Winter, a time when hockey ruled
It is not uncommon for local businesses to sponsor sports teams but Rideau Street Hardware merchant Thomas Birkett (Feb 1, 1844 – Dec 2, 1920) took this to a higher level when he assembled a winning hockey team in 1911-12. The team, named for him, was also an all-out effort of his business. Of the nine teenage players five were employed directly by Thomas Birkett & Son, as were all the team’s five managers. Four of the players lived in Sandy Hill: Gardiner Conly lived on Cobourg Street; Percy Jacques and Ross Merritt on Henderson Avenue; and their captain Maynard Manners lived on King Edward Avenue—a bit of a community effort to make Sandy Hillers proud.
Birkett was a fixture in Ottawa, at the age of 13 he became an apprentice to a local hardware store opening his own in 1866. Active in local politics he served on the school board (1867-1871), was an Alderman on City Council (1873-1878), Mayor in 1891, and Member of Parliament (1900-1904). His grand home, now the Embassy of Hungary, on Metcalfe Street is known as Birkett’s Castle.