While Rogatien Vachon may not yet be in the Hockey Hall of Fame, the local arena bearing his name in his hometown of Palmarolle, Quebec has done an incredible job to enshrine him and highlight his most lasting career moments for all the townsfolk to see.
The Rogie Vachon Exposition was unveiled on July 1, 2005, and involved over a years work by project curators Francois Melancon and Michel Parent. It was funded to the tune of $3000 and began with an idea that Melancon had upon visiting the Hockey Hall Of Fame in Toronto.
Disappointed that there was little content there featuring Vachon, Melancon undertook to assemble every available piece of memorabilia on Vachon that he could get his hands on. Parent, who heads the Commission in Palmarolle that funded the project was quick to get on board. Fan Ginette Martel played a large role in the displays, adding signed memorabilia, newpaper clippings, trophy reproductions, photos and other elements to the project.
A 90 minute video of Vachon's career accompanied the event, in which the legendary goalie, friends and family attended. Local residents were thrilled with the exposition, as one said "Rogatien Vachon's story is a large part of the local legend of Palmarolle."
Here are many of the highlighted displays and photo's taken during the opening ceremonies.
Coverage of the evening appeared in both Echo Abitibien and Le Journal De Montreal, in pieces authored by Yvon Audet and Andre Rousseau respectively.
An article on the theft of Vachon's Kings number retirement banner.
When the Kings moved to the Staples Center, they gave the original banner to Vachon, who then gave it to the town of Palmarolle to display in the arena that has carried his name since 1994. Over time, the giant banner went missing, and this article from Le Citoyen one week after the opening, pleaded for its return.
As soon as Vachon arrived on July 1, Michel Parent's first order of business was to get Rogie's signature on his own keepsake, a jersey purchased from E-Bay only a few days prior to the event. Coincidently, Vachon brought a similar one along to add to the collection.
The locals take in the multitude of sights. At right is Chantal Parent who deserves a big hand for her enthousiastic response for the project. As the director for the Caisse Populaire of Abitibi - West, she was the first person contacted to act as a sponsor for the idea. Upon her involvement, the project took off. Kudos, Chantal!
Visitors check out the articles from when Vachon began his career.
Friends of Rogie were proud to renew acquaintences. Pictured here are Gilles Vachon and Leandre Audet.
The gathered visitors are seemingly impressed by the quality and quantity of the information amassed on Rogie's career.
Joined by his sister, a young fan gets his minor hockey jersey signed by Rogie.
Michel, Rogie's youngest brother, and his family, admire the "Exploits" showcase which feature the biggest achievements related to his older brothers career.
Rogie pauses in front of the clipping display, which features the first published edition of "Sports Images" that covered his first ever game against the Detroit Red Wings. Older fans may recall that Rogie's first save was against none other than Gordie Howe - on a breakaway! Rogie recalls how this one save gave his him a huge boost of confidence. He later stoned Frank Mahovlich on a breakaway as well. The third page of the coverage reads "First game, first win. first star!"
Parent a proud collector himself, couldn't go without capturing an immortalized handshake with Rogie.
Real Baribeault is the carpenter who designed and built the showcases that enliven and protect the aquired pieces. Here he proudly squeezes the mit of the man for whom he dedicated many hours to.
Martin Trottier is one of Rogie's biggest fans. For years now, Trottier has been accumulating hockey memorabilia dedicated to the 1960's era.
Rogie receives congratulations from Guy Melancon, who played for the Palmarole Braves just as Rogie was making his way to junior B.
The proud artist of this work is Ginette Martel, who created a 3D masterpiece just for the occasion.
Even this close up photo cannot do the work justice. It took Martel 45 hours of cutting up minuscule details of the photo, glueing them in place to create a 3D effect. One needs to stand directly in front of it to appreciate the minute detail of this one of a kind creation.
It is highly doubtful that visitors to the Rogatien Vachon Arena won't get lost in the multitude of tributes assembled.
In this display case, some of the more reknown and celebrated photos of Rogie are assembled. Persons with a keen eye might recognize some of the more famous ones taken by Martin Brodeur's father Denis.
Here is what is known as the Principal Display, the last to be unveiled on the day. Previously, this casing held only Rogie's Palmarolle Braves jersey, a stick, and two or three photos. This piece de resistance now comprises every jersey worn by Rogie, accompanied by some excellent photography, and timelined with a chronicled evolution of his career highlight. Amazingly beautiful!
This display highlights Rogie's individual accomplishments and includes all his career stats. It feature's a "Where Are They Now" type piece written in Le Journal De Montreal just one year prior.
One of the first highlights of Rogie's career surely has to be the Vezina Trophy he won with Gump Worsley in 1968. They are picture here with Jacques Plante. Also featured is a replica of his goalie mask worn with the L. A. Kings, the same of shown in Ginette Martel's work. The mask was conceived by Tony Deluca, an artist specializing in the recreation of these beauties from the 1960's and 1970's. Deluca's authentic replica's can be further viewed and purchased at www.hockeymasks.com.
Rogie was no stranger to being in the bold type headlines when he played. The three page series cutout at the bottom left contains reports that his mother gave to Photo Journal in 1967. Many articles contained herein deal with the beginnings of Rogie's career. Priceless stuff.
Upon his arrival with the Canadiens, Rogie was the talk of the town. Proof is these impeccably preserved clipping from a local resident. The bottom of the display contains all of vachon's O-Pee-Chee Hockey cards.
The organizers are most proud of this display, garnering more highlights of Rogie's time. The top display groups a collection of hockey cards published by an American company that specialized in one player sets for stars that have marked a team's era. Rogie is featured with the Canadiens, Kings, and Bruins.
Visitors are usually taken in by this marvelous display.
This is quite cool! Only hours before the official opening of the exposition, Rogie fan Daniel Pare from Evain, Quebec brought the organizers the fruit of his labour - a Gerry Cheevers figurine, minutely painted over and redetailed to become Rogie with Team Canada 1976. Awesome work!
When Patrick Roy played his 1000th game, Rogie was summoned, as Patrick's boyhood hero, to present him with a silver stick. Included in this casing is the letter Patrick sent him in congratulations of the opening of the exposition.
A posed picture during the 1968 season
Momento's from the display case
The Rogie card set
Crouching Vachon, Hidden Tiger
Rogie and the Kings make the cover of SI
Yes, he did look a little like Sonny Bono!
The best team Rogie played for
Rogie throughtout the years
Rogie and the Habs Sheriff coin collection
A tribute to those who made a wonderful idea come to life