Scotiabank Kroppy Cup A Sell Out!

The Local Organizing Committee for Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada is pleased to announce the Kroppy Cup presented by Scotiabank Memorial Pond Hockey Tournament is now full. Twelve teams have registered to compete for the Scotiabank Kroppy Cup, with the final team registration received last Wednesday.

Dean Caron, Pond Hockey Coordinator, says “I am thrilled the tournament has filled up and I can’t wait for the big day.” Preparations of the pond hockey rinks will continue and Dean thanks the volunteers and the City of Kenora staff for the work done so far.

On Saturday February 18, the round robin will begin at 8:00 a.m. on Golf Course Bay. All three divisions will play at various times throughout the day. Everyone is encouraged to come out to watch the Youth Division (PeeWee and Bantam), Open Division (Midget) and the Old-timers. Cheer on our local hockey players as the pond hockey tradition is renewed on Lake of the Woods.

The final games, which will be featured during Rogers Sportsnet national broadcast of Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada, will start at 2:00 p.m. at the Kenora Harbourfront on Safety Bay.

The official pond hockey tournament schedule can be found on the City’s website, www.kenora.ca/hockeyday.

Media Contact
Dean Caron
Pond Hockey Coordinator
807-548-3098
dean.caron@fpinnovations.ca

Kerri Holder, Communications Clerk
807-467-2191 kholder@kenora.ca www.kenora.ca

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Big in Japan: The story of the 1954 Kenora Thistles

Many know the story of how Kenora won the Stanley Cup in 1907, but few know about the time the town became international hockey ambassadors and helped grow the game in Japan.

In 1954, Kenora’s intermediate team, the Thistles, traveled to the land of the rising sun to represent Canada in a 10-game goodwill hockey tour. But the story begins back in the 1952–53 season.

Led by the four Robertson brothers — Ken (“Sugar”), Donald (“Spike”), Sam and Murray — the Thistles had established themselves throughout the campaign as a thorny adversary for opponents in the local intermediate league. Kenora finished atop the league standings at the end of the regular season, then went on to win districts, regionals and finally the national title in six games versus Alberta’s Ponoka Stampeders.

They returned home to a hero’s welcome and were honoured with a celebratory banquet a few days later. But just when it seemed as though the Thistles’ unforgettable season couldn’t be topped, they received a surprise invitation.

Leading up to August 1953, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) had been in talks with the Japanese Skating Association about sending a Canadian delegate to Japan for a hockey tour in 1954. It just so happened that, on the heels of their national championship, the Thistles were nominated for the honour.

Thanks to some local and national fundraising — partly to offset the cost of two months’ worth of lost wages for the members of the team — the team set off for Vancouver by train in late winter, 1954. From there they piled into a ship, the Hikaka-Maru, and charted a course for Japan.

The voyage was rough at times, and some players never quite found their sea legs.

“We were bouncing around the north Pacific like you wouldn’t believe,” says Ken “Sugar” Robertson, who will be turning 90 years old this July.

To keep themselves occupied and active, the Thistles did laps around the decks, jumped rope and played ping pong. Finally, after nearly three weeks at sea, the team arrived at Yokohama on March 21.

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When the Kenora Thistles owned the Stanley Cup

Kenora has a rich hockey history. While the small community in northwestern Ontario is currently home to just over 15,000 people, it lays claim to something that has escaped the grasp of many large-market NHL cities: the Stanley Cup.

Back in 1907, the Kenora Thistles enshrined themselves into hockey lore by defeating the Montreal Wanderers in a challenge series for Lord Stanley’s chalice. At the time of the victory, the lumber-and-mining town had a population just north of 5,000, making it the smallest community ever to win the trophy.

The roots of hockey in Kenora can be traced back to the late nineteenth century when it was still known as Rat Portage. The town’s first team, the Thistles, started playing in 1894 and competed in the Manitoba Hockey Association. Within a few years, the Thistles had garnered a loyal following. So much so that the team brokered an arrangement with the Canadian Pacific Railway so that fans could travel for games of note in Winnipeg at a discounted rate.

By 1903, the Thistles had arrived in the senior division of the Manitoba and Northwestern Hockey Association (MNHA), and made an impact in their inaugural season there by winning the league championship. While regional bragging rights were nothing to scoff at back in the day, the title also gave them the opportunity to issue a challenge for the Stanley Cup.

Back then — in a period from 1893 to 1914 known as the Challenge Era — the Stanley Cup was contested among the champions of Canada’s amateur hockey leagues. Making it more interesting was that prior to 1912, teams could throw down the gauntlet at any point in the season, sometimes more than once. For example, in 1908 alone, the Montreal Wanderers successfully defend the Cup five times.

