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1962 Berwick Tug-of-War Team Nova Scotia Champions

The road to a Tug-of-War championship really began early in 1947, on a Saturday morning when Jim Patterson drove down to P.L Morse's. Interested in strength and conditioning, Jim thought he would like to apply these characteristics to the art of pulling tug-of-war. Morse gave his commitment and what followed was a rigorous schedule of training, practicing twice a week, maintaining jobs, raising families, and participating in a tug-of-war league that would follow the Fall exhibitions of Nova Scotia. Patterson was described as a man who "wanted what he wanted" - things done his way, very dedicated, always the first to practice and a man who practiced what he preached!

The technique of pulling tug-of-war consists, in essence, of reaching the threshold of unconsciousness just at the instance of pulling the opposition over the line. Only a few people were involved in introducing tug-of-war to the Berwick area but, since that introduction, many a man has pulled. Few events in sport offer so ultimate a test of strength, conditioning, teamwork, endurance, and heart-stirring, throat tightening spectacles. Tug-of-war would become a very popular sport. It became the last big event of an Exhibition evening - a huge drawing card that would keep people later and make exhibitions highly successful.

In 1962, all the practicing of pulling barrels of rock and sand on block-and-tackle and of pulling cars uphill paid off in a different way. Provincial exhibitions were just starting, and so were winning pulls for the Berwick team. Four pulls in one week – all victories – one teammate lost 15 pounds that week. With any complaint of a sore back, Patterson would say pulling was good for it.

This team had proven to be a hard line-up of strong men to pull against – seven wins against outstanding teams – one more in Port Williams, two battles in Halifax County, two in Colchester, and finally in Truro where the Berwick team defeated a highly touted Brule team in a tough, tough battle to win the 1962 Provincial Championship.

1962 Berwick Tug-of-War Team
Nova Scotia Provincial Champions

Coach: James Patterson

Buddy Allen
Stan Bezanson
Fred Clarke
Tom Corkum
Earl Fuller
Leon Fuller
Leslie Hutchinson
Stan MacKenzie
Lawrence Morse
Robert Wagstaff

Inducted June 2001

Berwick "Three - Stars" 1933 - 1936 Western Nova Scotia Junior Hockey Champions

In 1933 shortly after the first arena was opened in Berwick . local sports promoter Art Robinson saw the need to develop the talents of a number of gifted local junior hockey players through stronger competition. Soon he had assembled a strong squad of skaters who quickly became a fast-skating and highly competitive team. The Three-Stars featured many players whose names are quite familiar to Berwick residents today — Glen Dakin, Earle and Vic Robinson, Roland Woodworth, Lester and Orley Bligh, John Hiltz — to name but a few. A number of strong intermediate and senior players actually had their competitive start with this junior team including Orlay Bligh, inducted into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame during the first year of selection. The unusual name for the team was derived from the manager Art Robinson's employer — Standard Oil whose topselling product at the time was "Three Star gasoline".

The Three-Stars won the western Nova Scotia hockey championship all four years of their operation but, despite being very competitive, were never able to beat the Halifax or Truro teams whom they always met after the Valley championship. In 1933 the Berwick squad defeated the Halifax Wolverines 2-1 in the second game of the two-game series for the provincial crown but lost the series 4-3. In 1935 after beating Truro 3-1 at Berwick — a game described as being the best ever played in the new arena - the Three- Stars lost the provincial crown again when Truro won the second game and captured the series 8-7. In both series, Lester "Maggie" Bligh, goaltender for Berwick was frequently described as "sensational" and cited for his outstanding play in newspaper accounts of the games. His particular worth became very evident in the 1936 provincial playoffs when a close game with Halifax Canadians turned into a route after goalie Bligh was injured
early in the second period.

Although never provincial champions, the Three-Stars represent a significant step in the evolution of sport in Berwick. Nearly coinciding with the building of the new arena, the Three-Stars was the first team to gather wide fan appeal and enjoy success both on and off the ice. It was also the first managerial and promotion effort of Art Robinson and with this early success, Robinson went on to organize and coordinate nearly two decades of rich and successful sports teams and events in Berwick. The Three-Stars were the foundation of this success.

