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Kenn Oliver
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HNL finishes off 75th anniversary year with special executive meeting

Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador president Gerry Evans (seated) refers to his notes as he speaks during a special meeting of the HNL executive in St. John's on Monday. The meeting was held in the same office that saw the formation of the Newfoundland Amateur Hockey Association (as HNL was originally called) on Dec. 20, 1935. Looking on (standing, from left) are Derek Green, Chief Justice of the Newfoundland Supreme Court; former Chief Justice Clyde Wells; Bill Noseworthy, chairman of HNL's senior division; and HNL vice-president of hockey operations Murray Roberts. Seventy-five years ago, the office was occupied by Robert Furlong, then a lawyer and later the province's Chief Justice, who became the hockey association's first president. Today, the office is used by Wells.

Don Johnson, honorary Chairman for Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador’s 75th anniversary celebrations, says “we have never forgotten who our founding fathers were.”

So it’s fitting that for its final intitative of the anniversary year, HNL paid tribute to the men who founded the Newfoundland Amateur Hockey Association (as the HNL was originally known) by holding a special officer’s meeting Monday — 75 years to the day — in the very room where the association was formed.

On Dec. 20, 1935, 315 Duckworth Street in St. John’s held the offices of Robert S. Furlong, a St. John’s lawyer who  invited several prominent individuals from across the island.

Earlier in the year, the very first Herder Memorial Trophy championship series had been held between the Guards and Corner Brook, and all  those who gathered in Furlong’s office shared a common interest in seeing the Herder trophy continue as the top prize for senior hockey in Newfoundland. However, the meeting went further

Furlong, who later became Chief Justice of Newfoundland from 1959 to 1979, was elected as the first president and served for  17 years, a term that stands as the longest in the body’s history (Claude Anstey served for 16 years from 1970 to 1986).

The rest of the executive of the day included vice-president Ronald Taafe of Corner — who was not able to attend the St. John’s meeting, but was represented by Ronald Martin, also of Corner Brook; secretary Arthur Johnson; chairman of the St. John’s Branch Gordon Halley, and the Honorable Justice W.J. Higgins, Ralph Herder and Edgar Ewing. The latter four  served on the associations’ first appeals committee.

To this day, the only record of the meeting is in the form of a local newspaper article, signed by Arthur Johnson with a note reading “for your records.”

“Robert Furlong served hockey like a dog for 17 years, a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland,” contends Johnson, a former NAHA and Hockey Canada president.

“What a statement for a sports governing body.

“I played a part in Newfoundland joining with Hockey Canada, and I think that’s kind of nice, but Furlong could say he started it all.”

Today, the office is that of former Chief Justice Clyde Wells, but for a few minutes Monday afternoon, the current officers conducted a brief meeting there and passed a pair of resolutions to honour the aforementioned men as the founding fathers of the province’s hockey association and all those who have served the NAHA/HNL over the past 75 years.

Organizations: Gordon Halley

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Corner Brook, 315 Duckworth Street Canada

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Recent comments

  • Glen
    December 22, 2010 - 09:13

    I tend to agree with Derrick's assessment. If Don Johnson did less talking about how important he was and concentrated more on walking the walk, he may have some credibility.

  • bill
    December 21, 2010 - 10:08

    nice to see but seeing Gerry Evans as President. No wonder the way hockey is run in NL is for the birds.

  • Derrick
    December 21, 2010 - 08:02

    If Don Johnson is half as important as he thinks he is, we should be blessed. However, I don't think he was ever relevant and we should all be grateful that the old boys club, including DJ, is over. Hockey is much better off!

    • Vinnie
      December 21, 2010 - 20:31

      Wow, how ignorant you are.........if you only knew half the things Don has done for hockey not only in this province, but in Canada, you might think twice about your comments. You sound a little bitter........