By Lyle Carter
If you were a local hockey follower during the late 1940s and into the 1950s, chances are pretty good you will remember the name Jackie Dale.
Jack Dale, a Chicago Blackhawks fan these days, holds up a Blackhawks blanket with help from his wife Marg.
Breaking in with Truro Bearcats of the APC (Antigonish-Pictou-Colchester) Hockey League during the 1949-50 season, the young centre immediately became a star in the highly competitive senior circuit.
But it was long before this that Bible Hill's Dale decided to make the Truro Forum on Queen Street in Truro his second home.
"I played my first hockey on the ponds around Bible Hill," Dale, 83, of Wynn Park, Truro, said. "Ron Fielding and I grew up together on Ryland Avenue and we played a lot of hockey right up through. We played our first organized hockey at the old Truro Forum in the 1940s. It was quite a thing for any young fellow to get to play at the forum. It was a very popular spot and certainly a very exciting place to be."
Besides providing a lot of excitement, Dale recalled the forum always being busy, as kids of all ages took their turn out on the big ice surface chasing after the puck.
"Ron Fielding and I worked our way up through the ranks and broke in with the Bearcats at the same time," Dale said. "Ron was slick, he was a real good playmaker. Ron reminded me of Jean Beliveau of the Montreal Canadiens."
Dale named Ken "Dutchy" Mumford, Roy Weatherbee and Ernie Yeadon as Bearcats goaltenders he played with.
"On defence we had the likes of Bill Kearns, Bert Steele, Frank Grabowski, Billy Hepburn and Cecil Caudle," Dale said. "Some of the forwards I recall are guys like Lou Medynski, Allan Ogilvie, Gerry Nelson, Stu Mingo, Les Topshee, Howie Bailey and Ron Conrad."
Former teammate Caudle, who also played juvenile hockey with Dale, cherishes the two seasons the two were teammates with the APC Hockey League Bearcats.
"Jackie Dale finished with the league's top scorers, he was a league all-star," Caudle said. "Jackie was a terrific hockey player. One thing I marvelled at, Jackie could come in on a goaltender and shoot from both sides. He was tricky, very tricky. He could really stickhandle and he could get his shot away quick. Jackie was a good character. He was always full of fun and a great guy to play with."
Large crowds often filed into the forum as teams such as Pictou Maripacs, Antigonish Bulldogs, St. F.X., Stellarton Royals and Trenton Scotians visited the Hubtown.
But, as they say in sports, ‘you have to take the bad with the good.'
Marg Dale, Jack's wife, elaborated.
"Jack had his teeth knocked out playing hockey," said Marg. "He came home another night all cut up. I think someone put him up against those old girders. I went to quite a few games at the Truro Forum but as we had three young kids I couldn't make it every night."
Dale explained that during the mid 1950s he decided to leave senior hockey to concentrate on his job and to spend more time with family.
"I played five or six seasons senior with the Bearcats and I enjoyed it," Dale said. "I did play a couple seasons later with Bible Hill Dairymen of the Truro District Hockey League."
Career-wise, Dale worked for 35 years as a chief boy's councillor at the Nova Scotia Youth Training School in Bible Hill.
"I started at the training school June 11, 1952," Dale recalled. "On Saturday mornings we would take the kids to the Truro Forum as part of a hockey program. I enjoyed my work and getting on the ice with the kids."
After more then 75 years, one thing hasn't changed with Dale.
"Every time hockey is on, Jack is in front of the television," Marg said. "He still loves hockey. He's a big Chicago Blackhawks fan. Jack has a Blackhawks blanket, a Blackhawks cap and even a Chicago Blackhawks goalie mask."
Lyle Carter's sports column appears every Saturday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 673-2857.