This past weekend, Jo-Anne and I visited the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in the City of Hamilton Ontario. It was one of those things I've seen the sign for it over the past number of years and figured one of these days I'm going to have to stop and visit. After all, I am a fan of the CFL. I follow it on television, I've been to a number of games throughout Ontario and Western Canada, I have hats and tee shirts, including some of the folded US teams, the Shreveport Pirates for example. So it made sense to visit the place.
Let me say a few things about it, it's part of the civic centre of Hamilton, near the City Hall, which is under renovations. In fact it was a bit of a challenge to find because once you entered the parking lot, there was no signs. Fortunately I did know about the statue in front and so once I found it, we were good to go.
The building would be described as municipal utilitarian, in other words, kind of ugly but served a purpose. Inside there are four main rooms, the gift shop, the Hall of Fame itself and two rooms for the museum. The Hall of Fame contains sculptures of each member of the HOF. They go back to Albert 4th Earl Grey, the man who donated the Cup to members of the Class of 2007, such as Darren Flutie. It's fascinating to look at the sculptures and to read the history of each individual. They are some great names there. This part of the Museum is fascinating.
Then there are the other two rooms, one is a history of the Canadian game, from the beginnings to junior to varsity to the professional game. The other was interesting but different, it contained the TSN top 50 All-Time Players, to the locker room of the Windsor AKO Fratmen Junior Football Team. I don't know why that is there, but being from Windsor, it's good to me.
I have to admit and remember I am a fan of the CFL, I was disappointed with the Museum, first of all, it was kind of looking drab. There were places where the paint was missing on the wall, plus some of the exhibitions didn't work, such as the field goal kicking machine and I have to wonder how long it had been broken, it just wasn't what it should be. This place celebrates the Game and it seems to be lacking any enthusiasm for the game. Plus, the sign in front stated that adult admission was three dollars when in fact it was seven dollars. Couple this with the fact the information for the various teams was outdated, nothing was mentioned of Saskatchewan's winning of the Grey Cup last year. In fact, the first trophy you saw as you entered was not the Grey Cup but the Schenley Trophy. Which is nice, but the premier trophy is the Grey Cup. It should be right in front, not off to the side.
So that's the problems, and I want to give some suggestions:
1) Paint the Place. Cover up the holes, get rid of the institutional colours.
2) Keep everything working.
3) Bring in more artifacts.
4) Signage- make it up to date, nothing says "We don't care", like having the wrong price of admission.
5) Set up a "Friends of the CFHOF". Get people from across Canada to support the museum and the Game. It could be a nice source of funding. Give membership things like pins, opportunity to attend special events, Annual General Meetings and the like. It will help.
6) Get us more signs to the entrance.
These are just some things, Canadian Football is a great game with a tremendous history and tradition and it needs to be celebrated. Make it look like we care.