Saugeen Shores Winterhawks to recreate 1928 Maple Leaf Port Elgin training camp

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In homage to past players, when COVID-19 pandemic restrictions allow, antsy members of the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks OWAA hockey team will re-create iconic Toronto Maple Leaf pre-season training camps photos taken in Port Elgin in 1928.

Leafs owner Conn Smythe seconded Joe Coyne from the Royal Canadian Regiment to run a military-style pre-season training in 1928 that included calisthenics, beach runs, doubles tennis, quoits, golfing and fishing. It apparently worked as the Leafs made the playoffs that season, ending a three-year postseason drought, and returned to Port Elgin the following fall for another training camp.

In his book “Puckstruck: Distracted, Delighted and Distressed: Canada’s Hockey Obsession”, Toronto writer Stephen Smith recounts how “Port Elgin turned out en masse with a welcome,” for the team in 1928.
Smith wrote that Toronto newspapers called the team’s October trip to the Lake Huron shoreline a “sojourn” and a “stiff outdoor training grind.” He wrote that the 12-man team barely had time to check in at the Lakeview Inn before dinner that night, “a big do with all the town’s leading (male) businessmen in attendance.”

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Winterhawks director Jordan MacKinnon said while no games were played last season, Winterhawks did skate weekly at The Plex, passing one of the 1928 Leaf training camp photos hung at Gord’s Pro Shop at the arena.

“Those photos are iconic and not everybody knows they were taken in Port Elgin, so re-creating the photos and then having then and now photos side-by-side would be a fun thing to do,” MacKinnon said in an April 29 telephone interview.

MacKinnon said the ‘Hawks hope to start training camp in September and would like to re-create the photos at that time, but it all depends on pandemic restrictions.

When the pandemic restrictions are eased, current members of the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks plan to re-create this human tower of Toronto Male Leaf players during a 1928 pre-season training camp in Port Elgin. [Hockey Hall of Fame]
When the pandemic restrictions are eased, current members of the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks plan to re-create this human tower of Toronto Male Leaf players during a 1928 pre-season training camp in Port Elgin. [Hockey Hall of Fame]
In 1928, pre-season training camp activities for the Toronto Maple Leafs in Port Elgin included fishing, runs, exercising and tennis.  current members of the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks of the WOAA plan to re-create those iconic photos, hopefully before the season begins this fall. [HOCKEY HALL of FAME]
In 1928, pre-season training camp activities for the Toronto Maple Leafs in Port Elgin included fishing, runs, exercising and tennis.  current members of the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks of the WOAA plan to re-create those iconic photos, hopefully before the season begins this fall. [HOCKEY HALL of FAME]

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