breakfast at the Legion on Saturday morning. This is followed by the initiation of first-time adult participants.
The opening ceremonies are scheduled for Community Gardens in Kensington on Saturday at 4:30 p.m., with the two peewee teams playing the first game in the two-game, total-goal series immediately following at 5:15 p.m.
The second game will take place in early March in Bedford.
Following Saturday’s game, the Kensington Wild, which includes alumni of the exchange, has invited this year’s parents and players to attend their game against Miramichi in the New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League. The Wild game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Friendship game Sunday
The friendship game, where billets play on the same team, will be played at the Gardens on Sunday at 2:10 p.m.
Later Sunday evening, the closing dinner, sponsored by the Kensington Club, will be held at the Legion. This is the formal wrap-up event of the weekend.
The host committee, chaired by Barbara Weeks, is anticipating a large turnout of participants, past and present, and community members to the games and various events.
The Bedford contingent departs on Monday morning.
Kensington-Bedford peewee exchange schedule:
Friday, Jan. 24
Mid-afternoon – Bedford arrives and meet-and-greet session at Kensington Legion.
6 p.m. – Welcome dinner at Kensington Legion.
9 p.m. – Community social evening at Kensington Club.
Saturday, Jan. 25
8:30 a.m. – Oldtimers’ breakfast at Kensington Legion.
10:30 a.m. – Initiation at Kensington Legion.
4:30 p.m. – Opening ceremonies at Community Gardens.
5:15 p.m. – 46th anniversary game between Kensington-Bedford peewee teams at Community Gardens.
7:30 p.m. – Kensington Wild major midget game at Community Gardens.
9 p.m. – Adult dance at Kensington Club.
Sunday, Jan. 26
1 p.m. – Family skate at Community Gardens.
2:10 p.m. – Billets friendship game at Community Gardens.
3:30 p.m. – Awards presentations at Community Gardens.
6 p.m. – Closing dinner at Kensington Legion.
9 p.m. – Adult social at Kensington Club.
Monday, Jan. 27
7:30 a.m. – Bedford contingent departs.