CORNWALL – Roughly 100 people gathered at the Cornwall Civic Complex Thursday for the unveiling of a commemorative plaque for Edouard Newsy Lalonde.
One of the so-called Flying Frenchmen was instrumental in powering the Montreal Canadiens to their first Stanley Cup in 1916.
Not only was he a hockey and lacrosse great, but an ambassador for the City of Cornwall, who never forgot his roots.
“A native son who never forgot where he came from…never missed a chance to come home,” Acting Mayor Denis Carr said during the ceremony.
The crowd also heard from MP Guy Lauzon, MPP Jim McDonell, local sports expert Thom Racine and Ontario Heritage Trust board of directors member Jim Brownell.
Some of Lalonde’s family was there for the unveiling of the blue Ontario Heritage Trust plaque, including his granddaughter Diane Quintal and grandsons Bob and Richard Quintal.
Grandson Richard Quintal told the audience that while Newsy was a Francophone, he didn’t speak a lot of French.
In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch, hockey great Guy Lafleur was asked about recognizing Newsy Lalonde’s accomplishments in 2016 – a century after Lalonde helped power the Habs to their first Stanley Cup.
“There’s no right timing for that. Any time is the right timing. But I’m glad that the City of Cornwall did that today because he’s (Lalonde) from here and he did so much for the community so I think it’s important to remember this type of man,” Guy Lafleur told Cornwall Newswatch.
Hockey fan Kevin Lajoie, sporting his Cornwall Aces jersey, was a principal organizer of Newsy Lalonde Day.
“This is amazing. I’m a hockey fan, right? A Cornwall fan too, but a hockey fan myself but seeing all this in the middle of summer, in the rink here, talking about hockey, talking about one of our own hockey heroes is just heartwarming…it’s a great day,” Lajoie told CNW.
“Being a fan of hockey and local history, for me Newsy’s a point of pride. It makes be proud to say I’m a Cornwallite. When you think about where you’re from and why you’re happy to be from a place…there’s a million things, for me one of the biggest is Newsy,” Lajoie said.
Lajoie added that Newsy Lalonde was a great ambassador. “Without being asked, he just went out there and, on his own, talked about being from Cornwall. Being proud to be from here. If we all did that, we’d all be much more proud of our city,” he said.
The blue and gold plaque is one of three plaques, commissioned by the Ontario Heritage Trust, to mark the lives of Lalonde, Jean-Baptiste Laviolette and Didier Pitre.
The plaque will be installed on the grounds of the civic complex.
Newsy Lalonde is regarded as one of hockey’s and lacrosse’s greatest players in the first half of the 20th century.