A pair of old hockey skates, the leather cracked and worn, were once fit for an Amazon.
The skates belonged to Mildred Pierce, proud member of Red Deer Amazons women’s hockey team are among dozens of artifacts pulled together for the exhibit 100 Years of Sport History in Red Deer by Breanna Mielke, collections and exhibit co-ordinator for the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.
Amazons first laced up their skates for the 1927 season and were the team to beat in the 1933-34 season when they won the Alberta Intermediate Cup, Twin City Cup, and (no kidding) the Coffee Cup.
Officially launched on Saturday, the exhibit will be in place at the hall of fame and museum all year as part of the city’s celebration of its centennial.
“The sporting histories often are something that gets overlooked when you’re doing centennial celebrations,” said Mielke.
To remedy that, a 10-member advisory committee was struck last August to come up with a game plan on how best to showcase the area’s sports history.
The decided to highlight the city’s Olympians, the city as host, school sports, Red Deer College’s Kings and Queens, and community sports.
With space limited, not everything could be included. For instance, for community sports, they focused on swimming, hockey, speedskating, curling and baseball — sports with long histories in the community.
The research and efforts to find artifacts in other sporting areas will not go to waste though.
They will be included in an online form at the soon-to-be-launched website-based program called the The Alberta Sport History Library Project.
“It will then have a more complete and cohesive Red Deer sport history available online so the public, students and academics and everyone can access,” said Mielke.
Exhibits include many interesting glimpses of Red Deer’s athletic and recreational past.
Visitors will learn the city’s first indoor hockey arena was built in 1904.
Not overly well apparently, because the roof collapsed during the 1905-06 season after heavy snowfalls.
Hockey players had to brave the outdoor cold for another 20 years before a new indoor rink was built in 1925.
Another display highlights some of the many sporting events the city has hosted including high-profile draws such as the 1994 Labatt Brier, the 1995 World Junior Hockey Championship and Scotties Tournament of Hearts (twice in 2004 and 2012).
In another interesting footnote, the city hosted the 1965 National Aquatic Championships on the strength of the city having at the time the only Olympic-sized pool between Winnipeg and Vancouver.
The Red Deer College exhibit highlights the 16 national titles and 147 Alberta Athletic Conference team titles the institution has racked up since it was opened in 1964.
Also showcased are the Red Deer Rebels (with a team jersey from the first season in 1992-93 on display), the Red Deer Riggers and Red Deer Stags baseball teams and other local teams of note.
In 1912, Red Deer residents could even take in a professional baseball game.
The Red Deer Eskimos would only last one season, but they went to the Canadian Western Baseball League Finals against the Calgary Broncos that year. They played at the old fairgrounds, which have long since gone, but is remembered into a sepia-toned photo of the grounds from 1912.