A Different Era

People today like to pat themselves on the back and exchange congratulations on their ‘enlightenment’ and ‘sophistication’. Righting the wrongs of the past is a noble goal, one we should all applaud, but some of these achievements seem blown out of proportion. Take the recently announced name change for the Cleveland Indians. Nearly one-hundred years of tradition and enthusiasm trashed overnight. This isn’t like the former Washington Redskins, a team based on a racial slur, a long-standing point of contention now happily replaced with the Washington Football Team. In America many of the Indigenous People’s embrace the term ‘Indian’, it is even recognized by the government though usually as ‘American-Indian’.

It is impossible for me, lacking any native heritage, to speak on the pain that culture suffers from having their names appropriated for a sporting team. No doubt the reaction is as diverse as the people who comprise this continent’s various tribes.

Finding inspiration in the history of the First Peoples is not new, nor was it always frowned upon. In fact, the practice was once quite common. Capreol alone had the Mohawks and the Chiefs. Our local hockey clubs still uses Hawks (a tribute to Doug Mohns, one of the town’s favourite sons, who played for the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks).

Below are some photos and clippings relating to those once-iconic clubs.

Back row L to R:
Ray Davies, Joey Hanzel, Jerry Scollard, Lorne Adams, Jim Beatty, Harold Mohns, Stan Martin. 
Front row L to R:
Ray Mohns, Doug Fraser, Norm Giroux, Hank Sprega, Les Laird, Ron Sweezey, Lyall Shane, Doug White, Terry White.

by George Quackenbush

With the ice turning liquid for seagull and duck,
We know it’s time to dispose of the puck.
So for Capreol Mohawks let’s do all we can,
To express our faith in the goodness of man.

Now cheers for our goalies, Les Laird and Bruce Miles,
I trust they will surely approve of our smiles.
The times they’ve been shot at, the pucks they have stopped,
It’s only in Pro their performance is topped.

We mustn’t lose Prescott, the son of the Mayor,
And give him the credit for doing his share.
And also Jim Beatty, from Capreol Yard,
It’s great to know Jimmy is always on guard.

And what about Boom Boom, young Norman Giroux,
You’d think jet propulsion was pushing him through!
And when Dougie Fraser gets on defence,
The game we call hockey begins to make sense.

The little Scots White brothers, Terry and Doug,
Fit right into hockey like bugs in a rug.
And brotherly love is a coach’s delight,
So don’t start a battle with brothers named White!
When Candler and Drago and Rene Lepage,
Take off like a Chrysler from Mohns’s garage.
The blue line turns green as tho’ trying to say,
“Sudbury Youth Centre, keep out of the way!”

For getting a rival team into a frenzy,
A lot of the credit should go to MacKenzie.
And rubber legs Kibsey, the electrified wire,
Who mustn’t be crossed or you’re playing with fire!

Bob MacDonald, Lorne Adams and Mr. Pete Dennie,
Whose names are a legend for earning their penny,
And I hear Ronnie Sweezey defending the case,
Of Cayan and Hamlin, so hard to replace.

Now I think it’s high time for us to approach,
The key man, Stan Martin, beloved as a coach,
Reviewing his players, his face really glows,
While he ponders the future of prospective Pros.

Which brings us to Farelli and young Dougie Mohns,
Our boys who are kings on professional thrones.
So let’s shout our welcome on this happy day,
To those who deserve every Hip! Hip! Hooray!

From the Capreol and Valley Express, March 9 1960

The Capreol Chiefs were another team of select young hockey players from our town. This group featured some real talent, as described in the accompanying article.

