The Origins of the Cambridge Sports Hall of Fame
The Cambridge Sports Hall of Fame began to take shape in the summer of 1996, with Jim King’s encouragement (Jim was then part of the Community Services department), when Cam Allan, Al Findlay, Jim Cox, Ed Heather, John Corbett, Al Bessie and Dave Menary formed the initial committee.
From the outset the committee was concerned with preserving the community’s sports heritage and putting it on public display.
All members had extensive sports and volunteer experience in Cambridge. In short order several other committee members came on board including Dave Willock and Paul Ross.
By the time the Cambridge Sports Honour Roll held its first Induction ceremony, in May, 1998, the name had changed to the Cambridge Sports Hall of Fame (CSHF).
The first class of inductees — 24 in total — were selected in 1997 and inducted in 1998 to form the Class of 1997.
A mission statement was developed:
- To annually induct athletes, athletic teams and builders, as determined by the selection committee, to the Cambridge Sports Honour Roll.
- To strive to establish a permanent and public Sports Honour Roll in the city of Cambridge where displays – words, pictures and other memorabilia – will celebrate and honour the unique sporting heritage of Cambridge;
- To perpetuate the names and deeds of Cambridge’s sports figures.
The Honour Roll was initially housed in the upper front lobby of the newly-renovated Galt Arena Gardens and the committee began to accept donations of sports memorabilia.
Eventually the Cambridge Centre came calling and, with the help of politician Karl Kiefer, the Hall moved into their main corridor in front of the food court.in the fall of 1997. The CSHF opened with an exhibit called “Cambridge at the Olympics” during the Nagano Winter Olympics. On display were Olympic downhiller Like Sauder’s first small skis worn as a toddler, as well as artifacts from Derrick Campbell’s first Olympics at Albertville. Don Rope’s Olympic bronze and silver medals from Cortina (1956) and Squaw Valley (1960) were on display, as well as gymnast Elvira Saadi’s two Olympic gold medals when she competed in the 1972 Munich and 1976 Montreal Olympics for the Soviet Union.
Early sponsors included the City of Cambridge, Canadian General Tower and in particular, Gord Chaplin, and Tim Hortons. That early help was crucial and their foresight should not go unnoticed.
The Hall held its first induction ceremony, with 24 inductees (teams, athletes and builders) being honoured, in May 1998 with Olympic gold medalist Derrick Campbell as host.
Athletes of the Century
In 2000 the Cambridge Sports Hall of Fame announced its two Cambridge Athletes of the Century – Normie Himes and Hilda Ranscombe. Both were all-round athletes of an exceptional nature, and both brought distinction to our community.
Today their names are emblazoned on a banner hanging proudly from the rafters at the Cambridge Centre.
Our Sixth Year
In 2001 the Hall celebrated its expansion in the Cambridge Centre by inducting 14 athletes, teams and builders, many of whom were on hand for the ceremony.
The expansion project was made possible by two generous grants provided by the City of Cambridge and the Ontario Trillium foundation. Other sponsors included Tim Horton’s, the Cambridge Centre, and the Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation.
Morguard Investments, owner of the Cambridge Centre, invited the Hall to be part of the discussion and planning of their expansion from the earliest stages of the project. Their support, directly from their president to the mall management consisting of Monique and the Hall liaison Tracy, was positive and unwavering.
Rick Murphy of D3 Artworks Inc., was responsible for the original “life forms” in our new interactive display cases, and for the artwork wall above the displays.
With the Induction of 2014 (May 2, 2015) the Hall will have 146 plaques on display, each with pictures and a biography. The plaques themselves are part of the permanent display and each tells a story.
Fundraising is an important focus of the committee to maintain the displays and run the induction ceremony (yearly on the first Saturday of May), as well as provide scholarships, including the Bob Cunningham Scholarship, to area high school students. Donations are welcomed, and donors receive a tax-deductible receipt.
The CSHF also gratefully acknowledges the support provided by Ron Schindler and Schindler Tower Inc. for providing secure and safe storage for our artifacts.
May 2015 marks the Hall’s 18th annual Induction Ceremony. It’s been a team effort from the beginning, with each individual freely giving their own unique talents and efforts. Because of those efforts our city’s sports heritage has been preserved and displayed for all to see.