Hockey museum receives Wayne Gretzky memorabilia

·4 min read

Renfrew – The NHA/NHL hockey museum may be small compared to the Hockey Hall of Fame, but it shares a big part of Canadian hockey history following the donation of an original 1984 Canada Cup poster signed by Wayne Gretzky.

The donation was made to honour the memory of (David Edward) Ted Gretzky by his sister, Cathy Gretzky, who both happen to be first cousins of the legendary hockey icon many consider to be the greatest hockey player of all time.

Similar to their legendary cousin, both the late Ted Gretzky and Cathy were born and raised in Brantford and both eventually made their way to the Ottawa Valley with Ted residing in Quadeville and Cathy settling just outside of Renfrew for the past 32 years.

When making the presentation to museum curator Bonnie Hastings and museum board member Bob Barker, Ms. Gretzky said the memorabilia was one of her late brother’s collectables he had on display in his Quadeville restaurant, aptly named Gretzky’s Restaurant. Her brother owned and operated the busy eatery in the late 1980s through to 2000 before he eventually sold it to pursue his passion of whitewater canoeing along the Madawaska River.

When he passed away last December, she faced the daunting task of going through his personal belongings and came across the vintage poster.

“My brother, Ted opened Gretzky’s Restaurant and he used the Edmonton Oilers logo as part of his marketing,” she said. “But he was always a little leery of using the Oilers logo over concern of possible copyright issues. Just after he opened Wayne was going through the area and he stopped in to see the restaurant that had the family name.

“My brother was thrilled he stopped in and asked him about the Oilers logo. Wayne had no problem signing the poster and it read “To Ted: Good luck with your canoeing. Wayne Gretzky 99.” That was Wayne’s way of saying it was okay to use the logo. With that, Ted went on to operate the restaurant until he decided he had enough of the business and followed his heart and dedicated his time to whitewater."

Along with owning the restaurant, his skills as a whitewater guide led him to his role as Safety Coordinator for the fledgling Boundless Adventures where he eventually became the Risk Manager. There he oversaw an ambitious and sprawling outdoor adventure program and trained generations of staff (who, under Ted’s tutelage, would go on to become some of the best paddlers and outdoor professionals in the country).

He was also the fire chief in Brudenell and Lyndoch Township from its inception, and later Raglan Township after amalgamation. He and some fellow volunteers created the amalgamated volunteer fire department for BLR and saw it grow from the three equipment sheds to four fire halls with pumpers, tankers, extrication equipment, water and ice rescue and First Responder training.

Ms. Gretzky was not sure what to do with the poster until she happened to be in Finnigan’s Roadhouse in Renfrew when the owner, Beatty Gould, said he loved it and suggested she contact the museum to see if there was any interest. When Mr. Barker heard of the poster, he immediately arranged to meet her for a formal presentation.

“I can’t tell you how thrilled we are to receive this poster from Cathy,” he said. “We depend on donations like this to make our hockey museum one of the most unique museums dedicated to hockey and our collection tells the history of hockey from a local point of view. Over the last number of years we have had many visitors tell us this is one of the most interesting collection of hockey memorabilia they have seen.”

Ms. Gretzky said it was interesting growing up in Brantford and bearing the family name that was not only associated with the incredible talents displayed by Wayne, but her Uncle Walter also who is heralded in Canadian hockey as being one-of-a-kind in terms combining his coaching skills with his wisdom and patience to spend countless hours with Wayne on the family rink.

“My father (Edmond), who also passed away in March last year, was my Uncle Walter’s brother and he was proud not only of Ted’s accomplishments but those of Wayne and all of us who were part of his family.”

Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader