One of the greatest hockey players of all time fought back tears on Friday as his old jersey was hung up in a new museum showcasing his career.

"This is the most marvellous day of my life," said Bobby Orr, as he stood in front of hundreds of friends and relatives in Parry Sound, Ont., where he grew up. "Thank you."

The crowd, gathered in the sunshine outside The Bobby Orr Hall of Fame, cheered the former NHL star defenceman as he talked about the importance of roots and the help he received from many people over his life.

"I've been a very lucky guy. I've played on championship teams. I've played for Canada. I've won some awards. And I'm very proud of those accomplishments.

"But I don't think there's anything nicer or anything greater than to come home and be recognized," Orr said. "This is the pinnacle."

Several people spoke at the ceremony, including Premier Ernie Eves, Orr's former Boston Bruins coach Don Cherry and CBC Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean.

Orr was praised as a humble, talented athlete whose career was cut short a quarter of a century ago because of injuries. Years after retiring, he continues to help out with charity work and visits children in hospital generous acts that Cherry said Orr prefers to keep quiet.

"There's an aura about him," Cherry said, pointing out that kids five years old who never saw Orr are cheered by the man in a special way. "He's like Babe Ruth or something."

The new hockey shrine is part of the $12.4-million Charles W. Stockey Centre, a 480-seat venue for Parry Sound's chamber music festival. Local officials hope it will boost tourism in the area about 250 kilometres north of Toronto.

The museum houses memorabilia from Orr's career, including the stick and the puck he used to score the Stanley-Cup-clinching goal in 1970. His original locker from the Boston Garden, two Stanley Cup rings, his original NHL contract and many of his famous No. 4 jerseys are also on display.