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2008

Berwick/Canning Tween Ringette Team 1989/90

Berwick Ringette was in its infancy in 1989 when the Berwick/Canning Tween team was formed. The Association had developed teams in the younger age groups and was in the process of icing a team in the twelve-fourteen age group. However, there were just not enough local players; coincidentally the Canning Association was experiencing the same situation. It made sense to Marlene Connell to contact Gary Pearl with the Canning group to form one team. According to Marlene, “What is incredible about this team is how the two Associations combined to make this happen.”

The Ringette Association's provincial championship was hosted by Berwick for the first time. After a solid season of playing teams throughout the province, the Tween team was entered in the ‘C’ Championship with teams from Dartmouth, East River, Mabou, and Sackville.

The event was not to go smoothly. At the Thursday practice before the tournament, tragedy struck. Coach Marlene slipped on the ice and seriously broke her ankle, landing her in the hospital for the entire weekend. Perhaps this was inspiration as the team went through round robin play undefeated with Gary Pearl as the only bench boss. They now had to face Dartmouth in the rematch. It was a seesaw battle with Berwick/Canning leading 1-0, then Dartmouth went ahead 2-1. Next, Berwick/Canning tied it at 2. Dartmouth scored late in the first half to go ahead 3-2. Dartmouth struck early in the second frame for a 4-2 lead. The determined squad fought back and, with 4 minutes remaining in the game, had the score 4 each. The go-ahead came quickly and Berwick/Canning held on to a 5-4 lead, fighting off several Dartmouth surges. The game ended with Berwick/Canning being declared the 1990 Nova Scotia Tween 'C' Champions.

After winning the Provincial Banner, the team was also awarded the Team Sportsmanship Award, a well-deserved accomplishment. In addition, not only were the Tweens successful as provincial champions, but the Petites won their respective division as well that same weekend in Berwick. This group of players was the first of a continuous number of players to go on to play provincially and at the Canada Games level. The Ringette dynasty had begun.

1989/90 Berwick/Canning Tween Ringette Team

Coaches: Marlene Connell, Gary Pearl

Angela Deal
Cathy Grimm
Heather Elliot
Tracy Kane
Jennifer Saunders
Kelly Kinsman
Sarah Pearl
Tanya Cleveland
Tara McBride
Rhonda Connell
Danielle Boudreau
Tenille Surette
Gillian Parker
Rochelle Simpson

It is with pride that the 1989/90 Berwick/Canning Tween Ringette Team is recognized by the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

Inducted June 2008

1949 Berwick Red Sox Juvenile Baseball Team

In the summer of 1949 baseball was the game in Berwick and the Red Sox Juveniles was the team. With a combination of the ’48 Junior and Midget teams, Don Hall and brother, Frank formed the Berwick Red Sox. Fundraising had gone well and the players were excited to begin the season.

Art Raynor, star import pitcher of the Kentville Wildcats, was brought out to help coach the boys. With Don Hall as player-coach and brother, Frank, as manager, the team was ready to take on all comers. They played intermediate and junior teams during the season, winning most of their games. With great pitching, timely hitting, and a lot of enthusiasm the boys put on a show every game they played. Many of the boys were called on to play multiple positions. Sometimes due to work commitments they had very few extra players per game.

The team had great pitching in Don Weir, Frank Hall, Ron Doane, Pat Hampsey, and Earl Fuller. Don Hall did most of the catching, with George Wheeler and George Hamilton as back-ups. The nucleus of the infield consisted of Gordie Morse and Louis Irvine taking turns at third base, short stop Eddie Nichols, second base Garnet Parker, and Frank Cleveland and Frank Hall sharing first base. Sharing outfield duties were Al Botbyl, Harry Morse, Carroll Kinsman, Paul Ward, Keith Wheeler, George Anderson, Amos Bennett and Don “Rocket” Haley. Co-bat boys and number one fans were young Darrell Corbett and John Hampsey.

The boys travelled from Liverpool to Truro to play, often with the entire team loaded onto the back of a truck. One highlight was playing in Greenwood because they were always provided a meal after the game.

The team was in fine form by the time play downs arrived and, with the summer work being completed, the entire team was available and the first playoff series with Windsor was a great one with Berwick winning the series. Next came Truro. After losing the first game, Berwick came back to win the next two games in an exciting series. The team ended their season by losing to a powerful Halifax team in the finals. All in all, it was a great year and a great time for the boys of summer in 1949 in Berwick.