After briefly basking in their league championship in 1903, the Thistles boarded a train eastward to take on the then-Stanley Cup champion Ottawa Hockey Club, the top team from the Canadian Amateur Hockey League. Unfortunately, the weather in mid-March proved to be problematic. At the time, rinks still used natural ice and with Rat Portage taking on Ottawa so late in the season, the playing surface was a mess.

But poor ice conditions aside, reports from the Globe suggested that the Thistles were simply outmatched. According to the newspaper, the Thistles “are a big enough team and they skate fast, but they are poor stick-handlers and have absolutely no idea of combination and relied almost entirely on individual play.”

Unsurprisingly, Ottawa ended up keeping the Cup and Rat Portage returned to the Lake of the Woods empty-handed.

The Thistles would get a shot at redemption a couple years later — and once again against Ottawa. Despite starching them 9–3 in the opening game of the series, Rat Portage faltered in the next two games, which meant that the train heading back to northwestern Ontario would not be carrying any special extra cargo.

By the 1905–06 season, the Thistles had a new look to reflect the change from Rat Portage to Kenora. While the name on the sweater may have changed, the team still continued its winning ways. The Thistles racked up another league championship, but because the season ended so late they had to put their Stanley Cup challenge on hold until the following year.

The opportunity finally came in January 1907, when the Thistles found themselves once again heading eastbound, this time to take on the Montreal Wanderers for the coveted trophy. To bolster their chances, the Thistles added two future Hall of Famers to their roster, Joe Hall and Art Ross. While the former never suited up for the series, the latter was an important contributor and driver of offence.

While Kenora had not always encountered the best playing conditions on their previous eastward trips, the weather in Montreal was well suited to the Thistles’ game. On the morning of the first contest, it was 25 degrees below zero, creating the perfect sheet of ice. Kenora’s speed overwhelmed their opponents and they doubled the Wanderers up 4–2.

Now holding the advantage in the series, the Thistles went into the second contest on Jan. 21 with the opportunity to seal the deal. This time they did not disappoint.

Heading into the second half of that game — yes, at this time hockey was not yet played in periods — Kenora was up 5-2. But Montreal fought back to even the score at six-all. With four minutes remaining, however, one of the Wanderers’ best players, “Hod” Stuart, went off for tripping and Kenora made good on the advantage. They scored two more goals to add to the lead, eventually vanquishing their opponents and finally winning the Stanley Cup.

While the players undoubtedly celebrated their victory in earnest, Kenora didn’t get the chance to toast the Thistles’ achievement until nearly a month later when a public reception was held at the Hilliard Opera House. By all accounts it was a grand gathering, with many attending to pay their respects to not only the team, but to the Stanley Cup, which took centre stage at the event.

But the revelry was fleeting. The next month, the Wanderers challenged the Thistles to a rematch. The only problem was that Kenora had not finished its season in the Manitoba Hockey League and still had to take on the Brandon Wheat Cities for the championship. As a result, Stanley Cup trustee William Foran insisted that the Thistles complete their season before defending the trophy against the Wanderers.

Kenora dispatched Brandon in the playoffs on March 18 at Winnipeg Auditorium, then met the Wanderers there five days later so the Stanley Cup challenge could resume. Kenora’s own performed admirably and split the series against Montreal, but fell short on aggregate, handing the Cup back to Montreal.

The Thistles disbanded before the end of the year, but the impact they had on Kenora was enormous. With the exception of Eddie Giroux, Art Ross and Joe Hall, the team consisted entirely of local players, and the significance of a homegrown squad taking home national honours should not be understated. It invigorated a love of the sport that still continues to this day, and you can see it in the form of minor-league hockey and outdoor games on the Lake of the Woods.

While the Thistles’ Stanley Cup victory is now but a footnote in the hockey-history record books, the spirit of that achievement still lives on in Kenora.

Notice to Tax Payers of the City of Kenora

2017 Interim Tax Bills have been sent by mail as of Monday January 16, 2017 for all City of Kenora property owners.

Due date for payment is February 22, 2017.

Payments may be made in person at City Hall, by mail, through your personal telephone banking, on-line banking, or through eService on Kenora.ca.  Please allow 3-5 business days if paying on-line or directly at your financial institution.

Should you require a receipt, please send payment along with the entire bill; do not detach the payment stub.  The name/address portion will be receipted and sent back to you. Please retain your Tax Bill for your records.  The City is no longer offering reprints free of charge.

