It was 1949 when Glen Nelson, a farm kid from Bentley, got the letter of his young hockey-playing life.
At the time, he couldn’t have known the historic significance it would have decades later.
Pearl Nelson, 83, always knew about the time her high school sweetheart had been invited to preliminary training camp by Art Ross. Yes, that Art Ross — the one who donated the coveted trophy that is given each year to the National Hockey League player with the most points.
A Hockey Hall of Famer, he coached his Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup win over the Maple Leafs in the 1938-39 season.
It was only recently, when Pearl was going through her husband Glen’s papers, that she came across the letter that had been tucked away, inviting the 18-year-old to camp in Sudbury, Ont.
Glen had been scouted by Eddie Wiseman, a hockey scout who had played with the Bruins.
Ross, who was vice-president and general manager of the Boston Bruins at the time, wrote the short letter on Aug. 11, 1949, asking the aspiring right-winger to bring his skates and be there by Sept. 5.
“You will receive transportation and expense money in good time in order that you will reach Sudbury on the 4th.” The letter was signed “Yours very truly, Art Ross”.
Pearl had the letter framed recently after Glen passed away earlier this year at age 84.
The letterhead on the letter reads “Boston Professional Hockey Association” and lists the six original and only teams in the NHL then — the Bruins, Blackhawks, Red Wings, Canadiens, Rangers and Maple Leafs.
As well, there’s a picture on it of a giant growling, ears-back bruin with its front paws on top of an arena.
Glen did go to Sudbury, but never made it to the NHL. He signed and played two years with the Junior A Western Canadian Bellevue Lions, which later became the Crow’s Nest Pass Lions.
He then came back to Central Alberta and played for the Red Deer Monarchs for three years, travelling back and forth to Red Deer from the farm near Bentley. He also played hockey with the local Bentley senior team and with a Bentley-Rimbey team called the Bent Rims, a name that Pearl still chuckles about.
An Oilers and Red Deer Rebels fan, Glen coached minor hockey for years.
Pearl has now given the framed letter to a grandson in Calgary who has a keen interest in hockey.