1949 Berwick Red Sox Juvenile Baseball Team Players

George Hamilton
Amos Bennett
George Anderson
Gordon Morse
Garnet Parker
Frank Hall
Paul Ward
Pat Hampsey
Harry Morse
Ed Nichols
Don Hall
George Wheeler
Frank Cleveland
Ron Doane
Don Weir
Al Botbyl
Carroll Kinsman
Earl Fuller
Don Haley
Keith Wheeler

Co-Batboys: Darrell Corbett & John Hampsey

It is with pride that the 1949 Berwick Red Sox Juvenile Baseball Team is recognized by the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

Inducted June 2008

John Charest

John Charest was born and raised in Edmundston, New Brunswick where he played ball in the summer and his “most loved” game of hockey in the winter. His first games of hockey were played on outdoor rinks and his hero is Rocket Richard. After graduating from high school, John enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air Force. During postings in Canada, Germany, and the United States John enjoyed and excelled in softball and hockey, as well as taking up bowling and golf. He also found time to coach minor hockey and ball. John’s contribution to the Berwick sporting community began when he retired from the RCAF in 1974 and he and his wife Brenda moved to Berwick. His dedication to our town has been tireless and continuing.

From the mid 1970’s until the mid 80’s, John coached Minor Hockey from the Pee Wee to Juvenile age groups and in 1980 his juvenile team won the Valley/South Shore Championship and played in the Provincial Tournament in Clare. In 1981 his team hosted the Juvenile “A” Tournament. During his years coaching, he mentored several young assistant coaches as they began their careers as volunteer coaches in Berwick.

John coached the Berwick Eassons Fast Pitch Team in 1976. He became a Registered Softball Canada Umpire in 1987 and has officiated throughout the Valley, especially enjoying children’s tournaments and charitable events. He is still active as an umpire, proud to be the most senior in age officiating in the province. John has been supportive and encouraging to local youth seeking their own certification as umpires.

Approximately fifteen years ago, John assumed the leading roll in organizing the Berwick 50 years-and-older hockey program, known as Shinny Hockey. The program attracts players from Digby to Wolfville, but players also come from as far as Halifax. They come to play in Berwick two afternoons a week to enjoy the health benefits and camaraderie of Shinny Hockey. John continues to organize and keep the program running, promoting fairness, fun, and sportsmanship while enjoying playing the game himself.

When Nova Scotia held the first Senior Games Hockey Tournament, the honour of being invited to coach the combined Berwick/Kentville/Kingston team was bestowed on John and he coached them to a Gold Medal win.

John has also served on the Berwick Recreation Committee. John’s other sporting interests are golf, in which he has had two holes in one, and pool, in which he has won the Aubrey Drew & Tinker Burgess Memorial Championships. He has said that his “greatest personal reward has come from coaching Minor Hockey, watching the youth he coached grow into fine adults in the community.”

John has served our community as coach, mentor, organizer/founder, committee member, official, player, and fundraiser.

It is with pride that John Charest is recognized by the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

Inducted June 2008

A.E. Bezanson and Family

In 1924 the Berwick Board of Trade placed an ad in the Halifax Herald in an attempt to solicit the interest of bakers who would be willing to establish a bakery in town. A.E. and Gertrude Bezanson answered the advertisement and traveled soon afterward from Barss Corner, Lunenburg County in a horse and buggy. The couple worked side by side and opened the Berwick Bakery on the corner of Commercial and Mill Street.

The Bezansons were very active community members and generous supporters. When Gala Days were first organized to raise money for a new rink, the Bakery donated hot dog rolls and other baked goods. This practice continued for over 40 years. When the rink was started in 1952, they provided a truck to haul fill for the rink and park. A.E. was instrumental in improvements to Rainforth Park. He organized the building of a fence around the Park which still can be seen today. He provided drivers and vehicles for many teams to travel. He also provided employment to some players so they could live here and play for Berwick. In their successful drive for the Nova Scotia Senior Championship in 1937, A.E. specifically told young Orlay Bligh, a star player employed by the bakery, “Don’t let the job interfere with your hockey”.

A tribute appeared in the November 23, 1963 edition of Halifax Herald. It was written by Alvin Savage, Associate News editor for the paper. It read that "hundreds of Berwick boys got their start at the bakery, many of whom went on to other occupations and professions. But the boys remembered it was A.E. who gave them their start and continued to be supportive when they moved on. He was truly Berwick’s Man of the People. Help, financial and otherwise, he freely gave to so many to assist their projects and undertakings."

Mrs. Bezanson purchased a parcel of land from Rod Bethune in 1964 and donated it to the Town of Berwick in memory of her husband. It is known as Arthur E. Bezanson Centennial Park.

A.E. had two sons who would become involved in the bakery and community life. Frank and Gerald continued the long-standing tradition of community support established by their father. The Bakery sponsored many teams, including the senior softball teams of the 60's, made annual contributions to upgrades at Rainforth Park, and contributed to many minor sport and community fundraising events. Gerald was an active member of the curling club and supported the operation in many ways.

Evidently, Gerald and Frank inherited their father’s sense of enterprise and success. Both men shared terms on Berwick Town Council, Lions Club, Rink Board, Board of Trade, and Gala Days. They carried on the tradition of supporting local sports and facilities, not just financially but as volunteers that could be seen helping to make events successful.

