PMHS: quiet partner in the Syl Apps banner raising

Toronto has long claimed hockey legend Syl Apps as its own. His banner hung over the ice in the Air Canada Centre for 18 years, saluting the Maple Leafs team captain’s NHL career which included three Stanley Cups wins.

But that was only one of his remarkable achievements.

He was a football star at McMaster University, winning two national championships; an Olympic pole vaulter; a World War II veteran; a Progressive Conservative MPP and a cabinet minister.

When the Leafs offered the 16-foot banner to Apps’ hometown this fall, Brant County wanted to celebrate his whole story, not just the Toronto chapter.

John Bishop, supervisor of the Syl Apps Centre, knew exactly where to turn. He asked Sharon Murphy of the Paris Museum and Historical Society to pull together a display featuring personal memorabilia that documented the rise of the bright young Paris athlete to the to the top ranks of the NHL, to the Olympics, to the provincial legislature and to the status of national sports legend.

Sharon, working with a handful of PMHS volunteers, didn’t have much time, but she created a visual history ensuring that Apps’s roots, multiple awards and his leadership — on and off the ice — were recognized.

The banner raising took place at the Brant Sports Complex on November 4 at 7 p.m. A good crowd was on hand to cheer the homecoming. Mayor Ron Eddy shared his recollections of Apps, who was 16 years older than him. “I had the privilege of meeting Apps when I was in Grade 13 and he was the guest speaker.” The two Parisians met again when Apps was elected MPP for Kingston and the Islands and Eddy was his counterpart for Brant-Haldimand

There were congratulations and thanks all around. Neither the Brantford Expositor nor Brant News mentioned the museum’s contribution.

Sharon was philosophical. She had the satisfaction of a job well done and the museum was “golden” in the eyes of the county, one of its principal supporters.

Carol Goar with files from Sharon Murphy