The 1933 — 36 Berwick Three-Stars

Manager/Coach: Art Robinson
Asst. Coach: W.O. Bligh
Mascot: Earl Robinson

Lester Bligh (33-36)
Robert Hayes(33-34)
Ellis(Bub) Parker(33-34)
Vic Robinson(35-36)
Ron Anderson(36)
Charles Cahill(36)
Harold Morse(35)
Ted Poole(35)
Orlay Bligh(33-35)
John lEltz(33-36)
Ted Parker(34-35)
Ken Salsman(35-36)
Graham Best(35)
Leighton Carey(36)
Charlie Neily(33)
Phillip Spurr(36)
Glen Dakin(33-36)
Bernie LeBlanc(33-36)
Albert Potter(33-36)
Roland Woodworth(33-36)
Paul Blackbum(35)
Charles Cook(34)
Gerald Nichols(33)

Inducted June 2001

1956 - 57 Berwick Apple Kings Nova Scotia and Maritime Junior Hockey Champions

In 1956-57, a group of widely recruited junior hockey players, playing as a
Berwick-based team, accomplished what no other Annapolis Valley junior team had done before — winning the Nova Scotia and Maritime Junior Hockey Championships. Local businessman W.B.(Bill) Wilson and physician Dr. R.A. Moreash, well-known hockey promoters, recruited a team of the best junior hockey players from throughout the Valley and collegiate level to play under the name of the Berwick AppleKings wearing the famous colours of the Boston Bruins. Under the guidance of Coach Gerald White and managers, George Langille and Jack Murphy, the AppleKings proved to be a powerhouse. The AppleKings exhibited a good balance of speed, size, offense and defense and were said in the local press to "display a good brand of hockey". Although Berwick was home base, the AppleKings also played "home games" in a number of other Valley rinks particularly during the run to the championship in order to accommodate more fans.

The path to the eventual Maritime crown began on February 22, 1957 at the
Berwick Arena when the AppleKings so soundly defeated Middleton 29-4 in the first game of a two-game series that Middleton conceded. What turned out to be the toughest series took place next when the AppleKings emerged from a terrific battle with St. Ann's College winning the series 14-11. With a 19 11 total goal series win over the Antigonish Bulldogs, the AppleKings became the Nova Scotia Champions. Winning the Maritime crown was a relatively easier feat when the AppleKings swamped the Saint John Beavers 24-9 in the two-game series. There was an interesting footnote to this final series. After the opening game in Saint John, the Saint John team came to Berwick on the DAR Dayliner and were billeted at the homes of Berwick residents. The Berwick management then provided transportation for both teams to Windsor the next day where the final game was played. Berwick was justly proud of how the town supported the AppleKings and still displayed such sportsmanship in hosting the Saint John boys. As the local newspaper reported: "Becoming the Nova Scotia and Maritime champions in Junior hockey is mighty big stuff'.

1956-57 Berwick AppleKings — Nova Scotia/Maritime Junior Hockey Champions

Jock Lewis
Dave Ratchford
Bill Buntain
Jim Sherriff
Ducky McLean
Don Fox
Dave Beardsley
Boyd Lutz
Lionel Kennedy
Bill Dickie
Don Hill
John Hanson
Harry Stirling
Bob Dauphinee
Jim O' Regan
Don Grant
Duncan McLean

President: Dr. R. A. Moreash
Secretary: W. B. Wilson
Coach: Gerald White
Manager: George Langille
Assistant Manager: Jack Murphy
Mascot: Donald Morse

Inducted June 2001

Burns Wesley Pierce 1868 — 1944 (Special Recognition)

It is doubtful that many of the people who evert regular patrons of Pierce's Bowling Alley and Pool Hall on Mill Street during the the 1920's and 30's knew what an illustrious athlete the owner had been before moving to Berwick. Burns Wesley Pierce at the turn of the century had been one of the most famous and gifted competitors in the demanding sport of endurance bicycle racing — one of the most popular spectator sports during the 1890's and early part of the 1900's.

As an amateur rider, Pierce quickly became a fan favourite because of his highly competitive nature and great athletic ability; but, because of restrictions on prize money, many of the best cyclists, including Pierce, formed the professional National Cycling Association in 1896. This new organization quickly gained control of cycle racing in the United States and Burns Pierce became one of the brightest stars in this new professional
circuit. At one time, Pierce held the records for the 100 mile race (both in 1896 and 1899). American records at 1/2 mile,2,3,4,and 5 mile distances and the record for greatest distance covered in one hour. Pierce's greatest athletic feats took place in the endurance categories which held a special fascination for him and his fans. He once won the San Francisco 24 hour race without ever dismounting from the bicycle covering an astounding 467 miles — a record that stood long after his retirement. Pierce's great strength and stamina were legendary which made him a much sought-after racer in the 3- day and 6-day races so popular during the 1890's and early years of the 1900's. In one such individual 6-day race, Pierce fell on the first day and injured a hand but strapped the hand to the handlebars and despite this obvious handicap, completed the race (another 5 days!) covering 1732 miles and finishing sixth. In another 3-day event, Pierce won while covering an amazing 809 miles. Pierce also competed in special time trials in which cyclists paced by a motorized bicycle tried to break time records for particular distances.

