SPORTS FLASHBACK 1983: Club Sportif salutes sportsmen
Sports Flashback October 5, 1983
During the 1949-50 hockey season, players in La Broquerie vowed that if they won the Carillon Cup, they would build a closed in arena in La Broquerie. They drew a sketch of the proposed building, posted it in the local café and went back to playing hockey.
On a Wednesday in March of 1950, they won the Cup and that Friday bought a timber permit. Early the following week, 10 men with two trucks headed out to a Whitemouth Lake timber stand.
It was that kind of spirit of cooperation and dedication to hard work that saw the early years of the La Broquerie Club Sportif build the first closed in arena outside the City of Winnipeg, in a community of less than 1,000 people.
Many of the players, managers, coaches, fans and volunteers were in La Broquerie, as the Club Sportif saluted its sportsmen at a banquet in their honor.
The event was planned as part of La Broquerie’s centennial celebrations and speakers for the banquet included centennial committee chairman Alfred Laurencelle and current Club Sportif president Roland Gauthier. Oscar Gagnon and Gilles Normandeau were masters of ceremonies for the evening.
Gauthier gave the official welcome for the evening, saying that the banquet had been planned to recognize the people who had founded the Club Sportif and those who had kept it alive for 32 years.
Laurencelle recalled a number of humorous incidents which happened in area hockey games in the early years and concluded his remarks by congratulating the players, coaches and managers for their efforts over the years.
Gerry Tetrault, a player on the first La Broquerie team, recounted some of the happenings during his years with the team. At the outset, he apologized to those in attendance who didn’t speak French. He said he had asked Alfred Mezebroski, and Alfred told him to go ahead and speak French, for his English was so bad no one would understand him anyway.
In the early years of the team, Tetrault said they had only six players most of the time, and when they were playing without spares, nobody complained about not getting enough ice time.
Joe Mireault, also a member of the first hockey team, told the people at the banquet how the arena came into being and recounted the hard work and enjoyment he and other volunteers had in getting the necessary lumber out of the bush.
Most of the hockey players had never been to the bush before, and a miserable storm at the outset almost had them abandoning the project before it began. But, as was the case both on and off the ice, these boys weren’t quitters, and the job got done, he said.
During the six weeks in the bush that first year, 46,000 feet of lumber was cut, sawn and piled.
In late summer, the lumber was hauled to La Broquerie. During the next winter, another 40,000 feet was cut, with the group of volunteers growing from 10 to 16.
Those 86,000 feet of lumber cost the La Broquerie group only the $800 for the timber permit and that was raised by raffling off a car.
In the winter of 1951-52, final arena plans were drawn up by an architect and the Club Sportif borrowed $3,000 to get the actual building underway.
Once the work started, an average of 30 volunteers showed up every day to work as carpenter’s helpers. Even those who had figured the La Broquerie Arena would never be built, were now wishing the group well, and helpers came from outside the parish to pitch in with the construction.
The arena was officially opened by Manitoba Premier D.L. Campbell, January 31, 1953.
Roy Seidler, the Habs’ current coach was the final speaker of the evening, and told the crowd that after hearing about the early years, he felt very much like the new kid on the block.
He thanked the Club Sportif for its support saying it was actually this group that has kept things going in La Broquerie.