BELLEVILLE, ON, June 23, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, the Ontario Heritage Trust, in partnership with the City of Belleville and the Hastings County Historical Society, unveiled a provincial plaque at the Quinte Sports & Wellness Centre commemorating "The Flying Frenchmen" – a group of three original players for the Montreal Canadiens.
Belleville is the birthplace of Jean-Baptiste "Jack" Laviolette (1879-1960), one of "The Flying Frenchmen." This provincial plaque unveiling is the first in a series that will be held this year to recognize the three players.
The provincial plaque reads as follows:
THE FLYING FRENCHMEN
Professional hockey was in its infancy in the autumn of 1909 when the promoters behind the National Hockey Association, forerunner of the National Hockey League, created the Montreal Canadiens team to attract French-Canadian spectators. Belleville-born Jean-Baptiste "Jack" Laviolette was hired as the playing-manager and captain. Laviolette signed Cornwall's Édouard "Newsy" Lalonde to play forward and recruited his friend Didier "Cannonball" Pitre from the Renfrew Creamery Kings ('Renfrew Millionaires') as a defenceman. This trio of francophone players formed the nucleus of the roster for several seasons and led the Canadiens to their first Stanley Cup championship in 1916. They played with such speed and finesse that sportswriters began calling them "The Flying Frenchmen," establishing the Canadiens' trademark playing style for generations. Laviolette retired in 1918, the Canadiens traded Lalonde to the Saskatoon Crescents in 1922 and Pitre retired in 1923. All three were later inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame for their part in establishing a legendary hockey franchise.
"The Flying Frenchmen are a fine example of the excellence, dedication and teamwork that characterize Ontario's sport heritage. Their legacy lives on in one of Canada's most celebrated hockey teams, inspiring new generations of athletes and fans, and as role models to the Franco-Ontarian community."
– Professor Thomas H.B. Symon, Chair, Ontario Heritage Trust
"Ontario has been home to many unforgettable athletes whose achievements inspire Canadians of all ages. The Flying Frenchmen — Lalonde, Laviolette and Pitre — are part of our province's great sport history and their success in the earliest days of professional hockey in Canada still resonates a century later. All young hockey players dream of one day hoisting the Stanley Cup. In many ways those dreams began 100 years ago with the Flying Frenchmen, when they led the Montreal Canadiens to the team's first Cup in 1916. I am proud that these hockey legends are now being honoured with a provincial heritage plaque."
– Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
"The Hastings County Historical Society congratulates the Ontario Heritage Trust on its program to recognize the early sports heroes of Ontario. Jack Laviolette is certainly front and centre among Canada's hockey pioneers, being the "founding father" of the Montreal Canadiens. The Belleville sports community, which has a long history of national and world achievements, is proud to see this public recognition of Jack Laviolette, the son of a lumber industry worker who rose to become one of the immortal Flying Frenchmen."
– Richard Hughes, President, Hastings County Historical Society
- The provincial plaque was permanently installed at the Quinte Sports & Wellness Centre, 265 Cannifton Road, Belleville.
- Provincial plaques recognizing the other two "Flying Frenchmen" – Édouard "Newsy" Lalonde and Didier "Cannonball" Pitre – will be unveiled later this year.
- The Ontario Heritage Trust's Provincial Plaque Program commemorates provincially significant people, places and events in Ontario's history. Since 1956, over 1,270 provincial plaques have been unveiled.
- Find out more about the Ontario Heritage Trust and explore the Provincial Plaque Program.
- Learn more about Ontario's sport heritage, including personalities, traditions and key events, in our Snapshots of Ontario's sport heritage.
- Explore a rich repository of stories related to Ontario's Franco-Ontarian history in our Snapshots of Franco-Ontarian heritage.
The Ontario Heritage Trust is an agency of the Government of Ontario dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario's heritage.
The Trust gratefully acknowledges the Ontario Office of Francophone Affairs for its assistance and the Department of Canadian Heritage for its financial contribution to this provincial plaque through the Canada-Ontario Agreement on French-Language Services.
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SOURCE Ontario Heritage Trust
For further information: For more information about the Ontario Heritage Trust and the Provincial Plaque Program, contact Catrina Colme at 416-325-5074 or [email protected]