Front Row:
Stu Thomas, Stan Martin, Marcello Delgreco, Don Prescott, Phil Del Papa, Toby Leipula, Bruce Paul
Back Row:
Butch Desjardin, Joe Hanzel, Garth White, Norm Giroux, Roger Delorme, Ray Campbell, Rudy Mazzuca
Capreol Plays ‘Defensively’ But Still Scores 22 Goals
By RAY KRZNARIC, Sudbury Star, December 1960 CAPREOL — Too many chiefs and not enough Indians. That’s what most of the fans were following Tuesday night’s Valley Hockey League game between Capreol Chiefs who last year won the regular season title but lost in the play offs to Val Caron. The win boosted Capreol into a first – place tie with Val Caron while the Terrors now have lost three straight.
And the funny part is that Chiefs’ playing coach Don Prescott told his boys to concentrate on their “defensive play.”
“We looked bad on defence in our first three games . . . have had 21 goals scored against us,” he pointed out candidly. “Now I want you guys to improve on that.”
For two periods Chiefs did concentrate on defence, and still built up an 8-2 lead. But they went all out in the third period, scoring 14 goals as Hanmer’s bewildered goalie Fern Chenier felt as though he was assaulted by a sackful of wasps.
“That’s a little easier than it used to be in the North Shore Hockey League,” someone addressed Capreol’s new recruit, right winger Ray Campbell.
Ray, who played with Elliot Lake’s Stanleigh Atoms in the NHL two years ago, led the Chiefs with four goals and six assists.
“May be easier,” he retorted, “but that’s not much of a game.”
“That’s not much of a team we were playing, you mean,” injected goalie Toby Leipala, who also played with Campbell on that same Stanleigh team.
“They shouldn’t even be in the league,” Toby added. “They’re ‘just spoiling it.”
Prescott must have been satisfied with his new line of Campbell, Ray Leclaire – also formerly of Elliot Lake – and Andy Paquette, who played with Hanmer last year.
Next to Campbell on the line came Paquette with four goals and two assists with Leclaire adding a goal and two assists, for a line total of nine goals and10 assists.
Capreol’s big line from last year — Prescott, Mooch Delgreco and Phil Delpapa — also had an enjoyable evening,
Prescott led his partners with four goals — all in the third —and four assists; Delpapa had three and three and Delgreco two goals and three assists, matching the new line’s output.
Other Capreol goals were scored by Rudy Mazzuca, two and Butch Desjardins and defenceman Joe Hanzel one each. Yvon Laderoute twice for Hanmer while Sylvio Demore sank the other goal.
Only six minors were called, four against Capreol. Terrors scored two of their three goals while Chiefs were shorthanded.
League play continues at Capreol Arena Thursday when Val Caron Valley Kings meet Gerry’s Falcons. Game time 8 p.m.
Photograph courtesy Rudy Mazzuca, Star clipping courtesy Mooch Delgreco
Doug Mohns while with the Chicago Blackhawks, circa mid 1960s
1960s era hockey sweater
77-78 Capreol Hawks

It is a fools game to try ascribing motivation to past actions but, knowing many of the people involved in Capreol hockey, the idea that they chose these ‘insensitive’ names out of spite or mockery is laughable. Sports teams pick nicknames that denote strength and pride. Might there have been some underlying racism in the choices—’fierceness’ and even ‘savagery’ are both desirable traits on the field of play—sure. Knowledge of native culture was (and still is) sparse amongst average Canadians. Appreciation of the same required decades of slow outreach and reconciliation, a process that remains ongoing.

Is changing the names on athletics jerseys really a big step? For some, yes. For others, not so much. Whether the move means much to me isn’t the question. I’m not the aggrieved party in this. In fact, I have no skin in this debate. Other than to point out that things are never as simple as we’d like to think. I’ll miss the Cleveland Indians, and will shake my head at the team’s new nickname (Guardians), but can see why they had to go. Blame this guy, Chief Wahoo. Caricatures might not be racist but they sure don’t help.

The name ‘Indians’ might have been more palatable if the ball club had stuck with one of the less exaggerated logos below instead of flaunting this cheerfully smiling mockery. A couple appear, to me at least, quite dignified.

Next time we’ll tell the story of the Capreol Hawks Jr B team.

Posted on: July 24, 2021, by :