Thomas crafted Henderson plaque

Would have loved to meet hockey hero

By Josh Howald

The plaque that was dedicated in honour of Paul Henderson on Canada Day at the Kincardine hospital was created by Rob Thomas.

Paul Henderson rode to the Canada Day festivities in style July 1 in Kincardine. (Josh Howald photo)


In last week’s From the News Desk...column, the creation was praised as a true work of art and The Kincardine Independent promised to acknowledge the man who created the cast iron model that depicts horses pulling a sleigh that frames the plaque dedicated to Paul Henderson on Canada Day. The plaque details the story of Henderson's birth in Kincardine after a tough trek in a blizzard from Lucknow in a horse-drawn sleigh.

Thomas is an artisan welder who runs his own business A Twist of Metal Garden Art. He is a retired firefighter from Owen Sound, and has been forging his own iron creations for 30 years or more, he told The Independent on Monday afternoon. And he was more than happy to accept the job of creating something to hold the plaque, which was dedicated on Canada Day morning at Kincardine Hospital.

"Oh, I remember," he said when asked if he recalled Henderson's game-winning goal in Game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union. "I was at school. I was in Grade 6 and they brought in these old, tall TVs so we could all watch the game."

Keith Davidson of the Kincardine Canada 150 Committee approached Thomas with the job. The pair went back-and-forth with drawings for a few weeks before settling on a design that Davidson had approved by the committee and everyone was pleased with. It was decided the sleigh would be the best place for the plaque.

"I got it halfway done and called Keith to come have a look at it," he said. "He said I was on the right track."

He would have loved to have been there on Canada Day when Henderson and his wife Eleanor arrived in a sleigh being pulled by Clydesdale horses driven by Mike Geddes of Top Meadow Farms. Henderson was welcomed by dignitaries then briefly spoke to a large crowd on hand for the unveiling. Unfortunately, Thomas wasn't able to be in that crowd.

"It would have been the first opportunity for me to meet (Henderson)," said Thomas. "I really wanted to meet him, but we had to go to Kingston for a show. We have to book these shows a year in advance, unfortunately."

Ideally, he would have been on hand so a photograph could have been snapped of Henderson, himself and his iron creation. Though a little disappointed, Thomas was just happy he was involved with the project.

"I'm just glad I had the opportunity to do this," he said. "And (Davidson) was good enough to get me an autographed Paul Henderson sweater that will hang up in my office. That might have been part of the deal," he laughed.

"I had to do a rework of it just to get an autograph."

Thomas has yet to get to Kincardine to see the plaque, but plans to make the trip soon.

"I have another show this weekend, it really is a busy time of year, but I will be making the trip soon, probably early next month," he said.

Henderson may not be there when he does get to see the finished product, but The Kincardine Independent will be to photograph the occasion.