Friday, December 12, 2014

SporTimer clock

It turns out that the clock used in the Montreal Forum and Maple Leaf Gardens and elsewhere was made here locally (Thunder Bay).  It was made by the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company (aka PortShip aka PASCOL).

A Winnipeg Tribune article from Oct 28, 1931 tells of the SporTimer clock being shipped to the Montreal Forum.

 Found a picture of that shows a portion of the clock at the Montreal Forum (above).  Took a couple screen shots of the clock from YouTube videos of Stanley Cup playoffs.

Here's a blueprint for a proposed four faced clock for the Montreal Forum that obviously wasn't used

The one that was in Maple Leaf Gardens wasn't there the first season the Gardens opened (1931-32) but was there for the second season.  Lasted there up until 1967.  Sometimes referred to as the "Player's Please" clock because of the advertisement on it.

A Blueprint showing what looks like went into Maple Leaf Gardens: 19 feet x 9 feet is the dimensions shown here.

Another blueprint for Maple Leaf Gardens showing a slightly different idea for the arrangement of the speakers than what was done.

SporTimer was also at the Winnipeg Arena for a while.  Here's a picture of it from the arena opening in 1955.

Close up of the clock.

The proposed installation for Winnipeg Arena.

SporTimer was also in the Stanley Stadium in Copper Cliff.  Article from February, 1937.

 Here's a picture of the inside of Stanley Stadium a couple years earlier for it's official opening in 1935.

And a postcard photo of the outside of the building.

 Was home to the Frood Mine Tigers - Winners of the Allan Cup in 1937

Stanley Stadium was demolished in 1976 and replaced by the McClelland Community Centre at the same site; official opening in 1978.

Found this advertisement from the Syracuse Post Standard from March 27/53 online.

The Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company no longer exists.  The company that took over the area as a repair yard was Lakehead Marine and Industrial.  They went bankrupt this year and closed; they sold off all their equipment in auction.

Here's an old pic of the Port Arthur Shipbuilding yards:

Here's a couple links regarding the Lakehead Marine and Industrial bankruptcy and auction:

Beside the Maple Leaf Gardens and the Montreal Forum the SporTimer clock was in many arenas including at least a couple locally:

The Prince of Wales Arena building which was constructed in 1919.

(some trivia: a previous arena was also at this location: Fort William's Arena Rink constructed in 1905 and burned down in 1912; site then used as an outdoor skating rink 1913-18).

The Prince of Wales Arena was turned over to the Canadian Government and used for the Fort William Armouries.  The Armoury had its official opening in April 1943 - here's the area as shown in this section of 1950 fire insurance map with the Armoury at 223 N. Archibald Street. 

Here's a couple photos of the Fort William Armouries from May 1956:

From this photo you can see the Fort William Gardens (which opened in 1951) in the background:

Interior of Fort William Armoury from a April 1943 newspaper clipping.

Still have to verify it but a poster on a Canadian Army forum site has the Fort William Armoury burning down in 1965.  Henderson Directories for that location have the Fort William Armouries there in 1959, the Post Office building there in 1966 and no listings of anything at that spot for the years in between.

*** EDIT Feb 21/15 ***
Newpaper article in Chronicle Journal "Shares sold to build arena" by the Thunder Bay Museum Feb 15/15:
"armoury ... in May of 1955, it caught fire.  Though condemned by Chief Lockwood, the building seems to have been repaired but, by 1960, it was gone for good."

Post office building was built there after the Fort William Armouries building.  Hasn't been a post office for a while but is being used some federal government departments - Canadian Grain Commission, RCMP, etc.  Picture is from the same side as the photo above.

I heard the Fort William Gardens didn't have one of the SporTimer clocks but I did find a picture of the Fort William Gardens from the 1960 Brier that does show an analog clock with 'Players Please' advertised on it, so I quite possible they had a SporTimer for at least a little while in the building.

Looks like it may be the same clock in Fort William Gardens for the 1974 Ontario Winter Games.

