Alberta Sports Hall of Fame celebrates six decades with new inductions and exhibits

Former NHL player Ryan Smyth is among 12 new inductees

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in Red Deer is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year with 12 new inductees and special exhibits.

Former Edmonton Oiler Ryan Smyth is among the athletic inductees. Smyth, who retired from the NHL after 19 seasons in 2014, was excited about the “flattering” recognition. The former player, whose parents live in Red Deer, stated that becoming an Alberta sports hall-of-famer “is a thrill and an honour.”

Usually only 10 people at a time get inducted to the sports hall, near Heritage Ranch. But the museum’s managing director Donna Hateley said “they had a hard time deciding this year, so we decided because of our 60th anniversary to include an additional two.”

One consideration is that many former athletes are getting up in years — including 91-year-old inductee Betty Carveth Dunn, who played in 1945 with All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which is showcased in the film A League of their Own.

Dunn, who’s receiving the museum’s Pioneer Award, will be one of the oldest inductees in the sports hall at a banquet and ceremony held on May 26 at Red Deer’s Sheraton Hotel.

Two inductees are being recognized posthumously: the late Herbert McLachlin, founder of the Edmonton Baseball Officials Association, and Hans Maciej, a tennis player, official and volunteer from Calgary. Hateley said Maciej was still in hospice when he was told about the honour, but died shortly after voicing his pleasure at the recognition.

The others are: National boxing champ Rick Duff of Lethbridge, Olympic medalist swimmer Keltie Duggan of Calgary, former Baseball Alberta president Doug Jones of Oyen, World Cup-winning alpine skier John Kucera of Calgary, golf champ Marilyn Palmer O’Connor of Calgary, squash athlete, coach and volunteer Sharon Trenaman, and St. Albert Gazette sports reporter Jeff Hansen, who will receive the Bell Memorial Award.

There’s also a team inductee — the undefeated 1984/85 NAIT Ooks men’s hockey team of Edmonton.

When the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame opened in 1957, only seven sports were recognized, compared to the more than 50 different kinds that are now honoured, said Hateley. She noted it took time for various sporting nominations to come forward.

Out of the 70 to 80 nominations made every year, Hateley said usually only 10 inductees are selected, so “it’s a tough decision.”

Special exhibitions are planning throughout this 60th anniversary year at the museum. They include a display that opened Sunday on the four original inductees from 1958: Boxers Charles Cheesman, Wilf Greeves, and Hugh Sloan, and track-and-field athlete George Sutherland.

Also planned for later in 2017 are exhibits on: the 100th anniversary of the National Hockey League; Alberta’s sporting pioneers (in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday); the 50th anniversary of the Canada Winter Games, and the 50th anniversary of wheelchair sports in Alberta.

For more information, or to purchase tickets to the May 26 banquet and induction ceremony, please visit ashfm.ca or call the museum.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com