Pierce's many fans generally agree that his greatest race was the world middle distance championship in 1898. In this race, watched by over 20,000 spectators, Pierce dethroned the reigning world champion, Jimmie "Midget" Michael, by completing the 20 miles in 37 minutes — a time that would still be very respectable today.

Burns Pierce retired from racing in 1905 and moved his family back to Nova
Scotia. In 1923, the Pierce family moved to Berwick where Burns purchased the distinctive red brick house at #107 Foster Street. He opened a popular combination bowling alley/pool hall and tobacco shop on Mill Street, across from the railroad station, which he operated until 1939. He was an avid outdoorsman and was said to be a "star curler" with the Berwick Curling Club. Burns Pierce passed away at his Berwick home in November, 1944 at the age of 76.

Burns W. Pierce's cycling World Records

  • 100 miles in 3 hours, 24 minutes, 5 seconds
  • 1/2 mile in 37 seconds
  • 2 miles in 3 minutes, 9 seconds / 3 miles in 4 minutes, 46 seconds
  • 4 miles in 6 minutes, 23 seconds / 5 miles in 8 minutes, 2 2/5 seconds
  • World middle distance (20 miles/37 minutes) championship, 1898
  • World 25 mile record (amateur) in 1896

Inducted June 2001

Arthur Ward Robinson 1881-1940

Berwick has had a long and storied sports history extending well back to the earliest years of the twentieth century. However it may be no exaggeration to claim that sports first became a well established and important part of the life of Berwick because of the near coincidence of two events — the completion of the first covered arena in 1929/30 and the arrival of Arthur Robinson in Berwick.

In 1929/30, a Berwick hockey team, the first team to use the name "Bruins", won the Central Valley League Championship using the newly completed covered arena as home base, The Bruins continued to play over the next decade but were continually in need of money to finance their operations_ Within a year, the agent for Standard Oi1, Arthur Robinson and his family had moved to Berwick from Halifax and this new hockey team had an immediate promoter and fund-raiser. Within the year, Robinson started a boxing program and promoted exhibition bouts as a way to raise funds for the hockey team and new arena. The boxing card often featured many local boxers (including Earl Kinsman who went on to compete for the Maritime championship) and fighters from throughout the Maritimes. The Berwick Arena gained a province-wide reputation as a boxing center for fight fans and Arthur Robinson became a well-respected promoter and widely admired for the quality of the bouts he staged. The boxing program continued for nearly a decade.

In 1933, Art Robinson started a junior hockey team called the Berwick "Three Stars" (named after the most popular product of the Standard Oil Company). This team featured all local boys and won the western Nova Scotia championship several times and performed well against other provincial competition from larger centers. The team included a number of excellent players(including Orlay Bligh) who went on to star on several senior hockey teams including the 1936/37 Berwick Bruins who won the Nova Scotia Championship, Arthur performed the role of coach, manager, promoter and fund raiser for the Three Stars. To help finance both the Three Stars and Bruins teams, Art continued to promote boxing, added wrestling as an attraction at the Berwick Arena, conducted plays and variety shows at the Victoria Hall and Bligh's Theatre, held turkey raffles, 60/40 draws and exhibition hockey games. Despite the difficult financial times, hockey and boxing thrived during the 30's and early 40's chiefly due to Art's untiring

In addition to this involvement, Art's sports contributions included being an official of the Maritime Amateur Hockey Association, President of the Central Valley Hockey League, Vice-President of the Eastern Hockey League and an executive member of the Berwick Bruins and Berwick Arena. A contemporary of Art's has stated that without Art's involvement, many of Berwick's most noteworthy sports achievements would have never occurred. Certainly many of the later successes that followed in the 40's and 50's and later years can be attributed to the foundation laid by the organizational talents of Arthur Robinson. Upon his death in 1940, a local newspaper commented on his illustrious sports career and wrote: "Any community would be proud to have such a prominent sports enthusiast as the late Art Robinson among its inhabitants."

