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Mostly forgotten – ice exploits of times past

February 6, 2014

When the Fraser river froze over in pioneer times, commerce came to a standstill, mills shut down and steamers were laid up.  An enforced holiday was an opportunity for recreation.  On snowy streets, “coasting” was the sport of choice,  with youngsters gliding downhill and taking out onlookers by the legs.  A favourite spot for skating and playing ice-hockey was along the shallows of the Brownsville shore.

hockey on Fraser River - Brownsville

This photo from the New Westminster Archives, dated 1929, shows a crowd skating and playing ice hockey below the New Westminster Bridge.

We don’t know if there were any future professional hockey players in that group,  but a one-time local man was a well-known player in the Pacific Coast Hockey League.

Chuck Millman was a star defenceman with the Vancouver Canucks of the 1940’s, under the management of Coley Hall.
Millman was renowned throughout the league for his up-ice rushes, weaving past opponents to score.  In the 1947-48 season he tallied 20 goals.
An all-round athlete, Millman first came out to the coast to play football for the Vancouver Grizzlies, forerunners of the BC Lions.
After his retirement, Chuck Millman was in the news when Whalley’s first hotel was opened in 1955.

Dell Hotel grand opening
The Dell Hotel on the Trans-Canada Highway was heralded as “ultra-modern” with a TV in each of its 22 rooms.  Wes Hamilton was the hotel manager.
Chuck Millman was operator of the Dell Hotel banquet room and the 24-hour Coffee Shop.
In 1965 Millman was admitted to Shaughnessy Hospital where he remained for the rest of his life.  He had multiple sclerosis.
Charles Albert Millman died on August 2, 1979,  at the age of 61 and his passing went unnoticed by local newspapers.
It took veteran sports columnist Clancy Loranger to give due credit to this “courageous one-time Vancouver sports idol [who] passed away quietly and mostly forgotten by the fans who once had raised the Forum roof when he was on the ice in the 40’s.”

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