Like countless other Leaf fans, and I’m sure hockey fans in general across the country, one of the great joys in the early-to mid-1960’s was the opportunity to collect “Bee Hive” hockey photos.
Worth noting is the fact that, before I ever sent away for my first photos, I actually knew a little something about “Bee Hive” pictures in the first place.
You see, hanging on the bedroom wall, above my bed, from the time I can remember, was a gallery of Montreal Canadiens greats, in their classic, posed Bee-Hive photos. Simply but nicely framed by one of my older brothers, the photos were a constant reminder of my family’s hockey heritage, as part of the legion of proud and passionate Montreal Canadiens fans.
The family had other similar photos, they just weren’t hanging above my head as I fell asleep every night. (It’s sometimes hard to believe that I became a Leaf fan, despite the rather overwhelming and yes, oppressive,
influence…) Interestingly, the above list doesn’t even include other all-time greats such as Rocket Richard and Doug Harvey but there was also a photo of rugged Bert Olmstead (at right), who of course went on to become a Maple Leaf—and a Hall-of-Famer, too. Montreal
Another of classic those photos has been passed down to me—a picture of a then very young Donnie Marshall, a fine player with the Canadiens (who was later included in the famous Plante for Gump Worsley deal between the Habs and the Rangers) who had more strong years with the Rangers before finishing up his career in
Buffalo and . Toronto
Thus motivated by my older brothers and their collecting habits, in the early ‘60s, probably in 1964 or thereabouts, I started my own collection. In those days, you would send in the little “ring top” from a Bee Hive corn syrup tin, and I can’t remember what exactly from the old Bee Hive Corn starch boxes. (It was great promotion for the St. Lawrence Corn Starch company, located in Port Credit,
Ontario, just west of . As I understand it, though, the company discontinued this promotion when the fledgling players association wanted more money for participating in the photo shoots, probably around the time of expansion after 1967…) Toronto
Once in the late 1960s when I was visiting one of my older sisters (she lived in or near Port Credit at the time) with my parents, we drove by the St. Lawrence Corn Starch corporate office and factory in Port Credit. I was so excited you would have thought I was driving by
for the first time. This was where all those wonderful photos came from, I realized. Maple Leaf Gardens
I collected as many Leafs as I could on the checklist the company provided, and then ventured off into players from other teams. I would (stupidly, in terms of the modern day obsession with “mint condition” collectables) “mat” the photos—either glueing or using sticky tack on them so they would stay on a piece of cardboard. Once my brother moved out of the room we shared, I would hang the pictures up and put a mark every time one of the Leafs I had a picture of—Mahovlich, Keon, Shack, etc.—scored a goal
It was a fun time, and I have such fond memories of that period in my life. I have to believe there were thousands of other youngsters doing much the same thing in those memory-filled "olden days”…