Another picture of the Gardens that must be from around the same time period judging by the 7up ad on the clock.

And from The Squires at the Gardens in 1964 or 1965

*** EDIT [Feb 9/15] ***
Thunder Bay's Parks and Recreation Centennial Resource Package (1898-1988) makes reference to the clock that was put in Fort William Gardens in a reference to a March 15/51 newspaper article from The Times Journal:
"Hanging over the centre ice area was a big hockey sport timer, donated by the Imperial Tobacco Sales Company of Canada Limited.  The clock informed the fans of the period being played, the time remaining in each period and the score of the game.  Additional features included eighteen loudspeakers., ninety 1000-watt bulbs and six large blowers which would heat the building during the winter and keep it cool during the summer."

The other local arena that the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame says the SporTimer clock was in was the old Port Arthur Arena Rink on Court Street (see the 2012 article near the bottom of this post) - built in 1923 and which burned down in a fire in 1931.

 This is the arena that replaced the burned down one in 1932  and was later condemned and torn down in 1959.

*** EDIT [Dec 31/14] ***
From the Port Arthur newspaper of the time (The News Chronicle) - June 7/60.  From this article looks like either there was a different clock in the 1932-1959 Arena, or there never was a clock in the the first Arena Rink that burned down in 1931, or possibly something else entirely ???  In any case looks like they were looking for a new home for the clock; not sure if it found one.

 Location of where the Arena Rink was is currently home to a Safeway grocery store.,-89.219876,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x7f032d2b07cb8552

The Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame put an article on the SporTimer in the local paper a couple years ago.  They mention a donated SporTimer clock but it isn't currently on display there and is in storage.  If I can in the future get pictures of it I hope to uploaded them here.

On Google ran across the patent drawings for the SporTimer.  Here's the first drawing of eight.

All of the 8 patent drawings and information can be found here:

*** EDIT July 11/15 ***

Found some information on the W. F. Martin that is mentioned in the "Where Legends Live On" article a bit above.

W.F. Martin inventing automatic hockey clock - from Port Arthur newspaper News-Chronicle.  April 9, 1927.

 and a short article in the Winnipeg Tribune - April 11, 1927:

The clock used for the first time in Fort William's Prince of Wales arena.  News-Chronicle March 3,1928:

The clock in the Winnipeg Amphitheatre for the 1929 Allan Cup - from Winnipeg Tribune March 27, 1929:

Here's a picture of the outside of the Winnipeg Amphitheatre aka Shea's Amphitheatre:

His unfortunate death a few months later - Winnipeg Tribune May 27, 1929:

and the obituary in his home town paper. News-Chronicle May 25, 1929:

He he is pictured, but not in the caption below, in a photo of the Kenora Thistles team.  He is in the middle row at the far left.
*** [Edit: another source has Matt Brown as the person in the middle row at the far left.  May not be Billy Martin - not sure if Martin played any games for this Senior team.  Found a mention of him as a spare for one game so far.]
*** [Edit again: lower photo from Lake of the Woods Museum (1977.40.8) - Martin's name written below his face]

He is also in a picture for the 1902-03 Rat Portage Thistles.  They challenged Ottawa for the Stanley Cup.  They lost both games of the two games series 6-2, and 4-2
Picture is from the Lake of the Woods Museum (1977.40.10)

Also in the team picture for the 1903-04 Thistles team:
lower photo is from the Lake of the Woods Museum (1967.55.1)


  1. Hello again, fellow Will S. :)

    Corby's was distilled in Corbyville, near Belleville, Ontario, my hometown; see my flickr pics:

  2. Thanks for posting the link with pictures of the distillery.

  3. Hey, you're welcome.


    BTW, if ever you decide to post these old photos / ads up on Flickr, I'd invite that Corby's ad to a pool I co-admin for old booze ads and the like. Just let me know if you do.

  4. Fantastic article! Well done. Little known facts about Thunder Bay. Thank you.

    1. Thanks.
      Glad you like it.
      Kind of wandered off in a couple directions from original topic.