Inducted June 2001

Gerald McKenna Morse

Often in a small community, the true sports heroes, and those who really have the greatest impact, quietly carry out their responsibilities and duties, without any concern for personal glory or praise. Such a person is Gerald Morse. It has been said of Gerald that, as a coach, he could get more out of any hockey player that any other coach. Winning was never the most important thing to Gerald but rather the opportunity for all his players to play, improve and enjoy their experiences. Not only has Gerald enjoyed a reputation for being an excellent coach, well schooled in the fundamentals, but, more importantly he has had a huge influence on several generations of players and other coaches.

Gerald began his coaching career in 1960 largely because there were no coaches for local boys. Despite the fact that Berwick had no artificial ice at the time, and the Berwick hockey season was considerably shorter, his teams nonetheless performed well against other community teams. In 1964, Gerald attended the Dalhousie University/Howie Meeker coaching clinic — a relatively novel idea for community-based coaches at the time. This was to influence him considerably and by extension many other coaches. Gerald always has felt a need to pass on his knowledge and newly gained expertise. Over the next several years, he conducted coaches clinics for numerous other aspiring minor hockey coaches. This did much to raise the level of coaching and improve the hockey skills of Berwick and area youth and raise their knowledge of the game. One of the coaches who attended these early clinics has commented that under Gerald's guidance he gained the confidence to coach and the knowledge that he could actually help young players improve.

Gerald continued to coach for nearly thirty years working with teams of various ages, abilities and competitive levels. Perhaps the most notable and praiseworthy characteristic of Gerald is his willingness and preference to work with those players and teams who were just starting their hockey experiences or were judged by others as having less ability or talent. Gerald took great satisfaction from seeing players make small but steady improvements under his tutelage and grow immeasurably in both their skill development and confidence in their own abilities. A significant number of players and teams who enjoyed considerable success later under other coaches could trace their positive experiences back to Gerald's initial coaching and the strong skills and knowledge of the game that he instilled. One of his colleagues once remarked that if you looked up the word "coach" in the dictionary, you should see a picture of Gerald. Surely no one deserves induction into a sports Hall of Fame more than a man who has positively and without fanfare influenced the sports life of countless youth and adults.

Inducted June 2001

John Phillip Prall

It is extremely difficult — if not impossible — to adequately summarize on a single page the career of a man who has dedicated over 30 years of his life to athletics in the Berwick area — especially when the man is so modest and unassuming that he doesn't even bother to keep accurate records of his accomplishments. John Prall is such a man. From the first year of his teaching career at Hants West Rural High to his retirement from Central Kings Rural High School nearly 35 years later in 1994, John coached and contributed to the development of hundreds of athletes both at the interscholastic and community levels. John's expertise extends to many sports and his success at molding young athletes encompassed many different team and individual sports. For every year of his teaching career, John coached — often several sports in the same year — and often at the community level as well. In addition to this impressive schedule. John frequently competed as a player himself on a number of high profile and very competitive teams. At the same time, he often served as an executive member on many community sports organizations and, amazingly, still found time to be a very active official and referee in a number of sports.

John's teams were all characterized by several traits — a strong emphasis on skills, a high work ethic, a keen sense of fair play, and a great respect for both their own athletic abilities and that of their opponents. John's teams were perennial contenders for league, regional and provincial championships. Throughout his coaching life on many occasions, his high school teams in basketball, volleyball, hockey, softball and track and field were in the running for provincial crowns. Among the accomplishments of greatest note are:

  • the 1966/67 provincial High School Girls basketball championship
  • the 1978 provincial "AA" High school boys hockey championship
  • the 1994 provincial Division 2 High school boys hockey championship and several "A" division provincial Track and Field championships.

As well as his outstanding coaching record, John served as President of the
Berwick and District Athletic Association for several years and as President of the
Berwick and District Arena Association for over 20 years. Although he has retired from teaching, he continues to serve as President of the Valley High School Hockey League. In 1994 after his last year of teaching, John was presented with the Hugh A. Noble Memorial Award — the highest award of the Nova Scotia School Athletic Association - given in recognition for exemplary service to high school sports. John's former athletes all speak high praise for those lessons learned under his guidance — lessons that not only made them better athletes but better persons. Thus it is fitting that Coach Prall's tremendous contributions be best summarized in the words of one of his former players:

"This natural born coach has always been a winner. This kind and gentle man was a delight to have as a coach. Above all Coach John Prall is a man whom we all respected and held in the highest regard."

Inducted June 2001