Monday, 30 January 2017

Mmm, Dinner is Served... Football Style

Here's an interesting group of collectibles that could be considered to fall within a number of categorical boundaries, but most are related to either winning (or at least participating in) championship football games and all are related to a delicious meal either before or after the big event.

1948 Calgary Stampeder Grey Cup Victory Dinner Celebration Menu Card

When the Calgary Stampeders returned from Toronto having captured their first Grey Cup a celebratory dinner was held at the Palliser Hotel. A folding menu card was produced with football graphics on the outside (that's Woody Strode hauling in a long pass) and the city's rodeo theme graphics on the inside, as well as on the very rare individual player name cards that fit like a sleeve around the menu. There would only have been 30 of the player sleeves produced with perhaps a few more for team executives. 

1953 Canadian Pacific Railways Grey Cup Special Breakfast Menu 

Before the age of transcontinental air travel, teams and fans traveled to the Grey Cup by train, and there were sometimes contentious issues around which national railway a team should be using to get to the big game. Both railways would schedule special or designated trains for the exciting journey. Above is a Canadian Pacific special menu with great period graphics and below is a Canadian National special menu also with great period graphics.  

1954 Canadian National Railways Grey Cup Special Menu 

Eventually an annual official Grey Cup dinner was held in the city hosting the game as evidenced by these two very evocative fall weather and football championship themed menus below.  

1953 & 1954 Official Grey Cup Dinner Programs in the Host City

Note that the first honoree John M. Bannerman of Calgary on the above 1954 Dinner Menu is the same executive who was the driving force behind the activities detailed in my last post here from the late twenties and early thirties. This stuff is all connected... 

1955 & 1956 Edmonton Eskimo Grey Cup Victory Dinner Celebration Programs

Of course teams who won the Grey Cup also had their own celebratory dinners back in their home cities with associated programs and menus. The more cups won, the more ephemera relating to dinners that is out there to collect! 

1958 Pre-Grey Cup Dinner Menu in a City Not Involved in the Championship Game 

Why Montreal decided to have a Pre-Grey Cup dinner way before it was clear who would participate in the game (which was held in Vancouver) is unknown, perhaps just an attempt to stimulate trade and economic activity in the city. It would be a long time before Montreal would return to the Grey Cup in a participants role.

1963 Zany Cartoon Grey Cup Dinner Menu from Vancouver 

While the fifties ephemera images are superb, the sixties brought their own unique style to graphic design as evidenced by the menu above. Apparently Russ Jackson attended the dinner and signed the lucky fan's menu. 

1966 & 1981 Edmonton Eskimo Fund Raising Dinner Menu Programs 

As a community owned club Edmonton held an annual fund raising dinner featuring menu programs of varying sizes and styles, all of which make unique and very interesting collectibles with limited production.  

1966 Roughrider & 1969 Rough Rider "Double Championship" Dinner Menu Programs  

Very rarely a city might pull off the double and win both the Grey Cup and the national junior football championship although in the case of the Ottawa Sooners they made the final in both 1968 and 1969 but lost. In any case both the programs above are celebrating the professional and the junior clubs.

1966 Saskatchewan Menu Interior  

The Saskatchewan program has classic graphics and typical local area and Grey Cup themed menu items. 

1969 Ottawa Menu Interior

The Ottawa program has more modern graphics and a menu that resisted naming the items for local area and Grey Cup themes. 

1968 Saskatchewan Roughrider Fund Raising Dinner Menu & the Associated Giveaway  

The best known annual fund raising dinner is held by the Saskatchewan Roughriders and a special gift or gifts are part of the tradition every year. This dinner has been going on for over 50 years and in the first several decades the income generated was an important component of keeping the team solvent. Some Rider collectors specialize in just obtaining the items associated with this event. 

Undated (Probably Eighties) Jake Gaudaur Dinner Roast Program &
 1985 Ottawa Community Group Dinner Roast Program  

Sometimes a non game or championship reason is found to have a football themed dinner, to roast a particularly well respected person or raise money for community groups.

1984 Toronto Argonauts Toronto 150th Anniversary Dinner Menu Program 

Sometimes the history of the game intersects with the history of a city such as in the above example. 

2001 Hall of Fame Induction Dinner Program & 2002 Grey Cup Dinner Program 

Dinner Program menus have continued into the current century as the above two pieces show, the Hall of Fame Induction programs are a category of collectibles to themselves and are highly sought after for the wealth of historical information about the inductees that they contain.

1947 Hamilton City High School Football Annual Banquet Menu Cutout Standup 

Finally, while I generally don't catalogue high school items because you have to draw the line somewhere, occasionally a high school football associated item is attractive and unique enough to feature, as is the case with the above item, which is actually the oldest menu type piece of Canadian football related ephemera that I have encountered so far.

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