When I started this blog I never expected to reach this number of posts before completion of some sort of further release of the Collecting Canadian Football series of catalogues. While progress inches along towards the implementation of a new digital version of CCF, this month I will just be highlighting some of the wide range of Canadian football collectibles that I personally think are among the coolest items I have come across, so far (that I haven't previously featured in earlier posts).
Of all of the thousands of program covers that were issued over many decades, these fabulous cartoon covers from Ottawa in 1934 are easily my favorites. From the white horned helmets of the Rough Riders to the whimsical portrayal of the opponent Tigers and Argonauts across the line of scrimmage, absolute gems of art and sport fused together. A third cover featuring the Montreal Winged Wheelers should also exist although I have never seen it.
There are an innumerable number of season schedules out there for collectors to choose from, one of the easiest things to collect and they were all initially given away free! These choice examples were issued specifically for the western teams in the case of the 1956 Shell items. The implication is that the linemen are hard as steel on the schedules from Hectors Steel in 1968 and 1972. Of course these vintage pieces will set you back a few dollars if you are looking to buy them today.
Out east some of the most attractive vintage schedules come from the University ranks where the Canadian college game was much more prevalent in the minds of the fans up through at least the fifties, than it became in modern times. These facemask-less graphics are reminiscent of the art-deco stylings of the last mid-century and convey a sense of a simpler world. Interesting also to see the exhibition games Varsity was playing against western squads almost twenty years before the first Vanier Cup.
Everybody knows the Post name when it comes to football collecting in Canada, but here we have the rare 1964 cereal box for the plastic Action Football Players that came in the box. The players were issued in the US in the same boxes that the NFL cards were printed on in 1962, but in Canada they were a totally separate issue two years later.
Above are the passer and kicker figures still on the plastic tree, the complete unopened package with the even rarer instruction sheet inside (plus the rubber band), and the reverse of the figures once assembled. They came in red and blue and possibly yellow too. Thanks to Bobby Burrell for the box images and probably most of the player images too.
I sure wish I had had one of these kitschy team themed light switch plate covers for my room, probably issued sometimes in the seventies. Or I'd settle for a Calgary one in the original pack today, except these are the only three teams that I have ever seen for this delightfully oddball set.
But items don't have to be super rare to be distinctly attractive pieces of memorabilia. These league record manuals are fairly easy to obtain and the 1966 booklet has the wonderfully evocative old team logos, while the 1967 booklet is an inventive nod to the confederation symbol for Canada's centennial year.
Some teams that had a lot of on field success, also seem to have produced a lot of innovative memorabilia during that time period. An earlier blog post illustrated Edmonton Eskimo Grey Cup cartoon pamphlets from 1954 and 1956, and here are a cartoon booklet (1952) and pamphlet (1955) on the same theme. Eskimo fans can thus collect a separate commemorative publication for all of their fifties Grey Cup trips! They sure don't make 'em like this anymore.
A great source of nostalgic colour photos from the golden age of Canadian Football are the various newsprint weekly magazines that were delivered to just about every home in Canada back in the day. Here are two of my personal favorite Stampeder images from 1962 and 1963 magazines respectively.
The significance of the left photo (an exhibition matchup between the Rough Riders and the Stampeders in Calgary on July 25, 1962) is that it is the only game in Stampeder history where the team wore the white star on their helmets. It just so happened that Weekend Magazine photographers were there to capture it in colour for posterity. The inset shows Wayne Harris during the same game with the star helmet.
The other cover photo shows the team with their short lived khaki pants and Tony Pajaczkowski about to bulldoze a path for ball carrier Jim Dillard while Hal Krebs knocks the Argo player out of the way. It would be great to compile a listing of these covers and stories one day.
These early 70's helmet sets would have been sold at discount department stores (Woolco, K-Mart) or possibly local convenience stores, but definitely for cheap. The helmets themselves were made in Hong Kong and were of a lesser quality than those issued in the sixties and come with painted stripes and decals that tended to dry up and fall off and float around in the package.
They were cheap then, but a decent shape package today is going to set you back at least $100. The cardboard backing has everybody's favorite CFL posters reproduced in miniature too.
Lastly, here is a great little paper lapel tag that was issued for some important University of Saskatchewan Huskies versus University of Alberta Golden Bears football game. Probably late fifties or early sixties. I picked this up in a little shop on Queen Street in the Leslieville district of Toronto one day, showing that if you keep your eyes open there is no telling what sort of Canadian football small treasure you can stumble upon anywhere in the country.