It is with pride that A.E. Bezanson and Family is recognized by the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

Inducted June 2008

Ronald Mahar

From a small engine repair business on the Black Rock Mountain Road to the World Woodsman Competition in Hayward, Wisconsin, Ron has enjoyed every minute.

Ron’s expertise in building and reconstructing his equipment led to the growth of his business, a small engine repair and sales business, Ron Mahar Sales & Service. The business moved to Berwick in the former Berwick Dairy building in the early 1980’s. Although Ron sold the business in 1998, it continues in his name to this day.

Running the business and raising a family kept Ron busy, but he still found time for a little recreation. Ron’s proficiency in operating a chainsaw drew him to Nova Scotia’s first Championship of chainsaw competition held at the Lions Hall in Berwick. Arriving late and still in his business suit, he was challenged to prove himself and in 11 seconds he cut his way through a 10” x 10” log to the amazement of the crowd. He never looked back! This winter carnival event, a huge money maker for the Lions Club, was organized by Dave Miller. It consisted of four classes with two saws per class and endured for nine years.

Over the next eight years Ron, along with his family, covered most of the Maritimes, in challenging his many competitors, who became friends united in their love of and success in competition and in their advanced knowledge of their craft.

Ron competed in many places, including Halifax, Windsor, Margaretsville, Shubenacadie, Noel Shore, Musquodoboit, Digby and St. George, New Brunswick. In 1979 he took first place in Aylesford. In 1981 he took first place in a Class 1 event in Berwick. Known as the “North Mountain Champion” he won first in the 45cc class in Margaretsville in 1982. Back in Margaretsville again in 1983 he won first in the 60 cc class. In 1984, in St. George, New Brunswick, he won the trophy in the 1st Class competition. In 1985 Ron won two large trophies at the Nova Scotia Forestry Exhibition in Windsor for the fastest time in the 35-49 cc and the 65-90 cc categories.

Ron won the Nova Scotia Woodsman Title in 1985 and qualified for the World Championship in Hayward, Wisconsin. He chartered a private plane and, with the support of a couple of friends, he headed off to international competition. Ron enjoyed every minute of it, realizing that he was among the best in the world in his sport.

It is with pride that Ron Mahar is recognized by the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

Inducted June 2008

Lester Bligh

Lester was born into a great athletic family. His father, W.O. Bligh, was an outstanding shortstop for the Yarmouth Gateways and goaltender for the Bridgetown Hawks. His brother Orlay became an exceptional hockey player. The boys spurred each other on with a healthy rivalry. Nets were often set up in the family kitchen and sometimes it got loud over a disputed goal. They also became proficient ball players on the school team.

Lester's first love of sports was hockey. He first played for the Baptist Trail Blazers and later the high school team. In his first game as a goaltender, he faced one hundred and four shots in a 3-1 playoff game loss to Canning. He said that the first shot hit him in the face and, as goaltenders did not wear masks in those days, it really woke him up and made him more alert.

He had a phenomenal career for the Berwick Three Stars from 1932-36. The play downs had a two-game total goal format. In March 1932, he carried his team past Bear River 5-1 in Annapolis. Next, Bridgewater was beaten 7-1 to propel the Three Stars to play Halifax for the provincial championship. Always in great form and described as having horseshoes hung all over him, he was outstanding! This fourteen-year-old showed he wouldn’t be beaten very often. The Berwick squad lost 4-3 in a two game total goal to the Halifax Junior Canadians.

He started every game and always gave the team a chance to win. On January 10, 1934 against Kings County Academy, the previous season’s provincial champs, Lester led the Three Stars to a 6-0 shutout. In a game that was fast and evenly divided, his goaltending made the difference.

In late winter of 1935, the Three Stars played the Truro Bearcats for the provincial championship. The Halifax Press stated that Truro had the fastest junior team in Nova Scotia. The final game opened lightning fast and never let up for a single moment, which delighted the largest and loudest crowd assembled in Truro in years. The Cats took the game 7-4 and the series 8-7. Berwick had two disallowed goals. The Three Stars played well but it was Lester Bligh who was the real star, "throwing rubber from all sides and angles". Truro fans testified that it was the finest net minding they had seen all winter.

Many great hockey players have stood out helping Berwick win Nova Scotia and Maritime titles, but none more than Lester Bligh. For example, in a 1936 series against the Halifax Canadians a flying puck rendered him unconscious and retired him from the game and Halifax went on to win by an overwhelming 15-3.

He was a Forest Ranger and Safety Instructor for the Department of Lands and Forests. He was active in the community and served two terms as Fire Chief. His daughter, Marlene, was inducted into the KCA Hall of Fame in 1987 and his grandson, Tim Taylor, in 1997.

It is with pride that Lester Bligh is recognized by the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

Inducted June 2008