County’s local sports heroes and stories on display at museum

Display cases show a Napanee Juvenile jersey from the 1970s, a football from CFL Hall of Famer Leroy Blue and jersey from Olympic rugby star Britt Benn. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Adam Prudhomme

Lennox and Addington County’s rich and diverse sports history is the focus of the museum’s latest exhibit: Game On!-L&A Sports Stories.

The exhibit takes a look at some of the many sports tales to come out of the county, ranging from a photo to the 1886 Napanee Bicycle Club right up to a display on 2020 Team Canada rugby sevens Olympic hopeful Britt Benn.  

“We’re bringing more of the contemporary history back to the exhibit,” said JoAnne Himmelman, L&A County Museum and Archives curator. “The people who were part of those historical things are still living and they look at it with fondness and nostalgia.”

Himmelman says the exhibit is unique in that many of the coaches and athletes featured are still living in the area and were able to offer firsthand information. That includes Odessa A’s team manager Rick Revelle. His story is printed next to a bright green and yellow Odessa A’s jersey. 

One of the biggest draws to the exhibit so far has been a poster that features the Napanee KT Juveniles who took part in an exchange series with a team from Vallentuna, Sweden in the late 1970s. The exhibit includes newspaper clippings, posters and an original jersey. 

Himmelman says she’d love to hear from any of the Napanee players who took part in the series to archive their story as part of their L&A County stories web project. 

Other highlights include local golfer Josh Whalen, who set the record at the Napanee Golf and Country Club before going on to take part in PGA Tour events. There’s also a football from CFL Grey Cup champion and Hall of Fame inductee Leroy Blugh. 

“It’s such an active county,” Himmelman says of L&A. “Curling to ringette, to tennis, baseball, golf, hockey, soccer, football and rugby was a precursor to that which was popular at the turn of the century. We have our fabulous Britt Benn who made it popular in L&A County, but even before the turn of the century we have photos of rugby players (in L&A County).”

Memorabilia from Benn’s 2016 Olympic run is included, which saw her help Canada capture bronze in rugby sevens’ debut at the games in Rio. 

Himmelman says the entire exhibit has already been well received.

“A lot of people have come in the last couple of weeks and say ‘I know him, I remember that person, I remember when that happened,’ and that’s what the museum is all about, triggering that memory,” said Himmelman. “We are the community’s memory keepers. When we create exhibits that people respond to like this, that makes us really happy.”

Game On!-L&A Sports Stories will be on display through the end of May at the museum, which is located at 97 Thomas Street E in Napanee. 


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