Sports hall of fame proposed for Haliburton
by Darren Lum
Published Jan. 9, 2018
There are a lot of people to celebrate, said Haliburton resident Scotty LaRue, who is asking the public for their support for a sports hall of fame based in Haliburton.
LaRue said the hall would showcase the great people who have represented the area well and have strengthened the fabric of the community through their achievements in sport.
“I got thinking there are a lot of people other than just hockey players (even though my background is basically hockey, fastball and so on), but I think they should be recognized for their efforts and [also] the championships and successes they had in the past,” he said. “We shouldn’t forget them.”
With the recent publicity Haliburton received from hosting Hometown Hockey and with the outdoor premiere of the documentary There’s Something in the Water a few years ago, LaRue said Haliburton County has received great exposure and hopes to continue that with the hall of fame.
Right now, his concept is in its infancy. His focus is on generating interest and getting the public’s input from a yet-to-be-scheduled spring meeting with a question and answer format.
“We want discussion going on and this is why I am interested in having this in the newspaper right now: to stimulate some discussion over the next few months and then I expect to have a lot of people at the general meeting,” he said. “We want the feedback from them.”
LaRue said holding a spring meeting will enable “snowbirds” to be part of this process. The location and specific date for the meeting will be decided in the coming months. At this point input is the focus and money is not needed now, he said.
Although not official, he has received encouragement from Dysart Mayor Murray Fearrey. LaRue, who has met with Fearrey, said he believes there is a general feeling of support from the council.
LaRue also reached out to residents for support and has contacted Scotty Morrison, who is an inductee and former president of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
LaRue points out this endeavour isn’t about giving himself any attention.
However his achievements in sport and his community efforts could make him a candidate for induction.
As a young man, he played major junior hockey, including one season in St. Gervais Les Bains in the French Alps. He was an adept fastball player and a scratch golfer. LaRue was also a coach, manager, team owner and corporate sponsor of the Haliburton Huskies Junior D hockey club. The Huskies are well-known here for winning the Ontario championship in the 1970-1971 season. Outside of sports, he was a longtime Rotarian and also past-president, a volunteer firefighter with Haliburton Fire Department for five years and a school board trustee before he bought a local bus company in the late-1970s.
Haliburton is known for the arts, which includes the Fleming College Haliburton campus arts programming to locally based artists, he said. The hall could be another destination.
“Every little thing helps to promote this area, which we need because you know there is not a lot of industry here so the more things we do for [tourism] the more opportunities people have to stay here,” he said.
While on vacation in Florida, LaRue came up with the idea for the hall after he met with Rob Wright, an inductee with the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame at the General Motors Centre. Wright was inducted in the team category as a member of the Oshawa Tonys fastball team. LaRue said he’ll use the procedural framework of Haliburton’s hall from Oshawa, which modelled theirs after the Peterborough and District Sports Hall of Fame, at the Peterborough Memorial Centre.
The hall of fame would include inductees for three categories: builder, team and individual.
A builder is anyone who has provided considerable effort in working in the background of sport, such as a coach, manager or president. The team inductee is any club or team that has “reached the limit in their category” like provincial championships. This could also include other sports such as curling and also minor hockey. Each inductee would have a plaque on a wall with a photo and a small write-up about their achievements below.
The individual inductee is anyone who excelled in their sport such as Lesley Tashlin, originally from Haliburton, who competed in the 100-metre hurdles at the Atlanta Olympic summer games in 1996.
There would be a limit of up to five inductees every year. Inductees could be former or current residents of Haliburton County, who were born here or not. He cited Highlands retiree Walt McKechnie, a former NHL player and current Dysart councillor, as another possibility despite not being born here.
“Anybody else here that has lived here or retired here for five years in the community probably could be nominated,” he said.
The nomination process would start with an application form to a selection committee, which would review it and submit the nomination to an executive branch. It would then be given to a board of governors who would ratify or veto the selection. A ceremony would be held for the induction once a year at the arena including guest speakers.
He doesn’t see a hall of fame starting for more than a year.
One venue option is the A.J. LaRue Arena – named for Scotty’s dad, who was a strong community booster. If the number of inductees warrant it, a larger venue could be chosen at that time, he said.
There are many details to be worked out, but LaRue is optimistic.
Down the road, he hopes there will be separate building for the hall that will include related artifacts.
“I think it will be an asset to our community,” he said.