They say that it takes one person to drive a new project. For Kingston & District Sports Hall of Fame, that person was Joe Hawkins.
In 1994, City Council of Kingston, the Kingston Agriculture Society, Frontenac County Council and Lennox and Addington County Council endorsed by resolution the concept to formally recognize Kingston and district athletes and builders of the past, present and future.
Late that year Joe chaired a meeting of like-minded Kingstonians to formally create a sports Hall of fame. They established a selection committee of nine, and agreed to hold elections for an executive early in 1995. At the early meetings, they also agreed that they needed a by-law committee, which they established, and agreed that the most suitable location of the Hall would be in the Kingston Memorial Centre.
1995 saw many initiatives to get the Hall off the ground. On January 9, Joe Hawkins was elected chair, Bill Huntley vice-chair, Wayne Bulak secretary, Gil Sherbet treasurer, and Bev Partridge as executive officer. Four standing committees were set up, Ian MacAlpine presented suggestions for recognition plaques, a logo contest was held, selection procedures were established, and BDO Dunwoody Ward Mallette were appointed accountants. Michael Ross presented initial design for the Hall, Al Cromarty (Ernest A. Cromarty Architect Inc.) contributed architectural suggestions and the Memorial Centre agreed to the use of glass cases. The Bank of Montreal became the Hall’s banker. A large banner with the Hall’s name on it was purchased. Blueprints for the Hall design were presented to the board and the board turned them over to the Kingston Construction Association which had agreed to make the renovations in the Memorial Centre. The Selection Committee was enlarged from nine to 12, and the board decided to raffle a car to raise funds and profile. Two events stand out in 1995: on July 31, the KDSHF was incorporated and officially became the Kingston & District Sports Hall of Fame, and the Kiwanis Club of Kingston donated $10,000 for the trophy area and for the first induction dinner.
Activities toward the first induction dinner on May 31, 1996 continued under the leadership of Bev Partridge and Charlie Pester, while raffle tickets were being sold and the Kingston Construction Association was working on the Hall itself. The first Induction Dinner program was 24 pages. 700 copies cost $1,795.00. Eleven men and one woman were inducted at the first dinner that took 75 minutes! Other details about the first dinner: tickets were $25.00/person, 273 tickets were sold and 22 were provided to inductees or their family.
The board decided to develop a manual of operations to guide them and their successors. The official opening took place at the Memorial Centre on September 14, 1996. The board committed to providing a bronze plaque in the Memorial Centre naming all the initial board members.
It is important to note that generous individuals and businesses in the Kingston area donated virtually all the materials and labour to build the Hall. Estimates of this cost were close to $150,000.
In October 1996, the board hosted an Appreciation Evening for everyone who had contributed to the creation and opening of the Hall. It was a great success!
Throughout 1997 activities continued to get the Hall on a firm foundation. Charlie Pester chaired the dinner, a slate of 11 men and one woman was approved for induction, and a board contact for each inductee was established. Efforts continued to have the Hall registered as a charity. An innovation of 1997 was the Media Lunch, chaired by Mark Potter, preceding the dinner. Over 100 attended! Brown’s Catering came on board as a sponsor of the lunch. Kingston Cablenet 13 (later Cogeco) once again videotaped the induction ceremony. There was a profit on the dinner of about $4000.00.
The board approved a second car raffle, with the draw to be December 24th, and set a date for the 1998 induction dinner.
1998 saw the induction of nine men and two women, and the last dinner held at Days Inn before moving it to the Ambassador. Several initiatives were realized: a video was made of the induction, pins were given out at the dinner, and the board agreed to formalize its partnership with the City of Kingston. In addition, the government approved Hall’s trademark and the board decided on three categories of inductees (athlete, builder and athletebuilder). The car raffle was financially very successful, although it consumed a lot of volunteer time.
The Hall’s registration as a charity in 1999 meant that tax receipts could be given for donations. Short biographies that were in the program became the text on the wall plaques. Names of inductees were printed on the back of the dinner ticket, making it a memorable souvenir of the evening. The nomination deadline changed to October 1 of each year, and the board began to discuss the possibility of inducting teams. Work continued on an operations manual. Vice President Bill Huntley hosted the first of many Christmas socials at his home. Guests were board members, inductees and their spouses/partners.
Work on the Operations/Procedures Manual continued through 2000. The dinner program contained 36 pages, and 700 copies were printed. Once again, ads for the dinner program were a good source of revenue for the Hall. Over 100 media and inductees attended the Media Lunch sponsored by Brown’s Catering. The dinner at which two women and seven men were inducted, attracted almost 400 guests.
Since the Centre was frequently the site of trade shows etc, signs are often put on Hall walls and plaques are used to hold up banners. This continued to be a concern for the Hall. Sale of ads in the program, now at 36 pages, continued to generate considerable revenue, The Whig Standard printed profiles of the eleven men inducted, and just under 400 people turned out for the dinner.
Cost of tickets for the 2001 dinner at which eleven Kingstonians were inducted was $25.00/person. It was agreed that the cost would increase to $30.00 for the 2002 dinner. Guests at the dinner received key chains, and the board invested in a 20’ by 4’ banner. At the December annual general meeting, the board agreed that inductees would have lifetime voting rights at the AGM, that directors and selection committee members would be considered members in the year preceding an AGM, and that membership in the Hall to others would be available for an annual fee. Terms of board members were set at 3 years, with a third rotating off the board each year.
