In anticipation of the NHL hockey playoffs and the 60th anniversary of Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC), the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre was honoured to have the Stanley Cup on-site for Canada’s war heroes to enjoy first-hand on Friday, March 30.
Almost a hundred Veterans took part in a special event, each one having photo taken with the coveted Cup. Over the years Bob Hope, Vera Lynn, Canadian Prime Minister’s and Royalty have all graced the Sunnybrook campus, but this was the Cup’s first visit to the hospital.
Seeing and touching the cup, was especially meaningful for Second World War veteran, Murray Westgate, 93. Westgate played Imperial Oil’s original pitchman and gas station attendant on Hockey Night in Canada in the early 1950’s. A veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy, Westgate played this legendary role for sixteen years.
Sam Rose, Second World War veteran, also 93, recalled the first time he saw Lord Stanley’s Cup as a small boy, when the famous silver cup was on display in Eaton’s department store in the 1930’s. Many of the veterans shared stories and fond memories of hockey and the Leaf’s glory days.
Canadian Veterans and hockey have a longstanding history. Eighty, NHL players enlisted during the Second World War and Foster Hewitt’s’ radio broadcasts to the troops overseas were legendary. On Saturday nights in the 1950’s, families would gather to watch the Jackie Gleason Show, and then Hockey Night in Canada. For Canadian veterans, hockey has been a huge part of their lives and today the link is still strong.
Working in close partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada, the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre is the largest Veterans care facility in Canada and a recognized leader in the care of Veterans who are no longer able to live at home independently. No other facility provides such a high level of specialized, compassionate, resident-centred care through a dedicated interprofessional team.