Star Weekly comics section Toronto Argonauts Popsicle ad from June 24, 1954
First up is an unusual and rare advertising panel within the weekly comics supplement featuring Argonauts star Quarterback Norbert "Nobby" Wirkowsky promoting Popsicle products. Nobby had led the Argonauts to the 1952 Grey Cup championship and played ten seasons in the CFL for Toronto, Hamilton and Calgary. In addition to playing Wirkowski was involved in coaching at the high school, university and professional levels in Canada for almost 40 years and passed away in Mississauga in 2014.
Ephemera featuring CFL players as contracted advertising spokesmen for products is exceedingly rare (perhaps with the notable exception of content within game programs) but the profile of the Argonauts in mid 20th Century Toronto was definitely an order of magnitude different than the present day. Naturally newspaper inserts from this time period are not going to have survived very frequently so this is a piece you will not encounter anytime soon.
|Early-60's Ottawa Rough Rider Glass|
Next up is a fabulous and rare clear drinking glass featuring the Ottawa Rough Riders logo on one side and their star Quarterback Russ Jackson with facsimile autograph on the other. There is no information on the glass as to the issuer or product manufacturer but it may have been filled with something like a jam or a jelly as this was fairly common in those days. Whether or not this was a single and Jackson was the only player featured or there were more players available is unknown.
Exact year of issue is also unknown but that is a young looking Russ Jackson and the visible uniform profile looks to be a close match to the team's dark jerseys from just post 1960. Thanks to super collector John Henderson for allowing me to photograph this item, unfortunately the Jackson side photo came out a little blurrier than the real life image.
|Carling O'Keefe 1983 Montreal Concordes Roster Card|
The Montreal item is from the brief era of the Concordes after they had replaced the defunct Alouettes in the early eighties. This roster card (paper stock thickness is unconfirmed, but I believe this to be on card stock) highlights all of the team's coaches and players in jersey numerical order for the start of the 1983 season. The back of the card lists each player with relevant personal stats and positional depth chart.
This item was part of a promotional package for the start of the franchise's second season along with a sticker, pinbacks, media guide, season ticket brochure and several other bits and pieces. Because it was issued at the very start of the season it may actually feature the 1982 roster and coaches. The two most notable coaches were Head Coach Joe Galat and Assistant Coach Ardell Wiegandt (fresh from running a very competitive Stampeder team assembled by Jack Gotta in the late seventies into the ground in two years).
The roster is a mixed bag of league castoffs but several stalwarts from the Alouette's glory days in the seventies remain, including Dickie Harris, Gordon Judges, Don Sweet & Glen Weir.
|CHML 900 Mid-80's Hamilton Tiger Cats wood plaque|
This very attractive team retrospective of the Tiger-Cats was issued probably sometime in the mid eighties and features a collage of great team players from the past and likely also the present (at the time of issue). The illustration is affixed to a wood base and this particular item was numbered 68/300 so it was a limited edition.
CHML started (or possibly re-started) broadcasting Tiger-Cat games in 1984 and for the most part I would say that those pictured were primarily former players from earlier decades (although Henry Waszczuk and Ben Zambiasi at top left were active around this time). Superstars of Hamilton and CFL football history like Bernie Faloney, Angelo Mosca, Hal Patterson, John Barrow, Garney Henley, Cookie Gilchrist, Tony Gabriel and many, many more are all depicted.
I'm guessing that the autographs (Bob Hooper was a football reporter, John Salavantis an assistant coach and Bob Bratina was a long serving play by play man and future Hamilton mayor) are real and not part of the illustration. Possibly added some years after issue. Either way a great item for a Ti-Cat fan.
|1995 First National Bank Baltimore Stallions team picture card|
Moving on to the most famous eastern representative of the mid nineties U.S. expansion teams we have (again probably on thin card stock) n uncatalogued team picture printed after the Stallions had won the 1995 Southern Division title. It is not clear if this referred to them finishing atop the division in regular season play or winning the playoffs and qualifying for the 1995 Grey Cup. But logically it would have been issued sometime before they actually won the Grey Cup.
|Old Port 1978 League Schedule outside|
Finally to round things out, an interesting group of ephemera that was issued in 1978 by Old Port. Old Port were wine flavoured small cigars where the flavour was infused into the plastic tips of each cigar. These were quite popular back in the seventies for teenagers learning how to smoke as a bit of a change of pace from cigarettes, the tips had a very appealing taste but of course the cigar smoke was pretty acrid. Anyway, they were regular sponsors of the league in that decade with numerous full page ads in game programs.
Until a recent Ebay auction came up, I was unaware that they also sponsored a Grey Cup quiz game with questions and answers printed on "One of a Series" of small cards.
|Old Port 1978 Grey Cup Quizzer Cards - English and French examples|
The cards look to have been in English on one side and in French on the other although I don't have images of the same card both sides and the two cards shown above are not the same questions and answers. There are at least four different cards in the set, possibly more.
While the cards are not dated the fact they were included in the auction lot with the 1978 schedule makes it the most probable year of issue (although not 100% positively established). Distribution is unknown but the most likely method was one card in each pack of cigars. Another great example of oddball Canadian football collectibles surfacing in a different century than the one they were produced in.