“All things must pass
None of life’s strings can last
So I must be on my way
And face another day”
George Harrison’s lyrics, while a little dramatic, sum up how I feel with my collection moving to a new home. The Museum of History in Ottawa has taken over a large portion of Maple Leaf artifacts I’ve accumulated the last 50+ plus years, thus its only fitting I offer my own personal eulogy.
We knew the day would come when our succession plan would be executed; kids moving on, retirement, travel and burden of a big house with only two people. We also knew the collection needed a new home and not subject to boxes and storage lockers. Deb and I started the long road 4 years ago and had many discussions with the Leafs, HHOF and a number of corporations. There was talk of a traveling exhibit, permanent home in its own site or even a restaurant. A few real estate agents approached about buying the whole house lock stock and Maple Leaf game used sticks, but wasn’t something that interested us.
A representative of the Canadian museum in Ottawa contacted us a few years ago and wanted to know if they could borrow a Beatles poster we own for an exhibit planned in 2018. Deb followed up (as she does on all requests) and there was some validity to the request, however about a month later another inquiry came about borrowing pieces for a Hockey exhibit in Ottawa, 2017.
We looked at each other and shrugged in bewilderment thinking it was just another strange inquiry we receive on a regular basis. Another email followed a few days later and completing her due diligence Deb thought this may have some credibility, so we invited the curator over to discuss lending a few pieces for the exhibit. When the curator arrived and walked down the steps to “The Room”, to say she was overwhelmed would be an understatement. It’s a look we have seen hundreds of times and never tire of seeing.
The immediate reaction was that they’d like more than a few pieces for the exhibit. As the curator continued touring the Room she questioned what we would do with this one day. We explained we were planning a succession plan and mentioned a few of the establishments we’d spoken too. She casually said, “How about us?”
A few days later we were contacted by The Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa who invited us to the Nations capital to discuss the possibilities of working together. After touring some of the other museums, we had an escorted tour of the archives, preservation facilities, followed by a lunch with the whole team. Needless to say, Deb and I came away very impressed. They stressed the fact I would be an integral part with the project, a permanent display, naming rights and there’d be on going purchases in the future, keeping me more engaged. It’s exactly what I was looking for because my life’s work assembling this historical tribute to the Toronto Maple Leafs should be preserved forever and for all Canadians to have the right to see.
It was an onerous and stressful process dealing with groups of appraisers as every item has to have a Canadian comparative and as you know, most of my items are one of a kind so the challenge was coming to a fair price. Where we were in total disagreement we held back, so hundreds of significant pieces are still in our possession and back in place in the Room.
The final move took place a month ago and to say that was a dark day in the house would definitely be an understatement. Realty set in the next morning when I struck up the courage to make my way down the stairs to look at the blank walls.
I will admit I sat for what seemed ages wondering what I’d just done and if I drove fast, maybe I could head the truck off before it reached Ottawa and send it back.
Realization set in, and I know I’d made the right decision and hopefully millions of Canadians in the future will observe and enjoy the collection in its new home.
My real dream is that some corporation will come forward and create a permanent display that focuses strictly on the game from the Canadian perspective. The HHOF cover the game internationally and does a wonderful job, but there is room for our own museum. Hockey in Canada is not just the pro teams but women’s, the coloured league, sledge, amateur and grassroots to highlight a few topics that should be uncovered.
If Scotiabank can spend $800 million for naming rights to an Arena, why can’t a Canadian Institution spend a nominal amount to preserve our National heritage that defines us as a nation?