By Darren Lum
The Minden Monarchs of the late-1950s are going to be ceremoniously inducted into the Haliburton Highlands Hall of Fame this autumn. They join the the 1934 Haliburton Huskies and the 1971 Haliburton Huskies in the Hall of Fame’s team category.
During much of the late-1950s, the Minden Monarchs Intermediate “C” team was a perennial hockey power house finishing as the Eastern Ontario Champions and the Ontario Intermediate “C” Finalists in 1956, 1957 and 1958.
They were the main draw for a loyal fan base that included several hundred people on any given night. At one regular season game in 1956, there were 815 people, who came to the Minden Community Centre where the former fire hall was across from the township office to see the Monarchs edge out the Bobcaygeon Bobcats 9-8 in a shootout. This kind of support was common, as fans from Minden and the surrounding area gathered every Saturday night for more than entertainment. It was an evening to come together and bask in the warmth and life of the community during the dead of winter. The fandom included a regular parade of vehicles that travelled south to opposing teams’ arenas, which was so prolific that it was a major contributor to funding the construction of future arenas.
The 1956-1957 team roster included Jerry Gartlan, Max Richardson, Doug Powell, player coach, Gary Vasey, Glen Vasey, Hugh Vasey, Len Lonsberry, Stan Lonsberry, Don Campbell, Eston Watt, captain,, Larry Lougheed, Norm Whitney and Bob Beeney. The coaching staff included Powell, Mark Vasey and Garnet Lytle as managers, Bernie Trepanier, secretary-treasurer and Willis Walker, trainer. Other key players for the team from 1956 to 1958 were Claude Brown, Staff Yearwood, Lawrence Yearwood, Marcel Prier, Gerry Gartlan and Neil Burke. There was also Aubrey Percival in 1955-1956.
The Vasey family were well represented. From the team’s manager, Mark and an entire line of Vaseys, which included twin brothers, Glen and Gary and the youngest Hugh, all in their 20s. They lived in a home on Anson Street, close to the bridge and walking distance to the arena.
Son to Gary, grandson to Mark and nephew to Glen and Hugh, Ted wasn’t told much about the team from his family. What little he learned came from what he heard from others, such as the older hockey fans in Bobcaygeon while he was playing junior intermediate C hockey as a young man.
“You go upstairs for a beer after a home game and the place was packed for a little town and a lot of the old timers would come up to me and said those Minden teams built our arena … They were just hanging from the rafters down in Bobcaygeon,” he said. “It made Bobcaygeon a lot of money. That’s one of the stories I remember being told. Only because I played down there.”
This was the era, he adds, when skilled hockey players were promised employment with a hydro job in Minden, if they came to play hockey with the Monarchs. This included his uncle Glen. He thought some credit for getting the players on the team and employed in the area was owed to his grandfather.
He adds his father was known well for his hockey skills and was rewarded for his play.
“I heard a lot of compliments about my dad because obviously my dad got picked up and played senior A. He was semi-pro. It was like the NHL almost, you know? So, I got a lot of compliments about what type of player my dad was and his brothers and the whole team. I definitely got a lot of compliments about my dad,” he said.
Ted adds his father was recruited to play for Bradford, which was sponsored by Brad’s Fords. The owner of the team was Brad Walker, who owned the Ford car dealership in Bradford. He said he was three years old when he left Minden with his father following the 1957-58 championship loss to Bradford. Through the team, his father was offered a teaching job at Archie Stouffer Elementary School and a house in Bradford.
“It was kind of a way to pay the players in those days,” he said.
Haliburton Highlands Museum curator Steve Hill notes how being a championship finalist to larger centres such as Beeton, Aurora and Bradford was a victory, considering how much larger those communities were when compared to Minden. The Monarchs were a strong competitive team and actually extended the series by two games against Beeton in 1955 to 1956 before losing, and then pushed Aurora to overtime in the seventh game of the best of seven series.
He didn’t know much about this era of Monarchs history, but read from the 1859 to 1959 Minden Centennial Book.
“With the formation of an Ontario Hockey Association C group in the district, it gave Minden the chance to play against towns in a lower populated bracket and four years of this competition saw that they reached the Ontario finals on three occasions only to be runners up, which to this day stands as a record in the OHA manual in losing to Beeton, Aurora and Bradford.”
If anyone in the public has more anecdotes to share about the team, please submit (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (705) 457-1037 ext. 38.