Hockey Hall of Fame a unique visit in Swift Current
By Matthew Liebenberg
The Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame has been drawing people from far and wide to Swift Current since becoming a reality last year.
The facility, which is located inside the Credit Union iplex, tells the story of the players, teams and many volunteers who have contributed towards making hockey such an important part of community life during the long, cold Saskatchewan winters.
Hockey fans were able to get their first glimpse of the Hall of Fame during the inaugural induction dinner on July 28 and the facility opened full time on Sept. 27.
George Bowditch, who is the facility’s operator/ curator, said there has been over 1,500 visitors during the initial six months.
“That’s been a fantastic turnout,” he said.
While many of them have been local area hockey fans, others have been from across Canada, the United States and even from Europe.
“We’ve had people in from England and Russia,” he said. “They might be visiting in Swift Current or southwest Saskatchewan and somebody mentions the Hockey Hall of Fame is here. They come and they’re blown away by it. They really, really enjoy it.”
This will be the first summer that the facility is open and Bowditch is expecting to see a wider variety of visitors.
“We’re hoping to get more tourist type of traffic during the summer time,” he said. “We’re distributing brochures to all hotels and motels in town plus other businesses that would like to have them just so that people know that there’s something extra to do in Swift Current.”
He felt the Hall of Fame is an important addition to the city that will provide people with even more choice on what to do during their visit.
“Swift Current is becoming more and more of a tourist destination all the time and what a great way to spend a part of a hot Sunday afternoon when you’re out in Swift Current,” he said.
The presence of the Hall of Fame means the iplex is an interesting venue to host meetings, for example the Saskatchewan City Mayors Caucus took place there from May 8 to 10. Bowditch said they will accommodate people who would like to have their graduation or wedding photographs taken against the backdrop of the province’s hockey history.
“We’ve had a few private events, such as the Children’s Wish Foundation was in here,” he mentioned. “The children and their parents were able to tour the place. They had a great time and they got to meet some Saskatchewan Roughriders here.”
Future plans for the Hall of Fame include guest appearances by NHL players and other hockey stars from Saskatchewan. Some former hockey players have already been visitors.
“We’ve had a lot of old timer hockey players here or people that are relatives of past hockey players,” he said. “They come in and reminisce; they tell me stories about themselves. It’s been a fantastic experience.”
Craig Kickley, the author of a two-volume history about the Big Six Hockey League in southeast Saskatchewan, was one of those visitors. He donated copies of his publication to the Hall of Fame and he was happy to see the league trophy on display.
“He was down here for the old timers’ hockey tournament,” Bowditch recalled. “When he saw the trophy he was so excited.”
One of the most photographed exhibits is the display case for Monsignor “Pére” Athol Murray, who founded Notre Dame College in Wilcox. A Notre Dame bantam hockey team visited the Hall of Fame when they were in Swift Current for a tournament.
“They were so excited when they actually saw a display of “Pére” Murray in here as well,” Bowditch said. “The whole team got together and had their team picture taken with it.”
The majority of items on display are coming from the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, but there are also some private donations. A recent addition from a private donor is a stick used by Trevor Kruger, the goaltender of the 1988/89 Swift Current Broncos Memorial Cup team.
The items on display will change every year as there are new inductees into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame. The 2013 induction dinner will take place in Regina on July 27. There will be eight new inductees, including Clark Gillies of the New York Islanders, St. Louis Blues players Gordon “Red” Berenson and Bernie Federko and Boston Bruins defenceman Edward “Eddie” Shore.
22 SOUTHWEST PROGRESS REPORT 2013
George Bowditch, the operator/curator of the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame in Swift Current
Multi-faceted talents push
Switzer in different directions By Jessi Gowan
community for years, recently he has branched out into the world of social media with his business, SnowStreaker Swift Current Social Media Marketing. Switzer realized that the local market could benefit from someone with an expansive knowledge of the workings of social media. His first exposure to the idea, however, came from an outside source.
“Every year, I billet Swift Current Indians baseball players,” Switzer explained. “One of the players who lived with us had started a social media marketing company in Orange County, California. After a few chats on the phone, I formulated a plan to take what he was doing, and apply it to the southwest Saskatchewan market.”
After seventeen years of working in media, Switzer has had plenty of experience using social media, and understanding the way people communicate. Since social media is rapidly becoming the most popular form of communication, Switzer was eager to help local businesses and organizations take advantage of the wide variety of resources available to them.
“Good radio is all about relating to people, and creating good social media content is very similar,” he said. “It’s awesome to see such an evolution in the way information is exchanged.”
lthough Swift Current’s Ryan Switzer has been a media fixture in the
Social media marketing opportunities are valuable for businesses, allowing them to interact with customers on a more personal basis. Switzer’s experience in radio has provided him with a strong backbone in media – he has hosted a variety of shows, been a sportscaster for hockey, baseball, curling, and roller derby, and has been a popular emcee at events throughout the region.
“While I never had a chance to be a big market radio star, I consider my radio career a success,” Switzer noted. “I’ve learned how to communicate and how to help people reach their target audience, no matter what the medium is.”
He is looking forward to continuing to offer his services within the Swift Current market, and building his business in Saskatchewan’s strong economy.
“Swift Current is my home, and it’s an exciting time to be in Saskatchewan,” he said. “I was just in Mexico for my Honeymoon, and while on the beach, vendors were selling Saskatchewan Roughrider jewellery. It sounds cheesy, but I was really inspired by Premier Wall’s ‘Hope Beats Fear’ speech when he was elected Premier. I’ve made a living communicating and relating to people in Swift Current. While my skills could be applied elsewhere, I do my best work for Swift Current businesses.”
Photos contributed No matter where he goes, Ryan Switzer is plugged in. Switzer has been extremely busy.
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