Late penalty of 1.25% per month will be charged on any outstanding balance following the due date.  Please note that if the tax bill has a previous balance brought forward, those arrears are subject to penalty February 1st, 2017.  This will increase the amount shown as owing on your bill.

If you do not receive your tax bill or have taxation related questions, please contact the Tax Department at 467-2034.

NWBC Starter Company Video Promotion RFP

City of Kenora Request for Proposal (RFP)

Northwest Business Centre Starter Company Video Promotion

The Northwest Business Centre is accepting Proposals of Interest to provide professional video production highlighting the Government of Ontario’s Starter Company program and the success of small businesses located in the Kenora and Rainy River districts. The Northwest Business Centre falls under the Community and Development Services department at the City of Kenora.

Sealed submissions clearly marked “Northwest Business Centre Starter Company Video Promotion” will be received up to but not later than:

11:00 a.m. Thursday, January 26, 2017

After which time they will be publicly opened at the Kenora Council Chambers at 1 Main Street South, Kenora, ON.

Tenders shall be submitted in a sealed envelope clearly marked “Northwest Business Centre Starter Company Video Promotion” and delivered to:

Heather Kasprick, City Clerk
1 Main Street South
Kenora, ON, P9N 3X2

Information or questions regarding the proposal may be obtained by contacting Allyson Pele, Manager of the Northwest Business Centre, at allyson@nwbiz.ca or 807-467-4643.

The lowest or any submission is not necessarily accepted. The City reserves the right to reject any or all bids, to waive irregularities and formalities therein, and to award the proposal in the best interest of the City of Kenora.

All proposals submitted to the City of Kenora become the property of the Municipality and as such are subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Planning Department Looking for Community Input

Calling all Business and Property Owners to Provide Input to Updates and Expansions of the City of Kenora’s Community Improvement Plans

The City of Kenora is excited to announce that we are ringing in the New Year with a new project. We have retained MMM Group Limited, a WSP company, to assist the City in updating and expanding its three existing Community Improvement Programs (CIPs). To provide you some background, a CIP is a tool that allows the City of Kenora to encourage and stimulate economic development and community revitalization through financial incentives. Specifically, the City of Kenora is proposing the following amendments to our current policies:

1. Expand the Former Mill Site Community Improvement geographic area, and include housing incentives within this Community Improvement Plan;
2. Include housing and incremental tax incentives in the Harbourtown Centre CIP; and
3. Expand the eligibility for landscaping grants within the Keewatin CIP over larger geographic area.

A public meeting will be held in late February or early March 2017; notice will be mailed out confirming this date. If you wish to be included in this circulation, or if you have further comments or recommendations, please email Devon McCloskey, City Planner (dmccloskey@kenora.ca, 807-467-2059). It is anticipated that the three revised CIPs will be presented to Council for adoption in March, 2017.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Dated at the City of Kenora this 13th Day of January, 2017. Devon McCloskey, City of Kenora, 60 Fourteenth St. N., Kenora, Ontario P9N 4M9

City of Kenora
Planning Department
60 Fourteenth Street N., 2nd Floor
Kenora, Ontario
P9N 4M9
City Planner: 807-467-2059
Fax 807-467-2246
e-mail:dmccloskey@kenora.ca

City Purchases Mall Property

Kenora, ON – The City of Kenora has reached an agreement with Plaza Retail REIT to purchase just over 2.2 acres of vacant lands on the former Kenora Shoppers Mall property.

This is a strategic piece of property located in the heart of the City that is important to acquire for future use. It is a strategic opportunity to guide the City’s short and long term goals, to build upon the foundations of the Harbourtown Centre, and to support the potential future development within our downtown. In the short term, the City intends to make parking available on this property and plans are underway for the spring to have the property configured for short term and long term parking.

“It is the role of Council to strategically plan for the City to include the priorities and projects that will place Kenora in a stronger position in the future. Council feels this strategic property purchase will place us in a positive position for future planning in the downtown area” states Mayor Dave Canfield.

Plaza’s Chief Operating Officer, Jamie Petrie, added “Plaza is pleased to have concluded this transaction with the City of Kenora. The lands, made up largely of the former Zellers store which was demolished earlier this year, were considered surplus to our shopping centre and this sale provides us with additional capital to continue to invest in the redevelopment of this asset.”

The property purchase is $481,771.88 plus HST and will come from the Future Land Development Reserve Fund.

Heather Kasprick, City Clerk/Communications Lead
807-467-2295
hkasprick@kenora.ca