Springwater Sports Heritage

Founding Benefactor: The McGuire Trust

HOCKEY IN MINESING WHEN FRANK FOYSTON WAS YOUNG

HOCKEY IN MINESING WHEN FRANK WAS YOUNG
(excerpted/condensed from ‘A History of Vespra Township’)

‘We didn’t have any ice in the schoolyard so we’d get out and tramp down the snow, an area about the size of a couple of houses, and make a hard surface to play on. There was no limit to the number of players – every boy wanted to play and you just had to take them all in, so there might be 20 guys on each side.

We didn’t have any trouble getting pucks – we’d go to the bush and get a tree about the same diameter as a rubber puck. We’d saw pieces about an inch-and-a-half thick, half a dozen of them so we’d have spares as we lost them.

At school, we just played in our regular clothes. As we got into games with the senior Minesing teams, we’d have to buy our own sweaters and pants and socks, but if you hadn’t a lot of money, you’d use magazines for shin guards and mostly, we didn’t have knee pads or shoulder pads. We bought ash hockey sticks for 25 or 50 cents – they were quite durable but we always taped them to prolong their life. And I believe our skates were CCMs, but they weren’t tube skates. Tube skates came into being about 1910, I believe.’

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‘Frank was a born hockey player – rugged, fast, with a wrist shot and a great desire to win. Once, when the old basket factory was still operating in Minesing, the boys who were employed there formed a team they called ‘The Business Men’ and they challenged ‘The Farmers’ to a game in the Princess Rink. A local businessman bet Frank 50 cents he couldn’t score ten goals. He scored eighteen!’

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‘Frank started playing with the old Minesing ‘Green Shirts’ when he was 15 or 16 years old and never turned back. Minesing played against the various small town teams. Minesing and Elmvale were always arch rivals and there were lots of rough battles in those old hockey rinks. The spectators stood along the sides, two or three deep, and many a player was grabbed or slugged by some irate fan. Then the fights began!

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Oliver Cameron, who was connected with the Barrie hockey club, spotted Frank in one of the local games and had him go in for a tryout with Johnny Dyment’s ‘Colts’.’
There were no cars in those days and he had to drive the horse and cutter to Barrie twice a week in all kinds of weather to practice. He’d unhitch the horse at the livery barn and often when he returned, the cutter would be half filled with snow on a stormy night. He’d shake the snow off the robes and take an hour or an hour and a half to drive the ten miles home.

I recall one time the Colts were scheduled to play an important game in Newmarket. It was very stormy and the roads were almost impassable, but Johnny phoned out to tell Dad he’d give him five dollars for the use of the horse if he’d allow Frank to drive it into Barrie. They took a special train on the Grand Trunk down to the game and it was held up with huge drifts on the tracks on the return trip. Frank didn’t get back home to the farm until 6 o’clock the next morning, but Johnny Dyment sent the five bucks with him. That was quite a lot of loot in those days for the use of a horse!’

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The Princess Rink, built in Minesing in 1902, was a closed rink. The ice surface was 40 feet X 100 feet, with a 20-foot extension at the front to put your skates on and watch hockey games. The first lighting I remember was coal oil lamps, then gasoline lamps and Coleman lamps – lots of guys got hit in the face with the puck because there wasn’t adequate lighting in those days.

There were 40-foot pine beams running the entire length of the ice, and many a goaltender could score by lifting the puck over the beams from one end of the rink to the other – you couldn’t see it coming!

We didn’t have nets when I started to play, just two wooden posts stuck into the ice with iron pegs. The goal umpire stood right on the ice behind the goalkeeper. It was a dangerous spot and as the players became better shooters they had to have some protection for the umpires, so they introduced nets. Some rinks used chicken wire but it wasn’t strong enough and we’d shoot the puck right through it at times.

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One thought on “HOCKEY IN MINESING WHEN FRANK FOYSTON WAS YOUNG

  1. What a great story! It really shows how easy we had it as kids when compared to “back in the day”. Thanks for sharing that with us!

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