My Grandfather Allen loved both Stanley Park and the Stanley Cup. During the Great Depression, he was bumped from being a CPR Railway Engineer to shoving coal. He had to work seven days a week and had little time to see his children. But Grandpa Allen was happy to even have a job in those tough times. When he retired, Grandpa had more time available. He became the co-ordinator for the Stanley Park Shuffleboard Court, and walked every day the 5 miles around the Stanley Park seawall. As a young boy, I loved walking and talking with my Grandpa, feeding the squirrels and enjoying the Park scenery. Stanley Park in beautiful Vancouver BC is still full of many memories for me.
My Grandpa and Nana Allen were also great Stanley Cup fans, never missing a televised game. One of my three sons is such a dedicated hockey fan that if PhDs were offered for studying the NHL, Vancouver Canucks, and Wayne Gretzky, I am sure that we would have a Rhodes Scholar on our hands.
Under Wayne Gretzky’s leadership, The Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in five years. After one of those victories, Gretzky said, ‘‘You know, I’ve held women and babies. I’ve held jewels and money. But nothing will ever feel as good as holding that cup.’ The recently-retired ‘Great One’ was one of the most accurate shooters in history, was named the NHL’s Most Valuable Player every year from 1980 to 1987, and held over 40 scoring records in the NHL – almost every record for goals and assists that can be achieved. As one sports columnist put it, Gretzky was ‘not merely the best hockey player in the world, but one of the nicest and most unspoiled.’
It is not just Wayne Gretzky but every hockey player who dreams of the moment when he might hoist the coveted Stanley Cup. As a sports commentator put it, the Stanley Cup, sometimes called the ‘Big Mug’, is the hottest thing on ice. As the oldest trophy in North America, being over 100 years old, it’s covered with names of hundreds of players who have played on winning teams. “Hockey, more than any other sport, has placed its emphasis on trophies and cups,” said Clarence S. Campbell, former president of the National Hockey League. “Ever since 1893, the world of hockey has revolved around the Stanley Cup. And the history of pro hockey is the history of the Stanley Cup. I would say that the Cup is the best-known trophy in North American sport today.” Hockey writer Gerald Eskenazi of the New York Times commented during a telecast of the 1974 Stanley Cup finals: “The Stanley Cup is uniquely Canadian. We have nothing in this country that transcends how the Canadians feel about the Stanley Cup as an ultimate goal –not the Super Bowl, not the World Series, nothing…”
The old Cup has been lost, stolen, dented, repaired, and mounted on new bases that grew taller and taller with the years. One player on his way home from a victory party in Ottawa drop-kicked the cup into a canal, then returned the next day to retrieve it. Another team forgot the cup in a photographer’s studio, so the studio cleaning woman took it home and grew geraniums in it! Colorado’s Sylvian Lefebre even went so far as to have his child baptized in the Cup a few years ago! Twice in the late 1960’s, the cup was stolen from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. In 1968, a replica was made. It is this stand-in that we now see presented to the champion team. The original stays safely in the Hockey Hall of Fame, guarded by electronic burglar alarms.
I had no idea until recently that both the Stanley Cup and Stanley Park are named after the same Governor General of Canada, Frederick Arthur Stanley. When Lord Stanley moved to Canada, his seven sons became passionate hockey players. Being kicked off the public rinks by jealous figure skaters, the Stanley brothers formed their own team ‘The Rideau Rebels’ and played on the frozen lawn of the Governor General’s Rideau Hall residence. Lord Stanley’s seven sons then cornered their father and convinced him to donate a $50 rose bowl for the winner of their amateur competitions. The first winners of the Stanley Cup were the predecessors of the famous Montreal Canadiens who have won the Cup more than any other team in history. It is safe to say that no other cup in history has ever inspired so many brilliant goals, fabulous rushes, split-second saves, and overtime breakthroughs.
Lord Stanley never actually saw a Stanley Cup competition, as he moved back to England in 1893 as the sixteenth Earl of Derby. In England, Lord Stanley went on to become the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, the first Chancellor of Liverpool University, and the president of the British Empire League.
And why did Lord Stanley end up having a park in Vancouver named after him? Once again it was CPR influence by the same William Van Horne who kept BC in Confederation and gave Vancouver its Dutch namesake.
My prayer for all Lord Stanley Cup/Park fans is that we may realize that through faith in Jesus Christ, we have an even greater trophy waiting for us in eternity (Philippians 3:14) Let us run and skate in such a way as to get the prize, the crown of righteousness in the Lord.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector, BSW, MDiv, DMin
St. Simon’s Church, North Vancouver
Anglican Mission in the Americas (Canada)
-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’
p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail email@example.com . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99CDN/USD.
-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide : Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada
You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier
Everyone nowadays loves the Sally Ann, the Salvation Army. But such admiration was not always universal. Violence and bloodshed was the order of the day when General William Booth first reached out to the down-and-out in East London. Few people today realize that one of the main purposes of the famous Sally Ann Bonnet was to protect the heads of wearers from brickbats and other missiles. So many people used to buy rotten eggs to throw at the Sally Ann Bonnets that these rancid eggs became renamed in the market place as ‘Salvation Army eggs!’
