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Remembering Trail Smoke Eaters legend, Norm Lenardon

‘61 Trail Smoke Eater and community advocate Norm Lenardon passed away last week at the age of 89

Trail legend, Norm Lenardon, passed away on Tuesday, Aug. 25 at the age of 89.

Known best for his goal that clinched gold for the Trail Smoke Eaters at the 1961 World Hockey Championship in a victory over the Soviet Union, Lenardon was a sports icon, and an inspiration to generations of hockey players and athletes in Greater Trail and throughout the province.

Born in Trail Oct. 20, 1933 to Guilio and Amabile Lenardon, Norm grew up in the Silver City playing hockey, and working at the smelter.

He was husband to wife, Genie, a father to son Tim, and daughters Elizabeth, Theresa and Maria, and friend to many.

From a sports perspective, Lenardon’s life spanned much more than a single moment. He was an elite player for the Smoke Eaters and Rossland Warriors, a coach, and organizer who helped bring together his teams, players, and the public every year to celebrate hockey and sport.

He travelled around the province, recounting the golden moment time and time again, as though it were the first time, every time. In 2011 and 2016, Lenardon was invited to speak at the Colas Cup, a KidSport fundraiser, hosted by Nelson.

“I was fortunate to have shared time with Norm over his later years - visits in Trail and two Colas Cup events in Nelson,” former Nelson Leafs head coach, Bill McDonnell, told the Times. “Although a fierce competitor on the ice, he was an extraordinary person off of it.”

So many enjoyed his company, Lenardon’s character turned a one-day invite into three. The Colas event included a display of the BC Sports Hall of Fame and visits to elementary schools.

“I must admit my concern as to how the kids would react, based on the time gap between 1961 and 2011. Quickly, my concerns were put-to-rest by Norm’s caring personality - the kids loved him.”

The Trail Historical Society and City of Trail marked the 50th anniversary of the ‘61 Trail Smoke Eaters in 2011 with a special screening of ‘For the Love of the Game: A Century of Hockey in Trail B.C.’ at the Royal Theatre, and Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs officially proclaimed March 12 as ‘61 Smoke Eaters Day.

Read: City salutes ‘61 Smoke Eaters

In March 2021, the City and Trail Smoke Eaters celebrated the 60th anniversary of the ‘61 World Championship team by proclaiming March of every year, Trail Smoke Eaters Month, to honour not only the ‘39 and ‘61 world champions, but all Smoke Eaters teams – past, present and future.

Later that year, the Trail Senior Smoke Eaters held its annual Christmas banquet, which had been postponed for two years due to the pandemic, at the Trail Memorial Centre.

Everyone was thrilled to see ‘61 Smoke Eaters Dave Rusnell and Lenardon, who were also featured in the film Trophy Town: Local Heroes, International Legends that year; a fitting tribute to the ‘39 and ‘61 Smoke Eaters teams and the community.

Read: Building Trophy Town: A Home of Champions story

McDonnell recalled his fondest moments and his trips to Trail where Lenardon would meet him with his family and enjoy a feast at the Colander, or the carefree interactions at the Colas Tournament, where Norm was in his element.

During one of the dinners, MC, Mike Laughton and guest speakers NHL greats Gerry Cheevers and Danny Gare shared their respect and admiration for Norm and Trail’s accomplishment, as well as a few friendly digs at their rival Smoke Eater.

“Again that was Norm, open to laughter, even at his own expense - he gave and he received with ease,” McDonnell added. “My life was blessed to have shared special moments with Norm, Theresa and Tim. He was a humble, passionate advocate for hockey, for his community and for his family.

“Our relationship was a testimony that people from different communities can share the same spirit outside of the competitive arena.”

The Trail Smoke Eaters organization also shared its sincere condolences and gratitude to Norm’s family and plan to honour him at the Smoke Eaters home opener on September 22.

Rest in peace, Norm Lenardon.

Read: Cal Hockley passes, leaves lasting legacy for Silver City

Jim Bailey

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