Although one of the valley’s legends has been gone for nearly 25 years, his legacy continues to grow.
Most of the community is familiar with his name, as the Invermere hockey arena is named in Eddie Mountain’s honour, but many residents are too young to know his saga.
To bring a deserving hockey pioneer back to light, a letter and documents put forward on Friday, March 1st by Tom Renney, whose coaching career has taken him to the NHL, and Barry Brown-John, former president of the Columbia Valley Rockies, have nominated Eddie Mountain for induction to the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame.
It was Eddie Mountain who brought hockey to life in the valley. Although he was never alive to see the Columbia Valley Rockies play in the arena named after him, Mountain ensured the foundation of the team in 1983, and he had the resume to do it. In the 1970s, he played a big role in forming the Columbia Valley Senior Hockey League, as well as the Invermere Selects Senior Hockey Team.
Born in 1934, Mountain spent his childhood in Langley and Merit until relocating to Cranbrook as a young adult. Before making his way north through the valley, he was instrumental in the creation of the Cranbrook Royals Hockey Club.
During an All-Star banquet in Cranbrook, Mountain was brave enough to allow his friends and colleague to rake him over the coals, as he was the subject of an old-fashioned roast.
Some of the shots included a “Pillsbury Doughboy” reference and a joke about his body proportions, but most of the speakers only delivered compliments. “Not so much ‘roasted’ as ‘gently simmered’,” wrote Anne Picton, who reported on the event.
Sports kept him busy all throughout the year. According to a Jack Kavanagh news article from Kimberley, Eddie took a keen interest in baseball and fastball during the warmer months, but generally he would take part in just about anything he could.
“Eddie dabbles in sports like a chess master, and is successful because he isn’t afraid to take a chance,” stated the article.
In Des Askey’s “As I See It” column that ran in The Valley Echo for a long period, Askey wrote that Mountain was the backbone to the Rockies organization.
“Eddie has a one-track mind; ‘Get the best coach available and young hockey players will flock here to get this training’.” The reference was to Tom Renney, who was the Rockies coach at the time.
Eddie Mountain’s death in 1989 came too early, but his love of hockey and pride for the community live on through his remarkable legacy.
While he faces talented competition in the induction at the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame, many agree that Mountain’s trailblazing work for the valley’s hockey community deserves provincial recognition.