My father Orin was born in Charlottetown in 1932 to the late Walter and Sadie Carver. Walter was a veteran of the 1st World War. He worked hard and lived hard, and was renowned for his wisdom and his respect for Sadie. Such was that respect that one might say that he was set in HER ways. I am sure this lesson was carried down from father to son as my Dad told us once that of all the women he met, he respected my mother, Jill, the most. In this, Walter taught Orin well.
Dad was one of six sons and five daughters, so with 11 kids of various ages running around, it wasn’t surprising that the pond and rink were second homes to all the boys on the Carver family. Dad loved hockey, and as it turned out, he was good at it too.
He attended West Kent, and starred in many interscholastic hockey games against rival teams within the city school system. At winter events like the annual Ice Sports, played each year in the Charlottetown Forum, Queen Square, Prince Street and West Kent schools would compete against one another for hockey bragging rights. West Kent’s top line of the late 1940s – Howie Glover, Keith Dalziel, and Orin, might well have been one of the capital city’s all time very best, and the trio, along with another future Hall of Famer, Lorne Hennessey, formed the backbone of the Charlottetown Midget Abbies when they won the 1948 Maritime title.
Historian Catherine Hennessey, a contemporary of my father, has said “the line of Carver, Dalziel and Glover would touch any girl’s heart…..they were very, very good players, and gentlemen. The spirit at the old Charlottetown rink reflected their popularity.”
After one year at Prince of Wales College, and playing that season with the city Juvenile Abbies team, 17-year-old Orin headed to Nova Scotia for his first taste of Junior A hockey, a star in the making.
After a couple of seasons in Halifax, Orin headed further west, joining up with the legendary “Hap” Emms and the Barrie Flyers. The 1952-53 team that Emms put together is considered by many to be one of the finest junior teams ever assembled, and Orin fit in well with teammates Orval Tessier, Don McKenney, Doug Mohns, and Marv Edwards. He was even able to call Mr. Hockey Night in Canada himself, Don Cherry, a team-mate, whom he described, believe it or not, as the quietest and shyest guy on the team. It was a magical season for the Flyers, who ended the season with a Memorial Cup championship. To this day, Orin remains one of only a select few of Islanders ever to lift a Memorial Cup.
Although he was invited to camps by the New York Rangers and the AHL powerhouse Cleveland Barons, Orin resisted the overtures of the National Hockey League. Instead he decided to return to Atlantic Canada, and his hometown Charlottetown Islanders in the Maritime Major Hockey League. Rewards were good in those days for the top players in the Big Four League, especially for those, like Orin, who saw a future outside the game of hockey.
Orin thrived in his time with the Islanders. We are told that those with good memories still go misty-eyed at the hockey played in those days, as the Islanders suited up the likes of Buck Whitlock, Bucko Trainor, Paul Saindon, Bubby Dowling and Lorne Hennessey.
Even in this star-studded line-up, my father stood out. While it was often Buck who put the puck in the net, it was Orin who often made the plays. Perhaps even more memorable was his conduct off the rink. Al McCallum, who was kind enough to put together the nomination for Orin for the Hall of Fame, remembers waiting outside the rink with his friends, and always being rewarded with a puck or a broken stick – a memento of the game that my father would provide. Occasionally he would sneak these young fans into the game, something Mr. McCallum remembers to this day. “He was our hero”, he has told me on many occasions, “and the crowded loved him too”.
After two seasons with the Islanders, and a season in Moncton where he racked up 99 points, Orin embarked on his next great adventure. His business interests in the oil industry took him to Newfoundland in the late 50s, and if he was popular in Charlottetown, he was revered on the Rock.
Bucko Trainor was the athletic director in Grand Falls, and he offered Orin the opportunity to play. In his first season he set the place on fire, breaking all kinds of records in the Grand Falls Senior League before suiting up to play for the Herder Memorial Trophy, emblematic of hockey supremacy in Newfoundland.
Orin was the star in the finals, scoring ten times and helping the Andcos win the Trophy.
In 1962 he repeated the Herder Cup win, this time with Corner Brook, whom he helped to their first win in 27 years. People still remember with affection Orin’s contributions to hockey in that City, especially his performance in the finals, where he totalled 15 points.
NHL Hall of Famer Howie Meeker, who grew to know my dad during his time in St. John’s, said, “He was one of the classiest people you could ever wish to meet,” People loved to be around him, and he was some hockey player, always capable of scoring the big goals. He would make everybody else play better by just his presence. The people of Newfoundland loved him.”
As well as an outstanding player, Orin was also a respected coach and organizer, having stints behind the bench at Memorial University, and serving junior and senior hockey in the capital city well. He had a significant influence, not just on how his players played the game, but how they subsequently lived their lives. There are many people in St. John’s today who can honestly say that the biggest influence in their life has been my dad, Orin Carver.
Orin always believed in a strong sense of community, and this was never more evident than when he came back with my mom to Prince Edward Island in the late 1980s. Such was his reputation that he was asked by then Premier Joe Ghiz to take on the chair of the Host Society for the 1991 Canada Games. “When your Premier asks you to do something, it is hard to say no,” he said at the time, but we know he thoroughly enjoyed the role. Mr. Ghiz obviously knew what kind of man he was getting when he asked my father, as the Games proved to be a big success. As a show of gratitude following the Games, Mr. Ghiz set up a scholarship fund in Orin’s name, rewarding students who show the same aptitude for hard work and community involvement that he did.
Not political, but a supporter of whichever government was in power at the time, my father was a great Canadian, and was active in supporting the concept of a united country. He also lent a hand when he was asked to participate in a federal government small business consultative committee, aimed at improving the odds for small business entrepreneurs in Canada. I remember asking him why he chose to participate in these initiatives and he simply said, “Because they asked for my help”. That was reason enough for my father. He was also an outstanding bridge player, a pilot, a businessman, and entrepreneur, who preached hard work and fair play. Education was important to him, and it was something he encouraged each of us to pursue. To help others do the same, he helped to set up a franchise of Compu College in the province and in Moncton.
In 2001, his country rewarded him when he was appointed the Order of Canada. On his death shortly after, following a great fight with cancer, the tributes were heartfelt, and sincere. They all touched on one thing – that Orin Carver was a gentleman, an outstanding citizen, and a wonderful sportsman.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to induct my father, Orin Carver, into the Hall of Fame. Thank you.