Sports Local Hockey

New book highlights some of Simcoe County's greatest players

By Susan Doolan, Special to Postmedia Network

Keith Milne (left) did some of the illustrations for a book about some of Simcoe County’s greatest players, the McNamara Brothers, written by L. Waxy Gregoire (right).

SUBMITTED Keith Milne (left) did some of the illustrations for a book about some of Simcoe County’s greatest players, the McNamara Brothers, written by L. Waxy Gregoire (right).

A passion for hockey brought two area men together for a book on some of Simcoe County’s greatest players, the McNamara Brothers.

L. Waxy Gregoire, from Penetanguishene, wrote the book while Keith Milne of Oro-Medonte Township contributed some of the illustrations, including the cover art.

The pair met through the Society for International Hockey Research.

“He’s even more of a hockey buff than I am,” said Milne. “Waxy did two other books focusing in on NHL players who lived locally in the early 1900s. They were local boys and they were giants.”

The book centres on the three McNamara brothers: Harold, born in 1889, Howard (1890) and George (1886). They all played hockey professionally and one of the brothers was on a Stanley Cup team. All are recognized in the Penetanguishene Sports Hall of Fame.

For Gregoire, it was his interest in hockey that inspired him to take up writing. He retired four years ago from the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care in Penetanguishene (formerly known as Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene) where he was in charge of hospital services.

This book, The ‘Dynamite’ Era and Road to the NHL subtitle The McNamara Brothers, is his third on famous hockey players who were born in the Penetanguishene area.

“It’s historical in nature,” Gregoire said of the book. “The fact the three of them were born here, (these) stories that just don’t get out there.”

He said the brothers were pioneers of hockey in the 1900s.

Gregoire was in touch with some of the McNamara grandchildren for biographical information.

The book tells of the McNamara connections to Barrie and Orillia and touches on what they did after their hockey careers. It also contains historical photos.

Milne, who was born in Sundridge, came to Barrie after his sister moved here. He’s been working here full-time as a graphic designer for the past eight years.

Art has been an interest since Milne's childhood, when he would capture images of dogs, cats and kids on paper. He took art in high school with a goal of becoming a cartoonist.

College followed, studying media arts at Sheridan, which included cartooning and illustration as well as a mix of animation and graphic design programs at various colleges in Ontario and British Columbia.

Since then, Milne has freelanced his drawings and cartoons to a variety of national newspapers and magazines, book publishers, as well as an animated television series called Freaky Stories. His work ranges from cartoon-like to realism.

For the book about the McNamara brothers, Milne wanted to capture their likenesses.

“I wanted to do the (drawings) in the same style as the illustrations were back then,” he said.

While Milne does hockey cartoons for CARHA Hockey, and realistic renderings of wildlife for Western Sportsman, drawings for Ottawa Outdoors and the like, he also has a particular interest in children’s magazines and books. His work has been included in several published books including The Walk, a Grade 1 Scholastic Canada read, released in 2011.

The ‘Dynamite’ Era and Road to the NHL, The McNamara Brothers, sells for $14.95, including tax, and is available in three communities: the Huronia Museum in Midland, Penetanguishene Centennial Museum and the Reading Room in Penetanguishene, as well as in Barrie at Realty Executives, 81 Maple Ave.

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