In 1880,heavy sticks crashed upon the Salvation Army soldiers’ heads, laying them open, and saturating them in blood. Mrs. Bryan (wife of the Captain) was knocked down and kicked into insensibility not ten yards from the police station, and another sister so injured that she died within a week. During 1882, it was reported that 669 soldiers and officers had been knocked down, kicked or otherwise brutally assaulted, 251 of them being women and 23 children under 15. In Hamilton, Ontario, the Salvation Army officers were initially ‘squeezed and mangled, scratched, their clothes torn and almost choked with the dust…’ In Quebec City, 21 soldiers were seriously injured, an officer was stabbed in the head with a knife, and the drummer had his eye gouged out. In Newfoundland, the Salvation Army was attacked with hatchets, knives, scissors and darning needles. One night a woman-Salvationist in Newfoundland was attacked by a gang of three hundred ruffians, thrown into a ditch and trampled on. She managed to crawl out only to be thrown in again, as other women were shouting ‘Kill her! Kill her!
Ironically many police initially blamed the Salvation Army for being persecuted. In numerous parts of England, playing in a Salvation Army Marching Band was punishable with a jail sentence! During 1884, no fewer than 600 Salvationists had gone to prison in defense of their right to proclaim good news to the people in music and word. In Canada alone, nearly 350 SA officers and soldiers served terms of imprisonment for spreading the gospel. Despite the jail sentences and persecution, within three years the Army’s strength more than quadrupled! The early Salvation Army ‘jailbirds described their handcuffs as heavenly bracelets. It is little wonder that the Salvation Army eventually developed such a powerful prison ministry.
One of William Booth’s mottoes was ‘go for souls and go for the worst!’ A local English newspaper The Echo commented that the Salvation Army largely recruited the ranks of the drunkards and wife-beaters and woman home-destroyers. Many of us remember as children the song: ‘Up and down the City Road, In and Out the Eagle; That’s the way the money goes, Pop goes the weasel’! Few of us realized that we were singing about the famous Eagle Tavern, just off City Road in London. ‘Pop goes the weasel’ was cockney slang for the alcoholic who was so desperate for a drink that he would even pawn (pop) his watch (weasel). Ironically, the Salvation Army bought the Eagle Tavern and turned it into a rehabilitation centre. The Lion and Key public house in East London became known as ‘The Army Recruiting Shop’. The landlord said, ‘My trade’s suffering, but you’re making the town a different place, so we can’t grumble. Go on and prosper!’
William Booth shocked the world by conducting worship with tambourines and fiddles, instead of the traditional church organ. To make up for the Salvation Army’s lack of church buildings, General Booth bought circus buildings, skating rinks, and theatres.
In response to such bold innovation, one newspaper columnist claimed in 1883 that ‘The Salvation Army is on its last legs, and in three weeks it may be calculated it will come to an end.’ In the beginnings, the Salvation Army was essentially a youth movement, with seventeen-year-olds commanding hundreds of officers and thousands of seekers. Archbishop Tait of Canterbury was so impressed by this youth movement reaching the poor, that he set up a commission which unsuccessfully tried to adopt the Salvation Army as an Anglican society.
By persevering, the Salvation Army began to earn respect from both the churched and the unchurched, and from all segments of society. Even Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle sent the following message: ‘Her majesty learns with much satisfaction that you have with other members of your society been successful in your efforts to win many thousands to the ways of temperance, virtue, and religion.’ By their persevering in reaching out to the poor, William Booth and the Salvation Army became known as the champions of the oppressed. Like no other individual in nineteenth-century England, General Booth dramatized the war against want, poverty and destitution.
It was not by accident that William Booth’s message became linked with ‘soup, soap, and salvation’! Every Salvation Army soldier was taught from the beginning to see themselves as servants of all, practicing the ‘sacrament’ of the Good Samaritan. The famous preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, ‘If the Salvation Army were wiped out of London, five thousand extra policemen could not fill the place in the repression of crime and disorder.’ In recognition of his incalculable impact on the poor, William Booth received on June 26th 1907 the degree of Doctor of Civil Law from the University of Oxford.
William Booth throughout his life showed remarkable creativity and courage. He was one of the world’s greatest travelers in his day, visiting nearly every country in the world. Even at age 78, General Booth was described as‘…a bundle of energy, a keg of dynamite, an example of perpetual motion.’ A keen observer of the international scene, Booth in 1907 prophesied Japan’s technological rise, saying: ‘It is only a question of time when her industries will be tutored with the most expert direction, and packed with the finest machinery taken from all nations of the world, and I do not see what can prevent her producing the finest articles at the cheapest possible price.’
His fellow soldiers saw Booth as a man to follow to their death, if need be. William Booth was truly a spiritual father to the fatherless. His son Bramwell held that his Dad’s greatest power lies in his sympathy, for his heart is a bottomless well of compassion. A Maori woman described William Booth as ‘the great grandfather of us all – the man with a thousand hearts in one!’
Mark Twain said,‘I know of no better way of reaching the poor than through the Salvation Army. They are of the poor, and know how to get to the poor.’
I give thanks for General William Booth, a true giant of a man, and for the Salvation Army who have shown the true Father’s Heart to so many hurting, fatherless people.