January 2002 saw the retirement of President Joe Hawkins after over seven years of commitment to getting the Hall established. Vice President Bill Huntley became the second president of the KDSHF. Several new ideas came forward. The board decided to hold a reception for inductees (six men and two women) and city councillors prior to the public introduction at a council meeting. Revisions of the operations manual were begun, and a newsletter was proposed to be distributed two or three times a year. Kingston artist Shirley Hulley’s work graced the induction dinner program for the first of four consecutive years. The AGM was held in June for the first time in 2002, and Hank Kelly became the second serving Vice President of the Hall. The treasurer reported on a significant bank account; GICs were purchased to help increase the assets of the Hall. The board also established a fund-raising committee.
The first KDSHF newsletter went out in March, 2003 followed in May by the induction into the Hall of eight prominent Kingstonians. The Board established a policy to induct a maximum of 12 persons in any year. The board established a committee, along with members of the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame (IIHF) to investigate the possibility of a combined museum in a potential development on Block D in downtown Kingston.
In early 2004, Kingston’s city council began to investigate building a new arena/rink. The board was interested in being part of these discussions so the president sent a letter to the city indicating that the Hall was interested in being part of the Large Venue Entertainment Centre (LVEC). In April a successful Media Lunch was held. TV Cogeco interviewed inductees and provided a DVD of the interviews. Over 435 people attended the dinner at the Ambassador Conference Resort at which seven men and one woman were inducted. The program contained 32 pages and cost over $4,500. Ad sales yielded over $10,000. The Operations/Reference Manual was approved and distributed, a position description for the Member–at-Large was written, and a Communications & Media Standing Committee was established. Bill Huntley, President, again hosted the Hall’s Christmas social at his home.
The City of Kingston continued planning for a downtown sport and entertainment centre in 2005, and Bill Huntley represented the Hall at those meetings. The city indicated its interest in having the KDSHF re-locate to the new sports facility. In addition, Leon Doucet and Joe Hawkins represented the KDSHF at meetings related to redevelopment of the Memorial Centre, and the creation of a new multiplex in the west end. It was suggested that the Hall develop a website for publicity, marketing and exposure purposes. Bill and Mary Jane Huntley once again hosted a well-attended Christmas social. The 10th Induction dinner, held at the Ambassador Hotel and Conference Centre, was a big success. Eight men are inducted into the Hall. A 40 page program costing approximately $4,400 celebrated the new inductees; 700 copies were printed. The KDSHF had a positive bank balance, and GICs were purchased to maximize the Hall’s financial situation.
At the January 2006 meeting the Board voted to re-locate to the LVEC downtown. Bill Huntley attended the first of many, many meetings related to the addition of the Hall to the LVEC. Al Cromarty, who assisted with plans for the Hall in the Memorial Centre, once again agreed to assist with ideas and design of the Hall in the new facility. Sadly, suggestions made were not accepted, and ultimately initial agreements for the Hall were scaled down or not executed. Meetings continued throughout the year and were a tremendous commitment for board members. The Huntleys hosted a fine Christmas party once again. Leading up to the Induction Dinner, a successful Media Lunch was held in the Hall at the Memorial Centre. Ticket prices for the dinner increased to $40.00/person at the Ambassador. Five men and two women were inducted. The KDSHF’s first contributions to the Queen’s Archives were programs from 1996 to 2005. Board members were assigned permanent inductees to liaise with in order to develop continuity and rapport. The Hall began soliciting donations of memorabilia from inductees for eventual display in the new Hall location. At the Annual meeting, the treasurer reported a healthy financial situation, and long-serving Ken Matthews and Wayne Bulak stepped down from the board. Elected to replace them were Martin Secker (Treasurer) and Diana Davis Duerkop (Secretary). Tom Clifford, unable to continue on the board, was replaced by Jim Hamilton. Detailed discussion got underway on content, design and management of the website.
2007 saw a number of developments. Memorabilia continued to be donated to the Hall and stored at the Memorial Centre. Meetings continued on plans for the move to the LVEC, including a storeroom for memorabilia and Hall documents. A Memorandum of Agreement with the city was developed over several months. President Huntley toured the LVEC for the first time in December, and hosted a successful Christmas party. Digigraphics was awarded the contract to develop, along with a Hall committee, a website with a url of www.kdshf.ca. An almost sold-out dinner was held at the Ambassador. This year, six men and two women were inducted, bringing the total to 106 inductees. A new computer database was set up for inductees. With a new designer and printer, the 48 page program costs about $3,600. for 700 copies; this is the best and least expensive program to date. Once again, James Keirstead contributed the cover picture. 77 persons were eligible to vote at the annual meeting, including inductees, board and selection committee members. The treasurer once again reported a healthy financial situation.
In 2008 much of the board’s time and energy was consumed by discussion about the re-location of the Hall to the LVEC, now named the K-Rock Centre. Discussion about display cases continued with no resolution. The Memorabilia Committee became active under the leadership of Joe Hawkins, inductees were encouraged to donate items of memorabilia to the Hall, and the board decided to contribute $5,000.00 over a five year period to the KRock Centre. The last signature was affixed to the Memorandum of Agreement with the City on Kingston on March 28, 2008. The 13th Induction Dinner welcomed seven new members, making the total 118. Following the dinner, Leon Doucet stepped down from the board. At the AGM the Communications & Media Committee became the Marketing and Communications Committee, marking another significant development in the evolution of the KDSHF.
After many delays, the plaques were taken down from the Memorial Centre in July, and are installed in the K-Rock Centre. The Kingston & District Sports Hall of Fame is now officially in its new home!